Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

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Little went as planned for the Red Sox in 2010. Before the season started, general manager Theo Epstein referred to it as a "bridge period," meaning the team would try to balance contending in the present with building for the future. Boston focused on upgrading via run prevention, spending $120.5 million on free agents Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, John Lackey and Marco Scutaro to bolster its defense and rotation.

Neverthless, the Red Sox dropped from third in the American League in runs allowed in 2009 to 11th last season. The defense was erratic, as was the pitching. Lackey, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka combined for 29 wins at a cost of $38 million, and the middle-relief corps set more fires than it put out.

Boston's offense was considered its potential weak link, yet ranked second in the majors in scoring despite injuries that sidelined Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury for most of the year, and Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis for much of the second half.

The loss of Pedroia and Youkilis, the Red Sox's heart and soul, ultimately sank a team that had 19 players spend time on the disabled list. Despite a franchise-record Opening Day payroll of $168.1 million—the second-highest in baseball—Boston missed out on the postseason for just the second time in eight years.

There were disappointments in the minor leagues as well. Led by outfielder Ryan Westmoreland and righthander Casey Kelly, the Red Sox system was rated the fifth-best in baseball by Baseball America entering 2010. But Westmoreland was sidelined after brain surgery in March, while Kelly struggled with his command as a 20-year-old in Double-A.

Boston's next-best hitting prospects coming into the year, outfielder Josh Reddick and first baseman Lars Anderson, battled inconsistency in Triple-A. Its next-best pitching prospect, Junichi Tazawa, had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season.

For all the things that went wrong, however, the Red Sox still won 89 games while playing in baseball's toughest division. More than $50 million is coming off the payroll for 2011, allowing for plenty of opportunity to reinforce the big league club.

Things are far from bleak down on the farm either. Three of the Red Sox' top five minor league affiliates had the youngest rosters in their leagues, and low Class A Greenville was the second-youngest, partially explaining why some of their best prospects didn't put up pretty numbers. Some did, such as first baseman Anthony Rizzo (25 homers, 100 RBIs) and lefties Drake Britton (2.97 ERA, 78 strikeouts in 76 innings) and Felix Doubront (8-3, 2.81 in the minors before pitching well in Boston).

The Red Sox still have one of the deepest farm systems in the game, in large part because they're as aggressive as any club in the draft. They spent a club-record $10.7 million on bonuses in 2010, the fourth-highest total in baseball history, including seven-figure deals for righthander Anthony Ranaudo, third basemen Kolbrin Vitek and Garin Cecchini, and second baseman Sean Coyle.

As frustrating as 2010 may have been, Boston's future remains bright. The last time the Red Sox missed the playoffs, in an injury-riddled 2006, they came back and won the World Series the following year.

1.  Casey Kelly, rhp   Born: Oct. 4, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 210
 Drafted: HS—Sarasota, Fla., 2008 (1st round)Signed by: Anthony Turco
Casey KellyBackground: Kelly was one of the top two-way players in the 2008 draft coming out of high school, but his high asking price and scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee made him available to the Red Sox with the 30th overall pick. They viewed him as the most polished high school arm in the draft and signed him for $3 million, a franchise record for a draftee. The son of former big league catcher Pat Kelly, Casey preferred playing every day to pitching, and Boston agreed to let him make his debut at shortstop. He didn't pitch professionally until 2009, then switched back to shortstop after appearing in the Futures Game. Kelly showed fluid actions and power potential as a shortstop, but after hitting .219 in two pro seasons and .171 in the Arizona Fall League, he agreed last offseason that his future was on the mound. The Red Sox assigned him to Double-A Portland, where at 20 he was the youngest starting pitcher in the Eastern League. He took his lumps against older competition, though his pure stuff improved as he got bigger and stronger. Boston shut him down as a precaution when he strained a lat muscle in early August, and he returned to the mound in the Arizona Fall League.

Scouting Report: Kelly's ERA may have ballooned from 2.08 in 2009 to 5.31 last season, but the Red Sox think that's attributable to having to learn how to harness an increase in velocity and make his mechanics work as his frame started to mature. His fastball now sits at 90-94 mph, up from 89-92 the year before, and peaks at 96. Kelly showed the ability to consistently locate his fastball on both corners with sink in 2009 but didn't command it as well in 2010. With his fluid, athletic delivery, he should regain that skill once he fully grows into his body. His struggles came in part because he couldn't paint the black as effectively, causing him to fall behind in the count. His most effective pitch right now is an above-average changeup that he delivers with the same arm speed and slot as his fastball, though he used his changeup a little too much last season. His curveball gives him a potential third plus pitch. It's a power breaking ball at times, and more of an average pitch that he just gets over for strikes at others. Kelly has an advanced feel for pitching, though he needs to trust his stuff and challenge hitters more rather than trying to live on the corners. His athleticism enables him to keep basestealers in check and field his position well. He has good mound presence and didn't get flustered when he struggled at Portland.

The Future: It's easy to forget that 2010 was Kelly's first full year as a pitcher, after he split time between hitting and pitching in 2009, and his learning curve against Double-A hitters was steep. The Red Sox aren't worried about his less-than-gaudy statistics, still envisioning him becoming a frontline starter with three possible plus pitches and above-average command. He should reach Triple-A Pawtucket at some point in 2011, perhaps even to start the season, and his big league ETA is 2012.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Portland (AA) 3 5 5.31 21 21 0 0 95 118 10 35 81 .307
 
2.  Jose Iglesias, ss   Born: Jan. 5, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 5-11Wt: 180
 Signed: Cuba, 2009Signed by: Craig Shipley/Johnny DiPuglia
Jose IglesiasBackground: Iglesias defected from Cuba at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton in July 2008. Fourteen months later, he signed a four-year, $8.25 million major league contract that included a franchise-record $6.25 million bonus. In his 2010 pro debut, he was hitting .306 as the youngest regular in the Eastern League before an errant pitch broke his right middle finger in late May, sidelining him for two months.

Scouting Report: Iglesias is an exceptional defender who's ready to play shortstop in the big leagues right now. He plays low to the ground, using his quick feet, lightning-fast hands and strong arm to make all the plays. His instincts and body control also stand out, and he made just seven errors in 57 games at short last season. With good bat speed and hand-eye coordination to go with a line-drive stroke, Iglesias should hit for average with some gap power once he adds some strength. He attacks pitches early in the count, an aggressive approach that won't lead to many walks. He's an average runner.

The Future: After going through six shortstops in seven seasons since trading Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox believe Iglesias can bring some stability to the position. He could be ready after spending 2011 in Triple-A.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Portland (AA) .285 .315 .357 221 29 63 10 3 0 13 8 49 5
Lowell (SS) .350 .458 .500 40 8 14 2 2 0 7 7 8 2
 
3.  Anthony Rizzo, 1b   Born: Aug. 8, 1989B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 220
 Drafted: HS—Parkland, Fla., 2007 (6th round)Signed by: Laz Gutierrez
Anthony RizzoBackground: Rizzo was hitting .373 at low Class A Greenville in April 2008 when he was diagnosed with limited stage classical Hodgkin's lymphoma. After missing the rest of that season to get treatment, he has been cancer-free and established himself as the best offensive prospect in the system.

Scouting Report: Rizzo generates plus power with strength and leverage, and he drives the ball well to the opposite field. With his willingness to use the entire field and his patience, he should hit for a solid average and draw some walks, though he needs to refine his two-strike approach. He also needs to make adjustments against lefthanders after hitting .217/.290/.380 against them in 2010. Managers rated him the best defensive first baseman in the Eastern League, as he has smooth actions and does a good job of picking throws out of the dirt. He can get nonchalant in the field, however, which led to 15 errors last season. He's a below-average runner but moves well for his size.

The Future: He has passed Lars Anderson as Boston's first baseman of the future, though Rizzo still has to contend with Kevin Youkilis in the majors. He figures to open 2011 by returning to Double-A and could push for a big league job the following season.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Salem (Hi A) .248 .333 .479 117 26 29 12 0 5 20 16 32 3
Portland (AA) .263 .334 .481 414 66 109 30 0 20 80 45 100 7
 
4.  Anthony Ranaudo, rhp   Born: Sept. 9, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-7Wt: 230
 Drafted: Louisiana State, 2010 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Matt Dorey
Anthony RanaudoBackground: Ranaudo entered 2010 as the draft's top pitching prospect, but he came down with a stress reaction in his elbow after his first start, missed a month and battled his mechanics and command when he returned. He posted a 7.32 ERA for Louisiana State before returning to form in the Cape Cod League, where he didn't allow an earned run in 30 innings. He signed for $2.55 million at the Aug. 16 deadline.

Scouting Report: Ranaudo uses his 6-foot-7 frame to leverage his 91-96 mph fastball down in the zone, generating strikeouts and weak contact. He also can throw his heater to both sides of the plate, and he complements it with a plus curveball and solid changeup. When he's on top of his game, he commands all three pitches well. Ranaudo never lost velocity when he struggled at LSU, but his delivery fell out of sync and his pitches flattened out. Though the Red Sox aren't concerned about his health, he also had elbow tendinitis that limited him to 12 innings as a freshman.

The Future: Assuming Ranaudo's elbow problems are behind him, Boston may have stolen a frontline starter with the 39th overall pick. He'll make his pro debut at high Class A Salem and could reach the majors by the end of 2012.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Did Not Play—Signed Late
 
5.  Drake Britton, lhp   Born: May 22, 1989B-T: L-LHt: 6-2Wt: 200
 Drafted: HS—Tomball, Texas, 2007 (23rd round)Signed by: Jim Robinson
Drake BrittonBackground: Britton flashed early-round potential as a high school senior in 2007, but inconsistent velocity and a Texas A&M scholarship caused him to slide to the 23rd round. When he showed a low-90s fastball in summer ball, the Red Sox signed him at the Aug. 15 deadline for $700,000. He blew out his elbow at the end of his 2008 pro debut, but returned to hit 97 mph in instructional league at the end of 2009.

Scouting Report: Britton has bounced back from Tommy John surgery to now have the best fastball in the system, sitting at 92-94 mph with sink. He has regained his big-breaking curveball that he can throw for strikes, and he also has the makings of an effective changeup. Because he has pitched just 121 pro innings, he needs more time to repeat his high three-quarters delivery and refine his control and command. He's a hard worker who got leaner and stronger during his rehab.

The Future: After playing it safe last season, limiting Britton's pitch counts and keeping him on the disabled list for six weeks as a precaution with an early-season biceps strain, the Red Sox will turn him loose in high Class A. He has all the ingredients to become a No. 3 starter or a late-inning bullpen weapon.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Greenville (Lo A) 2 3 2.97 21 21 0 0 76 69 5 23 78 .240
 
6.  Reymond Fuentes, of   Born: Feb. 12, 1991B-T: L-LHt: 6-0Wt: 170
 Drafted: HS—Manati, P.R., 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Edgar Perez
Reymond FuentesBackground: The Red Sox made Fuentes the sixth Puerto Rican ever drafted in the first round, and the first since the Blue Jays' Miguel Negron in 2000, when they selected him 28th overall in 2009. Signed for $1.134 million, he helped Greenville reach the South Atlantic League finals in his first full season.

Scouting Report: Fuentes is the best athlete in the system, drawing comparisons to Carlos Beltran (his cousin) and Johnny Damon. His plus-plus speed gives him impact potential in center field and on the bases. Managers rated him the best defensive outfielder in the SAL, where he stole 42 bases in 47 attempts. He enhances his quickness by getting great jumps on balls, and he compensates for a below-average arm by charging balls and making accurate throws. Fuentes has a line-drive stroke, and his bat speed portends some future pop once he adds some much-needed strength. He's still learning the strike zone but made some good adjustments in the second half of 2010.

The Future: Though Fuentes may need four or five seasons in the minors, his upside makes him worth the wait. He has similar tools to Jacoby Ellsbury, and he's a more advanced hitter at the same stage and should become a better defender. Fuentes will spend 2011 in high Class A.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greenville (Lo A) .270 .328 .377 374 59 101 15 5 5 41 25 87 42
 
7.  Josh Reddick, of   Born: Feb. 19, 1987B-T: L-RHt: 6-2Wt: 180
 Drafted: Middle Georgia JC, 2006 (17th round)Signed by: Rob English
Josh ReddickBackground: Injuries created several openings in Boston's outfield in 2010, but Reddick couldn't seize the opportunity. After bat .390 in big league camp but losing an Opening Day roster spot to Jeremy Hermida, Reddick didn't hit and in April and June callups. He also endured his most extended slump in four minor league seasons, not getting going until he hit .351/.372/.627 in the second half in Triple-A.

Scouting Report: While Reddick doesn't have a below-average tool, he'll need to develop more patience and put less pressure on himself to make it in the majors. Though he has good bat speed and repeatedly barrels balls, he too often gets himself by putting pitches in play that he should let go by. Reddick has solid power and speed, and he has improved defensively to the point where he can man center field. He fits best in right field, where his combination of arm strength, quick release and uncanny accuracy make him an assists machine.

The Future: The Red Sox haven't given up on Reddick by any means, but Ryan Kalish has passed him and they may not have an opening for him on their 2011 roster. He could create one if he can tone down his approach once he returns to Pawtucket.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Pawtucket (AAA) .266 .301 .466 451 59 120 28 4 18 65 25 73 4
Boston .194 .206 .323 62 5 12 3 1 1 5 1 15 1
 
8.  Felix Doubront, lhp   Born: Oct. 23, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-2Wt: 190
 Signed: Venezuela, 2004Signed by: Miguel Garcia
Felix DoubrontBackground: Signed for $150,000 out of Venezuela in 2004, Doubront became the first Latin American signee of GM Theo Epstein's regime to reach the majors when he beat the Dodgers in an emergency start in June. He made two more decent starts in July, then earned two saves in September. He also went 8-3, 2.81 in the minors to earn the organization's minor league pitcher of the year award.

Scouting Report: As a starter, Doubront works at 88-92 mph and touches 94 with his fastball, with good sink. As a reliever, he challenges hitters more often with a fastball that sits at 92-93. He uses a changeup and a cutter to keep righthanders at bay. He made major strides with his curveball in 2010. After minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel helped him find a new grip, Doubront shocked the Red Sox by returning to the majors in July and showing a solid curve. He repeats his high three-quarters delivery well, but sometimes nibbles too much and loses the strike zone.

The Future: The Red Sox lacked an effective southpaw reliever in 2010, and Doubront could fill that role while being more than just a left-on-left specialist. He's also ready to contribute it Boston needs a starter.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Portland (AA) 4 0 2.51 8 8 0 0 43 39 0 17 38 .250
Pawtucket (AAA) 4 3 3.16 9 8 0 0 37 36 1 16 34 .261
Boston 2 2 4.32 12 3 0 2 25 27 3 10 23 .270
 
9.  Stolmy Pimentel, rhp   Born: Feb. 1, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 220
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006Signed by: Luis Scheker
Stolmy PimentelBackground: Since signing for $25,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, Pimentel has made steady progress in four years of pro ball. He represented the Red Sox at the 2010 Futures Game, where he retired the two batters he faced—the Marlins' Logan Morrison and the Nationals' Danny Espinosa, both of whom finished the year in the majors.

Scouting Report: Pimentel does an excellent job of commanding and pitching off his fastball for a youngster. As he has matured physically, his four-seamer has risen from 84-86 mph when he signed to 90-95. His fastball has good riding life and sets up his swing-and-miss changeup, a legitimate plus pitch. Pimentel's curveball can become a solid third offering. He still needs to stay on top of the pitch more consistently, but he has improved its break and velocity over the last two seasons. Pimentel has also done a better job of staying in good condition, which helps him maintain his fastball deeper into starts. He throws strikes, though his arm action is long and gives hitters a good look at his pitches.

The Future: Pimentel has proven that he's ready for Double-A at age 21 and could get his first shot at the big leagues by the end of 2012. He has the stuff and feel to become a No. 3 starter.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Salem (Hi A) 9 11 4.06 26 26 0 0 129 120 11 42 102 .248
 
10.  Garin Cecchini, 3b   Born: April 20, 1991B-T: L-RHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Signed: HS—Lake Charles, La., 2010 (4th round)Signed by: Matt Dorey
Garin CecchiniBackground: One of the best high school hitters in the 2010 draft, Cecchini projected as a possible first-rounder until he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and needed reconstructive surgery in mid-March. His reported $1.75 million price tag further scared teams off, so the Red Sox were able to grab him in the fourth round. He gave up a Louisiana State scholarship to sign for $1.31 million at the deadline. His brother Gavin is a top infield prospect for the 2012 draft.

Scouting Report: Cecchini's sweet lefthanded swing could end up being the best in the system. He's a pure hitter with outstanding hand-eye coordination, and he should have at least solid power once he learns to turn on more pitches. A shortstop in high school, he'll shift to third base as a pro and has the soft hands and strong arm to make the move work. His knee injury isn't a long-term concern because his fringe-average speed isn't a major part of his game.

The Future: Cecchini was healthy enough to play at the end of instructional league, and he'll be 100 percent when he makes his pro debut in 2011. Boston may ease him into pro ball by sending him to short-season Lowell, but his bat may accelerate his timetable once he gets going.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Did Not Play—Injured

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2011 Prospect Handbook
30 scouting reports on every team

Photo Credits: Kelly (Ken Babbitt)
Rizzo, Fuentes, Pimentel (Rodger Wood)
Cecchini (Gaines Duvall)