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SoxProspects News

August 19, 2009 at 4:26 PM

The Ladder- 8.19.09

Fabian Williamson

The Line: Over his last 40 1/3 innings pitched, Williamson has been holding lineups at bay, giving up just 7 earned runs and 27 hits against while striking out 35 batters in the stretch. For the season, he’s held batters to a .187 average, allowing only 57 hits, and has struck out 85 hitters in 87 innings of work. Williamson has also been going deeper into outings recently, pitching 5 innings in each of his last 4 appearances. On August 15 against Greensboro, he gave up 2 hits and fanned 4 hitters in 5 scoreless innings to pick up the win.

The View: Acquired in the off-season for David Aardsma, the left-handed Williamson has steadily been progressing well this season and has put together a solid campaign through this point in the schedule. Featuring a high-80’s fastball, he’s not an overpowering pitcher, but he is able to hide the ball until late in his delivery, with his fastball jumping on batters due to the late look. He also wields an arsenal of off-speed pitches. Williamson’s curveball is a plus offering and comes in with almost a true 12/6 break. With sharp bite and good snap, he’s able to freeze a lot of batters with the pitch or get swings and misses as it runs in hard on right-handed batters. Williamson also features an average change-up that flashes its potential, but is also inconsistent. Improvement on this pitch would give him something off-speed that he would be able to work on the arm side of the plate. Williamson can struggle with his control and will need to sharpen this aspect of his game as he rises to higher levels within the Red Sox system. He can lose his release point for stretches in outings as well, and he sometimes walks too many batters and can be a little too inefficient with his pitches. Right now, Williamson projects more as a reliever down the line, and the Red Sox have been using him in a piggy-back role for most of the season at Greenville to continue to stretch him out while giving him a chance to sharpen his repertoire. He’s done an excellent job of keeping the ball in the ballpark on the season and generally keeps his fastball down in the zone. Williamson needs some improvement on how he works from side to side with his fastball, along with some improvement on how he feels his change-up. Coming into the season as an unknown to followers of the system, Williamson has quietly put together a nice season with the Drive and with some development in terms of his polish as a pitcher, could be a name popping up in the mix as a arm out of the bullpen down the line.

Anthony Rizzo

The Line: After posting an OPS of .859 with Greenville prior to his mid-season promotion to Salem, Rizzo has been making the adjustments in High-A and has been coming up to speed, going 13 for his last 32 with 4 doubles and a home run in that stretch. Rizzo had a strong month of July with an .863 OPS that included 13 extra-base hits before going on the disabled list on July 30. After being out of action for 17 days, Rizzo returned to the lineup on August 15 to go 2 for 4 with a double and a run driven in against Kinston.

The View: Back on the field after missing most of last season battling cancer, Rizzo hasn’t missed a beat this season. Highly regarded coming into the system, he showed a strong flash of his promise in the beginning of 2008 that had many excited about his potential. Standing 6’3’’ and weighing 220 pounds, Rizzo is a very solid player physically. He has above-average power potential and already hits the ball well to all fields, possessing the ability to wait till pitches get deep on him. His batting eye and approach at the plate are also advanced for his age. Hitting from a slight crouch, Rizzo has a smooth, quick left-handed swing and good mechanics at the plate. For a bigger player, his swing stays short and he is quick to the point on contact with the ball. Rizzo handled himself well at Greenville during his stay there in the first half of the season and hit a lot of balls hard to all fields prior to his promotion to Salem. Around the bag at first, he has above-average skills and projects as a good defensive player. Rizzo moves especially well from side to side and has turned in a lot of good plays over at first base this season. One thing he can stand to improve is how he handles his at-bats against left-handed pitchers, as he currently tends to bail out against them. This is something that should improve with more experience as he moves up the ranks of the organization, but also something to keep an eye on. To continue his ascent as a potential major league middle-of-the-order hitter for the Red Sox in the future, Rizzo will need to hang in better against lefties. One of the organization’s young, high-ceiling talents, he’s made an incredible comeback from cancer this season. Rizzo’s skills have been on display for most of the season, and he’s pushed himself into the picture as one of the fast risers within the system.

Trending Up

Pete Hissey looks to be turning a corner in August, going 18 for 48 through 13 games this month with a double, triple, and 5 stolen bases. Hissey shows an advanced approach at the plate for his age, but has been overmatched physically for much of the season with Greenville. A player that will ultimately project as a doubles hitter, Hissey currently doesn’t have much power in his game, but has potential to fill out his frame as he matures. So far, 2009 has been a year of getting comfortable with professional pitching as his physical stature catches up to his tools…After a tough month of July, Salem first baseman/designated hitter Mike Jones is locked in at the plate again. Covering 15 games in August, Jones is 18 for 56 with a homer, 7 doubles, and 12 runs batted in. The strong left-handed batter still hasn’t displayed the home run power that he shows in his batting practice sessions, but he’s been able to sustain good contact rates at each level within the system…Roman Mendez has been making a nice transition during his initial experience in the United States with the Gulf Coast Red Sox. Through 38 1/3 innings this season, the hard-throwing Dominican righthander has struck out 39 batters against only 7 walks while holding batters to a .181 average. Mendez features a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and developing secondary pitches. Look for him to be in the mix to break camp with a full-season team in 2010 after another off-season of work under his belt.

Trending Down

Yamaico Navarro has seen his Double-A career get off to a tough start, hitting .143 with 20 strikeouts in 77 at-bats. The aggressive hitting shortstop has seen Eastern League pitchers take advantage of his current batting approach and feed him a steady diet of breaking balls off the plate. An excellent fastball hitter and good hitter overall, Navarro is in an adjustment period and being challenged to make some changes in his game…Jason Place is 7 for his last 30 with 16 strikeouts and only hitting .208 overall after his promotion to Portland in mid-July. Place has struggled to make consistent contact and the strikeouts have piled up for him in Double-A. Breaking balls off the outside corner of the plate and in the dirt have especially given him trouble in his first go-around in the Eastern League. Place has displayed some of his tape-measure power, including a home run over the Green Monster during the Futures at Fenway doubleheader this month, but his contact rates and pitch recognition on breaking balls will need a lot of improvement for him to consistently make contact at advanced levels…Aaron Bates has yet to find his footing with Pawtucket, hitting .198 in 202 Triple-A at-bats. His strikeout and walk rates have remained consistent with his Portland totals, but he’s had trouble squaring up balls and has produced a lot of weak contact when he gets the bat on the ball