Boston Red Sox: Top 10 Prospects

Boston Red Sox

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, 2008.

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1. Clay Buchholz, rhp
2. Jacoby Ellsbury, of
3. Lars Anderson, 1b
4. Justin Masterson, rhp
5. Jed Lowrie, ss
6. Ryan Kalish, of
7. Michael Bowden, rhp
8. Nick Hagadone, lhp
9. Oscar Tejeda, ss
10. Josh Reddick, of
Best Hitter for Average Lars Anderson
Best Power Hitter Lars Anderson
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jeff Natale
Fastest Baserunner Jacoby Ellsbury
Best Athlete Jacoby Ellsbury
Best Fastball Justin Masterson
Best Curveball Clay Buchholz
Best Slider Nick Hagadone
Best Changeup Clay Buchholz
Best Control Michael Bowden
Best Defensive Catcher Mark Wagner
Best Defensive Infielder Argenis Diaz
Best Infield Arm Will Middlebrooks
Best Defensive Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury
Best Outfield Arm Che-Hsuan Lin
Catcher Mark Wagner
First Base Lars Anderson
Second Base Dustin Pedroia
Third Base Kevin Youkilis
Shortstop Jed Lowrie
Left Field Ryan Kalish
Center Field Jacoby Ellsbury
Right Field Josh Reddick
Designated Hitter David Ortiz
No. 1 Starter Josh Beckett
No. 2 Starter Clay Buchholz
No. 3 Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka
No. 4 Starter Jon Lester
No. 5 Starter Michael Bowden
Closer Jonathan Papelbon
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Brian Rose, rhp Out of baseball
1999 Dernell Stenson, of Deceased
2000 Steve Lomasney, c Out of baseball
2001 Dernell Stenson, of/1b Deceased
2002 Seung Song, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Hanley Ramirez, ss Marlins
2004 Hanley Ramirez, ss Marlins
2005 Hanley Ramirez, ss Marlins
2006 Andy Marte, 3b Indians
2007 Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp Red Sox
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Adam Everett, ss Astros
1999 Rick Asadoorian, of Reds
2000 Phil Dumatrait, lhp Reds
2001 Kelly Shoppach, c (2nd) Indians
2002 Jon Lester, lhp (2nd) Red Sox
2003 David Murphy, of Rangers
2004 Dustin Pedroia, ss (2nd) Red Sox
2005 Jacoby Ellsbury, of Red Sox
2006 Jason Place, of Red Sox
2007 Nick Hagadone, lhp (1st supp.) Red Sox
Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2006 $2,000,000
Rick Asadoorian, 1999 $1,725,500
Adam Everett, 1998 $1,725,000
Mike Rozier, 2004 $1,575,000
Daniel Bard, 2006 $1,500,000
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Boston Red Sox

When the Red Sox introduced Theo Epstein as their general manager in November 2002, he talked of building a "$100 million player-development machine." Epstein may have come in low on his estimate for big league payroll—Boston's constant warring with the Yankees helped push that figure to $143 million by Opening Day last year—but otherwise consider his goal a mission accomplished.

The Red Sox' first World Series championship of Epstein's tenure—and their first in 86 years—came in 2004. Just one fully homegrown player, Trot Nixon, was on the roster for all three rounds of the postseason. By contrast, the club that swept the Rockies in the 2007 World Series highlighted Boston's scouting and development aptitude. Rookies Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia batted atop the lineup in the last two games, and the only reason second-year starter Kevin Youkilis wasn't in the heart of the order was that David Ortiz moved to first with the DH out at Coors Field.

Second-year pitchers Jon Lester, Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon did most of the pitching in the clincher. Clay Buchholz, who no-hit the Orioles in his second big league start in September, wasn't even needed. He sat out the playoffs with a tired arm.

The Red Sox' aggressive pursuit of talent on both the free-agent and amateur markets has them poised to be a World Series favorite for at least the next few years. Their deep, balanced farm system offers both position players and pitchers, with talent spread through the upper and lower levels. Though cracking the Boston roster will be difficult, righthanders Justin Masterson and Michael Bowden, shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielder Brandon Moss are just about ready for prime-time duty. Deeper down, first baseman Lars Anderson, outfielder Ryan Kalish, lefty Nick Hagadone and shortstop Oscar Tejeda are loaded with promise.

The Red Sox aren't afraid to buck Major League Baseball and spend what they deem necessary on the draft. That's an advantage, to be sure, but it still can't take away from the success scouting director Jason McLeod has had running drafts from 2005-07. McLeod's first draft included Ellsbury, Buchholz, Lowrie and Bowden. Boston signed Masterson, Kalish, outfielder Josh Reddick and Anderson all after the first round in 2006. Last June, the Sox lacked a true first-rounder but still had an impressive haul that included Hagadone and middle infielder Ryan Dent in the sandwich round and Will Middlebrooks in the fifth.

Boston also is becoming a leader on the international front. Besides signing Japanese big leaguers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima, the Sox have bolstered the farm system the last two years with the likes of Tejeda, outfielder Engel Beltre (sent to the Rangers in the Eric Gagne trade) and infielder Michael Almanzar from the Dominican Republic and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin from Taiwan.

Besides restocking the big league club, the depth also provides Boston with plenty of trade fodder. The Red Sox gave up Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez in a November 2005 swap that landed ace Josh Beckett and World Series MVP Mike Lowell. They also appear to be in as good a position as any club to acquire Johan Santana if the Twins decide to deal the best pitcher in baseball.

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