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Boston Red Sox:
1999 Top 10

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Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams

By Will Lingo

1. Steve Lomasney, C
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 195
Drafted: HS--Peabody, Mass., 1995 (5th round)  Signed by: Buzz Bowers

Top Prospects of the 90s

1990 Scott Cooper, 3b
1991 Mo Vaughn, 1b
1992 Frank Rodriguez, rhp
1993 Frank Rodriguez, rhp
1994 Trot Nixon, of
1995 Nomar Garciaparra, ss
1996 Donnie Sadler, ss
1997 Nomar Garciaparra, ss
1998 Brian Rose, rhp
1999 Dernell Stenson, of

Background: Any doubts that the Red Sox consider Lomasney, a Massachusetts native, their catcher of the future were gone when Dan Duquette used him as a campaign prop in the spring as part of the team’s efforts to get a new ballpark. Lomasney was a decorated football and baseball star in high school, and he passed up an opportunity to play football at Boston College to sign with the Red Sox. His athleticism and catch-and-throw ability always have earned him recognition, but he has risen to the top of the prospect list because of the continued improvement with his bat. He made his major league debut in 1999 and topped off the best year of his career so far with a trip to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .284-6-21.

Strengths: Lomasney is solid in every way and has a great feel for the game. He is a good catch-and-throw player with an above-average arm, has a good catcher’s body and is strong enough to take the punishment of the position. He’s athletic and swings the bat well, improving every year as a professional. He showed power again last year while raising his average, a good sign considering he was a career .227 hitter coming into the season. He has good speed for a catcher and will steal a few bases. Lomasney should add more power as he matures and will complete the package if he maintains this year’s batting average.

Weaknesses: The stiffness from football workouts has just about gone, but a few remnants of it remain. Lomasney must continue to work that out while maintaining the strength football gave him. As a hitter he needs to work on handling breaking pitches, which he worked on in the AFL. Reports were good, and most people think it’s just a matter of experience. Lomasney also will become a much more effective hitter when he learns to drive the ball the other way, which should come with at-bats.

The Future: Lomasney has the tools for success at a premium position. He hasn’t received much recognition because of his long development curve but has already become one of the better catching prospects in the game. If he continues to improve he could be the best.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Sarasota (A)       .270  189  35  51  10   0   8   28  26  57   5
Trenton (AA)       .245  151  24  37   6   0  12   31  31  44   7
Boston             .000    2   0   0   0   0   0    0   0   2   0

2. Dernell Stenson, 1B
Age: 21  B-T: L-L  Ht: 6-1  Wt: 230
Drafted: HS--LaGrange, Ga., 1996 (3rd round)  Signed by: Kevin Burrell

Background: Stenson falls back a spot on the list after being one of the youngest players in the Triple-A International League, where he was the league’s No. 2 prospect. He was the only Sox farmhand to make a league prospect list in 1999.

Strengths: Hitting prospects don’t come much better than Stenson. He has a short, strong stroke with power to all fields. His ability to drive the ball increases each year, and he is learning to have more productive at-bats and cut down on his strikeouts.

Weaknesses: Granted, he was learning a new position, but 34 errors are still alarming. His hands are all right, but he has bad feet and too often lets balls play him. He also made quite a few throwing errors. The defense sometimes was bad enough that it affected him at the plate.

The Future: Stenson will go back to Triple-A Pawtucket to start the season, and the Red Sox are considering moving him back to the outfield. His bat will get him to the big leagues soon, though.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Pawtucket (AAA)    .270  440  64 119  28   2  18   82  55 119   2

3. Sun-Woo Kim, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-2  Wt: 180
Signed: Korea, 1997  Signed by: Ray Poitevint

Background: Kim pitched for Korea in the World Junior Championships in 1994 and ’95—with games in Fenway Park that year—and became Korea’s youngest Olympian in 1996. He signed before most of his Asian counterparts with the Red Sox but has developed more slowly. He emerged in the Arizona Fall League, going 5-1, 2.27 with 31 strikeouts and seven walks in 32 innings.

Strengths: Kim has the style, size, strength and drive to succeed. His fastball has touched 95 mph with good life and deception. He has above-average control. He is intelligent and quickly picked up English as part of his rapid adjustment to American culture.

Weaknesses: Kim gets hit when he pitches up in the strike zone. He is working on a two-seam fastball and polishing his changeup. He throws a curveball and a slider but needs to pick one and refine it.

The Future: Kim’s development path has been almost perfect so far, slow and steady. He should be ready to compete for the big league rotation for the 2001 season.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Trenton (AA)      9  8  4.89  26  26   1   0  149 160  44 130

4. Wilton Veras, 3B
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-2  Wt: 198
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995  Signed by: Danny Monzon

Background: Veras’ steady climb through the organization was topped off in 1999. He made his big league debut in July and returned in September. The Red Sox felt they could trade Cole Liniak to the Cubs for Rod Beck because of Veras’ emergence.

Strengths: His tools aren’t overwhelming, but Veras’ approach to the game and the enthusiasm he brings to the ballpark every day have made him an organization favorite. His plus arm is his best tool. He has cripple power now but has 30-homer potential and has looked looser and more selective at the plate as he has matured.

Weaknesses: Veras can still be a free swinger, and his swing is still too long. His open stance leaves him vulnerable to outside pitches. He works hard on defense and reads the ball well off the bat, but he’s still inconsistent.

The Future: Veras has established himself as the third baseman of the future, but the future might not arrive for another year or so, depending on John Valentin’s health.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Trenton (AA)       .281  474  65 133  23   2  11   75  23  55   7
Boston             .288  118  14  34   5   1   2   13   5  14   0

5. Tomokazu Ohka, RHP
Age: 24  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-1  Wt: 180
Signed: Japan, 1998  Signed by: Ray Poitevint

Background: Acquired from Japan’s Yokohama BayStars, Ohka was the starting pitcher for the World team in the inaugural Futures Game in Fenway Park. Ohka returned to Fenway a couple of weeks later to make his major league debut. In the meantime, he went undefeated in the minors.

Strengths: Ohka’s fastball gets up to 92 mph with natural pop and good movement, especially down and in. He has good command, mixes his pitches well and is aggressive with the fastball. He has a sound, easy delivery.

Weaknesses: The main thing Ohka needs to do is to go after major league hitters the same way he did minor league hitters. He throws a split-finger and changeup that are average, and he’s inconsistent with his breaking pitch. He’s not real physical, so stamina can be a concern.

The Future: Ohka will compete for a big league job in spring training, but he’s likely to at least start the year back in Triple-A.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Trenton (AA)      8  0  3.00  12  12   0   0   72  63  25  53
Pawtucket (AAA)   7  0  1.58  12  12   1   0   68  60  11  63
Boston            1  2  6.23   8   2   0   0   13  21   6   8

6. Rick Asadoorian, OF
Age: 19  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-2  Wt: 185
Drafted: HS--Whitinsville, Mass., 1999 (1st round)  Signed by: Ray Fagnant

Background: Asadoorian was regarded as the best player in New England coming into the draft, and the Red Sox snapped him up with the 17th overall selection. He turned down a scholarship to Florida. He signed too late to play last summer but stood out in instructional league.

Strengths: Asadoorian has five-tool potential. He’s a great athlete who does everything well. His arm stands out the most, rating at 7 on the scout’s 2-to-8 scale. With his range, that should make him a standout right fielder. He also has great makeup and understands the principles of hitting.

Weaknesses: Even with all of his physical gifts, Asadoorian will require patience to develop. His swing is on the long side now, and he has only average power, though that is expected to change.

The Future: Even without any time on the field last season, Asadoorian, who has already drawn comparisons to Dwight Evans, could skip over short-season ball and go to Class A Augusta with a good spring.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
            Did Not Play—Signed 2000 Contract

7. Michael Coleman, OF
Age: 24  B-T: R-R  Ht: 5-11  Wt: 215
Drafted: HS--Nashville, 1994 (18th round)  Signed by: Jeff Zona

Background: Coleman’s up-and-down career was back on the upswing in 1999 after a disappointing 1998. He became an International League all-star. He had several monster games, including a 7-for-7 effort against Norfolk in which he hit for the cycle.

Strengths: You’d be hard-pressed to find a better athlete than Coleman, who turned down a football scholarship to Alabama to sign with the Red Sox. He’s a well-above-average runner with awesome strength.

Weaknesses: Coleman has always struggled with his emotions, to the point that the Red Sox have provided counseling for him. He did look more relaxed last season. Physically he has no shortcomings, though he is too aggressive at the plate.

The Future: It almost seems as if Coleman should change his name so people will look at him with a fresh perspective. If he continues to mature and the Red Sox give him an honest shot, he could be an impact player. His bat should earn him some time in Boston in 2000.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Pawtucket (AAA)    .268  467  95 125  29   2  30   74  51 128  14
Boston             .200    5   1   1   0   0   0    0   1   0   0

8. Cesar Saba, SS
Age: 18  B-T: B-R  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 160
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998  Signed by: Levy Ochoa

Background: Veras and Saba are products of the organization’s renewed commitment in the Dominican. Saba was MVP of the Red Sox’ team in the Dominican Summer League in 1998, batting .289-2-37 with nine doubles and 10 triples in 197 at-bats. He jumped over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and held his own in the short-season New York-Penn League, a league filled with college-aged and experienced players.

Strengths: Saba has a chance to be an offensive middle infielder. He has true shortstop actions with good hands, good range and a plus arm. He has a little pop in his bat from both sides of the plate and good basic hitting skills.

Weaknesses: Saba has a lot to learn in all phases of the game, evidenced by his strikeouts and his league-leading 35 errors in 69 games. His average speed on the basepaths is probably the weakest of his physical tools.

The Future: The Red Sox are excited about Saba’s potential considering his youth, the fact he just arrived in the United States in the fall of 1998 and would be a high school senior if he were American. He will begin his first full season at Augusta. His future at shortstop is clouded by Nomar Garciaparra’s presence in Boston, but the Red Sox shouldn’t have to worry about that for a while.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Lowell (A)         .275  284  38  78  16   3   2   30  28  49   1

9. Juan Pena, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-5  Wt: 215
Drafted: Miami-Dade CC Wolfson, 1995 (27th round)  Signed by: Ray Blanco

Background: Pena’s career was taking off in 1999. He made two strong starts in Boston after getting called up from Pawtucket, but shoulder tendinitis put him on the disabled list and short-circuited his season. He complained of elbow and shoulder soreness later in the year, and a plan to make up innings in winter ball was scratched when he had an appendectomy.

Strengths: Pena is most frequently compared with Giants lefthander Kirk Rueter in his approach to pitching. His curveball is his best pitch, though his fastball continues to improve, reaching 88-91 mph in his big league outings. He moves his pitches in and out well.

Weaknesses: Pena must prove he can stay healthy. His most inconsistent pitch is his changeup. His arm moves too quickly and he throws it too hard.

The Future: If Pena can prove that he’s healthy, he could compete for a spot on the big league staff. But that’s a big if.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
GCL Red Sox (R)   0  0  0.00   1   1   0   0    2   0   0   4
Sarasota (A)      0  1  7.11   2   2   0   0    6  12   0   5
Pawtucket (AAA)   4  2  4.13  10  10   0   0   48  44  13  61
Boston            2  0  0.69   2   2   0   0   13   9   3  15

10. Casey Fossum, LHP
Age: 22  B-T: B-L  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 160
Drafted: Texas A&M, 1999 (Supplemental 1st round)  Signed by: Jim Robinson

Background: After he was named a second-team prep All-American, Fossum was a seventh-round pick in the 1996 draft by the Diamondbacks. He chose instead to attend Texas A&M, where he set career and season strikeout records and pitched the Aggies to the College World Series last summer.

Strengths: Fossum is about as polished as a pitcher coming into professional baseball can be. His hard slider is his best pitch, and his fastball showed more life, getting into the low 90s. He’s aggressive and competitive, with confidence in his pitches.

Weaknesses: Fossum is not a big guy, and that will always raise questions about his durability as a starter. He is about as good as he’s going to get and must get his secondary pitches over to be effective.

The Future: If you don’t like Fossum, you see him as a situational lefty with a low ceiling. If you do, you see him as an effective No. 4 or 5 starter who will move fast to the big leagues. The early bet is on the latter.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Lowell (A)        0  1  1.26   5   5   0   0   14   6   5  16

Rest of the Best:

11. Sang-Hoon Lee, lhp
12. David Eckstein, 2b
13. Brad Baker, rhp
14. Seung-Jun Song, rhp
15. Paxton Crawford, rhp

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