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SoxProspects News

May 7, 2009 at 5:45 PM

The Ladder - 5.7.09

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 Sox system. Look for a new segment every week until the final pitch of the minor league season has been thrown.

Daniel Bard

The Line: Through 16 innings with Pawtucket, Bard has been absolutely dominating, posting a staggering 29 strikeouts with only 5 bases on balls. When batters have been able to put the ball in play against him, he’s held them to a .114 batting average with minimal solid contact. Batters have mostly been pounding the ball into the ground or popping the ball up on the infield on balls put in play. Bard’s given up 2 earned runs over his 16 innings of work, both of which have come via solo home runs. Dialing it up with his fastball, Bard has routinely been working in the 97-98 MPH range to overmatch hitters, also featuring an improving slider. In back to back outings against Toledo May 4 and May 6, Bard recorded 6 strikeouts out of the 7 outs he recorded in his 2 1/3 innings of work, allowing only 1 hit and 1 base on balls. In an amazing feat on April 22nd against Rochester, Bard struck out the side on 9 pitches - 8 swinging strikes and 1 called strike.

The View: Bard effortlessly brings his heater and batters have to be sitting dead red on the pitch to get around on it. The development of a consistent secondary pitch has been something of a need for him. Recently, Bard’s been working on incorporating his slider into the mix much more, and on May 6th against Toledo threw 11 sliders out of 25 pitches, recording 2 of his 4 strikeouts with the pitch. Working anywhere from 76-82 MPH, his slider can be devastating on batters when he throws it hard; the pitch has a tight, wipeout break when it’s in the 80-82 MPH range, but it can be on the slurvy side when it’s in the 76-79 MPH range. The improvement on the pitch has been noticeable since his time in Portland last summer. When batters can get the barrel of the bat on his fastball, Bard supplies a lot of the power, and good hitters will eventually get used to the speed of most pitchers’ fastballs. The progress of his slider gives Bard another weapon to work with and will keep batters from sitting on his fastball, which can register as high as 98-100 MPH when he reaches back for it.

Ryan Kalish

The Line: After a tough 2008 with lingering injury issues, Kalish is off to a hot start in 2009. Through 24 games, he has posted a line of .289/.450/.470 for an OPS of .919 in 83 at-bats. What jumps off Kalish’s early stat line is an impressive 24 walks against only 18 strikeouts, along with 8 extra base hits. In 2008, he logged 28 extra base hits in 433 at-bats, with 8 of those hits coming after a late season promotion to the hitter-friendly California League. Over his last 10 games, Kalish has drawn 9 walks and hit 2 of his 3 home runs on the season while picking up a hit in 7 out of the 10 games. His 8 steals on the season have him ranked third in the Carolina league, and his OPS ranks in the top ten as well.

The View: After getting over his lingering hand issues, Kalish looks to be rounding back into the form that had many excited prior to the hand injury that ended his 2007 season at Lowell. His control of the strike zone and pitch recognition have looked advanced, and give him a chance to pick out the pitches he can drive. Still something of an extreme ground ball hitter, Kalish has driven the ball with more frequency in 2009 and made some strides in creating lift with his swing. The power seems to be coming back for him, and continued progress with driving his pitches will only spike his power totals. While the rate at which Kalish has reached base to start the season will slow, the foundation is there of a hitter who is going to work counts, demonstrate strike zone control, and generally be a tough out at the plate. The more his comfort level in the batter’s box grows, the more Kalish’s hitting tools should come to the surface. The next 80-100 at-bats should lend a clue to where the development is heading.

Trending Up

Stolmy Pimentel has recorded 18 strikeouts in his last 20 2/3 innings of work after recording only 1 in his first 8 1/3 innings. Pimentel has only given up 7 earned runs on the season, but his 43 hits in 29 innings jumps out a bit…Felix Doubront has given up 2 earned runs or less in 4 out of his 5 starts in AA thus far while striking out 27 in 23 2/3 innings…Mitch Denning has 10 extra base hits in 89 at-bats after recording only 23 in 240 at-bats last season.

Trending Down

Will Middlebrooks has 17 strikeouts in 41 at-bats with Greenville after being activated from extended spring training…Luis Exposito only has 3 extra base hits over his last 10 games, a span of 38 at-bats…Kyle Weiland has walked 9 batters in 17 innings this season after walking just 10 batters in 60 innings at Lowell last season.