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SoxProspects News

December 31, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Sox Prospects of the Decade: 31-40

Over the next four days, we’ll be publishing a list of the top forty Red Sox prospects of the last decade. We’re only including players who were original Red Sox signees, and only players who played in Boston's minor league system this decade as prospects (not on rehab assignments). The rankings will be based on the player’s projected career major league contributions. As many of these players are already well into their major league careers at this point and others have yet to even debut in the Majors, it’s a tricky list to make, but we thought it would be an interesting topic for discussion. I’m sure that there will be significant disagreements, but that’s the point. In the first installment, we bring you prospects 31 through 40. We’ll publish numbers 21-30 on Friday, 11-20 on Saturday, and 1-10 on Sunday. I’ve also set up a discussion thread in the SoxProspects Forum for users to discuss the rankings. Happy New Year everybody!

40. Che-Hsuan Lin is one of many promising outfielders presently in the Sox system. Signed as an international free agent in June 2007, Lin has flashed a plus plus arm together with plus speed, range, and glove skills in center field. He also demonstrated improved plate patience in 2009. However, he hasn’t shown a whole lot of power to this point and has yet to hit above .264 in the minors. If he can add a little bit of power and improve his contact rates, Lin is somebody to keep an eye on in the coming years. Even if he continues with his present offensive trends, Lin will make an excellent utility outfielder at the major league level. He'll likely start the 2010 season with Double-A Portland.

39. Wil Ledezma signed with the Sox as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 1998, putting up lackluster numbers in the system through 2002. Detroit selected the lefthander in the Rule 5 Draft in 2002, where he stuck for the 2003 season, remaining with the Tigers into the 2007 season. He then bounced around with five different organizations from mid-2007 through the end of the 2009 season. Ultimately, he went 15-22 with a 5.17 ERA in 160 games over the course of the decade. He recently signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh for the 2010 season with an invitation to spring training.

38. Luis Exposito has shown a lot of promise in four years in the organization, leading to his ranking as the eleventh best Red Sox prospect at decade’s end. Selected as a draft-and-follow in the thirty-first round of the 2005 draft, Exposito signed a pro deal with the Sox just prior to the 2006 draft. In his minor league career thus far, he has hit .280/.326/.439 and has demonstrated excellent offensive and defensive potential. With some slight refinements to his swing and his everyday defensive approach, Exposito has the makings of a major league starter behind the plate.

37. Casey Fossum, a 1999 first-rounder, started 69 games in the Sox system between 2000 and 2003, highlighted by a 2002 campaign in Double-A Trenton where he put up a 2.83 ERA and struck out 130 batters in 117.2 innings over 20 starts. He was sent to Arizona with three other players in the Curt Schilling trade in November 2003. Over nine major league seasons with five major league clubs, the lefthander has gone 40-53 with a 5.45 ERA and 607 strikeouts in 786 innings. He recently signed a one-year deal to play for Hanshin of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.

36. Matt Murton was drafted by Boston in the supplemental first round of the 2003 draft out of Georgia Tech. He spent just two seasons in the Red Sox system, including a 2004 stint with High-A Sarasota in which he hit .301/.372/.452. He was traded to the Cubs in 2004 in the Nomar Garciparra trade, which also brought Boston Orlando Cabrera from Montréal and Doug Mientkiewicz from Minnesota. In five major league seasons with Chicago, Oakland, and Colorado, Murton hit .286/.352/.436, often in a utility outfielder role. He will join Fossum to play for the Hanshin Tigers in 2010.

35. Craig Hansen was universally considered the player closest to the major leagues in the 2005 draft, a primary reason why the Red Sox selected him twenty-sixth overall in the first round that year. While he was often brilliant in the minor leagues, Hansen struggled when given major league opportunities with Boston, putting up a 6.15 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in 74 relief outings. He was sent to Pittsburgh with Brandon Moss in the Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay deal in July 2008, and continued his mediocrity with the Pirates after the trade. Hansen was recently diagnosed with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, placing his career at risk. If he can overcome the illness and return to the form he demonstrated earlier in his professional career, Hansen still has a lot of promise as a major league reliever.

34. Brandon Moss was drafted in the eighth round in 2002 out of Loganville High School in Georgia. He demonstrated excellent offensive tools during his climb up the organizational ladder from the Gulf Coast League to Pawtucket. After putting up a .917 OPS for the Low-A Augusta GreenJackets in 2004, Moss peaked as the number two prospect in the system that off-season. The outfielder was ultimately traded with Hansen to Pittsburgh in the Ramirez-Bay deal, and has since put up subpar numbers in two season as a reserve for the Pirates. He will battle for a starting spot in Pittsburgh’s outfield in 2010, but more than likely will be utilized as a fourth outfielder.

33. Michael Bowden is presently the tenth ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization. After being drafted in the supplemental first round in 2005, Bowden pitched in 106 minor league games in the Sox system over the course of the decade, going 33-25 with a 3.15 ERA, striking out 477 batters in 532 innings. He’s been inconsistent in nine games with the big league club, putting up an 8.14 ERA early in his major league career. Look for Bowden to start 2010 in Pawtucket’s rotation, with a chance to get some work out of the bullpen or as a spot starter for Boston throughout the course of the season. He presently projects as a solid back-of-the-rotation starter, but could also be used as a late-inning bullpen arm.

32. Shea Hillenbrand, a tenth-round pick from the 1996 draft, concluded his rise through the Sox system in 2000 with Trenton, hitting .323/.347/.463. After two-and-a-half seasons with the big club, Hillenbrand was traded to Arizona for Byung-Hyun Kim in May 2003. In 943 games over seven major league seasons, the third baseman put up a .284 average with 108 home runs and 490 RBI. He last played in the major leagues in 2007, and has since been in and out of the independent leagues.

31. Stolmy Pimentel was signed as an international free agent in July 2006, and has impressed at three levels of the Red Sox system, winning the Red Sox Latin Program Pitcher of the Year in 2007 and being named a New York-Penn League All Star in 2008. We presently rank him as the ninth best prospect in the system. He’ll likely start the 2010 season near the top of Salem’s rotation, and he presently projects to be a candidate for Boston's rotation by 2012.