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SoxProspects News

March 27, 2009 at 8:09 AM

2009 Prospects Previews: Watch List

This installment of the Prospect Previews series focuses on some of the newer and relative unknown prospects within the Red Sox organization, giving an overview on some of the things to expect and watch for during the upcoming season.

Carson Blair

Position: Catcher
2008 Team: Gulf Coast League Red Sox
2009 Projected Team: Gulf Coast League Red Sox

2009 Outlook: Drafted as an infielder, the Red Sox will try their hand at converting Blair to a catcher in 2009. Physically, he is thin in the upper body but has a solid lower half and should be able to fill out as he matures. Blair has been transitioning well to his new role this spring, showing a quick release on his throws down to second base. A hard worker, expect him to pick up the general points of catching this season and provide some clues as to whether this transition is going to succeed in the long run. Watch for Blair to improve on how he handles pitchers. Given his athletic nature he should be quick behind the plate, and agile on balls in the dirt. He should be expected struggle from time to time, but this is a given for someone transitioning to an entirely new position. Offensively, Blair can get the bat on the ball and has some pop in his swing. After a quick start to his professional career in the batter’s box at the tail end of last season, he will be looking to carry that momentum into the coming season. Blair’s mechanics at the plate need some refinement and the Red Sox coaching staff has been working on getting him to be more still at the plate. Watch for Blair to improve on his ability to stay on the ball and keep his body moving together during his swing. The more fluid his body gets, the more solid contact to all fields he will produce.

Manny Rivera

Position: Pitcher
2008 Team: Dominican Summer League Red Sox
2009 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners

2009 Outlook: After spending the 2007 season in the bullpen, the Red Sox moved Rivera to the starting rotation and he produced in his new role in 2008. Striking out slightly more than a batter per inning last season, this left-handed starter aggressively goes after hitters with his fastball. The pitch showed good life and movement this spring, but he can be wild within the strike zone. His delivery is free and easy, but he struggles some with a consistent release point. Watch for Rivera to work on refining his fastball command during the summer at Lowell while sharpening his off-speed pitches. He’ll need to work them in more against the advanced competition he will face in the NYPL to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball and to continue his career as a starter. Rivera is relatively light for a pitcher, and he will need to put on some weight to maintain his stamina to endure a starting pitcher’s workload. After moving into the rotation in 2008, Rivera showed improved control and cut down on his walks. Continuing to improve in this area will be a need for him as he develops in the United States. 2009 will be a season of introduction for Rivera given his relatively unknown status outside of the Red Sox organization.

Oscar Perez

Position: Catcher
2008 Team: Did not play
2009 Projected Team: Gulf Coast League Red Sox

2009 Outlook: Signed in July of 2008 during the international signing period, the Red Sox gave Perez a bonus of around $750K, demonstrating how high they are on him. Just seventeen years old entering the 2009 season, Perez is a raw player, but he has the tools to develop into a solid major league player down the line. Advanced defensively for his age, he’s been fluid and smooth in his actions this spring. His body is physically advanced for a player his age as well, and he seems to be built to withstand the rigors of the catching position. At the plate, Perez has a lot of raw power potential, which makes him an intriguing prospect offensively. Given that this will be his first experience against professional pitching, the expectations aren’t overly high for this season, but there should be flashes of the type of solid contact he can produce as the season moves along. With the instruction and repetitions he will be getting in Florida, his development could jump as he has the natural skills of a top-of-the-line prospect. The Red Sox will give Perez a strong shot to open the season in the GCL and 2009 looks like the beginning of Perez’s career in the United States, giving followers a taste of what is to come.