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SoxProspects News

February 24, 2010 at 7:40 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Oscar Tejeda and Michael Almanzar

This installment of the series takes a look at a couple of prospects with excellent tools and potential, but who have yet been able to translate them into sustained results over an extended stretch of baseball. Both players are looking to have a strong camp and cement a spot a level up from where they finished off 2009.

Oscar Tejeda

Position: Shortstop
2009 Team: Greenville Drive
2010 Projected Team: Salem Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 20

Strengths: This athletic shortstop has been aged-advanced at every stop of his minor league career thus far. Tejeda has a smooth and fluid stroke, showing improving mechanics and very quick wrists to whip the bat head through the hitting zone with ease. He shows good line-drive power when he squares the ball up and the ability to drive balls the other way on the outer third of the plate. An excellent fastball hitter, Tejeda has shown that he can catch up to a lot of them thrown his way despite being one of the younger players in every league he has played in. Possessing good instincts and intellect, he’s shown the ability to learn and come up to speed quickly. In the field, Tejeda flashes an excellent arm across the diamond and has improved on his fluidity and technique. His range is solid-average and he covers a little bit of extra ground due to his good reads off the bat and natural baseball instincts. Still maturing physically, Tejeda could still put on a little bit more muscle to boost his power potential down the line. Popular with his teammates, he shows a lot of enthusiasm for the game of baseball and puts in a lot of work towards his craft. Tejeda has a lot of potential in his game and has been rounding out some of the rough edges the past two seasons.

Development Needs: Tejeda’s approach and pitch recognition are still a bit raw at the plate. He tends to be overaggressive early in the count and hasn’t settled into being selective in his counts, which would improve his contact rates and allow him to take more advantage of the bat speed he generates to the point of contact. At times, he can have trouble finding consistent timing with his swing and be off-balance due to over-striding. Off-speed pitches, especially ones that sweep down and across the strike zone, give him a lot of trouble, and he tends to chase these pitches with too much frequency. After breaking camp with Greenville in 2008, Tejeda repeated the assignment in 2009 and still struggled with some of the same needs he did in the previous season. However, he made some strides in 2009 that don’t necessarily show up immediately on the stat sheet. Fluid in the field, he can rush plays and make unnecessary off-balance throws instead of setting his feet and using his plus arm to his advantage. Tejeda has below-average present power, but does show some batting practice power. He’s been unable to bring all of his offensive skills together and sustain an extended stretch of consistent results in full-season baseball.

2010 Outlook: Tejeda looks to have the inside track on breaking camp with Salem and manning the team’s shortstop spot on a daily basis. He’ll still be on the young side for his league, but has another off-season of strength and conditioning under his belt. Some more physical maturation heading into Spring Training should be expected. Look for Tejeda to be challenged in this placement. It will be interesting to follow how the work with his approach comes along, as the pitching will be the most advanced he has seen and he is still raw in this aspect. Tejeda is the type of player that can make some big leaps this season if he can focus on staying up the middle and selecting pitches he can handle, rather than jumping at balls early in the count. Still young and with a lot of promise, this season should be a good view on what direction Tejeda is heading. If some of the subtle improvements can be expanded upon, he’s a player that can make a jump up the depth chart of the Red Sox organization.

Michael Almanzar

Position: Third Base
2009 Teams: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
2010 Projected Team: Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 19

Strengths: The 2007 international free agent enters his third season in the Red Sox organization and is still just 19 years of age. Possessing an excellent frame that has been filling out, Almanzar still has a lot of room to pack on more muscle and is a couple of years away from growing into his body. Showing excellent bat speed and extension with his arms, he has above-average power potential to all fields and currently shows excellent batting practice power, often hitting multiple balls out in sessions with ease. Extremely raw coming into the Red Sox system as a 16-year-old, Almanzar has shown improvement with a lot of aspects of the game and is a player that is being built from the ground up. Manning the hot corner, he has a plus arm and charges balls very well. He’s been adept at bare-handing slow rollers hit his way and throwing across his body to make the play. He shows good reactions and has a solid first step on balls hit to his left. Almanzar projects to be an above-average offensive player and has the tools to be a capable defender. While he is still on the raw side, with continued refinement of his tools, he can round out as an impact bat in the middle of a major league lineup.

Development Needs: Almanzar started the 2009 season with Greenville and ended up being demoted to Lowell to finish off the year in the New York-Penn League. Improving his balance at the plate is a big need going forward. Almanzar has the tendency to get way out on his front foot and lunge with his arms at pitches. This neutralizes his bat speed and zaps his power in games. Balls that he seemingly should drive end up getting pushed towards the outfield. His swing gets long due to him extending his arms too early, and he gets tied up on balls because of this. More fluidity with how he transfers his weight and consistently driving his hands to the ball will be good steps towards improving on these needs. Almanzar’s discipline and pitch recognition could stand to improve, but during his time with Lowell last season he did look more settled in at the plate and less fooled on off-speed pitches. Like his hitting, the defensive side of the game has some rough edges to work on, especially with his footwork. Ultimately, as Almanzar fills out and if his reads don’t improve enough, he will project as a first baseman at higher levels of the minors.

2010 Outlook: Almanzar will most likely get another shot with Greenville in 2010. Improved focus and preparation should be expected of him as he matures and learns how to deal with failure. The key for him to make consistent hard contact in 2010 is to improve upon his balance and to keep his arms back before committing the rest of his body to the pitch. Almanzar is still very young and was extremely raw coming into the Red Sox system. A lot of times, the flaws and needs for these players are magnified in their early careers. Look for him to make some improvement in all facets of his game. Towards the end of last season, Almanzar looked like he was starting to take to developing a patient approach at the plate, and he should be able to build off of this in 2010. He has a long way to go, but the tools and potential are there. 2010 looks to be a season of continued polish of those tools, with an eye on putting together some consistent performance to back those tools.