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As Mike Lord wrapped up his scouting trip to Aruba in early 2009, he'd identified only one player--catcher Jair Bogaerts--who represented a strong candidate to sign. But before leaving, the Red Sox international crosschecker made his standard inquiry: Anyone else to see? Most emphatically yes. Lord learned that Jair's twin brother Xander had to be seen despite being bedridden with chicken pox. The scout then persuaded Bogaerts' family to let the young shortstop come to a workout, and it was love at first sight when Boston signed Bogaerts for $410,000. In four years, Bogaerts has rocketed to the big leagues, spending no more than 104 games at any level. He has been a standout performer at every stop since then despite being one of the youngest players at each level. The Red Sox emphasized their desire to see him improve his plate discipline in spring training 2013, and improve he did. Bogaerts posted a .388 on-base percentage between Double-A and Triple-A, then drew critical walks both in the American League Division Series against the Rays and the AL Championship Series against the Tigers' Max Scherzer. He became the youngest Red Sox position player in four decades when he made his debut as a 20-year-old in August and the team's youngest postseason starter since Babe Ruth. Bogaerts has already shown the ability to excel against top pitching in the playoffs, with game-changing patience and power. With a simple, balanced swing, impressive bat speed and strength, he demonstrated shocking maturity and advancement at the plate in his year-ending exposure to the majors. He has home run power from left field to right-center, resulting in the confidence to stay back on pitches, swing at strikes and drive them. Defensively, he continued to make strides, showing the athleticism, hands, arm and mechanical efficiency (despite his size) to play shortstop, a position most evaluators believe he can play at a major league level. After playing the hot corner for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, he adapted quickly to his crash course at third. Bogaerts made considerable defensive progress at both positions, to the point where he gives Boston the flexibility to let him play either position, depending on the team's offseason. He has average speed, and stolen bases won't be part of his game. October may not have been so much Bogaerts' coming-out party as a tantalizing scratching of the surface. "They may end up making a statue of this guy," one evaluator said. He's major league ready as a shortstop or third baseman, one who will hit lower in the order to begin 2014, with a likely peak of 25-plus homers a year in the middle of the lineup.
Owens backed up a 2012 season when he had one of the top strikeout rates in the minors with an even better year in 2013. He topped all minor league ERA qualifiers in opponent average (.177), ranked second in strikeouts (169) and dropped his ERA from 4.87 in 2012 to 2.67. At one point, he had a streak of 19 1/3 straight no-hit innings at Salem. Owens has added roughly 25 pounds of muscle since signing, resulting in better velocity and an increased ability to repeat his delivery. He works mostly at 88-92 mph, but has touched 95, and hitters struggle to pick up the ball out of his hand, resulting in swings and misses on his fastball and excellent changeup. His curveball has been on and off, but when it's effective, he dominates. Owens also shows an advanced feel for pitching. The Red Sox believe his command and control will improve, but his walk rate was 4.5 per nine innings and got worse over the course of the season. Owens should be at least a No. 4 starter with the upside of a very good No. 3 or perhaps a No. 2. He'll open 2014 in Double-A.
After a stellar first full season in 2012, Bradley dazzled in 2013 spring training and opened the year in the big league lineup. He struggled there but rebounded at Triple-A Pawtucket to show a leadoff hitter's skills and impact defense in center field, which translated to improvement in his subsequent two big league callups. While he showed pull power in 2013, Bradley does so at the expense of his plate discipline and line-to-line hitting approach. After being beaten by inside fastballs in his first big league callup, he showed signs during 2013 of addressing that deficiency. Evaluators are convinced his aptitude, pitch recognition and strike-zone awareness will permit him to make the necessary adjustments. Though not a burner, Bradley's instincts permit him to get great breaks while taking strong routes to the ball, resulting in outstanding defense in center field. Bradley is capable of replacing Jacoby Ellsbury as the everyday center fielder in 2014 and could grow into an above-average regular. At worst, his defense suggests a floor of a valuable part-time outfielder.
A shortstop until the end of his prep career, Webster enticed Dodgers scout Lon Joyce to turn him in as a pitcher after showcasing a low-90s heater, promising curveball and sound delivery. Signed for $20,000 as an 18th-round pick, Webster added velocity and became a key trade chip for the Dodgers, who traded him to Boston in the August 2012 Adrian Gonzalez-Carl Crawford-Josh Beckett blockbuster. Webster showed the best pure stuff in the Red Sox system, though inconsistent command and trust in his fastball resulted in him getting roughed up in the big leagues. Webster features a 93-98 mph fastball that he can sink for bad contact or swings and misses, and he can also get whiffs with his plus changeup--his best secondary pitch--and slider. His athletic delivery suggests that he should be able to control his stuff, but there are times when he can't harness his two-seamer, as evidenced by his surprisingly high home run yield in the big leagues (2.1 per nine innings) and 16 hit batters in 105 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket. Webster's stuff is outrageous, suggesting top-of-the-rotation potential, but his inability to command his fastball and questions about his confidence raise real concerns about whether he'll reach his ceiling. A floor as a middle reliever is possible, but he'll try to aim higher as he returns to Pawtucket's rotation in 2014.
In what proved to be a wise decision, Swihart took up both catching and switch-hitting in high school to improve his draft stock. Though somewhat raw when he turned pro, he made considerable strides offensively and defensively in 2013 for a high Class A Salem team that won the Carolina League championship. He showed steady offensive improvement throughout the year. Though his swing from both sides is geared for line drives, Swihart makes consistently loud, hard contact, and could go from hitting for average with solid on-base skills to a catcher with the potential for 15-20 homers in his prime. His swing is fluid from both sides of the plate. He's an unusually-athletic catcher who moves well and can control the running game with above-average arm strength, while possessing tremendous intangibles that suggest an ability to lead a pitching staff. He moves well for a catcher, showing average baserunning ability. Swihart ought to open 2014 at Double-A Portland, and with a system that has a number of solid catching options in the upper levels, the Red Sox need not rush his development. Still, the team believes development of his present tools would make him an above-average catcher. If, as team officials believe, he develops more power as he matures, he has the ceiling of an all-star.
Brought up in a family of baseball rats that included Mets 2012 first-rounder Gavin Cecchini, Garin slipped to the fourth round in 2010 over signability concerns at a time when he was recovering from a torn ACL. In his pro career, he's been a study in offensive consistency, an on-base machine who led full-season minor leaguers in OBP (.443) in 2013 while spending the season's second half at Double-A Portland. Cecchini has what one evaluator called a "magic barrel" that allows him to send liners up the middle and to left-center field, a trait amplified by tremendous strike-zone judgment. Though he's strong, scouts question whether he will (or should) sell out his approach to generate prototype power for a corner. He has at best average speed, yet his feel for the game permits him to steal bases. At third base, some feel he could be an average defender, while others wonder whether his subpar range may result in a move to left field or first base. Cecchini's ability to hit for average and get on base is unquestioned, suggesting a future as a big league regular. Given that the Red Sox have superior defenders on the left side of the infield--Xander Bogaerts, Deven Marrero and Will Middlebrooks--he may shift positions. Cecchini's spring will determine if he graduates to Triple-A Pawtucket.
No one more significantly redefined his prospect status in the system in 2013 quite like Betts. Drafted as a multi-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, bowling), he showed a line-drive swing, good strike-zone judgment, speed and no power (zero homers) at short-season Lowell in 2012. That changed in 2013, when he showed improved patience and drove the ball for extra bases with startling frequency, first at low Class A Greenville then at high Class A Salem. Betts joined eight other minor leaguers with at least 15 homers and 30 steals in 2013. Though he has a sizable leg kick, Betts has the body control and athleticism to maintain balance, the quick hands to let the ball travel and the hand-eye coordination and bat speed to produce extra-base power. He shows a penchant for highlight-reel defensive plays at second base, and he has the athleticism and range for the Red Sox to consider shortstop and center field as possibilities. Betts' arm is better suited for the right side of the infield. He pairs above-average speed with good reads to steal bases at an excellent rate. With Dustin Pedroia signed for eight years, Betts' future with organization, barring a trade, is most likely at any position but the one he's playing. He appears headed for Double-A Portland in 2014.
Most scouts viewed Workman as a future bullpen arm when he was drafted in 2010. Yet the development of his curveball and changeup in 2011 along with fearlessness about throwing strikes has forced many to reconsider. Workman opened 2013 at Double-A Portland but was in the big leagues by July, making three impressive starts before moving to the bullpen. He gained the trust of manager John Farrell to the point of pitching the eighth inning of the final game of the World Series. Workman's delivery has always shown sufficient effort to raise questions about his ability to start, but his professional track record suggests he has no problems repeating his motion or sustaining power through 100 pitches. He's the most consistent strike-thrower in the Red Sox system, with a career 4.0 SO/BB ratio in the minors. As a starter, Workman sits at 92-94 mph with an average curve that can get swings and misses, a cutter that elicits groundballs and an occasional changeup. As a reliever, he typically sticks to his fastball and curve. He's willing to challenge opponents with his four-seamer, sometimes proving vulnerable to homers but getting swings and misses as well. Workman represents a big league-ready reliever (with closer potential) or depth starting option. Needs at the big league level likely will dictate 2014 big league role.
Barnes generated unrealistic expectations with five overpowering starts at low Class A Greenville to begin his pro career in 2012, but he hit a wall in the second half of that year at high Class A Salem. He then saw his walk rate and vulnerability to hard contact increase at Double-A Portland in 2013. Still, his strikeout rate of 11.3 per nine innings topped Eastern Leaguers with at least 100 innings. Barnes is a big, durable pitcher who works at 93-96 mph and has touched 98 with the ability to command his fastball to both sides and get swings and misses in the strike zone. He's developed a solid changeup. His curveball has some potential but is inconsistent to the point of being mostly a non-factor. Barnes' long arm action makes it difficult to project the breaking ball to be more than average. The power, life and command he shows with his fastball, in combination with a changeup to get opponents off the heat, are sufficiently impressive to suggest a future big league starter. Whether Barnes fits best as a back-end starter or closer--or his ultimate ceiling of first-division No. 3--will depend on the development of his curveball. He'll open 2014 at Triple-A Pawtucket, but Boston's rotation depth suggests he need not be rushed in 2014.
Ball entered the 2013 draft as perhaps the top two-way prospect, but when he opened the year sitting comfortably at 92-94 mph, the question about whether his upside was greater as a pitcher or center fielder evaporated. The possibility of an athletic lefthander with three above-average pitches convinced the Red Sox to take Ball with the seventh overall pick, the club's highest draft position in nearly half a century. Boston signed him for $2.75 million, the second-highest in Red Sox draft history. Ball is one of the top athletes in the system, underscoring the idea that he can have the body control and strength to repeat his delivery as well as command three solid to plus offerings. His fastball sat 88-94 mph in high school, with more velocity possible as he fills out. His plus changeup pairs nicely with a curve that Ball began throwing as a high school junior. His curve already has the makings of a solid to plus pitch. Scouts admire his clean arm action. Ball likely will begin 2014 at low Class A Greenville. With the potential for three plus pitches, he may represent the greatest potential for a true No. 1 in the Sox system, possessing what one evaluator called "serious wow factor," albeit with a mountain of variables that come with any high school pitching prospect.
The year after leading Louisiana State to the 2009 College World Series championship, Ranaudo signed with the Red Sox for $2.55 million as a supplemental pick out of the 2010 draft. As a pro, he's mixed healthy seasons with unhealthy ones, struggling to post consistent results prior to 2013, when he started the Double-A Eastern League all-star game, appeared in the Futures Game and made two playoff starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. Ranaudo shows the ability to overpower opponents with a 91-95 mph fastball, which tops out at 97, and a solid curveball while mixing in an effective changeup with some sink. The curve flashes plus with power at up to 82 mph, but he struggles to locate it. Some evaluators said Ranaudo flashes the stuff of a potential No. 2 starter, while others note his inconsistent secondary stuff and peg his upside as that of a mid-rotation arm. The latter group cautions that he may not get the swings and misses on the high fastballs he favored at Double-A Portland. That certainly was the case in Triple-A, where his strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 6.2 per nine innings. With Boston's crowded big league rotation, Ranaudo will return to Pawtucket to start 2014, with a chance to position himself for a callup if he performs well in his first big league camp.
Vazquez grew up in Puerto Rico watching Ivan Rodriguez's catching instruction video, and the lessons evidently took, as he shows above-average defensive ability behind the plate. Pitchers love throwing to him, and swear by his judgment when it comes to understanding their strengths and reading hitters' swings. Vazquez routinely records pop times between 1.7 and 1.8 seconds on throws to second base. "He can be a difference-maker," one evaluator said. "He's going to be so good defensively that he won't have to hit a ton." However, his aggressiveness on defense resulted in a bit of a regression in 2013. While Vazquez led the Double-A Eastern League in assists (80) and total chances (871), he also led the way in errors (10) and passed balls (23). At the plate, he cut his strikeout rate nearly in half while hitting .289/.376/.395 at Portland, finishing eighth in the EL batting race. Evaluators feel that, despite Vazquez's five homers, he possesses sneaky pop that could permit double-digit home run totals in tandem with an ability to swing at strikes and get on base at a respectable rate. That package suggests a ceiling as a big league starter, with his defense being a separator that will buy him time to develop his bat in the majors. A return to Triple-A Pawtucket awaits in 2014.
Margot is the preeminent five-tool prospect in the system, with a combination of tools and maturity to allow him to compete against much older competition. He signed for $800,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. The Red Sox discussed the possibility of assigning Margot to low Class A Greenville in 2013, but the 18-year-old instead made his U.S. debut in the short-season New York-Penn League, holding his own with a .270/.346/.351 batting line and 18 steals. While his well above-average bat speed didn't produce loud results in 2013, Margot showed energy and impact on the bases and in the field, with a No. 2 hitter's mix of above-average hitting and and on-base skills. Scouts who like him see a ceiling of perhaps 12-15 homers and 25-plus steals, all while contributing above-average defense in center field. Margot needs to show that he can hit breaking balls and not chase them outside of the zone, but such concerns came as little surprise for the youngest position player in the Penn League. He'll make his full-season debut at Greenville in 2014.
Drafted 31st overall in 2012 and signed for $1.575 million, Johnson's pro debut season came to a terrifying halt when he was struck in the face by a line drive. Unable to eat solid food for months, he lost significant weight and strength, resulting in unimpressive stuff and performance to begin the 2013 season at low Class A Greenville. The Red Sox shut Johnson down for six weeks with shoulder tendinitis, and when he returned, so did his stuff. He showed the ability to throw a low-90s fastball down in the zone, while getting swings and misses with a solid curveball (better than what Boston saw from him as an amateur) and changeup. In his final eight starts at Greenville and high Class A Salem, Johnson logged a 1.50 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 42 innings. With a healthy offseason, he should come to camp in 2014 with the four-pitch mix--fastball, curve, changeup and cutter/slider--he showed at Florida, and he has the pitchability to suggest a No. 5 starter floor and a mid-rotation ceiling. Though he'll open in Salem after spending almost all of 2013 in Greenville, Johnson's ability to throw strikes could allow him to move quickly.
College shortstops who project as big league regulars are rarely available in the draft, and so the Red Sox jumped at the chance to select Marrero in the 2012 draft after a modest offensive performance as a junior left him available at No. 24. He projects as a bottom-of-the-order hitter who can serve as the defensive anchor of an infield. His instincts and intelligence permit him to have above-average range with great hands and a strong, reliable arm. It's a defensive package that compares favorably with what the Red Sox received from Stephen Drew in 2013. Marrero's offense was modest in 2013, when he hit .252/.338/.317 between high Class A Salem and Double-A Portland. He shows good strike-zone judgment and keeps the bat head in the zone with a clean swing that yields liners up the middle with some doubles. His baseball acumen, meanwhile, permits him to be an above-average runner, and he went 27-for-29 in stolen base attempts in 2013 despite average speed. Marrero is a solid bet to be a big league regular, even if one with second-division potential. He will return to Double-A in 2014.
The Red Sox drafted Brentz after he followed a spectacular sophomore year in which he displayed substantial raw power with an injury-impaired struggle as a Middle Tennessee State junior. The boom or bust pattern has followed him into the professional ranks, with a particularly forgettable 2013. On the cusp of his first big league camp, Brentz accidentally shot himself in the left leg, he said, while cleaning his handgun. The Red Sox subsequently revoked his spring training invitation. Though he led Boston minor leaguers with 19 home runs in 2013, Brentz played in just 88 games after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee that required surgery in July. Offensively, his aggressiveness and penchant to chase breaking balls led to streakiness and a .262/.313/.487 batting line at Triple-A Pawtucket. Still, he possesses considerable upside as a righthanded hitter with "rare double-plus power," according to one scout with an American League club. Brentz has regressed defensively since college, and looks increasingly like a left fielder, but there's still a chance that he could emerge as a run-producer who can bat in the lower third of the order.
Bryce Brentz wasn't the only Red Sox prospect to gain notoriety during spring training 2013. While Brentz shot himself in the leg in February, Britton's brush with infamy came when he was arrested and charged with a DUI and reckless driving in Fort Myers, Fla., in early March. But after a slow start, the lefthander showed an improved slider that, in tandem with a 91-95 mph fastball, allowed him to start dominating in Double-A to earn a July promotion to Triple-A. That stop proved brief, as a need for lefty bullpen help resulted in Britton's on-the-fly conversion to the bullpen in Boston. He opened his big league career with seven scoreless appearances, spanning nine innings, but he subsequently tailed. Still, Britton showed the ability to get swings and misses in the big leagues with two pitches. The Red Sox haven't abandoned the idea of moving the strong southpaw back into the rotation, given that he also can spin a curveball and has made progress with his changeup. At the least, Britton looks like an impact bullpen arm after making strides as a strike-thrower.
The son of Dodgers Dominican scout Rafael Rijo, Wendell signed for $575,000 in July 2012 and showed considerable polish in his 2013 pro debut. He skipped the Dominican Summer League and played in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before reaching short-season Lowell at the tail end of the season. Rijo hit .277/.368/.359 in 184 at-bats across his two stops, while showing a good feel for the strike zone (22 walks, 32 strikeouts) and the hint of gap power (15 doubles). His combination of feel for the barrel, on-base skills, solid defense and slightly above-average speed offer a straightforward projection--if everything breaks right--as a regular second baseman. Some scouts think Rijo could move around the field as well, particularly as he gains quickness when further removed from a torn ACL in his knee he suffered in 2012. He may end up being one of the youngest players in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2014.
The Mets failed to sign Stankiewicz as a second-round pick out of high school in 2012, offering him an under-slot bonus, so he enrolled at Seminole State (Okla.) JC. His velocity improved in one year there, resulting in his selection with the 45th pick in the 2013 draft, 30 places higher than he went in 2012, though both times he went in the second round. Stankiewicz's signing delayed by a minor physical issue, the Red Sox reduced of his bonus from $1.1 million to $915,000. At Seminole State, he upped his velocity to 90-94 mph, touching 96, and he gained greater feel for his secondary arsenal, which helped him perform well at short-season Lowell. Not all scouts like Stankiewicz's drop-and-drive delivery, but the athletic righthander repeats his motion and throws strikes. While he didn't make much use of his secondary arsenal during short stints in his pro debut, Stankiewicz showed an above-average slider as an amateur, though his slider has farther to go. His combination of power and strike-throwing ability allows some in the organization to dream on a No. 3 starter ceiling, and he likely will begin 2014 in the low Class A Greenville rotation.
Signed for $1.5 million in August 2013, Devers has yet to play a game in the organization, but he was a head-turning performer as a 16-year-old in instructional league. One evaluator gave Devers' power a present grade of 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, with a future forecast of double-plus being a possibility. Others are more reserved in assessing his power potential, but Devers was considered by many to be the best pure hitter in the 2013 international amateur class. The rare Dominican lefthanded hitter, he shows the ability to hit line drives to left-center field and to pulverize pitches on the inner half with outstanding bat speed, resulting in middle-of-the-order potential. Defensively, Devers shows decent, if unexceptional, hands, actions and arm strength at third base, though he'll have to stay on top of his conditioning if he wants to avoid a move to first base. He may bypass the Dominican Summer League to make his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2014, when he'll be 17.
A big, powerful, athletic lefthander who draws physical comparisons with Jon Lester, Kukuk threw just 10 innings in 2012 following an arrest on suspicion of DUI and subsequent team suspension. He got back on the field in 2013, spending the year in the low Class A Greenville rotation, where he showed one of the more substantial ceiling/floor chasms in the system. Kukuk's fastball played up during the year, as he bumped up from 90-92 mph to sit at 93, while registering as high as 97 in the season's final months. His hard slider continues to evade bats, and even his changeup was a swing-and-miss offering by season's end. Opponents could do little against him when he threw strikes, hitting .197 with a .274 slugging percentage, and he struck out 9.5 per nine innings. However, Kukuk endured several outings where he had little control, which is reflected in a walk rate of 6.8 per nine innings. If he can harness his stuff, his future probably fits best as a late-innings bullpen weapon. However, because of his athleticism and power stuff, Kukuk might make a breakthrough and emerge as a starter--or he might stall in the minors. Either way, he's headed to high Class A Salem in 2014.
Though Callahan features a high-effort delivery with a long arm swing, he also brings a heavy fastball to the table that has what one evaluator called "serious giddy-up." At times with short-season Lowell, he could bulldoze his way through opposing lineups primarily on the strength of that pitch, as when he allowed one hit and no walks while punching out 17 in 12 innings over a two-start stretch. Callahan showed a good deal of inconsistency en route to going 5-1, 3.92 at Lowell while notching 8.1 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings. Put in perspective, Callahan was the youngest starter (minimum 10 starts) in the New York-Penn League. His size, aggressiveness in the strike zone with his fastball/curveball combination and demeanor have been likened to Brandon Workman. Callahan sits at 91-93 mph and touches 95, while mixing in a quality, high-70s slider. His changeup needs a lot of work. Some see a potential late-innings reliever, while others see a pitcher who could be a back-end starter. Callahan likely will open 2014 at low Class A Greenville.
McGrath's mother hails from New England, and the family racehorse is named Schilling, factors that help explain why the then-18-year-old Australian lefthander took less money ($400,000) to sign with the Red Sox in 2012. McGrath made a revelatory pro debut in 2013, making short work of Rookie-level hitters and advancing to the short-season New York-Penn League, in part because he dramatically improved his conditioning in the offseason. Now he features a leaner frame that allows him to throw strikes with a surprisingly advanced three-pitch mix: a mid- to high-80s fastball, a solid changeup and a fringe curveball. McGrath recorded half of his outs in the GCL via strikeout, and after a promotion to Lowell, he struck out more than a batter per inning, though he relies more on command than pure stuff. McGrath's lefthandedness and pitchability present a mid-rotation ceiling that will be tested at low Class A Greenville in 2014.
The Red Sox signed Mercedes for $800,000 in March 2012, after he had agreed to a $400,000 deal with the Giants in March 2011, only to have Major League Baseball kill it and declare him ineligible to sign for one year. He used the same name and birthdate on both contracts, and he finally received a U.S. visa in August 2012. As a piggyback starter at short-season Lowell in 2013, Mercedes posted a 3.13 ERA with a fine 3.4 SO/BB ratio in 63 innings. He pitched with aggressiveness with a heavy, mid-90s fastball, deploying a pair of secondary pitches that need further refinement. His low-80s breaking ball flashes solid-average potential but also morphs into a mid-70s slurve when he gets around the ball. His changeup has a long way to go, and without one he probably fits best in the bullpen. Given that Mercedes will be 22 in 2014, the Red Sox may push him from Lowell to high Class A Salem.
Butler's career began in relative obscurity, when he signed for $10,000 as a nondrafted free agent in 2009, with the Red Sox intrigued by his strong performance in the Cape Cod League. Butler logged little playing time at Arizona, where he missed a year with Tommy John surgery, redshirted a year and returned as a backup. He has shown strong leadership and solid defensive tools at catcher while delivering respectable offense, as he hit .262/.350/.479 with 14 homers in 84 games at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013. Added to the 40-man roster following the 2012 season, Butler has found himself behind or astride other catchers in the system, such as Ryan Lavarnway and Christian Vazquez. Given an everyday role at Pawtucket in June 2013, however, Butler made a significant impression, chasing fewer pitches above the zone and bashing 12 homers in 55 games. He lacks standout tools, but scouts from multiple organizations feel he has the potential to spend several years as at least a backup catcher and someone who may get a starting opportunity in the right situation.
The son of former all-star closer Jeff Shaw, Travis excelled at high Class A Salem in 2012 and earned a second-half promotion to Double-A Portland on the strength of terrific strike-zone judgment and rock-steady power production in the form of 19 homers and 44 doubles. At his best, Shaw mixes the ability to drive the ball to left-center field--something that bodes well for any hitter who calls Fenway Park home--with flashes of pull power. But he became too pull-conscious while struggling at Portland in 2013, batting .221/.342/.394 and losing 25 extra-base hits from his ledger. Shaw reestablished his credentials with a standout performance in the 2013 Arizona Fall League--five homers and a .705 slugging percentage in 17 games--after he incorporated a leg kick to force him to stay back on the ball. That AFL showing rekindled the notion that he has a chance to be a first baseman with solid on-base skills, gap power and solid-average defense. The likelihood of becoming a big league regular depends on his ability to add more power without selling out his approach, something he'll work on at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2014.
The Red Sox loved Guerra's upside when they signed him as a 16-year-old out of Panama for $250,000 in 2012. They saw a player with the athleticism, the internal clock and arm strength to play shortstop, plus a line-drive, lefthanded stroke that works against both lefties and righties. Guerra's performance in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2013 was modest, however, as he hit .248/.356/.290 with just nine extra-base hits (all doubles). He carried a strong DSL finish into an impressive performance in instructional league, validating impressions of his maturity for his age. "He opened some eyes in instructional league," said one evaluator. As he fills out, Guerra's upside is that of a shortstop who can contribute on both sides of the ball, though amateur scouts pegged him as a a player with below-average speed and average arm strength, attributes that could signal a move to second base one day. If he adds a bit more power to his arsenal and continues to counteract fringe run times with strong baserunning instincts, he might make it at the keystone. The Red Sox probably will send Guerra to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2014.
The Red Sox signed Lin for $2.05 million in June 2012, just before the imposition of the new international bonus rules took effect. He has generated mixed impressions from his early career performance in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2012 and at short-season Lowell in 2013. Many evaluators feel Lin has the defensive tools to be a shortstop, while simultaneously offering a line-drive, lefthanded swing geared toward the opposite field, paired with the plate discipline to hit for average and get on base. He also has the well above-average speed to make an impact once on base. Others see a player who hit .226/.312/.296 and stole just 12 bases in the New York-Penn League and appeared worn out by the end of the season. The latter group wonders whether Lin will ever be physical enough to withstand the physical grind of a full season. Thus his transition to full-season ball in 2014 at low Class A Greenville will offer an important indicator of his impact potential.
A second-round pick in 2009, Wilson spent his first two and a half pro seasons as a starter before the Red Sox moved him to the bullpen in 2012. They anticipated that his fastball/slider combination would play up in short stints. But his velocity--mostly 92-93 mph--and overall stuff have yet to receive a late-inning bump. Wilson, however, now works more with a two-seamer than a four-seamer, and in his big league debut in 2013, he induced enough bad contact to become a viable seventh-inning option. That lasted through the end of June, by which point Wilson had posted a 3.33 ERA and strikeout rate of 7.0 per nine innings, but then a thumb injury led to a couple of ERA-inflating outings in early July. The injury ultimately proved the end of his season, requiring surgery. Despite the modest profile, Wilson is a major league-ready bullpen option who could step in and contribute in the sixth or seventh inning to begin 2014, with the possibility that his stuff could tick up a bit with his thumb issue behind him.
The Red Sox signed Coyle, a 2010 third-rounder, away from a scholarship to North Carolina with a $1.3 million bonus. If he hadn't signed, he would have joined brother Tommy, now a second basemen in the Rays system, on the Tar Heels infield. Boston believed Sean Coyle had the potential for 25 homers, with a chance to develop into an average defender at second base and provide excess baserunning value. He's a perfect 27-for-27 in stolen base attempts in two seasons at high Class A Salem. Coyle has lived up to that potential at times--foremost in the early stages of 2013, when he hit nine homers in 17 games at Salem--but from that point forward, his season unraveled due to ongoing challenges staying healthy and over-aggressiveness at the plate. He missed two months with a knee injury, then had an elbow issue at the end of the year that cost him an assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Some wonder if his makeup will permit him to accept the game's inherent failure. He spent his second straight season in the Carolina League in 2013, but given Coyle's plus speed, average glove and chance to unlock at least average power, he could be a late-bloomer. The Red Sox must decide how to divvy up playing time at the keystone for Coyle and Mookie Betts at Double-A Portland in 2014, and it's a crossroads season for the former.
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