Sunday, May 30, 2010

Down on the farm with the Red Sox - May 30

Not this farm.

Since the television season is for the most part over, except for the summer series and replacement shows, I'll be peppering in some sports analysis here and there. However, since there are a lot of good blogs about the Red Sox, and especially the Sox on the Major League level, I thought I'd focus on the minor league system.

Specifically, I want to look at a couple things. One, anyone on the AAA or AA roster that might be called up in the case of an injury. Two, any prospects who were well-regarded coming into the season. (I'll be using Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America lists for this.) And three, anyone who has a ridiculous statistical line so far in the season. I'll look at AAA and AA individually tonight. All stats seem to be updated through May 29, with no May 30 games included.

Triple A - Pawtucket - Batting

Josh Reddick, CF, 23. According to Friday's chat with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, Reddick is pressing. He specifically wrote, "Triple-A-itis. Tasted the big leagues and wants to get back, so he's trying to get five hits or a five-run home run in every at-bat." That might be an understatement, as Reddick is hitting .181 in 171 AB, with five home runs. Even his defense has seemingly fallen apart, as he has four errors too. While he might want to be back in the Majors, at this point a stint in Portland seems more likely, to try and restore some confidence at the plate. He has gone from the outer fringes of the outfield decision at the end of the year to no consideration at all with his early season performance. Personally, I blame the ridiculously ugly porn mustache he is sporting in the picture to the right.

Aaron Bates, 1B / DH / OF, 26. Bates is a little old for a prospect, but more importantly, he's hitting like the new Doug Minky. The problem is that Bates is at Triple A, and not in the majors, and also, Tom Kelly and Tony Muser are no longer managing. He's hitting .238, and while he's got a good eye - his OBP is boosted about a hundred points because of 24 walks - his slugging isn't sufficient for a first baseman, corner outfielder or designated hitter. Last year, it looked like he might be able to fill the Jeff Bailey role this season. Now, if there is an injury at the Major League level, the Sox would probably kick the tires on a trade, or the next guy on this list...

Lars Anderson, 1B / DH, 22. As disappointing as last season was for Anderson, killing any chance of him being in the 1B picture this year for the big club, he has shown glimpses of his prospectdom. He started the year at Portland, but he was moved up quickly to Pawtucket after mashing five homers and hitting .355 with a .408 OBP in 17 games. He hasn't lit the world on fire yet in Pawtucket, but he's had a respectable line of 235 / 337 / 424 in 25 games and 85 AB. He's still just 22, so if the Sox do need a guy to come up for a few days and hit, I think Anderson is the most likely candidate.

Jorge Jimenez, 3B, 25. Well, uh, it's a good thing that Youkilis or Lowell can play third if the Sox have an injury to Beltre. Jimenez is old for a prospect, and he's hitting a paltry .252 with no power at Pawtucket.

Tug Hulett, 2B, 27 and Angel Sanchez, SS / SB, 26. Both guys are strictly "break glass in case of emergency" players, similar to last week, when Sanchez got a cup of coffee because Marco Scutaro was a little dinged up. Hulett has been horrible, despite his nifty name, with a line of 185 / 304 / 331 in 45 games. Sanchez has hit a little bit, sporting a .308 batting average, but just seven of his hits have been for extra bases. He only has one stolen base too, so he's not an asset in the running game either.

Daniel Nava, OF, 27. If the Sox need another OF for some reason - maybe Darnell McDonald gets hurt, or Drew tweaks something bad enough that he has to hit the DL - then Nava has a shot of getting called up. He's hitting OK in the minors, sporting a .293 average and six dingers in 42 games. Nothing special, given his age, but the Sox could take a spin with him as opposed to going after someone outside of the organization.

Dusty Brown, C, 27. He's basically waiting for his chance to get out of the Red Sox organization to a team with an unstable catching situation, and hoping to hook on as a back-up. His line at Triple A isn't bad, but it's nothing you try to accommodate at the Major League level - 268 / 354 / 482. If Varitek goes down, then Brown is a reasonable facsimile of his average offensive production, between last year and this year.

Triple A - Pawtucket - Pitching

Michael Bowden, 23 and Boof Bonser, 28. Ehhh, so much for the Red Sox pitching depth in the minors. Bowden has turned into another Abe Alvarez. On a bad team, he would have been on the fringes of the Major League rotation the past couple years. On the Red Sox, he's been left to linger in AAA, and this year he's been horrid to start the year - 5.83 ERA in 41.2 innings. His 3.13 in 24 starts last year already seems like a distant memory. Bonser has been even worse, with a 8.03 ERA in seven starts. He seems like a prime candidate to be released when the Red Sox need a roster spot.

Adam Mills, 25. If the Sox did need someone to make an emergency start, Mills is probably the guy, assuming they just don't reach down to AA. He has an acceptable 3.84 ERA in 53.2 innings. He has slowly worked his way up the Red Sox system with solid, unspectacular efforts each year. He is strictly a pitch-to-contact guy, with a low strikeout rate, suggesting he isn't much besides filler.

Felix Doubront, 22. He was moved up after dominating Double A to the tune of a 2.51 ERA in 43 innings, with 38 strikeouts. However, stamina appears to be an issue - He averaged about five innings a start in Double A, and he's at three innings per start in Triple A. I'm not sure what the reasoning is, but he's the only genuine starting pitching prospect at Triple A for the Sox right now.

Dustin Richardson, 26 and Robert Manuel, 26. With Joe Nelson already up, these two are next in line for a shot in the pen. Because of their age, neither projects as a superstar. However, Richardson has been dominating Triple A hitters, with 36 K's in 27 innings. He pitched 3.1 scoreless innings for the Red Sox last year, so I imagine he'll be up if they decide to cut bait on Nelson, Ramon Ramirez or someone else. Manuel has a better ERA, but less strikeouts, suggesting his Major League ceiling might be a bit lower.

Double A - Portland - Batting

Jose Iglesias, SS, 20. The book on Iglesias has been that he is a slick fielder, with potential at the plate in the future. He's doing his best to dispel the second portion of that, batting a pretty-decent 306 / 340 / 408 for Portland, which is generally considered a pitcher's park. He doesn't have any dingers, but he has nine doubles and three triples. Although he's young, given the dearth of a real SS prospect at Pawtucket, it wouldn't surprise me to see him promoted at some point this year, with an outside shot at supplementing Scutaro as soon as 2011 if keeps hitting.

Ryan Kalish, LF, 22. He now has to be considered clearly ahead of Kalish in terms of an outfield prospect who could actually fit a spot created by the departing J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron or Ellsbury. I think it's more likely that the Red Sox explore free agency, but Kalish is at least injecting himself into the conversation with his mixture of hitting (.288), power (eight dingers), patience (27 walks) and speed (13 steals). Like Iglesias, he strikes me as a guy who could force his way to the Major League level with a really strong second half.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, 20. Rizzo was a popular sleeper pick as far as prospects coming into this year because of his power potential. While he does have seven dingers between Single and Double A, his combined average is .254. Given that he plays first base, he needs to start putting up some monstrous lines to be a viable big league option.

Luis Exposito, C, 23. Mentioned as a possible future starter at catcher, Exposito has put up a ho-hum line at Double A of 259 / 337 / 377. This is in line with his A-Ball performance in 2009, and rebuffs a good end of the season in Portland. Right now, his ceiling looks like that of a Major League back-up.

Nate Spears, 2B, 25. He's not really a prospect, since he's 25 and in Double A. However, I have to admit being drawn to him a bit because of 34 freakin' walks. (Mark Bellhorn is one of my favorite Red Sox of all-time, so sue me!) He's only hitting .257, but the walks have pushed his OBP to .404. They probably go away as pitchers challenge him more at higher levels, but they sure be tasty right now. He came over to the Red Sox as a free agent from the Cubs, who apparently tried to beat the selectiveness out of him last year.

Double A - Portland - Pitching

Casey Kelly, 20. Considered the best pitching prospect in the Red Sox's system, his Double A season so far has been inconsistent. He has an OK era of 4.32, with 32 K's in 33 innings, suggesting his stuff is still fine. However, he has to trust that stuff and cut down on the walks - He's allowing one walk per two innings. He's still a great prospect, but the early season talk of him making a late appearance in the bullpen, after allowing one earned run in his first eight innings, seems like lunacy now.

Robert Coello, 25. Definitely a bit old for Double A, but the swing pitcher - he has two starts and 10 relief appearances - has 36 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. His ERA isn't as impressive, just a modest 3.21, but he should probably be bumped up to Pawtucket to see what he can do, given his age.

Got a question on someone I didn't cover? Leave me his name in the comments, and I'll see what I can do.

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