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Iglesias was skilled enough to not only crack the Serie Nacional, Cuba's top league, as a 17-year old, but also to bat .322. He also played on Cuban national teams with Blue Jays shortstop prospect Adeiny Hechavarria, with Iglesias shifting over to second base. Iglesias defected along with Royals lefthander Noel Arguelles while at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton in July 2008, then established residency in the Dominican Republic. In September 2009, Iglesias signed a four-year, $8.25 million major league contract with the Red Sox that included a franchise-record $6.25 million bonus. His first exposure to pro ball came in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .275/.324/.420 despite his long layoff and left scouts raving about his defensive ability. Boston sent him to Double-A Portland for his pro debut last April, and Iglesias was batting .306 as the youngest regular in the Eastern League before an errant pitch broke his right middle finger in late May. He missed two months and didn't swing the bat quite as well when he returned to Portland and then the AFL, but the Red Sox were pleased with the overall results from his first pro season. Iglesias is an exceptional defender who could challenge for a Gold Glove 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. He's fearless in the field, almost to the point of overconfidence, but he makes more web gems than mistakes. When he had to play some third base in the AFL, he handled hot smashes so easily he looked like he had been at the hot corner for years. Iglesias will provide some offense as well. With good bat speed and hand-eye coordination to go with a line-drive stroke, Iglesias should hit for average. He may not be a double-digit home run threat, but he can sting some balls and should have some gap power once he adds more strength. He's aggressive at the plate, attacking pitches early in the counts and sometimes getting overly concerned with trying to crush balls, an approach that won't lead to many walks. If he develops some patience, it's possible that he could fit in the No. 2 slot in a big league batting order. More quick than fast, he's an average runner out of the batter's box and slightly better on the bases. Iglesias also has quickly adapted to life in the U.S. He quickly picked up English and communicates well with teammates. After going through six shortstops in seven seasons since trading Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox believe Iglesias can bring some stability to the position. When they signed Marco Scutaro as a free agent, they gave him a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2012, forecasting that Iglesias would be ready by then. He's developing according to plan and will spend 2011 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He might be ready by midseason.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Injuries created several openings in Boston's outfield in 2010, but Reddick couldn't seize the opportunity. After batting .390 in big league camp but losing an Opening Day roster spot to Jeremy Hermida, Reddick didn't hit 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. 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 out 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 Red Sox haven't given up on Reddick by any means, but Ryan Kalish has passed him and they signed Carl Crawford as a free agent. Boston doesn't appear to have an opening for Reddick on its 2011 roster, so he'll try to tone down his approach and make himself attractive to other clubs when he returns to Pawtucket.
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. 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 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 if Boston needs a starter.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Anderson ranked No. 1 on this list following the 2008 season, then had the worst year of his pro career, batting .233/.328/.345 in Double-A in 2009. He returned to Portland and destroyed Eastern League pitching last April, only to struggle for two months after his initial promotion to Triple-A. He recovered to hit .286/.345/.484 in the second half and earn his first big league callup. Anderson has the bat speed, hand-eye coordination and strength to hit for average and power. When he spiraled downward in 2009, he tinkered too much with his swing and approach, but he didn't panic and battled through his slump last season. He has yet to unlock home run power because he doesn't have much loft in his swing. He has had little success against lefthanders the last two years, batting .226/.310/.302 against them, and his naysayers see him as a platoon player with questionable pop. The Red Sox still think he can become a big league regular. A fringy defender in the past, Anderson has worked hard to improve at first base, becoming competent enough that Boston used him as a defensive replacement in September. He's a below-average runner. The blockbuster trade for Adrian Gonzalez all but ended Anderson's chances of becoming the everyday first baseman for the Red Sox, though they'll eventually need a replacement at DH for David Ortiz. Anderson will spend most of 2011 in Triple-A.
One of the best hitters available in the 2010 draft, Vitek went 20th overall and signed for $1.359 million. With his quick hands, sound approach and ability to recognize pitches, he should hit for a high average. He struck out more than expected in his pro debut, mainly because he needs to make some adjustments against breaking pitches, but he still showed a knack for barreling balls. He should have at least average power, if not more. Vitek is a slightly above-average runner out of the box and has plus speed once he gets going, making him a threat to take extra bases and swipe a few bags. The big question is where he'll play. Vitek played second base last spring at Ball State, in part to save his arm for pitching. With an 88-92 mph fastball and the ability to throw three pitches for strikes, he led the Missouri Valley Conference with a 3.28 ERA and was named MVC player of the year. He lacks soft hands and true middle-infield actions, so the Red Sox shifted him to third base, where he played as a sophomore. He has more than enough arm strength and athleticism for the hot corner, but he'll have to improve his hands and footwork after making 15 errors in 34 games. He had to share the position at both of his minor league stops, because both Lowell (David Renfroe) and Greenville (Michael Almanzar) had bonus babies at third base. Many clubs projected Vitek as an outfielder and he might have enough range to play in center field. If not, his bat and arm strength would allow him to profile well in right field. He'll stay at third base in 2011, when he has a chance to open the season in high Class A.
Tejeda struggled through two years as a teenager in low Class A, hitting .259/.306/.340 as he battled physical problems (including a recurring staph infection in his forearm), more experienced pitchers and defensive difficulties at shortstop. Healthier, stronger and more relaxed after a move to second base last season, he showed the talent that led an exuberant rival international scouting director to compare him to Alfonso Soriano when the Red Sox signed Tejeda for $525,000 in 2006. He set career highs across the board and earned all-star recognition in the Carolina League. Tejeda has well-above-average bat speed and more raw power than most middle infielders, projecting as a possible 15-20 home run threat. He has little trouble making sweet-spot contact and doesn't chase pitches off the plate, but he's an aggressive hitter who swings early in the count and doesn't draw many walks. If he doesn't refine his approach, upper-level pitchers will let him get himself out. Tejeda has only fringe-average speed, which gave him less-than-ideal range at shortstop. He covers enough ground at second base, where his quick hands and strong arm are assets. He's still learning his new position and led CL second basemen with 24 errors in 2010, and third base or right field could be his ultimate destination. Tejeda will be just 21 when he advances to Double-A this season. If he can duplicate the progress he made last year, a big league callup will be on the horizon.
Middlebrooks made a postseason all-star team for the first time since signing for $925,000 in 2007, earning high Class A Carolina League honors last year while continuing to make steady progress. He looks exactly like scouts want a third baseman to look, and he's starting to translate his tools into skills. Middlebrooks has a quick bat and his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame gives him the strength and leverage for significant raw power, though he needs to add more loft to his swing. He also must improve the load and timing with his stroke, because he's prone to swings and misses when he gets out of whack. He's still figuring out his swing path and approach at the plate, and he's still learning how to solve breaking balls. He also has made strides, especially with using the entire field. Middlebrooks had a low-90s fastball as a high school pitcher and has had the best infield arm in the system since he signed. Managers cited him as the best defensive third baseman and strongest infield arm in the Carolina League last season. He runs and moves well for his size, showing the athleticism that made him a potential NFL-caliber punter who drew interest from college football programs. While Middlebrooks has moved just one level per year, he'll spend 2011 in Double-A as a 22-year-old.
Navarro is one of the best upper-level talents in the system and perhaps its most frustrating prospect as well. After his 2009 season was ruined when he broke the hamate bone in his left hand on Opening Day, he bounced back last year and played his way from Double-A to Boston. Navarro has as much bat speed as any Red Sox farmhand, giving him uncommon power for a middle infielder and the potential for 15-20 homers annually. He showed more plate discipline in 2010 than he had in the past, making consistent hard contact to all fields. Navarro has average speed and enough athleticism to play some shortstop at the big league level, though not as a regular. With his quickness, soft hands and strong arm, he could handle everyday duty at second or third base. At the least, he could be a quality utilityman. Navarro's future depends as much on his dedication as his talent. Though he has grown up some since signing as a 17-year-old, his maturity still remains in question. He doesn't keep his body in peak shape, at times resembling a slightly less rotund Juan Uribe, and doesn't always run hard. Some scouts have clocked him in times befitting a 20 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. He also can get out of control at the plate and in the field, taking wild swings or trying to make impossible plays. Navarro has played just 16 games at the Triple-A level, so he'll probably begin 2011 in Pawtucket.
The Red Sox already struck it rich with one diminutive second baseman in Dustin Pedroia, and they're hoping history repeats itself with Coyle. They drafted him in the third round last June and signed him away from a commitment to North Carolina, where his brother Tommy is the starting second baseman, for $1.3 million at the Aug. 16 deadline. He stands out with his offense, and his overall game resembles that of Brian Roberts more than Pedroia's. Coyle's compact stroke isn't a surprise given his size, but his power is. He has a strong lower half and uncanny hand-eye coordination, allowing him to barrel balls all over the field, and he should be a doubles machine who can reach double digits in homers annually. He's a plus runner with good instincts and an aggressive nature on the bases, though he could lose a step as he fills out. A shortstop in high school, Coyle played third base on the U.S. national team that won the gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championships in October 2009. He'll be a second baseman as a pro, and he has the quickness, range, hands and arm to be a plus defender there. Though he played just three pro games after signing late, Coyle is advanced enough at the plate to possibly start 2011 in low Class A.
Bogaerts is the most intriguing prospect to play for the Red Sox' Rookie-level Dominican Summer League team since Hanley Ramirez in 2001. Boston signed him for $410,000 out of Aruba in 2009, and also landed his twin brother Jair, a catcher/first baseman, for $180,000. Xander was named the organization's 2010 Latin program player of the year after hitting .314/.396/.423 in the DSL in his pro debut. His performance was all the more impressive considering that the Red Sox had promised his mother that he could finish high school, so he had only two weeks to prepare for the DSL season. Bogaerts already has a sound approach and a good swing, and his strong hands and still-growing 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame portend above-average power in the future. He drives balls to the opposite field and will learn to turn on more pitches as he adds experience. Though Bogaerts is quick and athletic, he figures to slow down at least a little as he fills out, which likely will lead to a move from shortstop. He has plus arm strength, so he would profile well at third base. After his scintillating performance in the DSL and instructional league, the Red Sox are excited to see what Bogaerts will do when he comes Stateside and plays in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2011.
After two successful years at the Rookie and short-season levels, Gibson struggled for the first time in low Class A last year. He batted .230, 46 points below his previous career average, and hit just .168 in the final month. He didn't handle adversity well and got too hard on himself, which made it more difficult to snap out of his slump. Though Gibson didn't perform in 2010 like he had in his past, his swing remained quick and sound and he generally did a good job of controlling the strike zone. A late bloomer physically with broad shoulders and a lean frame, he'll be more effective at the plate once he adds some strength. He possibly could hit 10-15 homers on an annual basis. Gibson enhances his on-base ability with a knack for drawing walks, and his plus-plus speed makes him a huge stolen base threat. He didn't allow his hitting woes to affect his defense, leading South Atlantic League shortstops with a .960 fielding percentage in his first year playing the position full-time. He also saw action at second and third base in his first two pro seasons, but he has the range and arm strength for shortstop. Though he has a funky throwing motion, he has cleaned it up some since signing. Gibson has one of the highest ceilings in the system, with the potential to become a dynamic leadoff man and solid defender. He also could be valuable as a Chone Figgins-type utilityman. Despite his struggles, he'll move up to high Class A in 2011.
If the Red Sox could combine Lavarnway's bat with Tim Federowicz's defense, they'd have an easy solution behind the plate. Lavarnway set an Ivy League record with 33 homers in three years at Yale before signing for $325,000 as a sixth-round pick in 2008. He led Red Sox farmhands with 21 homers in 2009 and with 102 RBIs last season, when Boston named him its co-minor league offensive player of the year along with since-traded Anthony Rizzo. Lavarnway has above-average power to all fields and controls the strike zone well. His long arms give him some length to his swing and leave him with some holes on the inside part of the plate, but he makes consistent hard contact. Whether Lavarnway can make it behind the plate remains uncertain. Scouts gave him virtually no chance of catching when he first entered pro ball, and he has worked very hard to develop adequate catch-and-throw skills. He has an average arm but not quick feet, leading to fringy pop times in the 2.1-second range. He did throw out 33 percent of basestealers in 2010. He has a thick lower half and lacks flexibility, so he'll have to continue his diligence to have a shot as a catcher. He'll always be a well-below-average runner. Lavarnway kept on hitting in the Arizona Fall League, and he'll put himself in contention for a big league job in 2012 if he performs well in the upper levels of the minors this season. He and Federowicz will open the year sharing catching duties in Double-A.
The Indians made Brentz a 30th-round pick out of high school in 2007 as a pitcher, but it quickly became clear his future was as a hitter. He led NCAA Division I in hitting (.465), homers (28) and slugging (.930) as a sophomore in 2009, then followed up by batting .366 with Team USA, laying the groundwork for going 36th overall in the 2010 draft. After he signed for $889,200, the Red Sox had him try contact lenses to improve his vision. He didn't take to the lenses and eventually ditched them toward the end of a lackluster pro debut. His all-or-nothing approach also created problems. Brentz has explosive bat speed and power, but Boston is trying to settle him down at the plate. He started to use the opposite field and shorten his swing with two strikes more often toward the end of the season and in instructional league. He'll always strike out some, but the Red Sox want to find a happy medium where makes more contact and hits for a decent average without sacrificing much power. Brentz has solid-average speed and plus arm strength that should make him a good defender in right field. He'll continue to work on making adjustments at the plate this year in Class A.
The Phillies drafted Workman in the third round out of high school in 2007, but he wanted $350,000 and they wouldn't move past $275,000. Though he earned all-star honors in consecutive summers in the Cape Cod League, he didn't become a full-time starter at Texas until last spring, when he ranked fifth in NCAA Division I with 12 victories. Some teams considered him with their first-round pick before mild signability concerns dropped him to the Red Sox in the second round. He signed for $800,000 at the Aug. 16 deadline. Workman pitches off a 91-94 mph fastball that peaks at 96 and creates swings and misses with its late life. His curveball had been his best pitch for much of his college career, but it now takes a back seat to a high-80s cutter that he uses as a strikeout pitch against lefthanders. He improved his changeup as well as his command in 2010, learning that it doesn't pay to overthrow. If Workman performs well in spring training, he could begin his pro career in high Class A next April.
Few pitchers in the Red Sox system have a combination of pitches more devastating than Wilson's fastball and slider. While throwing 134 innings in his first full year as a pro in 2010, he sat at 92-93 mph and topped out at 95 with his fastball throughout the season. His low-80s, late-breaking slider can be unhittable. Though all 40 of Wilson's pro appearances have been as a starter, his future is as a reliever. There's some effort to his delivery--he had Tommy John surgery in 2007--and he overthrows at times, so his command can come and go. He doesn't have a reliable third pitch to help him turn over a lineup two or three times, which became apparent when Double-A hitters tattooed him to the tune of a 6.66 ERA. He'll flash an average changeup but it often lacks enough separation from his fastball, and his curveball is just a show-me pitch. Wilson has the makeup to work the late innings and the stuff to be a closer. There's no timetable for moving him to the bullpen, but Boston needs relief help and he might be able to contribute by the end of 2011. He'll return to Double-A to start the year.
Like Alex Wilson, Weiland has worked as a starter in pro ball but could help cure Boston's bullpen woes in the near future. He has a better chance to start than Wilson does because he has more pitches and more command. Weiland's best pitch is a low-90s fastball that peaks at 95 mph but is most notable for its hard sink. He surrendered just 10 homers in his first 263 pro innings before tiring and pitching up in the zone more in the last two months of 2010, when he gave up eight more longballs. His breaking ball has improved since he turned pro, going from a slurve to a true curve that generates swings and misses against righthanders. He also has upgraded his feel for his changeup, though he needs to use it more often and do a better job of maintaining his arm speed when he throws it. Weiland relishes pitching inside, as evidenced by him leading the Carolina League and Eastern League in hit batters (16 both times) the last two seasons. He does a good job of controlling the running game, giving up just six steals in 17 attempts in 2010. He excelled as a closer at Notre Dame, setting school records for single-season (16) and career (25) saves. As with Wilson, the Red Sox haven't decided to make Weiland a reliever yet, though it could happen in 2011. He'll open the season in Triple-A.
Federowicz doesn't have Ryan Lavarnway's bat, but there aren't any questions as to whether he can remain behind the plate. He's the best defensive catcher in the system, with average arm strength that plays up because of his good footwork and quick transfer and release. He consistently produces 1.9-2.0 second pop times and threw out 33 percent of basestealers in 2010. He has improved his receiving since turning pro, and his intelligence and leadership are assets behind the plate. Federowicz opened eyes by batting .345/.393/.562 in low Class A to start 2009, but he has hit .254/.309/.377 in high Class A since. Though he has a decent idea of the strike zone and manages his at-bats well, his offensive ceiling is probably a .260 hitter with gap power. He runs well for a catcher but still has below-average speed. The Red Sox would like Federowicz to get a little quicker and in a little better shape. He and Lavarnway will share catching duties in Double-A to start the season.
A teammate of Kolbrin Vitek at Ball State, Hazelbaker hit just .246 and made 31 errors at second base in his first two college seasons. Like Vitek, he used a strong summer performance in the Great Lakes League as a springboard to a standout junior season, ranking among the NCAA Division I leaders in hitting (.429), on-base percentage (.550) and steals (29) in 2009. A fourth-round pick that June, he had a dismal pro debut but started to turn things around in instructional league. In 2010, he made the South Atlantic League all-star team, led Red Sox farmhands with 63 steals (the most in the system since 1981) in 80 attempts and won the organization's minor league baserunner of the year award. Hazelbaker can go from the left side of the plate to first base in less than 4.0 seconds on a bunt and his speed rates a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. In addition to sheer quickness, he also possesses the best baserunning instincts in the system. More than just a speedster, Hazelbaker also has plus raw power to his pull side. He's willing to take walks, but his swing can get long at times and he needs to make more consistent contact so he can take advantage of his speed. Hazelbaker has the athleticism to handle center field, though he didn't get much of an opportunity to do so playing alongside superior defender Reymond Fuentes in low Class A last year. He played more in right field, where his fringy arm isn't a great fit, but should get a shot in center this year in high Class A, after Fuentes went to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Hazelbaker will be old for that level at 23, so Boston would like him to force his way to Double-A at some point during the season.
Tazawa starred in Japan's industrial leagues and created a furor when he asked Japanese major league teams to let him go undrafted so he could play in the United States. After signing a three-year, $3.3 million big league deal with the Red Sox in December 2008, he reached Boston eight months later. He didn't pitch at all in 2010, however, after injuring his elbow in big league camp and requiring Tommy John surgery in April. Before he got hurt, Tazawa went after hitters with four average pitches and plus control. His fastball command made his 88-92 heater his best pitch, and his slider and splitter were effective as well. He also threw a curveball to give hitters a different look. Tazawa isn't big and wore down at the end of 2009, getting in trouble against major league hitters when he left pitches up in the zone. His funky arm action gave him deception but also may have contributed to his elbow problems. Tazawa's ceiling is as a No. 4 starter or a seventh-inning reliever, and he'll find more opportunity with the Red Sox in the latter role. He'll be ready for spring training but Boston may wait until the weather warms up in May before turning him loose in Triple-A.
When the Red Sox gave first-round money ($975,000) to seventh-rounder Younginer in 2009, they knew they were getting one of the most electric arms in the draft but also one that would need plenty of time to develop. He lived up to that reputation during his 2010 pro debut. Younginer consistently threw 92-94 mph fastballs and topped out at 96, but he didn't throw nearly enough quality strikes. His control and command are still works in progress, hampered by a stiff delivery that features hesitation and a long arm action. Boston is working to get him to consistently repeat his mechanics rather than trying to overhaul them. Younginer still is figuring out his secondary pitches as well. After showing a power 12-to-6 curveball in instructional league in 2009, he had a slower bender last summer. His changeup was better than the Red Sox anticipated but still has a ways to go. He also has to figure out how to combat the running game after leading the short-season New York-Penn League by giving up 27 steals in 62 innings. While Younginer looks more like a reliever than a starter in the long run, he does have closer potential. Boston will keep him in the rotation this year in low Class A in order to give him innings to work on his long to-do list.
Lin controls the strike zone and plays center field better than anyone in the system, but it's still uncertain whether he can contribute enough with the bat to make an impact in the major leagues. Signed for $400,000 out of high school in Taiwan, where he was a national 100-meter and high-jump champion, he has continued to play for his nation at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic. The Red Sox named him their minor league defensive player of the year in 2010, when managers rated him the top outfield defender in the Eastern League. He has plus speed and tremendous instincts in center field, getting quick jumps and making good reads. Unlike most center fielders, he has a cannon for an arm and has recorded 33 assists during the last two seasons. He settled down defensively last year, making just three errors after trying to do too much at times and committing 11 in 2009. Though Lin is an extremely disciplined hitter who draws walks and rarely strikes out, his offensive contributions have been minimal. He has just fair bat speed and a flat swing, so he makes a lot of soft contact. He had just 23 extra-base hits in 2010 and owns a career .363 slugging percentage. He gets on base but isn't an efficient basestealer and makes mistakes on the basepaths. Until Lin starts driving the ball, it's difficult to project him as a big league regular. He'll advance to Triple-A at age 22.
Mostly a shortstop in high school, Balcom-Miller opted to focus on pitching at West Valley (Calif.) JC. The Red Sox nearly drafted him in 2009, but the Rockies beat them to him in the sixth round. Boston finally landed him last August, getting him in a trade for Manny Delcarmen. Balcom-Miller has enjoyed success in his brief pro career, winning Rookie-level Pioneer League pitcher of the year honors in his debut and ranking third in the South Atlantic League in baserunners per nine innings (1.07) and strikeout-walk ratio (6.3) in 2010. He can't overpower hitters but he can put his pitches wherever he wants. He runs his fastball from 89-93 mph, and it's more notable for its sink and command than velocity. His slider and changeup are average complementary pitches, though he needs to use his changeup more often. His delivery is less than smooth, but it adds deception and doesn't stop him from filling the strike zone. While his ceiling is as a No. 4 or 5 starter, his advanced pitchability gives him a good chance to reach it. He'll move up the ladder to high Class A in 2011.
Built like but unrelated to the New York Giants running back of the same name, Jacobs was a prime runningback recruit with a football scholarship from Auburn, where his football doppelganger played for one season. Boston was able to divert him from football by drafting him in the 10th round in 2009 and signing him for $750,000. He has one of the highest offensive ceilings in the system, drawing comparisons to former MVP Kevin Mitchell. Jacobs is still very raw in baseball, however, though he held his own as one of the few teenage regulars in the New York-Penn League last summer. Jacobs packs a lot of power in his muscular frame and led Lowell with 18 doubles and six homers. He has a very quick bat, though he needs to do a better job of controlling the strike zone and using the entire field. Despite his football background, Jacobs isn't an all-around athlete and his value comes almost entirely from his bat. He doesn't have a quick first step and has just fringy speed once he gets going. He's a work in progress as an outfield corner, and he'll eventually settle in left field because he has well-below-average arm strength and lacks accuracy on his throws. The Red Sox are set in left field with Carl Crawford for the foreseeable future, so they can afford to give Jacobs all the time he needs to develop. He'll make his full-season debut in Greenville this year.
The Red Sox signed a pair of Cuban defectors in July. Catcher Adalberto Ibarra initially drew more attention than Linares because he's three years younger, plays the position at which Boston is the weakest and originally agreed to a $3 million major league contract. But Ibarra failed his physical, signed a renegotiated deal for a $750,000 bonus and had labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder in November. By then, Linares had opened eyes with his play in the Arizona Fall League, where he finished second in the batting race at .397. He spent seven seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional with the same La Habana club that top Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias played for, with Linares leading the league with a .586 slugging percentage in 2006-07 and winning a pair of Cuban Gold Gloves. He defected in November 2009 after failing to make Cuba's World Cup team and signed with Boston for $750,000. He didn't stand out during his brief pro debut in the Gulf Coast Leage and at Portland, but he looked like a different player in the Arizona Fall League. Linares has a quick, short swing and had a better approach in Arizona, using the whole field. He's a free swinger who can handle most fastballs, but he'll need more patience to hit major league pitching. He has average power and plus speed, and he's capable of playing all three outfield spots. He enhances his range by getting quick jumps and taking direct routes to balls, and he has solid arm strength. Linares is already 26 and may not be more than a fourth outfielder, but he's definitely intriguing. The Red Sox will know more about what they have in him after he spends 2011 in Triple-A.
When the Red Sox traded Casey Kotchman to the Mariners for third baseman Bill Hall last January, the deal couldn't have been much more one-sided. Boston saved about $5 million in luxury-tax calculations after getting rid of Kotchman's salary and having Milwaukee and Seattle pick up most of Hall's. Hall had his best season since 2006, hitting 18 homers while playing seven different positions before becoming a free agent. The cherry on top is Celestino, who hadn't played above Rookie ball when he became the player to be named in the deal in March. Red Sox scout Matt Dorey had liked what he saw of Celestino in instructional league the previous fall, and Boston monitored his progress the next winter in the Dominican League. Celestino pitched with a low-90s sinker during the 2010 season, then started popping some 95-mph fastballs during instructional league. With his tall body and long arms, he delivers balls at an angle that's tough on hitters. His fastball is by far his best pitch right now, though he does show some feel for a changeup. The key to his development will be his ability to refine his breaking ball, which is only rudimentary at this point. His control is fine but he'll need to improve his command. Celestino will make his full-season debut in 2011 when he starts the season at Greenville. He'll remain a starter for now but could be destined for the bullpen in the long run if his secondary pitches don't come around.
The No. 1 prospect on this list a year ago, Westmoreland appeared poised to join the ranks of the game's elite prospects in 2010. That changed last March, when headaches and numbness led him to take a medical leave from minor league camp. Doctors detected a cavernous malformation (an abrnormal cluster of blood vessels) in his brain, and he underwent five hours of surgery to repair it. It typically takes 12-18 months for full recovery from the procedure, and Westmoreland made encouraging progress in the first six months afterward. He was running, throwing and hitting off a tee by mid-August, and he took some light batting practice during instructional league. The Red Sox aren't putting any timetable on his return to the diamond. Before the shocking diagnosis, Westmoreland wowed scouts with his tools and skills. Signed away from a Vanderbilt commitment for $2 million as a fifth-round pick in 2008, he ranked as the New York-Penn Leauge's top prospect during his 2009 pro debut. He displayed plus-plus speed, above-average power potential and center-field range and an average arm. He also had advanced hitting instincts, with a short stroke, an all-fields approach and good control of the strike zone.
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