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SoxProspects News

January 30, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Red Sox sign Gustavo Molina to minor league deal

The Red Sox have announced the signing of catcher Gustavo Molina to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.

Molina, no relation to the Molina brothers Jose, Bengie and Yadier, has spent the majority of his time in the minor leagues for the White Sox, Orioles, Mets and Nationals organizations. Gustavo has had 19 major league appearances split between Chicago, Baltimore and New York, going 4 for 34. He spent 2009 exclusively in the minors, where he hit .209/.233/.308 in 211 at-bats for Triple-A Syracuse. In ten minor league seasons, Molina has hit .235/.295/.342. He'll likely serve as an emergency catcher in Pawtucket in 2010.
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January 29, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Where did the Sox system free agents sign?

Back in November, eight Red Sox major leaguers and nineteen Sox minor leaguers were granted free agency. Of those twenty-seven players, three re-signed, fifteen signed elsewhere, and nine remain unsigned:

Fernando Cabrera - re-signed in early December
Gil Velazquez - re-signed in early December
Devern Hansack - reported as re-signed by pawsox.com on January 25

Signed Elswhere
Jason Bay - signed with NY Mets on January 5
Brian Anderson - signed with Kansas City on December 22
Alex Gonzalez - signed with Toronto on November 26
Billy Wagner - signed with Atlanta on December 2
Chris Woodward - signed with Seattle on January 6
Takashi Saito - signed with Atlanta on December 3
Joey Gathright - signed with Toronto on December 13
Nick Green - signed with LA Dodgers on January 11
Javier Lopez - signed with Pittsburgh on December 18
Jeff Bailey - signed with Arizona on December 28
Travis Denker - signed with Seattle on December 12
Enrique Gonzalez - signed with Detroit on December 12
Derrick Loop - signed with San Diego on December 18
Marcus McBeth - signed with Oakland on December 14
Charlie Zink - signed with St. Louis on January 13

Still Unsigned
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January 21, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Red Sox make flurry of minor league moves

According to Baseball America, the Red Sox made a flurry of minor league moves earlier this month, including the signing of minor league free agents Chad Paronto, Scott Patterson, Kelvin Pichardo, Ray Chang, and Christian Colonel. The team also released Matt Goodson and Zach Borowiak.

Paronto, a right-handed-reliever and a product of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has had major league experience with Baltimore, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Houston. His best seasons came in 2006 and 2007 as a member of the Atlanta Braves bullpen, making 106 appearances with a 3.34 ERA across the two seasons. In thirteen minor league seasons, Paronto has compiled a 3.82 ERA in 830 innings with an almost 2:1 K:BB ratio.

Patterson, a reliever who was originally signed from the Independent Leagues in 2006 by the New York Yankees, has spent time in the Yankees, Athletics and Padres organizations. He has put up impressive minor league numbers, striking out over a batter an inning across his eight minor league seasons while compiling a 3.30 ERA.

Pichardo, a reliever originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Phillies in 2003, has pitched well for both the Phillies and Giants organizations. Primarily working out of the bullpen, he has a 3.26 ERA in 134 career minor league games, striking out over a batter an inning.

Chang, a utility infielder who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Padres, has also played for the Pirates organization. In five minor league seasons, Chang has hit .270/.347/.386

Colonel, a third-base/outfielder who was originally drafted by the Rockies in the 5th round of the 2003 Amateur Draft, has played in seven minor league seasons hitting .285/.355/.427.

Borowiak, a middle infielder originally drafted in the 14th round of the 2003 Amateur Draft, has had an uninspiring minor league career, and briefly retired after the 2007 season before making a comeback last season. For his career, he has hit .231/.304/.323 in six minor league seasons.

Goodson, a starter that was originally drafted in the 23rd round of the 2004 Amateur Draft, had compiled a 4.62 ERA in 90 games across his five year minor league career
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January 20, 2010 at 9:40 AM

SoxProspects Mailbag, January 20

Welcome to the first installment of the SoxProspects Mailbag, a new feature of the site that we hope to continue with on a regular basis this year. As you might have seen, we added a link to the Mailbag form off of our home page about nine days ago, and we were flooded with questions right off the bat. Thanks to everyone who took the time to submit questions through the form or by e-mail. While we couldn't get to all of them, we're going to aim to answer about ten questions per installment, meaning we already have additional questions in reserve for the next round. Regardless, if you have a question you want answered by our staff, please submit it and we'll add it to the queue. A lot of this week's questions focused on the Red Sox Rookie Development Program, which is presently underway in Boston.

We have been told that Ryan Westmoreland is a five-tool player, yet we have seen so little of him on defense because of injuries. Are you basing his defensive skill ratings on pre-draft scouting reports or are there other data/observations available? I know he pitched in high school, so I assume his throwing is a plus tool. -- Shanetrot from the suburbs of Philly
Q: Do you think Ryan Westmoreland is overrated having only played one year in short season A-ball? -- John from Holyoke
SoxProspects: A lot of Westmoreland's defensive skill evaluation is based off pre-draft reports because, as you pointed out, he spent most of the season as a designated hitter for Lowell as he continued to rehab from the shoulder surgery he had in the off-season. Westmoreland never got to the point of airing his arm out, as the expectation coming off the surgery was that it was going to take him close to a full year to get all of his strength back. He did spend a few weeks in left field prior to breaking his collarbone, and while not stressing his arm on any throws, he did show excellent range and covered a lot of ground in the outfield, moving from side-to-side very well. Westmoreland looked to have the makings of an above-average outfielder during our limited chances to evaluate him in Lowell. This season should lend us a good look at him in the field, as it is expected he'll be manning an outfield position with his injuries healed up.

In response to the second question, Westmoreland has an impressive set of tools that are a little bit further along than usually expected for a player of his age and experience. His control of the strike zone was more indicative of a player coming out of college and he showed the knack for being able to get the fat part of the bat on a lot of balls, hitting balls to all fields with authority in the process. The majority of the time he has gone deep into counts and had an understanding of what he could and could not handle. Westmoreland got better at getting jumps on stolen bases as the season went along as well. There are some developmental needs for sure, as he has a tendency to chase balls in the dirt with two strikes and he will be exposed to better pitching for the first time as he moves up the ranks of full-season baseball. When seeing and evaluating him, it's clear the type of talent Westmoreland has as a player. So, no, I don't feel that he is overrated despite only playing one year in short-season A-Ball. There's been a lot of attention and there will be expectations heading into the season, but he has a skill set that indicates he should at least be a solid major league regular with continued refinement during the next couple of seasons, and one that should be exciting to watch. -- Chris Mellen, SoxProspects.com

Q: Awesome idea with the mailbag, I'm really excited about it! My question is about Randor Bierd and Ryne Miller, both of whom are currently attending the Sox Rookie Development Program, but neither of whom I have ever heard of. You have Miller listed as a 41-60 prospect and Bierd as a post-prospect. So, who are these guys? Does their invitation to the program mean that the Sox think more highly of them than this site does? -- Carl from Philly
SP: Unlike most undrafted free agents, Miller got a nice bonus in 2007 after receiving a lot of interest from a few teams. He didn't set himself apart early in his pro career, but he came into camp in 2009 in great shape, adding some muscle and a few extra miles-per-hour of velocity to his fastball. He was quite impressive pitching out of Salem's bullpen in 2009 and continued that success after a late-season promotion to Portland. He'll be 24 next season, and if he continues his upward trends, he has a shot at having a decent major league career as a middle reliever. Bierd was picked up in a trade with Baltimore for David Pauley last January after pitching 29 games with the Orioles in 2008. He has fringy stuff and had marginal success in 25 games with Pawtucket in 2009. More than likely, Bierd will serve as emergency depth in 2010, and will only see major league time if there are numerous injuries to Boston's pitching staff. As to your second question, I can't speak to what the front office thinks, but it's my understanding that these pitchers' placement in the rookie program simply means that the Sox think they could see some big league time in the next eighteen months, and that's not inconsistent with our projections. -- Mike Andrews, SoxProspects.com

Jose Iglesias is already regarded as a top prospect due to his tremendous defensive skills at shortstop as well as an impressive job holding his own at the plate in the AFL, but what kind of a bat will he eventually develop? How soon until we see him with a Red Sox uniform? What is his offensive ceiling? If he does not progress with the bat as hoped, is he still considered someone who could hold down a major league shortstop job due to the glove alone? Thanks! -- Ray from Boston
SP: Right now, we have very little to go on regarding Iglesias, but we did learn a few things about him in the Arizona Fall League. As expected, his glove work drew raves - ESPN.com scout Jason Grey tweeted "Sometimes it's the simple pleasures that get you through the day...like watching Jose Iglesias take infield practice." He is about as sure a thing in the field as you can get, and as you allude to, that alone should get him to the majors in some capacity. He also has a bit of speed - he was timed at 4.1 seconds to first, a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale from the right side. As for his bat, Iglesias was among the AFL's leaders in lowest line drive percentage, highest ground ball percentage, lowest strikeout rate and lowest walk rate. So we can deduce that he's swinging early and often and making some contact, just not great contact. He has a short stroke, but does not generate much bat speed, so don't expect him to hit for much power. We've seen comparisons to Orlando Cabrera and Yunel Escobar, and I think those are best-case comparisons at the plate. With his ability in the field, all he really has to do is not be an automatic out to hold down a starting job. I think it's reasonable to project him to spend at least a year and a half to two years in the minors getting work in at the plate, then spending 2012 transitioning into Boston's full-time shortstop job during Marco Scutaro's final season. -- Chris Hatfield, SoxProspects.com

Q: Do you see any of the catching prospects ready for the majors in 2011? -- Al from Taunton
SP: While the Red Sox don't have an heir apparent behind the plate, there are several catchers in the organization that have the potential to eventually contribute at the big league level. Four noteworthy catching prospects spent 2009 on full-season rosters: Mark Wagner, Luis Exposito, Tim Federowicz, and Ryan Lavarnway. Due to the unique development needs of catchers, it is unlikely that any of these four will be rushed to the majors. Of these four, Wagner is the most likely to be ready for the start of the 2011 season, as he has already logged 495 at bats in Double-A and another 154 at bats in Triple-A. With both major league catchers in the last year of their contracts this season, production and ability will dictate whether Wagner makes the majors in 2011, his age 26 season. It is important that Wagner shows enough stamina to remain productive throughout the entire 2010 season. Exposito, the top-ranked prospect of the four, has a chance to make the majors in 2011, but with only 92 at bats in Double-A, it is more likely that would be as a September call-up or late season addition. Federowicz and Lavarnway have yet to see time in Double-A, and are therefore unlikely to be ready for the 2011 season. However, Federowicz could be a September call-up because of his advanced defense and top-notch arm. -- Josh Sweeney, SoxProspects.com

Q: Bowden and Tazawa really don't have any potential to be in 2010-2011 rotations of Lackey, Lester, Buchholz, Dice-K, Wakefield, and Beckett (2011 if he re-signs). And the Sox will need to make way for Kelly, Pimentel, Doubront, Wilson, and Younginer. Bowden has lost trade potential while he has waited, but Tazawa is probably at his max for trade potential. What is preventing the Sox from moving these guys and why are they not coveted more by other organizations? -- Jason from West Virginia
SP: I'm going to disagree with a couple of your premises here. First, I disagree that Bowden and Tazawa don't have potential to be in the Boston rotation over the next couple years. While the front office likely won't rely on them as regular big league starters at this point, keep in mind that over the last five years the Sox have used, on average, 11 starters per season, with an average of 8 starters making more than 5 starts per year during that time period. Bowden and Tazawa are likely starters 7 and 8 in 2010. If history holds true, and considering that Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka are coming off injury-plagued 2009 campaigns, both Bowden and Tazawa should see ample time with the Sox this upcoming season. Even if they make ten starts between them, we all know that those ten games can be the difference in winning a division. Second, I disagree with your premise that Boston is trying to deal these pitchers. I think there's little-to-no chance that Tazawa's name even gets brought up in trade discussions due to the unique circumstances of his signing. As for Bowden, if you're trying to sell now, you're probably selling low, and that's just not good business. Then again, if Bowden can be a piece in some deal that actually brings back fair value, I don't think Boston is averse to trading him. -- Mike Andrews, SoxProspects.com

Q: I am very excited to see Felix Doubront doing so well. I see he is a repeat for the Rookie Development Program in Boston. What has been his biggest improvement? Do you think he plays in Boston later this season? -- Tom from Greenville
SP: Doubront put together a solid season of development and was able to hold his own after a little bit of a surprise placement to break camp with Portland in 2009. Mainly, the emergence of his changeup as an out-pitch was the biggest improvement he made with his repertoire. His changeup impressed scouts with late fade and some screwball action to it, and the separation between it and his 88-91 mph fastball allows him to keep batters out on their front foot while also generating some swings and misses. Doubront shows good feel for the pitch and has developed the confidence to use it ahead or behind the count. As for Doubront's major league ETA, a lot is going to depend on how the pitching depth shakes out during the course of the 2010 season. Right now, Doubront is a little bit lower on the depth chart than players like Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden. He also has some more work to do refining his control, especially with his fastball, and sharpening his curveball to give him three quality pitches as a starter. Most likely, Doubront works himself into the mix for the 2011 season in regards to helping Boston, with a late 2010 September call-up a possibility. Of course, a strong camp and start to the season could push him closer to being a contributor for this season, but right now he's a little bit further away and has some more development ahead of him. -- Chris Mellen, SoxProspects.com

Daniel Nava, in his first professional season, has torn the cover off the ball and has put up huge numbers in A and AA. Yes, I know he is older (26) so you don't really consider him a prospect, but I don't see anyone else in the system to compare with him, and yet nobody is talking about him. Is he going to AAA? I don't think he has much to prove in AA. Will he be given a look in spring training? -- Mark from Mashpee
2009 was actually Nava's second pro season, third if you count his 2007 stint with Chico, where he was named the independent league player of the year by Baseball America. I think it's tough to say that he has nothing left to prove in Double-A, as he's only played 32 games there. My guess is that he starts 2009 back in Portland, but a lot will depend on his performance in spring training. As for this off-season, I was actually surprised that Nava was not invited to the Rookie Development Program this year, as he seemed like a safe bet to be an attendee. I would have also expected him to get an invitation to major league spring training, but the lack of an invite to the rookie program makes me think twice. Either way, I do think that Nava could make push for Pawtucket early in 2010. If he keeps hitting there, the Sox won't have much of a choice but to give him a chance in the majors, and if he keeps hitting there, his climb up the ladder certainly has the makings of a great story. -- Mike Andrews, SoxProspects.com

Reynaldo Rodriguez seems to be tearing up his winter league again, but he doesn't seem to be considered a major prospect. Is this just a "wait and see"? Or is there a down side we haven't heard about? -- David from Westerly, RI
SP: This is another example of the Red Sox exploring all possible avenues to bring talent into the organization. Rodriguez, Baseball America's top-ranked independent league prospect, has produced at several stops in his career, including the Dominican Summer League, the independent Golden League, and the Colombian Winter League. It is important to note, however, that Rodriguez's two most productive seasons in the DSL came at the ages of 19 and 21. In the 2008 CWL regular season, Rodriguez put up a line of .378/.468/.558, and he followed that this winter with a line of .302/.407/.455. Both lines appear impressive, but note the context - the CWL is a four-team league made up primarily of players from independent leagues, and it tends to be a hitters' league. Rodriguez did not rank among the league's top 15 in either average or slugging percentage this season. Also, keep in mind that Rodriguez is now 24 years old and he has yet to play in a full-season league. However, he has definitely shown a lot of athleticism and an excellent ability to drive the ball to the gaps. Like fellow Golden Leaguer Daniel Nava, Rodriguez will have to prove himself at every level in order to advance through the system. In addition to continuing to produce, Rodriguez would benefit greatly from added positional flexibility. He has the athleticism for a corner outfield spot, and there is a chance he will be asked to learn to play one or both corners. While the Sox will not be counting on Rodriguez, they liked him enough to outmaneuver at least one other interested team for his services and there is reason to be optimistic in his potential. -- Josh Sweeney, SoxProspects.com

Q: Did Michael Almanzar and Oscar Tejeda improve or regress in 2009? The statistics seem to show they took a step back, at least at the plate. -- Ryan from Massachusetts
SP: Both Almanzar and Tejeda are tough to evaluate entirely on statistics, but yes, both were kind of stuck in neutral in 2009. Tejeda has fought some nagging injuries over the past couple of seasons and repeated at Greenville, where it was expected he'd have a better season the second time around. He's had trouble consistently squaring balls up and still has some issues with his pitch recognition, especially of breaking balls. Tejeda has good swing mechanics and understanding of what he is trying to do, but hasn't been able to put up an extended run where he's had everything flowing together in full-season baseball as of yet. Almanzar struggled considerably with Greenville and ended up being sent back to Lowell in June once the Spinners' season got underway. The buzz generated by his strong start in the Gulf Coast League in 2008 was probably a little bit premature and masked a lot of the developmental needs he had going forward. From what I saw of him at Lowell this past season, there was definitely some improvement with his approach at the plate, but his overall swing mechanics are still very rough and he has some balance issues as well. Mainly, he has been hitting with his arms and has been out on his front foot too much to drive the ball with much consistency. -- Chris Mellen, SoxProspects.com

Q: Could we possibly see Lars Anderson being called up within the next year? What are his chances of becoming the full-time DH after Ortiz's contract expires? -- Miguel from Charlotte
Q: Why wasn't Lars Anderson selected to attend the Rookie Development Program? Is this a sign that the organization has lost faith in him developing?
-- Vincent from Princeton, NJ
SP: Anderson's 2009 season is certainly one of the bigger mysteries we've had following the Sox system in a long time. I'll tackle the easier question first: Anderson attended the Rookie Development Program last offseason, and the organization rarely has players attend more than once. The only players who have attended twice since 2007 are Felix Doubront, Dustin Richardson, and Clay Buchholz. As for when Lars will make his Boston debut, I think he will probably be a September call-up this year unless he really struggles again. Whether he is called up sooner depends more on what happens in Boston than on what he does. To put it in terms that Terry Francona might use, if Lars Anderson sees significant lineup time in Boston this year, that means a bunch of other stuff went wrong.

Setting Anderson's long-term projection is a bit tougher, as a lot depends on external factors. Consider that nobody would have projected Kevin Youkilis as the Sox' future starting first baseman back when he was a minor leaguer. If Anderson recovers this year and sets himself up for a full-time job in Boston in 2011, then I think the key will be what the Sox do at the 2010 trade deadline. If they go get an Adrian Gonzalez, I could see him slotting in at DH if David Ortiz's 2011 option is not picked up. On the other hand, if no trade is made and Adrian Beltre walks, he might be more likely to fit in at first base - although Anthony Rizzo is better defensively at first, Lars was improving there at least until last season. If Lars once again looks like a middle-of-the-order stud in the making as he did a year ago, that may influence the club's decisions in July as well. The Sox have the support system in place to help prospects recover from difficult seasons - Daniel Bard in 2007 and Jed Lowrie in 2006 come to mind. Although the injury angle may have been overplayed a bit by some, I think being anointed the Next Great Red Sox last offseason caused Lars to put too much pressure on himself once he started struggling, and things spiraled out of control from there. If he gets back into the comfortable, super-laid-back state of mind we love from him, I think you'll see Lars recover and hit the bigs in 2011, one way or another. -- Chris Hatfield, SoxProspects.com
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January 18, 2010 at 7:15 AM

Caribbean Roundup: January 11-17

With the Puerto Rican League coming to an end and the Colombian Winter League winding down, here's how Boston's prospects fared over the past week in the Caribbean:

Colombian Winter League

Reynaldo Rodriguez (Leones de Monteria) has hit .342 so far for Leones in Round Robin play, with 7 doubles and 3 RBI across 10 games.

Puerto Rico Winter League

Aaron Bates (Criollos de Caguas) appeared in two games, going 2 for 7 with 2 runs scored.

Iggy Suarez (Leones de Ponce) went 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored in two games.

Kenneth Roque (Leones de Ponce) made two appearances, going 2 for 3 with a double and a triple.

Jason Rice (Indios de Mayaguez) made one appearance out of the bullpen, hurling 1.0 scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

Angel Sanchez (Indios de Mayaguez) played in two games, going 2 for 6 with an RBI.

Fernando Cabrera (Leones de Ponce) made one appearance out of the bullpen, hurling 1.0 scoreless inning and picking up a win.

Player of the Week: Reynaldo Rodriguez who is wrapping up a stellar winter season by continuing his hot hitting, batting .342 with 7 doubles in 10 round robin games.
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January 17, 2010 at 11:26 PM

Sox sign Jorge Sosa

The Red Sox have signed veteran right-hander Jorge Sosa to a minor league contract. Sosa, originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Colorado Rockies in 1995, spent his first five seasons in the minors as an outfielder before being converted to a pitcher.

Sosa pitched well this winter, going 4-2 with a 3.83 ERA for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League. He had his best season in 2005 with Atlanta, going 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 44 games (20 starts). Sosa has spent parts of eight major league seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Washington Nationals. He has compiled a 4.72 ERA in 272 major league appearances (88 starts) with a 42-50 record. In seven minor league seasons, he has gone 12-8 with a 2.72 ERA in 84 games (25 starts).
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January 13, 2010 at 7:18 PM

Sox sign Shouse to minor league deal

The Red Sox have signed lefty reliever Brian Shouse to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Shouse, 41, went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP for Tampa Bay in 2009, leading to him being labelled a Type B Free Agent this off-season. As this is a minor league deal, Tampa Bay will not receive compensation for the signing. However, Shouse should be given every opportunity to compete for one of the few remaining open spots in Boston's bullpen this spring, and particularly may be in competition with Dustin Richardson to earn a job as the second left-hander out of the Sox pen. Drafted in the 13th round of the 1990 draft by Pittsburgh, the side-armer has pitched for eleven organizations over the past 20 years, including a stint with the Boston organization in 1998, where he put up a 2.90 ERA in 22 games for Pawtucket and appeared in 7 games with the big league club. He also pitched in Japan for 31 games that season. Over his major league career, Shouse is 13-10 with a 3.72 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 467 games. Often used as a lefty specialist, he's allowed a .213/.262/.330 line over his career against 785 left-handed batters.
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January 12, 2010 at 11:03 AM

SoxProspects Mailbag Update

Yesterday I posted about the newest feature of the site, the SoxProspects Mailbag, and asked readers to try it out by submitting a question. Well, it turns out that I messed up the HTML coding on the form during an update yesterday afternoon, and unfortunately the mailbag form didn't work for much of the afternoon and evening. Sorry about that! We got the form up-and-running again at about 11:00 PM ET last night and the questions are already flooding in. Just wanted to let everybody know that we got it working and apologize to any readers who had issues yesterday.
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January 11, 2010 at 1:36 PM

SoxProspects Mailbag

Introducing the newest feature of the site – the SoxProspects Mailbag. There’s no trick to how it works – submit your questions on anything Red Sox prospect-related and we’ll post the questions and answers in a regular segment on SoxProspects News. We hope it will become a weekly feature by the time the season rolls around, but for now we’ll aim to answer the first set of questions some time in the next couple weeks. You can access the mailbag form by using the the above link or via the SoxProspects.com home page. Try submitting a question today!

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at 7:27 AM

Caribbean Roundup: January 4-10

Here's how Boston's prospects fared over the past week in the Caribbean:

Colombian Winter League

Reynaldo Rodriguez (Leones de Monteria) appeared in four games, going 6 for 16 with a 2 RBI.

Puerto Rico Winter League

Aaron Bates (Criollos de Caguas) appeared in three games, going 3 for 9 with 3 RBI and a run scored.

Iggy Suarez (Leones de Ponce) went 3 for 13 with 4 RBI in four games.

Kenneth Roque (Leones de Ponce) made one appearance, going 0 for 2.

Jason Rice (Indios de Mayaguez) made two appearances out of the bullpen, going 2.0 scoreless innings.

Angel Sanchez (Indios de Mayaguez) played in three games, going 1 for 12.

Fernando Cabrera (Leones de Ponce) made two appearances out of the bullpen, going 2.0 perfect innings and picking up a win.

Player of the Week: Reynaldo Rodriguez who had a stellar week, hitting .375 across four games, keeping his winter average above .300.

Update: The Puerto Rican Winter League is nearing its completion, scheduled to wrap up on the 14th. The Colombian Winter League has completed its regular season and is now in the midst of the playoffs which are a round-robin series amongst the top three teams in the league.
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January 8, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Red Sox trade Kotchman to Mariners

Following days of speculation, the Boston Red Sox have officially traded Casey Kotchman to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Bill Hall, a minor league player to be named later, and cash.

Kotchman, a former first-round selection by the Angels in 2001, was acquired by Boston at the trade deadline last season in exchange for Adam LaRoche. In 29 games with Boston, Kotchman hit .218 with 1 home run and 7 RBI. Kotchman is a career .269/.337/.406 hitter in his six major league seasons.

Hall, a longtime member of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be joining his third team in two years. His best season came in 2006, when he hit .270/.345/.553 with 35 home runs and 85 RBI. Hall, a right-handed hitter, is known for his versatility, playing second base, shortstop, third base and all over the outfield in his career. In eight major league seasons for Milwaukee and Seattle, he has compiled a .251/.309/.441 line.

The trade gives the Red Sox about $1.5 million in salary relief, as the Mariners will be picking up the majority of Hall's $8.4 million salary for 2010. The minor league player to be named later will be chosen from a list of players the Red Sox will scout during Spring Training.
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January 6, 2010 at 7:24 PM

Sawdaye named Director of Amateur Scouting

The Red Sox announced some front office moves earlier this evening, including some promotions and hirings in the amateur scouting and player development departments. Some quotes from Boston's press release:

Amiel Sawdaye has been promoted to Director, Amateur Scouting. He served as Boston's Assistant Director, Amateur Scouting for the last five years after being named to the post in December of 2004. A 1999 graduate of the University of Maryland, Sawdaye joined the Red Sox organization in 2002 as an intern in the scouting department and spent 2004 as the club's scouting assistant.

David Finley has been promoted to Special Assistant to the General Manager after spending the past five years as the Red Sox National Crosschecker. Finley joined the Boston organization as the West Coast Crosschecker prior to the 2002 season. He has previously worked for the Padres and Marlins.

Ben Crockett
has been promoted to Assistant Director, Player Development. He joined the Red Sox organization as an intern in baseball operations in 2007 and served as Advance Scouting Coordinator from 2008-09. Crockett was drafted by Colorado out of Harvard University in 2002 and is a veteran of five professional seasons (2002-06).

Ethan Faggett has been named Assistant Director, Florida Baseball Operations after working as the Assistant Director, Player Development since 2008. Selected by Boston in the 33rd round of the 1992 First-Year Player Draft, he played 11 seasons of professional baseball, including nine in the Red Sox (1992-98) and Padres (1998-2000) chains.

According to the press release, a number of other scouts also received promotions, including Mark Wasinger, Mike Rikard, and Dan Madsen. New scouts joining the department include Tom Battista, Pat Portugal, Sam Ray, and Demond Smith. Among those receiving promotions in the Player Development Department are Ben Crockett, Ethan Faggett, David Howard, Gary DiSarcina, and Chad Epperson.

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at 9:21 AM

New Stars For Young Stars V - Update

This updates an earlier post regardng New Stars for Young Stars V, an upcoming event to support the Jimmy Fund featuring some top Red Sox Prospects.

Curt Schilling is now confirmed for the event. If you buy an MVP ticket, you will be guaranteed a signature from Schilling (as you will get one of the top 30 spots in line) and as it stands now it looks like all ticket buyers will get one as well. Since Schilling will not be there as long as the other players, anyone who did not get his autograph before he leaves will receive a signed World Series photo. The event link and to purchase tickets is below.


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January 5, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Red Sox reach agreement with Beltre

The Red Sox, further bolstering their defense, reached a tentative agreement Monday with third baseman Adrian Beltre. The deal is contingent upon Beltre passing a physical. According to sources, Beltre's deal is for one year and $9 million with a player option for 2011 worth $5 million (or a $1 million buyout). Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has reported that the player option would increase to $10 million if Beltre records 640 plate appearances in 2010.

Beltre, who will turn 31 shortly after opening day, is a gifted defender, winning back-to-back gold gloves at third base as a member of the Mariners in 2007 and 2008. He is perhaps best known for his outstanding 2004 season, when he hit .334 with 48 home runs and 121 RBI, finishing second to Barry Bonds in the NL MVP race. Last season, Beltre was marred by injuries on his way to a .265/.304/.379 performance at the plate. Over the course of his twelve-year career between the Dodgers and Mariners organizations, he has posted a .270/.325/.453 line with 250 home runs and 906 RBI.
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January 4, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Interview with John Shinn, Player Agent

John Shinn is the owner and principal of Nine Sports Management, LLC, a sports agency representing baseball players, including several Red Sox prospects. As a sports agent and a licensed-attorney, John presently represents numerous major league and minor league players nationwide, at the same time serving as an advisor for several amateur players. I had the chance to sit down with John over the holidays to gain insight into the what exactly an agent/advisor does on a day-to-day basis. Special thanks to John for taking the time to answer my questions.

Mike Andrews: How did you become an agent? What is your background?
John Shinn: Growing up, I played baseball - high school travel ball. I also played in college, but I wasn’t a very good player. I never thought about becoming an agent, I always just wanted to be an attorney. I went to law school, and a lot of my friends who I grew up playing ball with started asking questions related to their representation - they seemed very unhappy with the agents they had signed with. During law school, I found an agency through a family friend of mine, and I became my friends’ agent through the agency - so I just kind of fell into the business. Like I said, I had always wanted to be a litigator - I guess I read too many John Grisham books, but in the end I just wanted to take care of my friends. I stayed with the agency through law school and then a little while afterward.

: How long have you been an agent? What is your current status?

JS: I’ve been an agent since 2003, so about six or seven years. Soon after I graduated law school I decided to go out on my own and open my own agency. There were no hard feelings with my old agency, there was just a certain way I wanted to do business, and I thought the best way to do that was to set up my own shop, which I did in 2005.

MA: What are some of the benefits of having a law degree and being an attorney when getting into the business of being an agent?
JS: The Andy Oliver case last year really showed the differences between attorney agents and non-attorney agents. The one thing in this business is that there can be a lot of unethical things that go on behind the scenes. But attorney agents can attest to this, we're held to a different standard - the ethical rules and regulations of our respective bars mean there are certain things we can't do that non-attorney agents might be able to get away with. Besides the educational background, and while a lot of the law in the baseball industry is really boilerplate, law school teaches you how to read the Collective Bargaining Agreement, to read contracts - that’s what you’re trained to do. While I continue working as an attorney separate from my agency, that gives me the background to be able to interpret clauses, take care of grievances, arbitration, or worker's comp cases. For the most part, while anybody can negotiate a contract, I feel that attorneys are better suited to know what actually makes it into that contract, and to interpret the clauses and terms.

MA: In general, how do agents recruit players to represent?
JS: Just like any business, the best way to get clients is through word of mouth. How I go about recruiting new clients is usually through established pipelines or connections that I already have. I have established relationships with certain schools through players, scouts, and coaches that I know, and I meet a lot of people through those relationships. In my old agency, I did a lot of cold calling, sending out informational brochures to players and parents. Now, it’s mostly gotten to the point where I don’t need to do that, as a lot of my business comes from referrals.

I typically go after college players, and there are certain programs that usually have certain kinds of players - while I obviously want to get the highest-ranked players, character means a lot to me. I don’t want to be someone’s agent for just a year; I want to be his agent for the rest of his career. I like to represent players that have the same values that I have, the same views on life, and I enjoy working with certain programs because I know they continue to develop those types of players.

MA: So you’re essentially talking about recruiting amateur players, right?
JS: Right. Most highly-regarded minor league players are already represented by agents, so the recruiting process typically takes place with players a year or two before they’re draft eligible - whether that's in high school or early in their college careers.

MA: But you prefer college players?
JS: I do. I think the rigors of professional baseball are tough enough as it is, to make a little bit of money but to be away from home, to always be on the road, to play 140 games a year in the minors - you’re basically gone eight months out of the year. I think very few 18-20 year olds can handle that, which ends up in a lot more hand holding, almost being a surrogate father. While I want to grow with the player, this is a business relationship, and there should be equal give and take. When it comes down to it, I want to deal with adults who are taking a vested interest in their own professional careers. I don’t rule out high school players altogether, I just think it takes a rare personality to be really professional at that age. I have had high school players in the past, and most of the time you end up dealing directly with parents rather than looking at what the player actually wants. I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t be involved, as they often are involved at the college level as well, but with college players, parents will typically defer to the players' life decisions.

Once these players sign a professional contract, they’re employees of their respective organizations. I’ve dealt with situations in the past where a parent gets very involved and ends up calling the organization all the time, and I think that can be frustrating for the front office and for the agents as well. Look at it this way - if you’re working at a regular non-baseball job, it just wouldn’t be very professional if a parent was calling human resources all the time. In my experience, the parents of college players just seem to have a better understanding of when and when not to interject themselves into that employer-employee relationship.

MA: Can you briefly discuss the differences between being an agent and being an advisor?
The NCAA allows student-athletes to have "advisors." An advisor can give information to the player and to his family about the opportunities that may await him in the draft. As an advisor, I can't contact teams directly or negotiate with teams on a player's behalf, but I can provide information to the player on his fair market value, where he might be drafted, what he could potentially earn as a professional, what kind of bonus to expect, and then help the family balance whatever factors it deems important to help decide if it's the right decision for that player to leave school early. It's basically just providing advice and counsel to help the player and his family make a well-informed decision.

MA: How many players do you represent, and how many players does a typical agent represent?
It varies a lot. Me, I work full time as an attorney in addition to my firm. My firm represents sixteen players in total, and I personally represent thirteen of those players. I feel like fifteen is about right for me, but I'll make time for my players no matter what it takes. I’m generally on the phone or texting with each of my players at least every three days. If I have too many clients, I may not be able to provide that level of personal relationship. I don’t believe in the factory approach, which a lot of agents take, which just involves signing as many players as possible and hoping that one or two make it. I also stick solely to baseball, which a lot of agents don’t do.

MA: What are the differences in representing major league players and minor league players?
JS: The great thing about representing major league players is that they’re also represented by one of the most powerful unions in the country. The Union is very protective of their rights. When you have a major league player, there’s a lot more assistance and guidance from the Union with things such a salary disputes or grievances. With minor league players, there’s really no assistance at all. With major league players, it can also be easier for things such as endorsements, where companies seek out the players rather than the other way around.

MA: What types of services do agents generally provide for clients?
JS: With "advisees", as I discussed earlier, it’s a lot about information gathering and providing advice regarding the draft. But there’s also helping out with pre-draft workouts, helping to decide what workouts to go to. That decision can be tough as players have to pay their own way and often several teams will invite a player to different workouts on the same day in different parts of the country. So there are decisions to be made as to what organizations might be a better fit for each player. I'll sit down with the family and talk about which workout might be most beneficial for the player. With professional players, I'll negotiate their contracts, seek out endorsements for them, and handle minor legal matters.

MA: In your opinion, what are the most important traits of a good baseball agent?
JS: Being prepared, competent, honest, and willing to share all information, not just the good news. I always tell my players that if it's good news, I'll be the first one to tell you, and if it's bad news, I'll be the first one to tell you. Ultimately, it’s the player’s life, so you have to share all information and viewpoints available to allow that player to make the right decisions. There are some phone calls I don’t enjoy having, but I do it, because if I don’t it’s a disservice to the player. They should never be kept in the dark about things. I never tell a player he’s more than he is, because if I create a false sense of who he is, it's just not fair to the player.

MA: Have you ever lost a player to another agent, and is that considered par for the course in the industry?
JS: I’ve never lost a client that I had from the get go, from the draft, but I have lost a couple players that I picked up into their pro careers. In the past, I’ve picked up players that have been through two or three agents before, and I generally find that players who switch agents a lot are the types of players that are never going to be content with their representation, always thinking the grass is greener. Either way, when you lose a player - and I haven’t lost many - it hurts, and unfortunately it is kind of commonplace in the industry. But it’s the same in a lot of other industries. As an attorney, if a client is not happy with my work, they’ll find other representation. All that I can do is work to the best of my abilities.

MA: Can you take us through the calendar and tell us what you have to do over the course of certain times of the year?
JS: In the fall, maybe even August through December, I’m usually making a push recruiting for the next year's draft class and working with my advisees. When spring training comes around, I turn my attention to my professional players, but I also travel to meet with almost all of my advisees and pro players in the spring. I often spend April and May helping my advisees gear up for the draft. I’m also working on endorsements for my pro players throughout the course of the year, which can include endorsements for gear, car dealerships, apparel, energy drinks, and things like that. Legal matters can happen year round, as I've helped my clients with things such as incorporation and trademark registrations. I’m also constantly recruiting. Even now, I’m starting to recruit for the 2011 draft, talking to college freshmen and sophomores. Professional recruiting can also happen year round, as I could receive a call for a pro player looking for representation at any time. If a player hears of my services through word of mouth, through some of my players, they may contact me and I could fly out to meet with them to see if it's a fit. All in all, I travel a lot. Almost every weekend I’m somewhere, whether it be on a recruiting trip or meeting with my current players. In addition to having a regular job here in town, it can be a challenging career. But I enjoy every minute of it.

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at 7:00 AM

Caribbean Roundup: December 28-January 3

Here's how Boston's prospects fared over the past week in the Caribbean:

Mexican Winter League

Robert Coello (Algodoneros de Guasave) made one appearance out of the bullpen, going 1.0 inning striking out 1.

Colombian Winter League

Reynaldo Rodriguez (Leones de Monteria) appeared in three games, going 4 for 9 with a double and 2 RBI.

Puerto Rico Winter League

Aaron Bates (Criollos de Caguas) appeared in three games, going 3 for 11 with 2 RBI and a run scored.

Iggy Suarez (Leones de Ponce) went 1 for 7 in two games.

Kenneth Roque (Leones de Ponce) made one appearance, entering the game as a defensive replacement and scoring a run without having an at-bat.

Jason Rice (Indios de Mayaguez) made two appearances out of the bullpen, going 2.1 innings allowing an unearned run on 1 hit while striking out 4.

Angel Sanchez (Indios de Mayaguez) played in three games, going 5 for 7 with 5 RBI, 2 extra-base hits and 2 runs scored.

Player of the Week: Angel Sanchez, who once again set the pace for Mayaguez, going 5 for 7 with 5 RBI, 2 extra-base hits and 2 runs scored. He is hitting .455 over his last ten contests.
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January 3, 2010 at 8:01 AM

Sox Prospects of the Decade: 1-10

Rounding out our top ten Red Sox Prospects of the last decade:

10. Justin Duchscherer was drafted in the eighth round of the 1996 draft out of Coronado High School in Texas, and spent five seasons in the farm system from 1996 to 2001. In 2000, Duchscherer went 7-9 with a 3.39 ERA in 143.1 innings for Double-A Trenton, striking out 134 batters in the process. On June 12, 2001, the righthander was traded to the Rangers for Doug Mirabelli. The following spring, Texas flipped him to Oakland for Luis Vizcaino. Duchscherer pitched in seven major league seasons with the Rangers and the Athletics from 2001 through 2008, going 31-24 with a 3.14 ERA and 329 strikeouts in 426.2 innings. Oakland converted him from the bullpen to the rotation prior to the 2008 season, which proved to be a solid move, as he won 10 games and led the majors with a 2.54 ERA. He was also named an American League All Star for the second time. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2009 season with back and shoulder ailments, while simultaneously being diagnosed with clinical depression. He expects to be back to on the mound in 2010, and he just re-signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract with the A's.

9. Daniel Bard has had quite the early career since being drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft out of North Carolina. After negotiating with the Sox until the end of the 2006 signing period, Bard's pro debut was delayed until the following season. In 2007, he was horrendous in 22 starts between Low-A Greenville and High-A Lancaster, going 3-7 with a 7.08 ERA and a 2.05 WHIP. Over the next off-season, he worked with Sox sports psychologist Bob Tewskbury and was converted to the bullpen in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League, where he put up a 1.08 ERA in 16 appearances. The flamethrower took well to his new relief role as he climbed up the organizational ladder, putting up a 1.44 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, and 13 saves in 57 minor league appearances out of the pen. He made his major league debut on May 13, 2009 and didn't look back, striking out 61 batters in 49.1 innings in a late-inning setup role with the Red Sox. He'll continue in the same role in 2010, and is under Sox control through 2015. Many scouts project him as Boston's future closer, given that Jonathan Papelbon will be eligible for free agency following the 2011 season.

8. Casey Kelly is presently the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system. He was selected in the first round of the 2008 draft, ultimately requiring a $3 million bonus for Boston to sign him away from his football and baseball commitments at the University of Tennessee. A two-way player, Kelly played shortstop for the GCL Red Sox and Lowell in 2008, hitting just .215 in 130 at-bats. He then spent the first half of the 2009 season on the mound, dominating two levels of A-Ball during his age-19 season, going a combined 7-5 with a 2.08 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP, and 74 strikeouts in 95 innings. He spent the second half of the season at shortstop, hitting .222 for the GCL Sox and the Greenville Drive. After he was named a South Atlantic League All Star and a Futures Game All Star (both as a pitcher), and the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year, this past December Kelly opted to continue the rest of his career on the mound. With excellent control to go with three potential plus pitches, the righthander has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation starter, particularly if he fills out and adds a few extra miles-per-hour of velocity to his fastball as many scouts project. He's expected to start the 2010 season in Portland, and could join Boston's pitching staff some time in 2011.

7. Jacoby Ellsbury was the twenty-third overall pick in the 2005 draft, selected by Boston in the first round out of Oregon State. In three minor league seasons with the Sox, the center fielder hit .314/.390/.426 and stole 105 bases in 250 games, peaking as the top-ranked prospect in the system from August 2006 through May 2007. He made his big league debut on June 30, 2007, and in three major league seasons he has hit .297/.350/.414, stealing 129 bases in 331 games. He led the American League with 50 stolen bases in 2008 and all of Major League Baseball with 70 steals in 2009, setting the Red Sox single-season stolen base record in the process. With the recent signing of Mike Cameron, Ellsbury will likely get regular starts in both left field and center field for Boston in 2010. He is under Red Sox control through 2013.

6. Clay Buchholz was selected in the supplemental first round in 2005 out of Angelina Junior College in Texas. The righthander dominated every level of the minors over five seasons, going 31-14 with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP, with 506 strikeouts in 443.1 innings. His major league career has been a bit of a different story, as it's been a bumpy ride for Buchholz in three big league seasons. In 2007, Buchholz threw a no hitter against the Orioles in just his second major league start, and ended the season with a 1.59 ERA in four games, before he was shut down due to shoulder weakness as a precautionary move. He followed up his debut season with a horrendous 2008, going 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA in sixteen games. His season got to be so bad that he was demoted to Double-A Portland in August to work out some psychological and mechanical issues. He was then relegated to Triple-A to start the 2009 season, where he returned to his previous dominant form. He was inserted into Boston's pitching staff after the All Star break, and went 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 16 major league starts. His performance in 2009 was actually more impressive then his line indicates, as he put up 9 quality starts, but gave up 63% of his earned runs in four sub-par outings. Removing those four starts from the equation, Buchholz put up a 1.91 ERA. He'll start 2010 at the back of the Sox rotation, but he has ace potential in the not-too-distant future, especially if he can improve his consistency. He is under Red Sox control through 2014.

5. Dustin Pedroia hit .308/.392/.454 in three minor league seasons after the Sox selected him out of Arizona State in the second round of the 2004 draft. He was the top-ranked prospect in the system for two weeks in mid-2005. The second baseman made his major league debut in August 2006 and struggled in 31 big league games that season, hitting just .191. He was still handed the starting second baseman job in 2007, and while he struggled out of the gate, a strong finish earned him American League Rookie of the Year honors. He followed that up with a stupendous 2008 campaign in which he was took home All-Star, MVP, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger honors, leading the league in runs, hits, and doubles while hitting .326/.376/.493. Over his four-year major league career, Pedroia has hit .307/.370/.455. In December 2008, the second baseman signed a six-year contract extension with the Sox, meaning he will likely be roaming the infield at Fenway Park through 2015.

4. Jonathan Papelbon is already Boston's all-time saves leader, posting 151 saves in five major league seasons with the Red Sox. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2003 out of Mississippi State. The righty was primarily used as a starter over his three-year minor league career, going 19-13 with a 3.05 ERA and 299 strikeouts in 277 innings. He was the top-ranked prospect in the system from August 2005 through May 2006. Over his major league career, Papelbon has been one of the best closers in the business, putting up a 1.84 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP, and striking out 346 batters in 298 innings. He's also made quite an impression on Red Sox Nation with his personality, most particularly his iconic celebration following Boston's clinching of the American League East Division in 2007. He was also on the mound as the team wrapped up their 2007 World Series victory against Colorado in 2007. Papelbon will enter 2010 as Boston's closer and will be eligible for free agency following the 2011 season.

3. Kevin Youkilis has already earned two World Series rings in his six-year major league career, and undoubtedly is chomping at the bit to bring a third championship banner home to Boston. Drafted in the eighth round of the 2000 draft out of he University of Cincinnati, many scouts weren't sold on Youkilis's skills out of the gate. Even during an impressive five-year minor league run in which he hit .299/.442/.439, he still had his doubters. But he and his high on-base percentage later became a symbol of a new-age front office philosophy when he was featured in a chapter of the 2003 book Moneyball as the "Greek God of Walks." He has gone on to become one of the most valuable offensive players in the game, putting up a .292/.391/.487 line in six major league seasons. He's also proven to be quite valuable defensively, earning a gold glove at first base in 2007, while providing the team flexibility in that he can also play an above-average third base when called upon. He earned American League MVP consideration in both 2008 and 2009, as he really began to flash some power on offense, slugging .559 and averaging 28 home runs per year over that two-year period. In January 2009, the Red Sox signed Youkilis to a four-year extension, locking him up through 2013. He'll likely spend time at both first base and third base for the Sox in 2010.

2. Jon Lester was selected in the second round of the 2002 draft out of Bellarmine Prep in Washington. He pitched six seasons in the Red Sox minor league system, going 32-31 with a 3.33 ERA in 102 games. He made his major league debut in June 2006, and went on to put up lackluster numbers in fifteen major league starts that season. Then the news came. Scratched from a start due to a sore back on August 27, Lester was placed on the disabled list and sent to Boston for tests. While it was believed that the soreness was attributable to a minor car accident earlier that month, he was instead diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of cancer. He missed the remainder of the season and spent the off-season in chemotherapy, triumphantly returning to the mound the next spring cancer-free, but at less then full strength. He spent most of 2007 on rehab assignment, but did appear in 12 major league games that year, and ended the season by winning the clinching game of the World Series against Colorado. Back to full strength the following season, Lester has put up two consecutive ace-level seasons, combining to go 31-14 with a 3.31 ERA in 65 starts, highlighted by a May 19, 2008 no-hitter against Kansas City. In March 2009, Lester signed a five-year extension with Boston, tying up the lefthander through 2013 with a team option for 2014.

1. Hanley Ramirez can be thought of as the one that got away, or the one that helped reel in two key pieces to Boston's 2007 championship run. Signed as a free agent at the age of sixteen out of the Dominican Republic in July 2000 for just a $20,000 signing bonus, Ramirez quickly became one of the top prospects in all of baseball. In five minor league seasons, Ramirez hit .310/.362/.453, but the stat line didn't do his projections justice, as he was also regarded as one of the toolsiest prospects to come along in years. However, there were always whispers of attitude and motivational issues that detracted from his status. After appearing in only two games with Boston in 2005, the shortstop was traded to Florida in November 2005 - during Theo Epstein's hiatus - in a deal that netted Boston Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. He went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year in 2006 and compete for the MVP trophy in each of the next three seasons. Over his five year major league career, Ramirez has been one of the brightest stars in all of baseball, hitting .316/.386/.531 with 103 home runs and 164 stolen bases in 618 games. In May 2008, Ramirez signed a six-year, $70 million extension with the Marlins, locking him up through 2014. However, his annual salary balloons up to $11 million in 2011 and $15 million in 2012, so trade rumors will undoubtedly continue, especially as the Marlin's entire payroll was a mere $36 million this past season. One last thing to keep in mind - Ramirez just turned 26 two weeks ago.
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January 2, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Sox Prospects of the Decade: 11-20

We continue our top forty prospects of the decade with prospects 11-20. Check out the discussion thread in the SoxProspects Forum to discuss the rankings.

20. Jed Lowrie has struggled through an injury-riddled career after the Red Sox selected him in the supplemental first round of the 2005 draft out of Stanford. He's been fairly impressive over his minor league career, putting up a .282/.378/.442 line in five seasons. In 2007, Lowrie made the Eastern League All Star team and was named the Portland Sea Dogs MVP and the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year. The infielder was then given ample major league opportunities in 2008 to fill in for Mike Lowell and Julio Lugo, but hasn't been able to grab hold of a starting role. He hit .258 in 81 games in 2008, and it was later learned that he played through the season with a sprained and fractured left wrist. He entered 2009 as a prime candidate for the starting shortstop job, but ended up missing most of the season with complications from that same injury. In those two seasons, Lowrie hit an unimpressive .235/.313/.372, but flashed adequate defense when given the chance. The uncertainty of the injury influenced the Red Sox to sign shortstop Marco Scutaro to a two-year deal this off-season. Lowrie expects to be back at full strength come spring training, but it has yet to be determined whether he will start the season in Pawtucket or in some role in Boston's infield.

19. David Murphy was selected in the first round of the 2003 draft out of Baylor. He spent five seasons in the minor leagues, hitting .273/.343/.407 in 507 games. He saw limited major league time with the Red Sox in 2006 and 2007, failing to make a major impact. Boston ultimately packaged the outfielder with Kason Gabbard, who has since returned to the organization, and Engel Beltre in a trade with Texas for Eric Gagne in July 2007. He's since gone on to grab a starting job with Texas, and has put up a .278/.336/.465 line in 302 major league games. He hit a career-high 17 home runs in 2009, to go with 24 doubles and 57 RBI. Murphy is slated to be the Rangers' starting left fielder in 2010, and is under team control through 2013.

18. Frank Francisco was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1996. He spent the first three years of the decade in the Sox minor league system, including stops with the GCL Red Sox, Low-A Augusta, High-A Sarasota, and Double-A Trenton. His best showing was in 2001, when he put up a 2.91 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP, striking out 90 batters in 68 innings. At the 2002 trading deadline, he was packaged with reliever Byeong Hak An in a trade to the White Sox for reliever Bob Howry. The following year, he was sent with two other players to Texas in a trade for Carl Everett. In 2004, Francisco was arrested and sentenced for an incident in which he threw a chair into the stands that hit a fan. In five solid seasons with the Rangers, Francisco is 11-11 with a 3.75 ERA, 30 saves, and 255 strikeouts in 230.2 innings. He is presently slated to be the Rangers' closer in 2010.

17. Kelly Shoppach, Boston's second-round pick from the 2001 draft, spent four seasons in the Sox minor league system from 2002 to 2005. In January 2006, he was traded to Cleveland with Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, Randy Newsom, and cash for Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard. Over the course of his minor league career, the catcher hit .260/.349/.474 with 74 home runs in 444 games. He's put up a slightly less impressive line in five major league seasons, hitting .241/.327/.449. Shoppach is considered a very good defensive catcher in all aspects of the game, so he should be in the league for years to come. Last month, Shoppach was traded to Tampa Bay for pitcher Mike Talbot. In 2010, he'll likely split time with Dioner Navarro behind the plate for the Rays, but Shoppach is probably the Rays' long-term starting solution.

16. Rafael Betancourt, a 1993 international free agent out of Venezuela, culminated his Red Sox career with Trenton in 2001, putting up a 6.75 ERA in 7 games for the Thunder. He was granted minor league free agency following the 2001 season and signed a minor league deal with Cleveland. He went on to pitch seven major league season with the Indians before a July 2009 trade sent him to Colorado. The Rockies declined his club option this off-season but offered him arbitration, which he has since accepted, meaning he'll be back with Colorado in 2010. Over his major league career, the righthander is 26-23 with 18 saves and possesses a career 3.16 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, together with 438 strikeouts in 435.1 innings.

15. Anibal Sanchez has had a roller-coaster career since being signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2001. He spent four seasons in the Red Sox minor league system. In 2005, the righthander went 9-6 and put up a 2.85 ERA, while striking out 158 batters in 25 starts and 136 innings between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Portland. In November 2005, in one of the biggest trades of the decade, Sanchez was sent to Florida with Hanley Ramirez, Jesus Delgado, and Harvey Garcia for Josh Beckett, Mota, and Mike Lowell. He made his major league debut on June 25, 2006, and later that season pitched a no-hitter against Arizona. He struggled through shoulder problems in 2007 and 2008, appearing in just sixteen major league games. Apparently back to full health in 2009, Sanchez went 4-8 with a 3.87 ERA and 71 strikeouts over 86 innings in sixteen starts for the Marlins. He'll only be 26 in February, and should open the 2010 season as Florida's third starter.

14. David Eckstein was selected in the nineteenth round of the 1997 draft out of the University of Florida. The diminutive shortstop played four seasons in the Sox farm system from 1997 to 2000, including stints with Lowell, Sarasota, Trenton, and Pawtucket. During that time, he hit .292 with an impressive .406 OBP. In a move that the former front office regime undoubtedly regrets, Eckstein was designated for assignment in August 2000 to make room for Ed Sprague. Eckstein was claimed off waivers by the Angels, where he would play through 2004; Sprague hit .216 in 33 games with Boston. The former prospect has gone on to play in nine major league seasons with the Angels, Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Padres, winning a World Series with St. Louis in 2006. Over his career, he has hit .282/.348/.358, while stealing 115 bases in 1,195 career games. He is under contract with San Diego through 2010, and he is expected to start at second base for the club come opening day.

13. Ryan Westmoreland is presently the second-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system despite only playing in 60 professional games, none of which were above short-season ball. As you can imagine, there's quite a bit of projection in that ranking. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft out of Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island, Westmoreland signed a $2 million deal at the 2008 signing deadline. His pro debut was postponed in 2008 due to a partially torn labrum. He ultimately made his debut with short-season Lowell in June 2009, and put up a .296/.401/.484 line with 7 home runs in 223 at-bats. During that time, the outfielder demonstrated plus tools in every aspect of the game and a polish beyond his years at the age of 19. Unfortunately, his 2009 campaign was cut short when he broke his collarbone running into an outfield wall. He's expected to be back at full strength come 2010. While he's a long way from the majors, he has nearly limitless potential, and if he can stay on the field and continue refining his tools, Westmoreland should move up the organizational ladder quickly. Look for him to start 2010 with Greenville, and if all goes well it's not out of the question that he could see time in Double-A Portland by season's end.

12. Justin Masterson, a second-round pick in 2006 out of San Diego State, pitched four seasons in the Red Sox system from 2006 through 2009, ranking as the top prospect in the system by June 2008. During his minor league career with the Sox, he went 19-12 with a 3.79 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 233 innings. Masterson made his major league debut on April 24, 2008, and proved quite effective as a spot starter and a late-inning option out of the Boston bullpen for parts of two seasons. At this year's trading deadline, he was sent to Cleveland with Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez. In 78 major league games between Boston and Cleveland, the tall righthander is 10-15 with a 3.97 ERA. He's slated to be the Indians' third starter in 2010.

11. Freddy Sanchez was drafted in the eleventh round of the 2000 draft out of Oklahoma City University. Playing mostly shortstop in five stops on his way up the organizational ladder, Sanchez hit .317/.371/.438 in his minor league career with the Sox. He was ranked as the top prospect in the system in April 2003. In July of that year, the infielder was traded to Pittsburgh with Mike Gonzalez for Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon, and Anastacio Martinez. He went on to become primarily a second baseman with the Pirates, and was named a National League All Star in 2006, 2007, and 2009. In 2006, he also led the National League with a .344 batting average and 53 doubles. Sanchez was traded to San Francisco on July 29, 2009 for pitcher Tim Alderson. He has since signed a two-year deal with the Giants, and he'll start at second base for San Francisco in 2010. In eight major league seasons, Sanchez has hit .299/.344/.417 with 178 doubles.
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January 1, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Sox Prospects of the Decade: 21-30

Happy New Year! Today we bring you Red Sox Prospects 21-30 of the 2000-2009 decade. What's the name for that decade, anyway?

30. Manny Delcarmen
has been a cog in Boston’s bullpen since 2005, putting up a 3.74 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in 240.1 career innings with the Red Sox. A local product, Delcarmen was drafted in the second round of the 2000 draft out of West Roxbury High School in Massachusetts. He spent seven seasons in the Sox minor league system, but essentially missed one of those seasons following Tommy John Surgery in May 2003. Over his minor league career, the right-handed reliever was 25-25 with 6 saves and a 3.58 ERA, striking out 418 batters in 384.1 innings. Entering 2010, Delcarmen will continue in a set-up role in the Sox bullpen, and then he’s under Red Sox control through 2012.

29. Jose Iglesias
officially signed with the Red Sox in September 2009 after he defected from Cuba in July 2008. He made his professional debut in the Arizona Fall League this September, hitting .275/.324/.420 in eighteen games with Mesa. But Iglesias’s strong suit is his defense, and he has received rave reviews for his outstanding glove, arm, range, and footwork, already drawing comparison to Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel. As the shortstop has yet to debut in regular season ball, it’s a little tough to make projections, but many scouts are already penciling him in as Boston’s starting shortstop by 2012. Look for Iglesias to start the 2010 season in Double-A Portland.

28. Junichi Tazawa
asked his home country's pro teams to refrain from drafting him during the 2008-2009 off-season in order to allow him to pitch in the United States directly from the amateur ranks. He signed with Boston in December 2008 despite receiving larger offers from several other major league clubs. He played at two minor league levels in 2009, going 9-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 20 starts between Portland and Pawtucket. He also made 6 appearances for the big league club in 2009, going 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA. He’ll likely start the 2010 season in Pawtucket, expecting to be one of the first call-ups to Boston should a need arise in either the bullpen or the rotation. Long-term, Tazawa has the potential to be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter or a late-inning reliever.

27. Tomo Ohka
was signed as an international free agent by Boston in November, 1998. He spent 2000 and 2001 with Pawtucket, going 11-11 with a 3.60 ERA over those two seasons. In one of the farm system's highlights of the decade, Ohka pitched a perfect game for the PawSox on June 1, 2000. On July 31, 2001, he was traded to Montreal with Rich Rundles for Ugueth Urbina. During his ten-year major league career, Ohka has pitched for five clubs, going 51-68 and putting up a 4.26 ERA in 202 career games. He’s struck out 590 batters in 1,070 career innings. Ohka is presently a free agent, and there have been some rumors that he may return to Japan to pitch for Yokohama in 2010.

26. Cla Meredith
, a sixth-round pick from 2004, spent three season in the Sox farm system between 2004 and 2006. He impressed Boston’s brass during that time, saving 35 games and putting up a 2.95 ERA in 114 relief appearances. The right-handed reliever made his major league debut with the Red Sox on May 8, 2005. In what many have considered a learning experience for manger Terry Francona on how to initiate new players, Meredith was sent to the mound for his first appearance
in a pressure-packed situation against the Mariners. He ultimately walked two batters before giving up a grand slam to Richie Sexson. The game shook Meredith’s confidence, leading to two more sub-par performances, and he was optioned to Pawtucket ten days later. The following season, he was traded to San Diego along with Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli, who returned to Boston as Tim Wakefield’s battery-mate. Meredith has gone on to have a successful major league career, earning 41 holds and putting up a 3.52 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in 268.1 career innings. He recently signed a one-year deal with Baltimore for the 2010 season, where he’ll likely serve as a seventh-inning set-up man.

25. Anthony Rizzo
, presently the sixth-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system, was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 draft out of Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The big first baseman got off to a hot start with Low-A Greenville in 2008, hitting .373 in 21 games, but was sidelined for the remainder of that season after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May. After receiving chemo-therapy treatment later that year, he was declared cancer-free in November. In 2009, he split his age 19 season between Greenville and High-A Salem, putting up a .297/.368/.361 line in 119 games. During that time, he also demonstrated top-notch defensive skills at first base. He’ll likely return to Salem to start 2010, but a promotion to Portland may not be that far off on the horizon.

24. Nick Hagadone
was a supplemental-first-round pick in 2007, selected fifty-fifth overall by Boston. He put up a 1.82 ERA in 59.1 innings between Lowell and Greenville from 2007-2009, missing about one year’s worth of time after June 2008 Tommy John Surgery. This past July, Hagadone was sent to Cleveland with Justin Masterson and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez, and spent the final five weeks of the season with Low-A Lake County, where he was rather dominant, and High-A Kinston, where he only made two appearances. The big lefty turns 24 today, so Cleveland will probably want to see him in Double-A Akron by the end of 2010, but they’ll need to be cautious with pushing him too fast, as Hagadone has yet to perform at High-A, and may not be able to take on a huge bump in innings. In the end, look for Hagadone to land in Cleveland’s bullpen by mid-season 2011, where he should compete for the closer’s job down the line.

Lars Anderson, the top-ranked prospect in the system heading into this season, had a tough 2009 campaign that caused his stock to drop in many scouts’ eyes. Drafted in the eighth round of the 2006 draft out of Jesuit High School in California, Anderson signed for an $825,000 bonus in August of that year. In three seasons with the organization, the first baseman has hit .281/.380/.436, hitting 31 home runs in 371 games. Still just 22, he will likely return to Double-A Portland to start the 2010 season, where many expect him to have a bounce-back year. If he can indeed return to his form from 2007 and 2008, Anderson has all-star potential at first base.

22. Josh Reddick
has hit .291/.343/.512 since entering the system as a seventeenth-round draft pick in 2006, leading to his present rating as the fourth-ranked prospect in the system. His rise up the organizational ladder has been highlighted thus far by his 2008 campaign in High-A Lancaster, where he hit .343/.375/.593 with 17 home runs in 312 at-bats. He showed improved plate discipline in Portland in 2009, and received a promotion to Boston in July, where he hit just .169 in 59 at-bats. The outfielder turns 23 in February, and likely will begin the 2010 season roaming center field in Pawtucket. Reddick should also get opportunities to play with the big club in 2010, as well as opportunities to become a regular in Boston’s outfield on down the line. He’ll just need to prove some of his doubters wrong by continuing to work on his plate discipline and carrying over the power he’s demonstrated at the lower levels.

21. Ryan Kalish
has run neck-and-neck with Reddick in terms of projections and potential, leaving many scouts split on who they believe will have a more productive major league career. Drafted in the ninth round of the 2006 draft out of Red Bank Catholic High School in New Jersey, Kalish presently rates as the third-ranked prospect in the Sox system. In four minor league seasons, Kalish has put up a .281/.370/.421 line, stealing 60 bases in 289 games. He demonstrated improved power in 2009 after a nagging wrist injury seemingly subsided, hitting 18 home runs and slugging .451 in 135 games between Salem and Portland. Kalish will be 22 at the start of the 2010 season, and most likely will return to Double-A to start the year, but the organization might be aggressive and push him to Triple-A Pawtucket early on. Looking on down the line, Kalish’s speed and plate patience make him a candidate to become a major league lead-off hitter, but at the same time he will likely end up as a corner outfielder, leaving some scouts to question whether he’s a “tweaner.”
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