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June 5, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Reviewing the first two months of the 2009 season


The first two months of the 2009 season are in the books, and a lot has happened in that time. The following is an overview of the Red Sox minor league system through the first two months of the season written by SoxProspects.com Moderator amfox1. Rankings (in parentheses) are from the SoxProspects.com Top 40 Prospect List as of March 20, 2009.

The Highlights:

The good news starts with pitchers, including the return to dominance of post-prospect Clay Buchholz, the quick start of Michael Bowden (2) in Triple-A, the ease with which Daniel Bard (3) crushed International League hitters and transitioned into the Red Sox bullpen. Also, 19-year-old Casey Kelly (5) and 22-year-old Bryan Price (17), the Red Sox's first two picks in the 2008 draft, have handled Low-A competition, and Junichi Tazawa (7) and 21-year-old Felix Doubront (19) have handled Double-A equally well. Historically, when pitchers at the upper levels of the organization have had succcess, the organization as a whole has been successful.

On the hitting side, 21-year-old Ryan Kalish (10) blew through High-A and, while he has struggled initially at Double-A, has shown his significant potential. 20-year-old David Mailman (27) shook off a slow start and has positioned himself for a quick promotion to Salem. Perhaps the most surprising story of the first third of the season has been the blazing start for former third-round pick Aaron Bates, who is in the top five in many of the Eastern League's hitting categories and has also had to adjust to life in the outfield.

Two catching prospects have sought to convince us that their SoxProspects.com rankings were too low - Mark Wagner (30) has reestablished himself as the potential catcher of the future with his start and is due for a promotion to Triple-A, and Tim Federowicz (32) looks to be moving up to Salem in the very near future after showing that he was too advanced for Low-A. This would allow Ryan Lavarnway (33) to showcase his hitting potential full-time in Greenville and will likely push 22 year old Luis Exposito (12), who has come on strong of late in Salem, to Double-A.

The Disappointments:

Expectations were high for Lars Anderson (1) and he got off to a good start in April, but May was a poor month for him (.194/.318/.376) and some scouts are now beginning to bring up some of his negative attributes (stiff, unathletic, cannot hit lefties, etc.) with more frequency. Lars has picked it up, but the luster may be starting to fade just a bit.

While we have highlighted some of the good performances from Greenville, there have been others who have not started as well as we had hoped. These include 18-year-old Michael Almanzar (6), who remains young for his level but has shown little plate discipline, 19-year-old Oscar Tejeda (16), whose overall stats have been similar to those he put up last year but who has been picking it up recently after a slow start, and 19-year-old Pete Hissey (24), who recently went through a 2-for-32 stretch at the plate as he adjusts to the grind of pro baseball. In Salem, 20-year-old Che-Hsuan Lin (11) may have suffered a post-WBC hangover, was injured in April and has been very streaky since coming back to the lineup.

On the pitching side, Kyle Weiland (14) started off with a bunch of shaky starts in High-A but has recently shown signs of improvement. Kris Johnson (29) had two scoreless starts in April but has not had one since, and he has been battered to the tune of a .304 BAA.

The Injured:

In any system, there will always be a number of prospects who are injured, and the Red Sox are no exception this year.

Josh Reddick (4) was off to a blazing start in Double-A before he hurt his oblique at the end of April. He should be back next week and, if he picks up where he left off, may not be long for Portland.

Nick Hagadone (8) has been rehabbing and will debut in Greenville this weekend. He will only pitch 3-4 inning stints for the remainder of the year but, even so, could find himself as high as Portland by the end of the season. Stephen Fife (21) and Mike Lee, two of the Red Sox's top ten 2008 draft picks, just made it to Greenville after being injured to start the season.

Three highly rated hitters have also missed the beginning of the season. Ryan Westmoreland (9), last year's fifth round draft pick, expected to start the season in Greenville, but injuries have sidelined him until short-season play begins. Yamaico Navarro (13) played in one game for Salem before having his hamate bone removed. He should be back later in June. Zach Daeges (20) injured his ankle during spring training and it still has not fully healed. His timetable for return is unknown but thus far it has been a lost year for him. Will Middlebrooks (22) joined Greenville four weeks into the season and, after a rough start, appears to be rounding into form.

This report was written by SoxProspects.com Moderator amfox1.