June 13, 2010

Time to judge Red Sox prospects' progress

BY KEVIN THOMAS Maine Sunday Telegram

It is almost 10 weeks into the minor league season, which is a good time to check on the Boston Red Sox prospects. Who is moving up or performing to expectations?

Here is a look at Boston’s top performing prospects in the first two months. We looked at the numbers, the level of play, and age.

This is our top 20:

1. Jose Iglesias, 20, shortstop. This is Iglesias’ first-ever professional season. As advertised, his fielding can be breathtaking. But his quick hands work well with the bat, too, hitting .306 before going on the disabled list after suffering a bruised hand May 29. A September call-up is a possibility.

2. Felix Doubront, 22, left-handed pitcher. Is throwing more strikes and excelling, first in Portland (2.51 ERA) and now in Pawtucket (1.08 ERA). Would likely be the first starter called-up from the minors.

3. Daniel Nava, 27, outfield. Nava has never been a prospect and, yes, he’s getting older. But in his first Triple-A season, Nava leads Pawtucket in average (.294), home runs (eight) and RBIs (38).

4. Lars Anderson, 22, first base. Batted his way out of Portland (.355, five home runs, 16 RBIs in 17 games) and is adjusting to Triple-A (.238 average).

5. Ryan Kalish, 22, outfield. After batting .293 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs, Kalish was promoted to Triple-A on May 31. Aggressive in the field and on the bases.

6. Anthony Rizzo, 20, first base. He is batting only .255, but with five home runs in 28 games, since being promoted to Portland. Has a smooth, powerful swing, and is also a plus in the field.

7. Oscar Tejeda, 20, second base. After two so-so years as a shortstop in regular Class A (.259), Tejeda has changed positions in advanced Class A Salem. And he’s doing something different with the bat — .332 average and eight home runs (but only eight walks).

8. Ryan Lavarnway, 22, catcher. In his first year in Salem, Lavarnway is batting .292 with 13 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .393 on-base percentage/. Not bad for a back-up catcher. Lavarnway also gets AB’s as the DH.

9. Will Middlebrooks, 21, third base. In his third pro season, Middlebrooks is hitting .292 in Salem, with four home runs and 18 doubles. Solid athlete who may develop more power.

10. Robert Manuel, 26, right-handed pitcher. Boston has called up Atchison and Nelson, but Manuel has the 1.11 ERA and 0.96 WHIP (walks/hits per inning).

11. Dustin Richardson, 26, left-handed pitcher. May become second lefty in Boston’s bullpen. Has 2.87 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings.

12. Casey Kelly, 20, right-handed pitcher. The numbers in Portland do not jump out (1-3, 4.57), but he is battling through jams and developing well for being the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League.

13. Reymond Fuentes, 19, outfield. In his first full professional season, Fuentes is holding his own with a .276 average, with an Ellsbury-like 20 stolen bases.

14. Luis Exposito, 23, catcher. Strong arm with improving skills behind the plate, Exposito is also a clutch hitter with a team-leading 45 RBIs. Is batting .246.

15. Che-Hsuan Lin, 21, outfield. Lin was batting .189 on April 26. He’s pulled his average up to .274 with a .381 on-base percentage (30 walks). Good speed with cannon arm.

16. Alex Wilson, 23, right-handed pitcher. Has a 1.04 WHIP in Salem with 50 strikeouts in 55 innings.

17. Tim Federowicz, 22, catcher. Is batting .255 in Salem, with a 19 doubles and 32 RBIs. Arguably the best defensive catcher in the system.

(Continued on page 2)

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