Consistent Approach Keys Red Sox's Anderson

BOSTON—Once again, Lars Anderson struggled.

On the heels of a 2009 season that represented a struggle (.233 average, .673 OPS) in Double-A, the first baseman was sent back to Portland to start the year. There, he took little time to show that he had outgrown Double-A, hitting .355 with an Eastern League-leading 1.086 OPS through 17 games.

That, in turn, earned him a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, where the 22-year-old (he turned 23 on Sept. 25) initially stumbled. He hit .233/.336/.381, and at times appeared overmatched against more advanced competition.

Unlike the 2009 season, however, Anderson maintained confidence in his approach. Whereas he had spent a great deal of time scrutinizing his swing mechanics and tinkering with his approach last year, he did not fall into such patterns this year.

"I think the biggest adjustment for hitting (this year) was not making too many adjustments," Anderson said. "That can kind of get overwhelming."

Anderson's approach was rewarded by a strong second half when he hit .296/.345/.484. Between the two levels, he hit .274/.349/.461 with 15 homers. Team officials saw a young player with emerging power who they expect to hit more homers as he develops more loft in his swing—a process that appeared to start in Portland this year, when his groundball rate dropped significantly.

At the same time,  the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Anderson made a concerted effort to improve his defense, drawing raves from team officials about the progress he had made with the glove from the beginning of the season to its conclusion.

Overall, the Sox felt that it was a significant developmental year for one of their top position prospects. While he has not yet fulfilled the  expectations placed upon him entering the 2009 season, when he was viewed as the organization's top prospect, the Sox see his 2010 season as an unqualified success that merited Anderson's first big league callup on Sept. 7.

"Because we brought him up earlier," farm director Mike Hazen said, "I think we probably put him behind the eight-ball with that, but we've seen a lot of growth."

Sox Yarns

• Righthander Michael Bowden will pitch out of the bullpen in the Venezuelan League this winter. The 24-year-old said he will report to spring training as a reliever.

• Sandwich pick Anthony Ranaudo will not pitch during instructional league with the Sox, feeling he got enough work over the summer while pitching in the Cape Cod League.