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November 16, 2007 at 1:50 PM

Q&A with Kevin Goldstein

Kevin Goldstein recently took in some questions from the SoxProspects.com community. Kevin, a writer for Baseball Prospectus, is in the midst of publishing his Top 11 prospects for each MLB club. Definitely worth the price of admission. Special thanks to Kevin for doing the Q&A.

SP: Hypothetical trade scenario, where you have a deal in place to fill an important missing piece in Boston, and the other team tells you they want two of Michael Bowden, Jed Lowrie, or Justin Masterson. Which two guys do you part with, and why do you keep the one guy over the others?
KG: There's a lot of different ways to answer this question. I'd likely keep one of the pitchers, as the Red Sox have no clear role for Lowrie, who is almost ready. Then you might start to think about upside, where Masterson is probably more likely to have a big league career, yet Bowden might have the better shot at a bit of stardom. You want certainty or upside? So many factors can play into this. And what am I getting back?

SP: Does Jed Lowrie have a better future at short or second? Who do you think would be an appropriate comp for Lowrie if he continues his development?
KG: I'll start by saying I'm not a huge fan of comps unless they are really obvious ones, and I don't have an obvious one for Lowrie. The best review I can get on Lowrie is that he's 'acceptable' at shortstop, so that doesn't bode well. I think he's a second baseman in the end, and an above-average offensive one at that.

SP: Do you believe the Red Sox need to (or plan to) tinker with Justin Masteron's delivery at all?
KG: No, and no. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Sure he might be a little more effective if he came more over the top, but at the same time, he's pretty good now and that's a risk you don't want to take. So often teams mess with the mechanics of a pretty good pitcher and he ends up worse off for it.

SP: Did Michael Bowden's stuff deteriorate over the course of the year or was his performance in AA just the result of facing more advanced hitters a second time through the league?
KG: Far more B than A. His stuff is plenty good, and he was very young for Double-A. What his performance there showed was that he needs to improve upon his command and pitch sequences against more advanced hitters. Getting the change-up better would help as well.

SP: When Boston drafted Matt LaPorta and Lars Anderson, there was some speculation that Boston would be able to dole out the money for signing one of them, but not both. I don't know if this is true, but do you think Boston ultimately signed the right guy?
KG: Again, a lot of factors here. Right now, LaPorta is the better prospect, and for me by a pretty sizable margin. But that's now, and now is not the summer of 2006, when LaPorta was coming off a pretty bad junior year and Scott Boras wanted close to $2 million. So the answer is at the time of the signings, they made the right decision, because people didn't think he was worth that much. It the time since, that his changed as he now is.

SP: Can Nick Hagadone be a factor in the big league pen by the end of 2008?
KG: I think that's a little aggressive, but in addition, I'd rather exercise more patience to see if he can develop into a starter – which the Red Sox are doing.

SP: What was the reasoning behind leaving Brandon Moss off the top 11 and honorable mentions?
KG: The Red Sox have a good system, and Moss would have made many of other team's lists. That said, I'm still just not especially high on him, as he's one of those tweener outfielders. He can't play center, and while he can hit – he just doesn't profile well as an every day corner guy. Most project him as a solid 4th outfielder type.

SP: Can you please provide us with the basis of your assessment that Kalish is a 4-star prospect? I love him as much as the next guy, but it was only 89 ABs this year.
KG: The playing time doesn't play a huge role for me. I just finished the Tigers rankings and put Rick Porcello at No. 2. He's yet to pitch an inning in the pros, and would rank No. 1 in plenty of other organizations. When ranking prospects, I combine two things – the player's ultimate ceiling, and his likelihood of reaching it. Kalish showed more than enough during his brief stint with Lowell to convince scouts that the ceiling is very high.

SP: Do you think SS Oscar Tejeda will stay a SS? Does he have the power to be a 3B if needed? How does he compare to Hanley Ramirez at the same stage of his career?
KG: I definitely think he can stay at shortstop – it's really one of the things that most helps his prospect ranking. I don't think he'll ever develop the big time power one normally associates with a third baseman, but I'm not sure it will matter. He's a good prospect, but if you compare him to Hanley Ramirez at the same point in their careers, he's not even close to Hanley.

SP: What's your take on Josh Reddick? His 2007 season was awesome but he doesn't walk much, just seems to be a guy who just makes a lot of contact.
KG: Well, I assume you saw where I ranked him, and if you subscribe to Baseball Prospectus, you'll get a couple hundred words of scouting info on him and all the other prospects, as well as TONS of other top of the line baseball coverage. Sorry, had to answer that one that way.

SP: Do you think Michael Almanzar and Will Middlebrooks will have a career at short or at third, and does their height have anything to do with that?
KG: I think they are both third baseman in the end, and that's not by default because of their size. As we've seen recently, we've kind of entered a new age with shortstops, where they are often these big athletic types, but neither Almanzar or Middlebrooks has THAT kind of athleticism or first-step quickness to be a big league shortstop in the end.

SP: Regarding Chris Carter, this guy rakes. if he was given 400-500 ABs in Boston's lineup, what kind of numbers do you think he could produce? Is there any good news at all about his defense?
KG: He can hit – a little. I think he'd hit somewhere in the .275/.350/.450 range or so given a full season in the big leagues. Which isn't that much when you consider the position he's limited to – first base, or maybe even DH. And no, there is absolutely no good news about his defense. None, whatsoever.

SP: Will Craig Hansen ever re-gain his college slider and be effective at the major league level? Any truth to the rumors that Scott Boras was tinkering with his delivery independent of the team?
KG: I haven't heard the rumors about Boras tinkering with his delivery, but that would surprise me. I think the chances of him pumping out plus-plus sliders again are pretty remote, and the most frustrating aspect of that is that I just can't find anyone who has a good explanation of what went wrong.

SP: Why no love for Aaron Bates?
KG: Just because I don't put a guy in the Top 11, doesn't mean I don't like him. Bates would make other team's lists. He was the best prospect out of all those guys who put up monster numbers at Lancaster, but he still has a lot to prove. Being a first base prospect is very, very hard. You have to be an absolute monster of a hitter, or you are not much of a prospect.

SP: How did Ryan Dent's defense look in the short sample playing time?
KG: I honestly don't have any specific reports on Dent as a pro, but I talked to plenty of scouts who saw him for years as an amateur, and he just doesn't project well for the left side of the infield. The speed is there, but the instincts, arm and soft hands just aren't.

SP: Jason Place's strikeout rate was very high, but also seemed to trend towards the caught looking variety, however. Is there concern about his ability to make contact?
KG: Any time you strike out 160 times in 459 at-bats, there are going to be concerns about making contact. If he had some sort of preponderance for getting caught looking (I hadn't heard that), then now he has some big concerns about pitch recognition as well. The point of this is not to crap on Jason Place. He's still a big time athlete with a lot of potential – he's just far from it. If my list went to 20, he'd be on it.

SP: How do scouts feel about Mark Wagner's prospects of becoming an everyday catcher in the bigs?
KG: Every day? I just don't see it. Backup? See it.

SP: In your opinion, how much of Bubba Bell's breakout season was due to the Lancaster effect?
KG: A lot of it. That's not to say he's not some kind of prospect, and more of one than he was a year ago. He's just a fringy one now, as opposed to a non-one that he was before. His age is also a big factor. A guy who just turned 25 who just put up big numbers in any High A park isn't going to get anybody too worked up.

SP: Any idea whether Tony Granadillo will resign with the Red Sox? Any other minor league free agents that the Red Sox appear to be going after?
KG: I really don't know, and teams don't really share their plans in this area. Granadillo is another one of those Lancaster guys. Scouts don't like him at all, as he's a poor defender, and has some makeup questions.

SP: One somewhat unfamiliar name from this year's draft is Drake Britton. Do you think that he could be a front line starter? What is his ceiling?
KG: I think his ceiling is more of a middle-rotation guy. He's not really the overpowering type – he has a solid fastball, a very good curve, and also has a lot more polish in terms of command, changing speeds, setting up hitters, etc. than most high school arms.

SP: Where does the Sox farm system rank right now in your opinion?
KG: I'm only about one-fifth into my Top 11s, and the process gives me the most insight into each team's system – so until I'm done, it's hard to say. My gut tells me it will be well above-average, thanks to the best righty prospect in the game and good depth.

SP: Where do you rank the Red Sox 2007 draft?
KG: I'd rank it as good. They didn't have a first-round pick, but they were able to get a lot of solid talents later on by taking signability guys. So while they maybe didn't get a first-round talent, they got five or six guys you could argue are supplemental or second-round guys.

SP: Will the Red Sox regret trading Engel Beltre?
KG: Maybe. Beltre is a really impressive player, but at the same time, he's a teenager and he's very far away. He has the tools to be a star, but he's also years away and probably has an equal, if not greater chance of never sniffing the majors. It's one of those trade you just can judge for quite a while.

SP: What's up with Jose Jose and Edward Salcedo?
KG: What is up with them? Salcedo is the bigger story here. Nobody is arguing that he's not a huge talent – he's a massive one. But nobody sees him as a $3-4 million one, which is what Scott Boras thinks he is. He's probably going to wait until somebody does see him as worth that much, and chances are decent that somebody eventually will.