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September 16, 2009 at 9:00 AM

2009 SoxProspects.com All-Stars

The players have played, the votes have been cast, and the people have spoken. Congratulations to the following players, who have been named 2009 SoxProspects.com All-Stars:

Catcher: Luis Exposito
After winning the same honor in 2008, a .287/.339/.439 line with 29 doubles, 9 home runs, and 57 RBI was plenty good enough to allow Exposito to defend his All-Star crown. After compiling solid .271/.329/.424 numbers in 76 games for High-A Salem, the 22-year-old Florida native earned an August call-up to Double-A Portland. That's when the real production began. In 23 games for the Sea Dogs, Exposito hit a torrid .337/.371/.489 with 3 home runs and 12 RBI in 92 at-bats, including an impressive .462/.500/.692 against left-handed pitching. Exposito, who currently checks in as the tenth-rated prospect by SoxProspects.com, will soon head to Arizona to join the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.

First Base: Anthony Rizzo
In what may be the most surprising change from last season's SoxProspects.com All-Star ranks, a resurgent Anthony Rizzo easily supplanted the incumbent Lars Anderson to capture the honors in 2009. Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May 2008 but declared cancer-free in November 2008, and he returned to professional baseball with a vengeance, unleashing a combined .297/.368/.461 line upon the pitchers of the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues. In 445 at-bats split between Greenville and Salem, Rizzo hit 37 doubles and 12 home runs, and drove in 66. A sixth-round draft choice in 2007, Rizzo is currently the eighth-ranked prospect in the organization by SoxProspects.com.

Second Base: Ken Roque
Following a disappointing 2008 season that saw him hit just .236/.314/.330 for the GCL Red Sox, Roque burst through the gates in 2009 and never looked back. After putting up .317/.400/.520 numbers to start the season in the GCL, Roque kept hitting after an August promotion to Lowell, contributing a .313/.389/.469 line as a member of the first-place Spinners. Roque slammed 10 doubles, 7 triples, and 2 home runs along the way, driving in 26 in 155 at-bats while sporting a walk-to-strikeout ratio of 21/31. His combined .907 OPS tied him for second in the Red Sox system. Just 19 years of age, Roque was a seventh-round choice by the Red Sox in 2007 and is currently the system's fifty-seventh ranked prospect by SoxProspects.com.

Third Base: Jorge Jimenez
Another year, another All-Star nod for Jimenez, who takes his third honor at the hot corner with a .289/.366/.424 line in 498 at-bats for Portland. After hitting just 7 home runs in 2008, Jimenez nearly doubled his total this season, blasting 13 home runs and driving in 87 runs while earning the 2009 Portland Sea Dogs Most Valuable Player Award and being named to the Eastern League All-Star Team. The 25-year-old Jimenez, already a veteran of four minor league seasons in the Red Sox organization, was a fifteenth-round draft choice by the team in 2006. The tall left-handed hitter is currently the twenty-seventh-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system by SoxProspects.com.

Shortstop: Derrik Gibson
An impressive combination of speed and plate discipline netted 19-year-old Derrik Gibson the votes he needed to come away with All-Star honors at shortstop. After a less-than-stellar performance following a late-season call-up to Lowell in 2008, Gibson put worries to rest in 2009, finishing the year with a .290/.395/.380 line in 255 at-bats, including 15 doubles and 4 triples. His 28 steals in 33 opportunities ranked him second in the organization in thefts. An electric .471/.600/.755 month of June and a strong .412/.500/.525 month of September helped Gibson overcome a lull in July, when he hit just .178/.288/.218. A second-round pick in the 2008 draft, Gibson currently holds down the number 30 spot on the SoxProspects.com charts.

Outfield: Ryan Kalish
When a player finishes second in the Red Sox organization in home runs, tied for second in triples, first in walks, and fifth in steals, it's hard not to take notice. With his combined .279/.364/.457 line between two levels, 18 home runs, and 21 thefts, Ryan Kalish did just that. After tearing up the Carolina League to the tune of .304/.434/.513 with 5 home runs, 21 RBI, and a 26/20 walk-to-strikeout ratio, Kalish earned a promotion to Double-A Portland. He then proceeded to handle the Eastern League as well, hitting .271/.341/.440 with 13 home runs, 56 RBI, and 14 steals the rest of the way despite a slump immediately following his promotion. Just two seasons removed from missing time with a wrist injury, Kalish has vaulted back up the SoxProspects.com rankings, settling into the number three spot to close out the season. He will join fellow All-Stars Luis Exposito and Casey Kelly in the Arizona Fall League.

Outfield: Ryan Westmoreland
It's hard to have a professional debut better than that of Ryan Westmoreland, who justified his $2-million signing bonus as a fifth-round selection in the 2008 draft by hitting .296/.401/.484 in 223 at-bats. The 19-year-old Rhode Island native complemented his solid slash line with 15 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs, and 35 RBI for the Lowell Spinners before breaking his collarbone on August 28 after making a catch and crashing into an outfield wall. A true five-tool player, Westmoreland also stole 19 bases without being caught in 2009, and walked 38 times against only 49 strikeouts, ending the season as the system's fourth-ranked prospect by SoxProspects.com.

Outfield: Daniel Nava
Rounding out the outfield is Daniel Nava, who led Red Sox minor leaguers in batting average and on-base percentage and finished second in slugging percentage while hitting a combined .352/.458/.533 in 227 at-bats between Salem and Portland. Of his 80 hits this season, 29 went for extra bases, including 22 doubles and 5 home runs. Nava also walked 43 times and struck out on only 33 occasions. Nava had his best month in August following his call-up to Portland, hitting .382/.486/.640 in 89 at-bats. The Red Sox signed the 26-year-old switch hitter out of Chico of the independent Golden League following the 2007 season, and he proceeded to capture the California League batting crown in 2008 with Lancaster before continuing his success this season.

Designated Hitter: Chris Carter
In what appears to be his final season in the Red Sox organization, Pawtucket designated hitter Chris Carter went out with a bang. The 27-year-old left-handed hitter compiled .294/.358/.465 totals in 427 Triple-A at-bats, swatting 25 doubles and a team-high 16 home runs while driving in 61 runs to earn himself 2009 Pawtucket Red Sox MVP honors. Carter saved his best performance for last, hitting .317/.423/.476 to capture the SoxProspects.com Player of the Month nod in August. He even saw some time on the Boston roster, collecting an RBI in 5 at-bats. A veteran of four consecutive seasons at the Triple-A level, Carter was originally acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 in exchange for Wily Mo Peña.

Starting Pitcher: Casey Kelly
When one is a first-round draft choice, it can be hard to exceed expectations. But by going 7-5 with a 2.08 ERA in 95.0 innings combined between two levels, Casey Kelly did just that. The 19-year-old right-hander struck out 74 and walked only 16 on the season, limiting opposing hitters to a .190 batting average and just 4 home runs in 17 starts. A two-way player, Kelly also hit .224/.305/.313 in 134 at-bats this season as the shortstop for the Greenville Drive following a short stint in the GCL to readjust to playing every day. Thanks mostly to his efforts on the mound, Kelly sits at the very top of the SoxProspects.com rankings as the 2009 season comes to a close. He will join Luis Exposito and Ryan Kalish as a member of the Arizona Fall League's Mesa Solar Sox in October, but as a shortstop.

Starting Pitcher: Junichi Tazawa
Continuing a trend of first-year players finding tremendous success in the Red Sox organization in 2009, Japanese righthander Junichi Tazawa impressed from wire to wire for Portland, Pawtucket and Boston. In 20 minor league starts covering 109.1 innings, Tazawa pitched to a 9-7 record with a 2.55 ERA, striking out 94 and walking only 27. The 23-year-old Tazawa yielded only 8 home runs in 2009 and limited hitters to a .219 batting average against, earning himself a selection to the Futures Game roster and an Eastern League All-Star nod as well. He has gone 2-3 in 6 major league appearances so far for Boston, and finishes the season as SoxProspects.com's sixth-ranked prospect.

Starting Pitcher: Clay Buchholz
Sometimes it just takes some time for a top prospect to become a top contributor. After a disappointing 2008 campaign, Clay Buchholz righted the ship with a 7-2 record and a 2.36 ERA in 17 minor league starts, setting the stage for him to become a key contributor in the Majors down the stretch run. In 99.0 innings for Pawtucket before his call-up, Buchholz dazzled the International League with his advanced repertoire, punching out 89 hitters while holding the opposition to a .188 batting average. A first-round draft choice in 2005 and the former number one prospect on the SoxProspects.com list, Buchholz owns a career minor league record of 31-14 with a 2.42 ERA in 91 appearances spanning 443.1 innings in the Red Sox system.

Starting Pitcher: Fabian Williamson
Having come over from the Seattle organization in exchange for David Aardsma during the offseason, Fabian Williamson was nothing more than an intriguing new name as 2009 began. A 2.42 ERA in 108.0 innings for Greenville certainly changed that. In 28 appearances for the Drive, the tall 20-year-old left-hander managed a 10-5 record, punching out 104 while yielding just 71 hits on the year, only 3 of which were home runs. His versatility and talent were a great asset for Greenville as the team earned a birth in the South Atlantic League playoffs, where they currently are playing for the league championship. Williamson presently sits in the thirty-third spot in the SoxProspects.com rankings.

Relief Pitcher: Daniel Bard
Just two seasons removed from a disastrous year in which he went a combined 3-7 with a 7.08 ERA, walking 78 batters in just 75.0 innings, who would have guessed that in 2009, Daniel Bard would emerge as one of baseball's most electrifying relievers? Indeed, Bard needed just about a month in Triple-A Pawtucket to earn his second consecutive All-Star nod. As the Pawsox's closer, Bard put up a 1.12 ERA and notched 6 saves, striking out 29 hitters and allowing only 6 hits in 16.0 innings before getting the call to Boston. With the big league club, Bard has continued to dominate, fanning 59 and allowing just 34 hits in 43.1 innings to go along with a 3.32 ERA. Bard was originally a first-round draft choice in 2006 out of North Carolina.

Relief Pitcher: Fernando Cabrera
Another newcomer in the Red Sox organization, Cabrera was signed as a minor league free agent in January after putting up a 5.40 ERA in 28.1 innings for the Orioles in 2008. Assigned to Pawtucket and installed as the team's closer following the promotion of Daniel Bard, Cabrera thrived to the tune of a 1.71 ERA and 22 saves, striking out 51 in 52.2 innings. Cabrera allowed only 22 walks on the season and held opposing hitters to a .208 batting average. The 27-year-old Puerto Rican right-hander also saw brief time with Boston, allowing 2 earned runs and striking out 7 in 4.0 innings over 4 Major League appearances.

Relief Pitcher: Derrick Loop
What a year it was for former independent league standouts. Just like fellow All-Star Daniel Nava, Loop was plying his trade for Chico of the Golden League before being signed by the Red Sox in June 2008. After an impressive stint to end the 2008 season in Lancaster during which he pitched to a 3.04 ERA in 53.1 innings, Loop really turned it on in 2009 for Salem. As the team's closer, Loop managed a 3-3 record with a 1.61 ERA and 18 saves in 47 appearances, striking out 78 over 67.0 innings while yielding only 51 hits. The 25-year-old left-hander features a devastating pickoff move, as he duped 15 baserunners on the year. Loop was originally a draftee of the Cleveland organization, having been selected by the Indians in the twenty-third round in 2006.