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SoxProspects News

April 29, 2009 at 3:40 PM

The Ladder

SoxProspects.com is rolling out a new in-season series called The Ladder. Each week, the series will provide an in-depth look at how select Red Sox prospects are progressing in their development as they move their way up the steps of the organization. Look for a new segment every Wednesday until the final pitch of the minor league season has been thrown.

Josh Reddick

The Line: Off to a solid start in his second exposure to Double-A, Reddick has been able to carry over the success he had in the major league camp to an outstanding .294/.368/.632/1.001 line in 68 at-bats to start the season. After being overmatched in his Portland debut and at times in the Arizona Fall League, Reddick has been making the adjustments at the plate that the Red Sox were looking for. His 5 home runs and 6 doubles have been a demonstration of the power that he possesses and shows that he feels less overmatched at the plate. After drawing only 34 walks in 124 games last season, Reddick has already been able to work 8 walks in his first 16 games of this season; this is a positive sign that he is starting to adjust more to the Red Sox philosophy on hitting. His 16 strikeouts are somewhat concerning, but 8 of these strikeouts were clustered in 3 games, and Reddick has only fanned 2 times over his last 5 games, which is much more in line with his career trends.

The View: Reddick has been impressing thus far around the Eastern League and looks like a much more comfortable hitter in the box than when he first arrived on the scene last summer. He looks especially more comfortable against off-speed pitches, which were an Achilles heel for him last season in Portland, while staying back on them much more consistently and picking them up better, not chasing as many of them in the dirt. There is still work to be done in this area, as his swinging strikeouts have mostly been on breaking balls, but the signs point towards a hitter making strides. The power that Reddick generates has been impressive, and the balls he has sent out of the park this year have been absolutely crushed on a line. His bat speed and quick swing path to the ball enable him to barrel up on a lot of pitches. Reddick has been impressing scouts who track the league with his range and arm in center field as well. Originally projected as a right fielder at the major league level, there has been talk about Reddick being able to handle center field in the big leagues after he’s flashed some excellent range and good first-jump instincts on balls hit deep into the gaps. One scout who recently watched Reddick came away very impressed with his play in center-field along with his overall baseball ability. His patience and strikeout rates bear watching over the course of the next month or two, but the early season indicators have been in Reddick’s favor.

Casey Kelly

The Line: After an off-season full of debates about his ideal position, Kelly’s much anticipated debut on the mound has gotten off to a hot start. Dealing off of the rubber through 4 April starts covering 20 innings of work, he’s gone 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA while striking out 19 against only 3 walks. Out of his 19 hits allowed, Kelly’s only given up 3 extra base hits while keeping the majority of the contact against him on the ground. In his last start on April 28th against Savannah, he dialed it up to fan 7 batters over 5 innings of work. He gave up 9 hits in his last start, but he has generally been around the plate and has thus far neutralized the amount of solid contact against, especially in the air. Kelly has not walked more than one batter in any of his 4 starts in April and has yet to really have a tough inning of work.

The View: Coming into the system with scouting reports highly touting his stuff, the initial season reports have not varied one bit. Kelly’s heavy, sinking 88-91 MPH fastball has been his dominant weapon. He’s also featured a tight curveball and an advanced change-up that has some excellent depth and fade. His excellent fastball command and advanced secondary offerings have been the driving force behind his fast start. The ball comes out of his hand very well through a smooth and fluid delivery. Kelly’s release point has remained consistent and he has stayed on top of his pitches well to create the downward slant to his fastball. Only twenty percent of the way to his targeted 100 innings goal, Kelly has shown how advanced he is on the mound. The main question will be how his stamina holds up as he continues to build arm strength and stretch out as a starter. Keeping an eye on his velocity numbers as he gets a few more starts into the season could lend a clue to how his stamina is holding up. His command and control has been excellent thus far, with reports mentioning how well he comes after hitters and pounds the strike zone with his stuff. Being around the plate more often, the contact against him has been a little on the high side as can be expected, but if Kelly can continue to make batters earn their way on base he’ll minimize the damage. He’ll be set to see more of the league in May, and batters will make their adjustments, but thus far all systems have been go for Kelly in his march to 100 innings in 2009.