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SoxProspects News

February 22, 2010 at 12:10 PM

2010 Prospect Previews: David Renfroe and Drake Britton

Today's edition of the series features two young high ceiling prospects within the Red Sox system looking to break camp with the Greenville Drive

David Renfroe

Position: Shortstop/Third Base
2009 Team: Did not play in system
2010 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 19

Strengths: This athletic infielder joins the Red Sox organization after the team selected him in the third round in 2009, inking him to a 1.1 million dollar bonus. With a smooth swing and excellent bat speed, he profiles as an above-average hitter and currently already shows advanced power as he enters the system. His frame lends him the ability to fill out even more and add extra power down the line. Renfroe likes to get his arms extended, can drive balls into both gaps with authority, and hits well to all fields at this stage of his development. His swing shows good lift and creates nice elevation when he squares the ball up. A player with a high baseball IQ, he has good overall instincts in all phases of the game. The game of baseball looks to come easy to him and he has a lot of fluidity to his actions. In the field, Renfroe has quick feet and excellent reactions to go along with solid average range and a sure glove. As a former pitcher, his arm shows plus strength and is accurate across the diamond. Renfroe is another high ceiling high school player that the Red Sox were able to sign away from a college scholarship. He has the tools and skill to project as a middle-of-the-order bat and plus defender.

Development Needs: Coming from the high school ranks, Renfroe will have to adjust to professional pitching and his pitch recognition will need to come up to speed when challenged with seeing top pitching on a daily basis. His swing shows some pull tendencies that he will need to iron out while focusing on keeping his front shoulder on the ball to keep him from pulling out early, and trying to jerk pitches on the outside third of the plate. At times, his swing can get a bit long as well. Working on hitting the ball into the right-centerfield gap will help Renfroe develop his approach and he’ll need to feel out which pitches he can handle to improve his selectivity at the plate. It remains to be seen how well he will make contact in the early stages of his career, but he has shown good bat control and quickness to the point of contact. Because of his size and the likelihood that he is going to fill out more, Renfroe will end up sliding over to third base at some point in his career. He ultimately projects as an above-average defender, but will need some time to hone his skills at the hot corner, especially working on the different angles involved with playing the position.

2010 Outlook: Spring Training will be a good evaluation period on Renfroe and will determine which level in the system he ends up being placing at this season. With a good camp he should start with the Greenville Drive and enter his first season of full-season baseball. Like a lot of high school hitters, expect Renfroe to have a period of adjustment as he feels out the level of competition and works into the routine of professional baseball. Look for him to flash some power and hit hard line drives to all fields after he has settled in. Unless the Red Sox are inclined to move him right away, Renfroe should get a shot at playing shortstop on a consistent basis. Still in the raw stages of his career, big performance numbers shouldn’t be expected of him, but look for Renfroe to begin to make the steps towards becoming a more complete hitter and craft his tools into the skills of an above-average all-around baseball player.

Drake Britton

Position: Starting Pitcher
2009 Team: Lowell Spinners
2010 Team: Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 20

Strengths: Britton bounced back from Tommy John Surgery in 2008 to make three appearances with the Lowell Spinners at the tail end of 2009. Throwing from a ¾ arm slot, the lefty’s fastball showed excellent life and improved velocity after surgery, sitting at 93 MPH and topping out around 96 MPH, with some good ride on hitters. Britton threw free and easy with his fastball, and didn’t show signs of being tentative in letting loose. He also features a plus 12-to 6 curveball with excellent rotation and teeth. The pitch has the potential to be a well above-average out-pitch with more sharpening and he showed good feel for the offering coming off major arm surgery. Back at full health, Britton looked more like the pitcher in his pre-draft scouting reports than the one that pitched in 2008 with Lowell. His clean mechanics and balance on the mound help him consistently get good velocity on his fastball along with tight snap on his curveball. An improving change-up gives him a strong projection as a starting pitcher down the line and will further round out his arsenal. Britton has a high ceiling as a starting pitcher and has started to physically mature more, packing on some muscle during his rehab from surgery.

Development Needs: While the life and crispness of Britton’s repertoire jumped out in his return, his command isn’t all the way back as would be expected coming off that type of surgery. He has had the tendency to leave his fastball up too much pre and post surgery, while struggling to spot the pitch on a consistent basis. Improvement in this aspect is expected the further he gets removed from surgery, but fastball command was a need prior to surgery, so this is an area that he’ll need to develop further to successfully get hitters out on a regular basis. His release point with his fastball can vary, which contributes to him leaving the ball up and in the middle of the plate too much. Throwing more strikes with his heater and pounding the lower part of the zone are strong needs going forward. Britton can sometimes show his curveball out of his delivery, but this looked better in his outings in 2009. As his developing change-up improves and he gets better feel for the pitch, he’ll have to trust the offering in any count, especially against right-handed batters. Creating more deception from his fastball with this pitch is the key for him as he moves up the ranks of the Red Sox system, along with how well he is going to sustain his stuff in the middle innings of an outing. Being able to throw his secondary pitches for strikes will further allow him to take advantage of his fastball and keep hitters from sitting on it.

2010 Outlook:
Britton should break camp with Greenville and pitch out of the team’s rotation in 2010. Look for him to go deeper into his outings as his arm gets stronger and stronger. His fastball and curveball combination should continue to be a strength for him, and his curveball looks like it is going to be very tough on batters at this level. It will be interesting to see how his fastball command improves. If he is keeping the ball down more and hitting corners, Britton will be very tough to make contact on and could put up some high strikeout numbers. Another strong point of interest is the development of his change-up. Good strides with the feel and deception with this pitch will give him three solid pitches to attack batters with. Slow and steady is going to be the plan for Britton in 2010. Don’t expect him to make a rapid rise off the bat, but this is a pitcher with excellent stuff and one that can make a strong rise in the next couple of seasons as he polishes off his overall package.