Boston Red Sox: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Boston Red Sox: Scouting Reports

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, 2009.

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Boston Red Sox

After winning the World Series in 2007 and losing in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series the following year, the Red Sox looked poised to make another title run in 2009.

They got off to a 51-34 start, the best first-half record in the AL, but didn't look like the same club after the all-star break. Boston went from three games up to eight games behind the eventual World Series champion Yankees, then got swept in Division Series by the Angels.

It was the Red Sox' least successful season since they failed to make the playoffs in 2006. But it also illustrated how high their expectations have become. Boston has won at least 95 games and advanced to the postseason in six of the last seven years.

The Red Sox began the run with a team made up mostly of imports acquired through free agency and trades. As the decade progressed, they became much more self-sustaining. Since they ended an 86-year championship drought by winning the 2004 World Series, they've thrust several homegrown players into important roles.

All-stars Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis and major league stolen-base champ Jacoby Ellsbury were signed and developed by Boston, as were ace Jon Lester and closer Jonathan Papelbon. The farm system continued to provide in 2009, with Clay Buchholz helping solidify the rotation and rookie Daniel Bard handling set-up duties in the bullpen. The Red Sox also solved their catching problem by spinning three former sandwich or second-round picks (lefthander Nick Hagadone and righthanders Justin Masterson and Bryan Price) to the Indians for Victor Martinez in July.

Promotions and trades have thinned out the upper levels of the system a bit. Outfielder Josh Reddick, righthanders Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden and lefty reliever Dustin Richardson are the only farmhands with much of a shot to contribute in Boston in 2010, and none figures to play a major role.

However, the Red Sox' scouting and player development machine continues to roll on. The team has enviable depth at the lower levels, led by a pair of 2008 draft picks, outfielder Ryan Westmoreland and righthander Casey Kelly. Boston was as bullish on Westmoreland and Kelly as any club, backed up its beliefs with $5 million in bonuses and was rewarded with two blue-chip prospects.

That's the Red Sox philosophy in a nutshell, to identify elite talent and spend what it takes to acquire it. Boston aggressively mined the draft and the international market once again in 2009, handing out seven-figure bonuses to Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias ($6.25 million), Dominican shortstop Jose Vinicio ($1.95 million), third-round shortstop David Renfroe ($1.4 million) and first-round outfielder Reymond Fuentes ($1.134 million).

Papelbon's blown save in the Division Series finale was tough to stomach, but the Red Sox may have sustained a bigger loss right before the Winter Meetings. Scouting director Jason McLeod left to become vice president of scouting and player development for the Padres under new general manager Jed Hoyer, who had been Boston's assistant GM.

McLeod, who's from the San Diego area and spent a decade in the Padres front office before coming to Boston, presided over five strong drafts for the Sox. His first five picks from his first draft in 2005, highlighted by Ellsbury and Buchholz, have reached the majors. McLeod will be missed but has left the team well-stocked for the clear="right">
1.  Ryan Westmoreland, of   Born: April 27, 1990B-T: L-RHt: 6-2Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Portsmouth, R.I., 2008 (5th round)Signed by: Ray Fagnant
Ryan WestmorelandBackground: Westmoreland drew relatively little interest as a high school senior in 2008. He showed interesting athleticism at the Area Code Games the summer before, but didn't stand out. His commitment to Vanderbilt, $2 million asking price and the weather-related difficulties of scouting a Rhode Island prep player meant that few teams focused on him in the spring. One of just four clubs to talk to him directly, Boston selected him in the fifth round. Westmoreland joined the Bayside Yankees, one of the nation's top amateur teams, for the summer, giving the Red Sox more time to evaluate him. After watching him hit .557/.658/.918 for Bayside, they considered him the equivalent of a top-five-overall pick and gladly paid him $2 million at the Aug. 15 signing deadline. A pre-existing injury to his throwing shoulder turned out to be a torn labrum and required surgery in November, so Boston had him mostly DH during his pro debut at short-season Lowell in 2009. Westmoreland rated as the New York-Penn League's top prospect after exuding five-tool potential. The only negative came on Aug. 28, when he broke his collarbone crashing into the outfield wall while making a catch. Westmoreland didn't do any further damage to his shoulder and should be healthy for spring training.

Strengths: Former Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod says Westmoreland has more upside than any player the club selected in his five years running its drafts. His skills are just as impressive as his considerable tools. Westmoreland has an advanced approach for a teenager, with a short stroke, control of the strike zone and a willingness to use the entire field. His hand-eye coordination allows him to barrel balls consistency, and he has above-average power potential. He has plus-plus speed and knows how to use it, swiping 19 bases without getting caught at Lowell. Westmoreland has above-average range and should be a quality defender in center field. He also starred as a pitcher in high school, and his arm should grade as at least average once it's back to 100 percent. He's an intelligent player with the makeup to succeed.

Weaknesses: Westmoreland basically just needs to get healthy and soak up pro experience. An all-state soccer player and basketball star, he never concentrated on baseball year-round before turning pro. Boston has had him take it easy on his shoulder, so his arm isn't back to full strength yet. He used a low-three-quarters delivery when he pitched in high school and needs to raise his arm angle as an outfielder. While he has the tools for center field, he has yet to play there in pro ball.

The Future: After watching the hype get to their last two No. 1 prospects, Clay Buchholz and Lars Anderson, the Red Sox are trying to temper expectations for Westmoreland. That's hard to do with such a polished athlete, especially one with New England roots. He'll probably open 2010 at low Class A Greenville but is talented enough to force a promotion to high Class A Salem by season's end. He's a potential 30-30 player who one day could bat third in the Boston lineup.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Lowell (SS) .296 .401 .484 223 38 66 15 3 7 35 38 49 19
2.  Casey Kelly, rhp   Born: Oct. 4, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Sarasota, Fla., 2008 (1st round)Signed by: Anthony Turco
Casey KellyBackground: The Red Sox considered Kelly the most polished high school pitcher in the 2008 draft, and they spent the No. 30 pick and $3 million to sign him away from a Tennessee football scholarship. The son of former big leaguer Pat Kelly, Casey fancied himself a shortstop and played there in his pro debut and during the second half of 2009.

Strengths: Kelly's stuff and aptitude were on display at the Futures Game, where he needed just nine pitches to work a perfect inning, recording all three outs on 93-94 mph fastballs. His heater usually sits at 89-92 mph but plays up because he can cut it or sink it and command it to both sides of the plate. He throws his above-average changeup with the same arm speed and slot as his fastball. His 12-to-6 curveball has plus potential as well. He repeats his fluid, athletic delivery with ease.

Weaknesses: Advanced well beyond his years, Kelly mainly needs to throw his curveball more consistently for strikes. He lacks overpowering velocity, but he doesn't need it and should throw harder as he fills out.

The Future: Kelly had much more success on the mound, and Boston would have pushed him to pitch if he hadn't come to that decision on his own in December. A future frontline starter, he's ticketed for Double-A and may not need more than another year in the minors.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Greenville (Lo A) 6 1 1.12 9 9 0 0 48 32 0 9 39 .184
Salem (Hi A) 1 4 3.09 8 8 0 0 47 33 4 7 35 .196
3.  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: The Red Sox planned to make Reddick a draft-and-follow after taking him in the 17th round in 2006, but signed him for $140,000 after he homered against Team USA's Ross Detwiler (the sixth overall pick in 2007). A strained oblique last May couldn't stop him from reaching the majors.

Strengths: All five of Reddick's tools are average or better. He makes hard contact against pitches all over and outside the strike zone, and he has plus raw power and speed. He has improved defensively since signing and is capable of playing center field, though he really shines in right. He enhances slightly above-average arm strength with an unbelievable release and accuracy, allowing him to record 50 assists in 290 pro games.

Weaknesses: Reddick enjoys hitting so much that he has little patience at the plate, running into streaks where he gets himself out swinging at tough pitches. He showed more selectivity in 2009 but regressed once he got to Boston. He's still learning to use his speed effectively on the bases and isn't much of a threat to steal.

The Future: Reddick likely will open 2010 at Triple-A Pawtucket. Once he solves upper-level pitching, he could factor into the left-field mix if Boston doesn't re-sign Jason Bay.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Portland (AA) .277 .352 .520 256 47 71 17 3 13 29 30 62 5
Boston .169 .210 .339 59 5 10 4 0 2 4 2 17 0
Pawtucket (AAA) .127 .190 .183 71 1 9 0 2 0 6 6 13 0
4.  Lars Anderson, 1b   Born: Sept. 25, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-4Wt: 215
 Drafted: HS—Carmichael, Calif., 2006 (18th round)Signed by: Blair Henry
Lars AndersonBackground: Signed for $825,000 after he dropped to the 18th round of the 2006 draft because of his price tag, Anderson hit .304/.404/.480 in his first two pro seasons. He tore up Double-A pitching at the end of 2008, earning the No. 1 spot on this list a year ago and prompting talk he was ready to help Boston if needed. Instead, he returned to Portland and struggled all year.

Strengths: With the loft in his swing and the leverage in his big frame, Anderson is still the system's best power-hitting prospect. Even when he slumped, he continued to draw walks and recognize pitches. Before 2009, he excelled at letting the ball travel deep and using his quick hands to punish pitches. He has worked hard to become an average defender at first base.

Weaknesses: When Anderson slumped, he tinkered with his swing, which became longer and more mechanical. After previously using the opposite field well, he became more pull-conscious, perhaps pressing to hit homers. Nothing worked, and he hit just .154 with one homer after the all-star break. He's a below-average runner.

The Future: The Red Sox hope Anderson will learn from adversity, like Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard did before him. They still think he has a difference-making bat, though they may have to send him back to Double-A to get it going again.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Portland (AA) .233 .328 .345 447 50 104 23 0 9 51 63 114 2
5.  Ryan Kalish, of   Born: March 28, 1988B-T: L-LHt: 6-1Wt: 205
 Drafted: HS—Red Bank, N.J., 2006 (9th round)Signed by: Ray Fagnant
Ryan KalishBackground: After a broken hamate bone truncated his 2007 season and affected him mentally in 2008, Kalish showed last year why he got a $600,000 bonus out of high school. The Red Sox named him their minor league offensive player of the year after he set career highs in most categories and finished with a flourish, hitting .299 with 12 homers in the last two months in Double-A.

Strengths: No longer worried about his hand, Kalish turned his swing loose and hit hard line drives all over the field. He manages his at-bats as well as anyone in the system, waiting for pitches he can drive and taking walks if they don't come. He can steal and take extra bases with his slightly above-average speed and smarts. He gets good jumps on fly balls, allowing him to play center field, though he fits better in right. His arm is average.

Weaknesses: Kalish added  loft to his swing and did a better job of using his legs at the plate in 2009, and the Red Sox would like to see more of that so he can bring out more power. Some scouts see him as a tweener without the defense to play center or the bat to profile on a corner.

The Future: Kalish eventually may battle Josh Reddick for a corner-outfield job in Boston. They'll probably begin 2010 as teammates in Triple-A.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Salem (Hi A) .304 .434 .513 115 21 35 5 2 5 21 26 20 7
Portland (AA) .271 .341 .440 391 63 106 19 4 13 56 42 87 14
6.  Junichi Tazawa, rhp   Born: June 6, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 5-11Wt: 180
 Signed: Japan, 2008Signed by: Craig Shipley/Jon Deeble
Junichi TazawaBackground: A star in Japan's industrial league, Tazawa created a furor in his homeland when he asked Japanese big league clubs not to draft him so he could play in the United States. He signed a three-year, $3.3 million contract with the Red Sox in December 2008 and reached the majors eight months later. He gave up a game-winning homer to Alex Rodriguez in his first game with Boston but later blanked the Yankees for six innings in his third big league start.

Strengths: Tazawa aggressively goes after hitters with four pitches, and scouts can't agree which is the best. Some like his 88-92 fastball because he commands it so well, others point to his slider and others note that his splitter is a plus pitch at its best. He also throws a curveball. Though he's short, his clean delivery and strong frame give him the durability needed to start.

Weaknesses: Because he lacks a true plus pitch, Tazawa has to keep the ball down to succeed. He tends to miss up in the strike zone when his command is off, and that happened more frequently when he tired at the end of the season. He needs to get stronger.

The Future: With no opening in Boston's rotation, Tazawa figures to open 2010 in Triple-A. He'll continue to develop as a starter, though his opportunity could come as a reliever.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Portland (AA) 9 5 2.57 18 18 0 0 98 80 8 26 88 .222
Pawtucket (AAA) 0 2 2.38 2 2 0 0 11 7 0 1 6 .184
Boston 2 3 7.46 6 4 0 0 25 43 4 9 13 .374
7.  Reymond Fuentes, of   Born: Feb. 12, 1991B-T: L-LHt: 6-0Wt: 160
 Drafted: HS—Manati, P.R., 2009 (1st round).Signed by: Edgar Perez
Reymond FuentesBackground: A cousin of Carlos Beltran, Fuentes drew Johnny Damon comparisons before going 28th overall in the 2009 draft and signing for $1.134 million. The sixth Puerto Rican ever drafted in the first round—and the first since the Blue Jays' Miguel Negron in 2000—Fuentes made a smooth transition to pro ball, hitting .290 and ranking as the No. 3 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Strengths: Fuentes has the polished bat and plus-plus speed to become a dynamic leadoff man. A track star in high school, he uses his quickness to make things happen on the bases and in center field, where he has Gold Glove potential. His swing is geared more for contact, but he has some power to his pull side and eventually could hit as many as 15 homers per season.

Weaknesses: Fuentes has much work to do on the nuances of the game. Offensively, he can do a better job of managing his at-bats and add strength. He's learning as a basestealer and center fielder, with his speed making up for some of his mistakes. His arm strength is fringy but acceptable for a center fielder.

The Future: Similar to Jacoby Ellsbury, Fuentes is a far better hitter at the same stage and projects as a better defender. He showed enough in his pro debut to make the jump to low Class A in 2010.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
GCL Red Sox (R) .290 .331 .379 145 16 42 6 2 1 14 7 24 9
8.  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 signed for an above-slot $325,000 bonus as a sixth-rounder in 2007 and was hitting .373 at Greenville the next April when he learned he had limited stage classical Hodgkin's lymphoma. He missed the rest of the season to get treatment. With his cancer in remission, he returned to hit .297/.368/.461 and conquer high Class A as a teenager in 2009.

Strengths: Rizzo has a smooth lefthanded stroke, keeps the bat in the zone for a long time and smokes liners to all fields. He already shows doubles power and should have 20-homer pop as he turns on more pitches. Managers rated him as the high Class A Carolina League's best defensive first baseman in 2009, and he has soft hands and a strong arm.

Weaknesses: His swing can get long, and when it does, pitchers can tie Rizzo up inside with good fastballs. He's a below-average runner whose speed could rate as a 35 on the 20-80 scouting scale as he gets older, though he does move well at first base.

The Future: Rizzo will play one level behind Lars Anderson in 2010. They're competing to be the Red Sox' first baseman of the future, with Anderson having more power but Rizzo offering a more fluid swing, more consistent approach and better defense.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greenville (Lo A) .298 .365 .494 245 40 73 21 0 9 42 25 60 2
Salem (Hi A) .295 .371 .420 200 23 59 16 0 3 24 25 39 2
9.  Jose Iglesias, ss   Born: Jan. 5, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 5-11Wt: 175
 Signed: Cuba, 2009Signed by: Craig Shipley/Johnny DiPuglia
Jose IglesiasBackground: Iglesias broke into Cuba's top league as a 17-year-old and defected at the World Junior Championships in July 2008. He signed a four-year, $8.25 million big league contract last September that included a club-record $6.25 million bonus. He wowed observers with his defense and batted .275/.324/.420 in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Scouts can't say enough about Iglesias' defensive ability, raving about his lightning-fast hands, quick feet and strong arm. He has a short swing and makes consistent contact. Though he's small, he has bat speed and pop and could become a 10-homer hitter down the road. Add in his slightly above-average speed, and he draws comparisons to a young Orlando Cabrera—with a better glove.

Weaknesses: He has the upside of a No. 2 hitter, but Iglesias' aggressive nature at the plate makes it more likely that he'll hit in the bottom third of the order. Much of his offensive value may come from his batting average because he doesn't project to contribute a lot of power, steals or walks.

The Future: The Red Sox have had a revolving door at shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra began to decline, and they hope Iglesias can end that. He could make his pro debut in Double-A and be ready for Boston when Marco Scutaro's new contract expires after 2011.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Did Not PLay—Signed Late
10.  Derrik Gibson, ss/2b   Born: Dec. 5, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 170
 Drafted: HS—Seaford, Del., 2008 (2nd round)Signed by: Chris Calciano
Derrik GibsonBackground: Gibson is the best baseball athlete and highest-drafted position player to come out of Delaware since Delino DeShields was an Expos first-round pick in 1989. Gibson has similar tools and turned down a North Carolina scholarship to sign for $600,000. The Red Sox minor league baserunner of the year in 2009, he stole 28 bases in 33 tries and led the New York-Penn League with 54 runs.

Strengths: A classic leadoff hitter, Gibson has plus-plus speed and supreme control of the strike zone. He has a quick bat, solid gap power and could realize his 15-homer potential once he adds strength to his broad-shouldered frame. He covers a lot of ground in the field and has solid arm strength. His instincts and makeup are off the charts.

Weaknesses: Gibson has a funny hitch in his throwing motion that eventually will lead him to a move from shortstop to second base or possibly center field. Though he doesn't take a big cut or give less than full effort, he doesn't always get a good jump out of the batter's box.

The Future: Gibson is poised for a breakout 2010 season at Greenville. He'll still see time at shortstop, but a move is in his near future. The Red Sox don't need to rush him, but he may start to accelerate his timetable.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Lowell (SS) .290 .395 .380 255 54 74 15 4 0 25 39 42 28

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Photo Credits:

Ken Babbitt (Westmoreland)
DVM Sports (Lars Anderson)
Rodger Wood (Kalish, Gibson)
David Stoner (Fuentes)