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March 31, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Lowrie and Bonser placed on 15-day disabled list

Right-hander Boof Bonser and infielder Jed Lowrie were both placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. Bonser, who missed all of 2009, is recovering from a right groin strain that he suffered during a March 22nd outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. Lowrie is recovering from mononucleosis, his most recent setback after missing significant time last season with a wrist injury.

Bonser was 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA before his injury and Lowrie finished his spring 2 for 9.
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at 8:55 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick

This installment of the series features two very promising outfielders in the upper levels of the Red Sox organization. Both players have continued development in key areas ahead of them this season, with a focus on proving they are ready to push the major league roster.

Ryan Kalish

Position: Outfield
2009 Teams: Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
2010 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 22

Strengths: Fully healed from his hand injury and more comfortable letting loose with his swing, Kalish put together a solid season between two levels in 2009, and after an initial adjustment period, came on strong offensively at the end of the year in Double-A. Once a weakness for him, his patience and approach at the plate have evolved into a key aspect of his offensive game, and Kalish demonstrates above-average control of the strike zone to work counts to select pitches he can drive. With a smooth and quick swing, he drives through the point of contact to produce line drives to all fields and stays back well to take what pitchers give him. A strong player, especially in his forearms and hands, Kalish begun to tap more into his power potential and added a little extra lift into his swing to boost his home run totals in 2009. Despite not having elite speed, Kalish is a very good base runner and can swipe bases due to the excellent reads he gets off pitchers. Defensively, he shows solid-average range in the outfield and an accurate arm. Kalish is capable of playing all three outfield positions, but most likely projects as a corner outfielder at the major league level while being able to play center field in a pinch. A hard worker and driven player, he made strong strides in 2009 and has pushed to solidify himself in the outfield mix at the upper levels of the Red Sox organization.

Development Needs: Since he is most likely a corner outfielder at the major league level, a lot of Kalish’s offensive needs stem from the development of his power. Despite improving the lift he creates with his swing in 2009, he still tends to hit a few too many groundballs, can slash at outside pitches rather than drive them, and roll over fastballs when he is scuffling. Continued improvement with driving and lifting his pitches will be a key area to focus on to flash slightly above-average power in the big leagues, without sacrificing too much of his contact skills and getting away from his disciplined approach at the plate. On occasion, he can be susceptible to off-speed pitches down and in when he is behind in the count. Already very muscular, as Kalish continues to physically mature in his early-to-mid twenties he could lose a little bit of his speed, which will take away from his skills as a center fielder. However, he projects as an above-average corner outfielder and gets good reads off the bat in those spots in the outfield. Kalish has hung in well against lefties during his time in the low minors, but some improvement in that aspect will keep him on the track of a major league regular.

2010 Outlook: Kalish looks set to break camp with Portland, but his stay there could be a shorter one if he can continue to build upon the trends that he displayed at the end of the 2009 season. Now a more featured part of the lineup and a hitter that opposing teams are going to pitch that much tougher, the challenge is in front of him to maintain that even-keel approach at the plate that has made Kalish successful in his career thus far. Positive signs of development will be strong contact rates and a reduction in his strikeouts at Double-A in 2010. As he turns on more balls to drive them with lift, it’s possible to see a rise in his home run totals. Kalish has entered the stage of showing the organization that he is ready for the major league level, and a promotion to Pawtucket during the summer will be a good indication that the team feels he isn’t too far off from being able to make a contribution to the 25-man roster in some capacity. With a big season ahead of him, Kalish seems to be on the cusp of putting those finishing touches on his game and realizing the potential that the organization saw when drafting him back in 2006.

Josh Reddick

Position: Outfield
2009 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
2010 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 23

Strengths: A wiry yet gifted athlete, Reddick continued his fast-tracked career to rise from Double-A to the big leagues in 2009. With excellent bat speed and exceptional eye-to-hand coordination, he unleashes a smooth, sweet swing from the left-side of the plate that produces surprising power for a player of his physical stature. Reddick has above-average power potential and generally hits balls hard with a lot of backspin into the gaps to produce extra-base hits. He has a knack for getting the barrel on the ball and can drive tough pitches on, or even off, the plate to all fields. Reddick can lift balls with relative ease. Although his speed doesn’t translate into him being a base stealer, he uses his speed and ability to judge balls off the bat well in the field, and has the makings of an above-average defensive outfielder. Able to play all three outfield positions, Reddick impressed enough in center field during his stay in the Eastern League that some scouts believe he could indeed stick at the position at the major league level. His quick release and precision accuracy highlight a solid throwing arm, enabling him to cut down runners trying to take the extra base and pile up outfield assists.

Development Needs: Reddick’s over-aggressiveness and need to develop a more patient approach have been well documented over the last couple of seasons. After making some strides with this aspect of his offensive game in Double-A, Reddick regressed at Triple-A and the big league level with his approach, which caused him to struggle considerably to produce consistent contact. He chased a lot of high fastballs out of the strike zone and became pull-happy at the plate. Getting back on track with his development is the key need for him to take advantage of his above-average offensive skills and be a consistent hitter at the highest level. More use of the opposite field and utilizing his quick hands on balls running away from him, rather than trying to jerk these pitches, will enable Reddick to use the whole field more to combat pitchers from working him away consistently. The goal at the plate for him is to be more selective in the pitches he picks out and stray away from getting himself out early in the count. This improvement doesn’t necessarily have to be a spike in the number of walks he draws, but more focus towards having quality at-bats and keeping his weight back longer before exploding through the ball.

2010 Outlook: Reddick has been having a strong spring in major league camp, and he seems to be tightening up his approach some from the end of last season. Unless there is an outfield injury in the days leading up to opening day, he’ll report to Pawtucket to begin the year to continue his seasoning and his work on sharpening his pitch selection in the upper minors. After struggling with the initial jump to Double-A in 2008, Reddick came back an improved player in 2009. He has the history of making adjustments on his side, and 2010 will be a season focused on making further adjustments to prove he can be a consistent hitter at the major league level. Improved contact rates, a cut in his strikeouts, and better pitch selection will all be signs that he is back on track with his development at the plate. With the potential to be a regular in a corner outfield position for the Boston Red Sox, Reddick has a challenging season in front of him, and he hopes to prove he’s going to be a fixture for seasons to come.
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March 30, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Sox reportedly sign outfielder Jorge Padron to minor league deal

According to Jorge Ebro, a writer from the El Nuevo Herald in Havana, the Boston Red Sox have signed 23-year-old outfielder Jorge Padron to a minor league contract with a signing bonus of $350,000. We are awaiting confirmation of this signing from major league sources.

Padron, a left-handed gap hitter, played for Cuba's Pinar del Rio squad and hit .345/.429/.518 in 2008-2009 following up on a .333/.419/.459 performance in 2007-2008. He also played in the 2004 World Junior Championship as Cuba's left fielder and helped the team win gold by hitting .346 during the tournament. Padron struggles against lefties but has dominated right-handed pitching during his career and boasts solid contact rates with gap-to-gap power potential.
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at 11:55 AM

Tazawa has ulnar collateral sprain in pitching elbow

Junichi Tazawa, the 23-year-old right-hander and current #7 prospect on SoxProspects.com, has been diagnosed with an ulnar collateral sprain in his right elbow. The news comes after Tazawa's visit with Dr. James Andrews yesterday after he experienced intermittent discomfort in the elbow starting during the second half of last season. Tazawa and team officials have not decided on the course of action to correct the injury as of yet but rehab and surgery are both on the table.

Tazawa was signed as an international free agent in December of 2008 and had a stellar freshman campaign in the Boston system in 2009. He posted a 9-5 record with a 2.57 ERA in 18 starts with Double-A Portland before making two starts with Triple-A Pawtucket. He made his major league debut on August 7 against the New York Yankees, and during his time with Boston posted a 7.46 ERA in six appearances. This spring has been a rough one for Tazawa, as he has struggled to the tune of a 10.29 ERA in 7.0 innings pitched, allowing five home runs.
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at 6:23 AM

Fort Report: Back from Florida

SoxProspects staffers Chris Mellen, Chris Hatfield, Jonathan Singer and I were in Fort Myers this past week. We ascertained a great deal of player information and did a lot of scouting - too much for a single Fort Report. Some of the roster moves were already posted here on SoxProspects News, and we also shared a lot of info on Twitter and in the SoxProspects Forum. Here are some quick hits that you may have missed if you’re not following us in those places:

Jose Vinicio showed some swagger and already looks excellent defensively, but I'm not really exaggerating when I say that the 16-year-old still has the body of a little leaguer … Robert Coello has been hitting 91 mph with his fastball, while also showing a nice 79-80 split change … Armando Zerpa, recently returned from the Dodgers pursuant to Rule 5, looks a little overweight, and was only hitting 86 mph with his fastball … Michael Bowden showed an 89-91 mph fastball, a low-80s slider, and a 76-77 mph curveball on Saturday, when he struggled against Minnesota’s Triple-A club …Just for some context on how casual the minor league spring training games are, teams often use two designated hitters in one game, some players play at two levels in the same day, and teams alter their batting orders mid-game on occasion … Michael Almanzar's lower body mechanics are definitely smoother this year, but his swing is still a little long … We spent some time watching the Sea Dogs game with broadcaster Mike Antonellis on Saturday – check out his blog this season
Dustin Mercadante was also among the cuts this weekend … Swen Huijer's fastball only got up to 82-83 mph on Saturday – he gets minimal torque with his body, but still has a very projectable frame at 6’9” … Fabian Williamson flashed an advanced curveball and a nice changeup, but his fastball only hits 88 mph … 2009 18th-round draft pick Renny Parthemore was hitting 87-88 with his fastball in the Rookie game on Saturday … We interviewed Tim Federowicz, Ryan Lavarnway, David Renfroe, and Daniel Nava over the weekend – look for Q&As to be posted over the next few weeks … Jon Still has been working in the outfield with Pawtucket … Wilfi Santana and Pedro Chourio were among the DSL cuts this off-season … Miles Head's swing looks really long, he'll probably be working on tightening it up in extended spring training … I heard a player say to Reymond Fuentes that Felix Sanchez is the fastest player he’s ever seen … On the injury front, Chia-Chu Chen has been out with a broken finger, while Kyle Stroup has missed time with a knee injury … Renfroe has been playing third base all spring, I expect him to be slated for Lowell this season … Among those in attendance at Minnesota’s minor league complex on Saturday were Ron Gardenhire, Tom Kelly, and Paul Molitor … Meanwhile, Theo Epstein was on the scene at Boston’s Player Development Complex on Saturday to see Madison Younginer and Alex Wilson … Wilson’s fastball sat at 91-92 and topped out at 94-95 mph … Younginer’s four-seamer sat between 93-95 mph, and he also mixed in an 89-90 mph two-seamer and a low-70s curveball … We took a trip to the site of Boston’s new spring training complex this weekend – nothing but cows grazing in open space … Three hitters that really impressed with their power this weekend were Yamaico Navarro, Luis Exposito, and Will Middlebrooks, each going deep multiple times over the course of the week … We should have some additional DSL signings from this off-season to report in the next few days … David Mailman impressed with his quick bat speed … Che-Hsuan Lin makes it look easy in center field – he should be an elite defender at the major league level …Stephen Fife is showing a much improved changeup - 79-81 mph with good drop and arm speed … Look for Oscar Tejeda to spend a lot of time at second base with Salem this year in deference to Ryan DentRoman Mendez is the real deal – his fastball sits at 92-94 mph and tops out around 96 mph with excellent life, his low-80s slider has plus potential, and he also flashed a mid-80s straight changeup with some drop … We caught our first live glimpses of Fuentes this week - he has a smooth, quick swing, but doesn’t generate a lot of power right now … Stolmy Pimentel had an up-and-down outing on Wednesday, missing a lot of bats with his changeup, but showing inconsistent command with his curveball and his fastball … Jeremy Hazelbaker looks like he can stick in center field, and he also showed above-average speed and the ability to drive the ball well, but he probably can stand to pack on some more muscle … Brandon Jacobs creates a lot of lift in his swing, but it needs compacting; he already has a major league body at just 19-years-old … Dent continues to show improvement defensively, head and shoulders beyond where he was two seasons ago with Lowell … We really liked what we saw out of Alex Hassan this weekend, he has a strong knack for squaring up on balls to produce hard contact … Mike Lee (pictured) had a smooth outing this weekend, mixing in all of his pitches, repeating his delivery well, and staying under control … Not much to say about Jose Iglesias’ defense that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll just say that he has the makings of an perennial Gold Glover … The shortstop also showed great bat speed and solid swing mechanics, but the big question mark this year should be how he handles advanced secondary offerings in the early going.

Media Links:
The Boston Herald reports that Casey Kelly will be starting Tuesday's game against the Rays in Port Charlotte … Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston reports that Junichi Tazawa has gone to Birmingham, Alabama to have his elbow examined by orthopedist James Andrews … Edes also notes that Boof Bonser may be headed to the DL to start the season, meaning that the last two spots in the Boston bullpen are down to four players: Alan Embree, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Nelson, and Scott AtchisonRob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that ex-Sox Prospect Brandon Moss was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Monday after a sub-par spring … Mike Reiss of ESPN has a nice Q&A with Tug HulettEd Reed of the Odessa American talked to Ryne Miller about his first major league appearance this spring … Bradford adds that Nelson may opt out of his contract if he is not added to the 25-man roster by June 15 … Amalie Benjamin of Boston.com has a great piece up on the catching situation in the Sox system … Finally, here are three reports on the road that Ryan Westmoreland may expect in his recovery from his surgery, from the Norwich Bulletin, ESPNBoston, and the Simmons Voice.

Chris Hatfield, Chris Mellen, Jonathan Singer, John Gray, and Corey Hersch of SoxProspects.com contributed to this report.

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March 29, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Boston roster trimmed by four

According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston, the Red Sox have trimmed their roster to 35 by optioning catcher Dusty Brown and newly acquired infielder Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Pawtucket in addition to reassigning catcher Gustavo Molina and third baseman Jorge Jimenez to minor league camp. All four players figure to see significant playing time in Pawtucket this upcoming season.

Frandsen was
acquired for cash or a player to be named later on Friday. Jimenez was recently returned to the Red Sox by the Florida Marlins after he was taken by the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 Draft in December and subsequently traded to Florida.

In other roster news, Sox skipper Terry Francona also acknowledged that right-handers Boof Bonser and Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be a part of the opening day 25-man roster as they continue to work their way back from injuries.
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at 1:49 PM

2010 Prospect Previews: Jose Iglesias and Junichi Tazawa

Today's edition of the series highlights two advanced prospects within the system, with an eye on sharpening their games to become future fixtures with the Boston Red Sox in the years to come.

Position: Shortstop
2009 Team: Did not play
2010 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 20

Strengths: A Cuban defector and one of the top international free agents of 2009, the Red Sox aggressively pursued Iglesias and inked him to a team-record $6 million bonus. Flashing well above-average defensive skills, he projects as a perennial elite defensive shortstop at the major league level. Iglesias has excellent instincts and extremely quick hands, effortlessly getting to balls to his right or left in the field. His smooth, fluid transfers enhance his plus throwing arm that shows pinpoint accuracy across the diamond. Scouts who have seen him during his short time in the United States have all commented that Iglesias is about as close to an 80 defensively on the 20-80 scouting scale as is going to come along. At the plate, he features a smooth, compact swing that whips towards the point of contact, and he has the ability to pull his hands in through the hitting zone to clean out inside pitches. His above-average bat speed gives him projection as a contact hitter with continued progress in his offensive development, and he has shown an early knack for producing line drives. An exciting and very talented player, Iglesias has excellent potential to be a major league regular and a long-term fixture at the shortstop position for the Red Sox in seasons to come.

Development Needs: Iglesias will have to adjust to the rigors of baseball in the United States and settle in against professional pitching. A pull hitter right now, he’ll have to develop more of an up-the-middle approach and use the opposite field consistently to keep pitchers from living on the outer third of the plate against him. He could stand to improve on his patience at the plate to work counts and not be too overaggressive early in at-bats. With a smaller frame, Iglesias doesn’t project to add much more muscle, and his projection as a hitter is mostly tied into how much contact he is going to make at the major league level. He’s shown the ability to barrel some balls up in the early going, but he pushes balls more than drives them right now. It remains to be seen how his pitch recognition will fare against a steady diet of advanced off-speed pitches. Scouts are split on Iglesias’ bat and questions linger as to what type of offensive contributions he is going to be able to make.

2010 Outlook: Iglesias spent the early portion of spring training with the major league team and impressed with his overall performance. After being optioned to the minors, it is still a little bit unclear where he is going to be placed to start the 2010 season. If he can continue to show he can handle himself in the batter’s box against upper-level minor league pitching to finish off the spring, Iglesias has a strong chance to break camp in Double-A. One thing is certain, Iglesias will make tough defensive plays look easy and turn in his fair share of spectacular ones over the course of 2010. He will be challenged offensively if placed in Double-A, but if early indications hold true, he’ll get the bat on the ball and drive some balls into the left-center gap and left field corner as he continues to settle in. Improvements in his approach and patience will show with him drawing some walks, working deeper into counts, and increasing the amount of balls he hits to the opposite field. The Red Sox were determined to bring Iglesias into the organization, and early returns have shown they got a gem of a defensive player. 2010 will be about developing the offensive game to fulfill projections of being the future starting shortstop for many seasons to come.

Junichi Tazawa

Position: Starting Pitcher
2009 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
2010 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 23

Strengths: 2009 saw Tazawa not only settle into life in the United States, but also rise through two levels of the minor leagues and make his major league debut during a pennant race in his first season of professional baseball. Featuring advanced secondary offerings, Tazawa uses his slider and curveball to fool and change speeds on hitters. His 77-81 MPH slider shows hard bite at the upper reaches of its velocity to get batters to chase when they are behind in the count and the ability to back up on hitters when he takes a bit off of it, causing them to give up on the pitch before it drops over the arm-side corner of the plate. Tazawa mainly relies on his mid-70’s curveball to finish batters off as it breaks out of the strike zone and into the dirt with tight rotation. Polished as a pitcher, he has the ability to throw all of his pitches at any point in the count and often works backwards on hitters to keep them guessing. Tazawa’s split-fingered fastball may show the most potential out of all of the offerings in his repertoire. He uses it like a change-up, and the bottom falls out of the pitch about three-quarters of the way to the plate. The pitch is extremely deceptive due to the excellent arm action he shows with it, and it could emerge as an excellent weapon for Tazawa as he works it into his pitching patterns more regularly. After mainly working out of the set position in Japan, he made good strides on pitching out of the wind-up and showed he can make the necessary adjustments to continue along the path of a major league starting pitcher.

Development Needs: Tazawa needs to improve the consistency of his fastball, which is directly tied into whether he can fulfill his ceiling as a mainstay in a starting rotation. Working at 88-92 MPH and sitting around 90 MPH, his fastball can fluctuate in velocity from outing to outing. Added focus on strengthening his lower body will help Tazawa maintain more consistent velocity throughout the long-haul of a professional season. His fastball flattens out at higher velocities, and it will be important for him to stress working lower in the zone with the offering, where it shows more tail in on right-handed batters and can get under the hands of hitters. Tazawa has excellent overall command of his fastball, but he’s going to have to throw it with more precision at the major league level, staying out of the middle of the plate and throwing it for more strikes on the corners so batters cannot sit on it. By trusting his fastball more and pounding the lower portion of the strike zone with it early in the count, Tazawa will be able to set up his plus arsenal of secondary pitches to generate more swings and misses. Having not dealt with much failure prior to coming to the United States, he’ll need to stay more level-headed in tough situations and respond better to tough innings.

2010 Outlook: Set to begin the season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Tazawa will provide starting rotation depth during the 2010 season and will work to polish off his arsenal, with a main focus on bringing his fastball up to the level of his secondary offerings. Positive signs of development will center on him pounding the strike zone more with his fastball, which will lead to an elevation in his strikeout totals at the Triple-A level. Tazawa came as advertised in 2009, and 2010 is a season for him to push himself to the next level. Even at 23 years of age, he still has some projection left due to his relative inexperience as a professional. His secondary offerings will continue to serve him well, and with a little more polish over the course of the season, they can all grade out as at least above-average. At some point in 2010, the Red Sox are going to look to Tazawa to help the major league team. In what role that will be will depend on the pitching needs of the team, but expect this season to be one of putting the finishing touches on an already-advanced product and giving a glimpse if a 25-man roster spot is on the horizon in 2011.
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at 11:41 AM

2010 Organization Outlook: Spring Training Rosters

During our recent visit to the Red Sox Player Development Complex, we were able to record the current spring training rosters. The players in minor league camp are split into five teams, roughly equivalent to being the spring training squads for Pawtucket, Portland, Salem, Greenville, and Lowell/GCL. Since players currently in major league camp have yet to be sent to the minors, the minor league rosters, at this point, consist of players ticketed both for that level and the one below, so they only give us an idea of where these players may go once camp breaks. Also, note that these rosters are far from firm – players are absent on some days when they are called up to the major league club for a game, other players are called up to fill in for those who are not present, and pitchers sometimes move to different levels in order to get their work in where there are innings available.

To show how volatile these rosters are, take as an example the roster movement on Saturday. The day prior, Tom Di Benedetto, Reid Engel, Josh Papelbon, D. Tyler Wilson and Dustin Mercadante were cut. A number of players were reassigned: Fabio Castro and Darnell McDonald to Triple-A from major league camp, Lars Anderson and Yamaico Navarro to Double-A from Triple-A; Will Middlebrooks and Oscar Tejeda to High-A from Double-A; Derrik Gibson, Michael Almanzar, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Ken Roque to Low-A from High-A; and Felix Sanchez, David Renfroe, Jose Garcia and Miguel Celestino to the rookie team from Low-A. A number of players were called upon to make the trip to Sarasota with the major league club, including Kade Keowen, Aaron Bates, Ryan Khoury, Mitch Dening, and Ryan Dent. After catching Casey Kelly’s bullpen session, Luis Exposito was heard saying he had the rest of the day off. All of this movement created plenty of holes in lineups, so Ty Weeden and Jon Hee moved up to Portland from Salem and Keury De La Cruz, Drew Dominguez, Brandon Jacobs and Joantoni Garcia moved up to Salem for the day from Greenville and short-season. With Michael Bowden starting for Pawtucket, Adam Mills got his work in the rookie game. Finally, Miles Head was pulled out of the rookie game and over to the Greenville game when Almanzar, the only third baseman on the roster, had to leave the game with what looked like a jammed finger.

Given how much movement there can be on a given day, the rosters below are not presented as definitive. There is still plenty of movement left to occur as players are sent down from major league camp – Ryan Lavarnway, for example, will almost certainly not break camp with Portland, which would mean a double-promotion past Salem. However, the rosters do at least give us an idea of what the Sox may be thinking – again using Lavarnway as an example, he looks like a good bet for Salem rather than Greenville given that he is still with the Double-A team at this late stage.

Catchers: Dusty Brown, Victor Martinez, Gustavo Molina, Jason Varitek
Infielders: Adrian Beltre, Kevin Frandsen, Bill Hall (IF/OF), Tug Hulett, Jorge Jimenez, Mike Lowell, Jed Lowrie, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Angel Sanchez, Marco Scutaro, Kevin Youkilis
Outfielders: Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Reddick
Pitchers: Scott Atchison, Josh Beckett, Boof Bonser, Clay Buchholz, Fernando Cabrera, Manny Delcarmen, Alan Embree, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joe Nelson, Hideki Okajima, Jonathan Papelbon, Ramon Ramirez, Scott Schoeneweis, Junichi Tazawa, Tim Wakefield

Catchers: Mark Wagner, Juan Apodaca
Infielders: Aaron Bates (1B/OF), Ray Chang, Christian Colonel, Brett Harper, Ryan Khoury, Jeff Natale, Nate Spears, Gil Velazquez (inj.)
Outfielders: Bubba Bell, Zach Daeges, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, Matt Sheely, Jon Still (1B/OF)
Pitchers: Randor Bierd, Michael Bowden, Fabio Castro, Andrew Dobies, Felix Doubront, Kason Gabbard, Devern Hansack (inj.), Tommy Hottovy, Miguel Gonzalez, Kris Johnson, T.J. Large, Robert Manuel, Adam Mills, Chad Paronto, Scott Patterson, Ramon A. Ramirez, Dustin Richardson, Jorge Sosa

Catchers: Luis Exposito, Ryan Lavarnway
Infielders: Lars Anderson, Ryan Dent, Zach Gentile, Jose Iglesias, Mike Jones, Yamaico Navarro, Luis Segovia
Outfielders: Chih-Hsien Chiang, Kade Keowen (1B/OF), Che-Hsuan Lin, David Mailman, Jason Place
Pitchers: Travis Beazley (inj.), Robert Coello, Bryce Cox, Kyle Fernandes, Stephen Fife, Seth Garrison, Zach Hammes, Casey Kelly, Ryne Lawson, Blake Maxwell, Ryne Miller, Eammon Portice, Chad Povich, Chad Rhoades, Jason Rice, Felix Ventura, Kyle Weiland, Armando Zerpa

Catchers: Tim Federowicz, Will Vazquez (C/IF), Ty Weeden
Infielders: Jon Hee, Will Middlebrooks, Aaron Reza, Anthony Rizzo, Oscar Tejeda
Outfielders: Mitch Dening, Alex Hassan, Pete Hissey, Shannon Wilkerson
Pitchers: Michael Bugary, Caleb Clay, Mitch Herold, Brock Huntzinger, Jeremy Kehrt, Will Latimer, Mike Lee, Leandro Marin, Lance McClain, Dennis Neuman, Stolmy Pimentel, Pete Ruiz, Fabian Williamson, Alex Wilson, Doug Wogee

Catchers: Carson Blair, Dan Butler, Michael Thomas, Christian Vazquez
Infielders: Michael Almanzar, Joantoni Garcia, Derrik Gibson, Drew Hedman (1B/OF), Chris McGuiness, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Ken Roque
Outfielders: Ronald Bermudez, Reymond Fuentes, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Willie Holmes, Brandon Jacobs, Bryan Peterson, Wilfred Pichardo
Pitchers: Chez Angeloni, Anatanaer Batista, Jeremiah Bayer, Drake Britton, Cesar Cabral, Yeiper Castillo, Chris Court, Tom Ebert, Jordan Flasher, Roman Mendez, Pedro Perez, Ryan Pressly, Manny Rivera, Charlie Rosario, Kyle Rutter, Kendal Volz, Madison Younginer

Extended Spring Training (Short Season-A and Rookie)
Catchers: Leonel Escobar, Sean Killeen (C/1B), Oscar Perez, Maykol Sanchez
Infielders: Drew Dominguez, Jose Garcia, Miles Head, Boss Moanaroa, Roberto Ramos, David Renfroe, Jordan Sallis, Jason Thompson, Jose Vinicio
Outfielders: Keury De La Cruz, Moko Moanaroa, Felix Sanchez, Seth Schwindenhammer, Tyler Yockey
Pitchers: Miguel Celestino, Hunter Cervenka, Randy Consuegra, Eric Curtis, Justin Erasmus, Stephen Fox, Jennell Hudson, Swen Huijer, Nestor Lastreto, Renny Parthemore, Juan Rodriguez, Francisco Taveras, Raynel Vellette, Richie Wasielewski, Timmy Webb, Tyler Wilson

Injured, present at camp
P Kyle Stroup

Injured, not present at camp
C Chia-Chu Chen, OF Ryan Westmoreland

MIA - Not seen
P Kelvin Pichardo
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March 26, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Red Sox acquire Kevin Frandsen, sign Schoeneweis

The Red Sox have acquired 27-year-old infielder Kevin Frandsen from the San Francisco Giants for a player to be named later or cash considerations and have also signed veteran left-handed reliever Scott Schoeneweis to a minor league deal.

Frandsen, originally selected by the Giants in the twelfth round of the 2004 amateur draft, will report to Boston's major league camp tomorrow. In parts of four major league seasons, all with San Francisco, Frandsen has hit .240/.304/.341 in 174 games. 2009 saw Frandsen spend the majority of his time with Triple-A Fresno, hitting .295/.352/.438 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI. Over the course of five minor league seasons Frandsen has hit .318/.381/.452 in 355 games. He is expected to compete for a spot as a utility man for the Red Sox this season and does have one option year remaining.

Schoeneweis, 36, was released by the Brewers on Thursday and has allowed six runs in 7.0 innings of work this spring. The eleven year veteran has compiled a 4.97 ERA with a 46-57 record in 562 big league appearances with the Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays, Reds, Mets and Diamondbacks organizations. He posted a 7.13 ERA in 24.0 innings of work last season as a member of the Arizona bullpen.
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at 1:23 PM

Red Sox cut Shouse, four others

According to MLB.com, Brian Shouse was released today by the Red Sox. The 41-year-old Shouse was considered to be in competition for one of the last two spots in the Red Sox bullpen, along with Alan Embree, Joe Nelson, Scott Atchison, and Boof Bonser. Red Sox manager Terry Francona complimented Shouse's performance this spring but said his organization felt it had better options.

"We asked him to come in and compete, and he did a very good job of that," Francona said. "Statistically, he had a very good spring. Saying that, after our meetings and looking at the construction, potentially, of our bullpen -- looking at left on left, which is probably what his strength should be, I just don't know that we were going to do that as opposed to having a Bard or certainly an Okajima or a Delcarmen or a Ramon (Ramirez)."

Sources close to SoxProspects.com are also reporting that the Red Sox have cut multiple players from minor league camp. Outfielder Reid Engel, infielder Tom Di Benedetto, and pitchers D. Tyler Wilson and Josh Papelbon were all given their release today. Finally, pitcher Fabio Castro was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket while outfielder Darnell McDonald was reassigned to minor league camp.
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March 25, 2010 at 8:48 PM

Red Sox sign Zach Hammes to minor league contract

SoxProspects.com has learned that the Red Sox have signed 25-year-old right-hander Zach Hammes to a minor league contract. Hammes was a highly-regarded prospect after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round (51st overall) of the 2002 draft out of Iowa City High School. He is 6'6", 220 and throws an effortless 92-94 mph fastball with plus life as well as a decent changeup. He has struggled with control during his six-year minor league career, compiling a 4.93 ERA in 164 games (60 starts) with a 4.8 BB/9 ratio and 44 wild pitches. Hammes last pitched in 2008 as a member of the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, posting a 5.31 ERA in 38 games before retiring following the 2008 season.
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at 12:08 PM

Bullpen breakdown

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March 24, 2010 at 10:46 AM

2010 Organization Outlook: Starting Pitchers, pt. 2

In the lower half of the system, the Red Sox philosophy regarding starting pitchers is similar to the one the club employs with shortstops, as the best arms are given the opportunity to stay in the rotation until pitching their way off, even if their future is likely in the bullpen. This gives pitchers greater opportunity to work on things like secondary pitches, command, and the mental aspect of attacking hitters than would come from one- or two-inning stints, and occasionally a player like Justin Masterson even bucks the “future reliever” label and proves an ability to start in the majors. To accommodate the resulting atypically large number of starters, the club employs a “piggyback starter” system at Greenville and Lowell, with the starter going five innings to be followed by another pitcher on a five-day schedule who will pitch the remaining four. With a number of promising young arms like Stolmy Pimentel, Alex Wilson, Madison Younginer, Drake Britton and Roman Mendez, this means there are enough innings to go around for everyone.

MLB: Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jon Lester^, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield
AAA: Randor Bierd, Michael Bowden, Fabio Castro^, Kris Johnson^, Adam Mills, Junichi Tazawa
AA: Travis Beazley, Felix Doubront^, Kason Gabbard^, Ryne Lawson, Blake Maxwell, Ryne Miller
A+: Stephen Fife, Seth Garrison, Casey Kelly, Eammon Portice, Kyle Weiland
A: Yeiper Castillo, Caleb Clay, Brock Huntzinger, Jeremy Kehrt, Mike Lee, Stolmy Pimentel, Fabian Williamson^
SS-A: Drake Britton^, Cesar Cabral^, Pedro Perez, Ryan Pressly, Alex Wilson
Rk: Hunter Cervenka^, Randy Consuegra, Roman Mendez, Manny Rivera^, Pete Ruiz, Tyler Wilson
DSL: Nestor Lastreto^, Yunior Ortega, Juan Rodriguez, Francisco Taveras^, Raynel Vellette
YTD: Mario Alcantara, Raul Alcantara, Richardo Betancourt^, Renny Parthemore, Kendal Volz, Madison Younginer
DNP: Austin Bailey
Gone: Paul Byrd (MLB), Brad Penny (MLB), John Smoltz (MLB), Enrique Gonzalez (AAA), Charlie Zink (AAA), Jarod Plummer (AA), Jose Capellan (A+), Dave McKae (A+), Bryan Price (A+), Nick Hagadone (A), Hunter Strickland (A), Jose Alvarez (SS-A)

The Lead Story: Possibly the Red Sox prospect with the highest breakout potential is Pimentel, the 2007 Latin Program Pitcher of the Year who held his own as a 19-year-old in Greenville last season. He certainly has work to do on his game, but he is quite advanced for a pitcher his age, so he should be able to handle his likely promotion to Salem. If he can match or improve upon his numbers from last season, Pimentel could start appearing on lists of the top prospects in baseball. Another international free agent with tons of upside, Mendez was impressive in the Gulf Coast League last season, hitting 96 mph and posting dominant numbers. Based on his dominance in the GCL, Mendez could get his first taste of full-season ball with Greenville this spring, but if the club thinks his secondary pitches still need some work, me may stay behind in extended spring training and pitch for Lowell.

Britton came back from Tommy John surgery throwing harder than he had in his entire life, sitting in the mid-90’s. He was not challenged in seven short starts split between the GCL and New York-Penn League, so he will start the season with Greenville in his first taste of full-season ball. Since he will likely be on a relatively short innings limit, the piggyback system would allow him to throw shorter outings at first without taxing the bullpen. Alex Wilson was nearly unhittable in his first pro action for the Lowell Spinners, even moreso than is typical for the college arms the Red Sox so love to draft. The typical progression for a player with his profile would be to skip a level and begin the season in the rotation in Salem, where he will be challenged to get hitters out using more than his fastball. We will also see if Wilson can sustain his stuff over longer outings, as he was limited to two- to three-inning stints as a Spinner. Younginer was the other prize arm from the Sox 2009 draft, but he did not see any game action after signing at the August 15 deadline. The young righty’s 2010 assignment will depend on how advanced he proved to be during the Fall Instructional League and Spring Training – consider him perhaps a 65/35 bet to start in Lowell instead of Greenville.

Below the Fold: The Red Sox acquired Williamson in exchange for David Aardsma last offseason, and while the latter went on to have a great year as the Mariners’ closer, Williamson had a solid campaign himself in Greenville. After beginning the season as a piggyback starter, his success earned him a move into the rotation, where he became arguably the Drive’s top starter after the promotions of Casey Kelly and Stephen Fife. A promotion to Salem this year may show whether the soft-tossing lefty is the real thing or a one-year wonder. Huntzinger had a quietly strong season in 2009, showing he could succeed in the South Atlantic League after a short, weak showing there at the end of 2008. Now used to the rigors of a full professional season, he has some breakout potential and will move up to Salem. Clay’s sinker generates a lot of groundballs, but not many strikeouts. Although his 2009 numbers do not stand out, getting through a full season after rehab from Tommy John surgery was a step in the right direction. There is a significant chance the 2006 first-round pick, now 22, will be moved to the bullpen to see if that jumpstarts his development, as his sinker could be devastating in such a role. He is on the cusp of a promotion to Salem, but could begin the season with what would hopefully be a short stint in Greenville.

Volz’s stock soared following his performance as Team USA’s closer in the summer of 2008, but a disappointing spring at Baylor led to him dropping all the way to the ninth round. The Sox gave him $550k to sign, making him somewhat of a high-risk, high-reward pick depending on his ability to regain the mechanics that helped him dominate two summers ago. He should pitch for Greenville in his pro debut, but could stay behind in extended spring training for a month or so if the team feels he needs work on his mechanics first. Rivera and Consuegra combined with Mendez to give the GCL Sox a potent 1-2-3 Latin punch in the rotation in 2009 – frankly, the only three consistent starters at that level due to rainouts and scheduled off days. Rivera’s numbers were only slightly less mind-blowing than Mendez’s, as the 2008 Latin Program Pitcher of the Year carved up GCL hitters. Rivera may not light up the gun like Mendez, but he was successful enough that Greenville is a possible assignment for him. Consuegra, while not quite as impressive on the stat sheet, made a nice recovery from an injury-plagued 2008 campaign. In the interest of preserving his arm, Consuegra could move up to Lowell for one last year in short-season ball. Hoping to follow the footsteps of those two will be Rodriguez, but the 2009 Latin Pitcher of the Year may jump to Lowell in his U.S. debut. He dominated DSL hitters, but could stand to cut down on his walks.

Sidebars: Tyler Wilson’s 2009 debut was an anti-climax, as a heart condition discovered early in extended spring training limited him to eight innings at the tail end of the year. He will likely return to the GCL to get some innings under his belt, but a jump to Lowell is not out of the question with an impressive showing in extended this year … Pressly made strides in 2009 in his move from the GCL to Lowell, increasing his strikeout rate and cutting his walk rate. He is ready for the move to full-season ball with Greenville … Castillo began the ’09 season in Greenville, but was sent back to Lowell when he struggled there. He got back on his feet in short-season ball, but will need to carry that success over to his return trip to the SAL … Lee made most of his appearances for Greenville in a piggyback relief role after missing the start of the year with an injury, but was inconsistent. With two strong pitches, his future may be in the bullpen, and a possible promotion to Salem this year should show how soon that future comes … Kehrt was old for the GCL and NYPL when he dominated those circuits, but he may have at least forced his way up to an age-appropriate assignment to Salem. Whether there or back in Greenville, he may have to work in long relief in deference to other starters … Ruiz has spent two mediocre seasons in the GCL and will fight for a spot in the Lowell bullpen …

Cabral and Perez were unable to establish themselves in starter/piggyback roles in Lowell. Both enter their fifth seasons in the organization and may need to have success in Greenville at some point in 2010 to stick around … Cervenka got a $350k signing bonus but struggled mightily in the GCL in his pro debut, getting opportunities to start but failing to take advantage of his opportunities. Ideally, struggling at that level after missing a shot to win a job in Lowell motivated him to come into camp this year more prepared for the rigors of pro ball … Parthemore got a six-figure signing bonus in 2009 and should make his debut in Ft. Myers as well … Ortega arguably had as much success as Rodriguez in the DSL last year, but did not receive an invite to the U.S. for spring training. He could earn a chance to come State-side in workouts leading up to the DSL season, but if not, he should be the ace of the DSL staff this year … Vellette, Taveras and Lastreto, on the other hand, will be coming to the States to make their debuts. All should join the staff in the GCL, the first two likely as starters and the third perhaps dependant on how the draft falls … Both Alcantaras and Betancourt signed last summer during the International Signing Period and will debut in the DSL … Bailey, by most accounts, had attitude issues and chose to stop playing baseball in 2009, spending the year on the suspended list. His career is over barring a change of heart.
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March 23, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Sox continue roster cuts

The Red Sox announced today that pitchers Ramon A. Ramirez and Michael Bowden and first baseman Aaron Bates have been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Well-traveled pitcher Jorge Sosa was also reassigned to minor league camp.

Ramirez posted a 7.50 ERA in four appearances this spring, striking out one batter while walking seven in six innings of work. In Bowden's lone start of the spring, he went three innings, giving up six hits and three runs. Bowden also made three relief appearances, yielding two runs in 5.2 innings out of the pen. Bates struggled offensively this spring, hitting just .179/.226/.214
in 28 at-bats. Sosa appeared in four games after arriving late to camp due to visa issues, putting up a 5.40 ERA in 5 innings.

In other roster news,
WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports that third baseman Jorge Jimenez is now with the big club as a non-roster invitee after being returned from Florida pursuant to Rule 5 on Sunday. With today's moves, Boston now has forty players in big league camp.
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at 3:08 PM

Q&A with Ryne Miller

Our second Q&A of 2010 features Ryne Miller and his unique story of going from a porter in an apartment complex to being ranked the #42 prospect in the Red Sox system. Originally signed by Boston as an undrafted free agent in July 2007 out of Weatherford College, Miller enters his fourth pro season as a full-time starter slated for a return to Double-A Portland, where he finished 2009. The right-hander split last season between High-A Salem and Portland, going 8-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 27 games with Salem and 2-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 14 games with the Sea Dogs. Thanks to Ryne for taking time out of his busy spring training schedule to speak with me.

John Gray: Before you even set out on your current career path, you once gave up baseball to play quarterback at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. What led you to make that decision, and what led you back to baseball?
Ryne Miller: I grew up in West Texas and football is the main sport there, so growing up I always wanted to play football. So when I got the scholarship to ULM, I took it and never thought twice about baseball. They switched me from quarterback to tight end - that was a position I never cared to play. This caused me to stop going to class and stop caring about committing myself to school or sports. I went back home and started working as a porter at an apartment complex and sat out a whole year of school. One hot summer day in Texas, I was working and I looked up at the sun and said, "This is not what I want to do with my life." I called my dad and told him I wanted to go back to school and he was very supportive and helped me to really get back on track.

When you returned to baseball, how did you decide on Weatherford College? Also, they briefly made you into a side-arm pitcher before you decided to switch back to coming over-the-top – what did you think were the pros and cons between the two styles, and what led to you changing back?
RM: My decision to go to Weatherford was easy, it's close to my home and it was a small college. I knew I could concentrate on school and baseball without any distractions. The pitching coach wanted me to throw side-arm, so I really just did what I was told. My team didn't have a side-armer so I set myself apart being the only one. I liked it for the most part, but I just couldn't get my velocity up to where I knew I could. When I went to the Texas Collegiate League, I went back over-the-top and I was throwing harder than I ever had. After that performance, the head coach at Weatherford told me to go back over the top because when school came back around I was going to be a starter. My stuff just played up better as an over-the-top pitcher.

JG: What was the signing process like for you as an undrafted free agent? Did you get interest from teams other than the Red Sox? Had there been much interest heading into the draft, or did things only pick up after your performance in the Texas Collegiate League?
RM: I didn't have great numbers in college and I didn't throw any harder being a side-armer so there was no interest from any team before the draft. After the TCL All-Star Game the Braves called me and made me an offer, as did the Astros and Marlins. In the end, Boston was the place I thought was the right place for me.

JG: Coming into the organization, it seems that you found success at first, but had some struggles in your first full season in Greenville – to what do you attribute those struggles? How did you overcome them?
RM: I came into my first full season extremely over-weight and I was not physically ready for baseball or any other physical activities frankly. After the season I told myself, "if you want this to be your career, you need to dedicate yourself to it and make it as far as you can". I went and hired a personal trainer and worked out everyday until it was time to report for spring training.

JG: I understand that you came into camp in 2009 in tremendous shape - what was your training program during that off-season? How did that carry over on the field? Did you use the same program this past off-season?
RM: I would work out with a personal trainer five days a week. I was just ready for the season when I came into spring training. I gave myself the best possible chance to break camp at the highest level possible and I had a great year in 2009. I hired the same trainer and did the exact same thing this past off-season as well.

JG: Since you moved into the starting rotation late last year, how was starting different than relieving for you, and do you prefer one over the other? When did you know that the club was considering such a move for you?
RM: As a starter, you really get to work with your whole repertoire of pitches and set up hitters, something that you don't do as much out of the bullpen. I don't prefer starting to relieving, the way I see it pitching is pitching, whether it's getting a start or coming later in the game. I love going out there and competing, I just want to be on the hill. The club had talked to me about starting a few times before, but honestly I never thought it was something that was going to happen.

JG: What was your experience like at the Rookie Development program this offseason? What lessons did you take from the program?
RM: Boston is an amazing city and I can't wait to pitch in front of the best fans in baseball. Fenway is a place where no matter what is going on, the fans are always going to be there cheering. Through the rookie program I learned that there is a lot more to baseball than just pitching. You have the media, the fans, and a lot of distractions involved.

JG: Coming into this season, have you done anything differently due to the fact that you will begin the season as a starter?
RM: No, not really, I'm just going to go out there and pitch inning-to-inning and look to build off my success from last season.

JG: We typically ask players to do a self scouting report. I understand that you throw a low 90s fastball, a curveball, and a changeup. Is that still your repertoire? Has your move to starting led you to consider any changes or additions? What parts of your game are you looking to improve in 2010?
RM: That's still my repertoire and I don't plan on adding anything to it until I master those three pitches. This season I'm looking to reduce my walks and allow fewer baserunners.

JG: What one teammate has impressed you the most since you joined the Red Sox organization?
RM: He is no longer with the team, but Hunter Strickland really inspired me. He was younger than me, but his work ethic was outstanding and watching him made me want to work my tail off too.
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at 1:53 PM

Fort Report: MLST games in full swing

Minor league spring training games are in full swing - special thanks to community members Waterview and Nick Hanson for posting first-hand reports on the SoxProspects Forum. Here are some notes from the last few days: Shannon Wilkerson hit an "absolute bomb" to left field against the Rays on Saturday ... Will Vazquez also hit a home run to left that barely cleared the wall ... Michael Almanzar looks noticeably more filled-out since last spring ... Jose Vinicio (pictured) is indeed in camp - the 16-year-old has looked understandably raw at the plate but has been a terror on the base paths ... Randor Bierd looked good again in a Triple-A start, striking out 4 in 2 innings of work ... Kade Keowen played in the Triple-A game and doubled ... Jon Still homered for Pawtucket ... Chad Povich looked good in the Double-A game, allowing just one runner in two innings ... Jose Iglesias played with the Portland, as did Ryan Lavarnway and Bryan Peterson, but don't read too much into the MLST assignments early on, as the front office likes to see how certain players fare against more-advanced competition and how certain infield combinations or pitcher-catcher batteries work together ... Daniel Nava homered to the opposite field off John Lackey in an intra-squad game on Monday ... Blake Maxwell's command has looked sharp in intra-squad games - no signs of the infamous Rollie Fingers moustache yet though ... Michael Bugary is reportedly getting his fastball back to the low-90s after sitting 87-89 mph late in the 2009 season ... Alan Embree will throw in a minor league game on Wednesday.

Several minor league campers that haven't seen ample major league time this spring got the chance to see big league game action since Friday, including Brett Harper, Pete Hissey, Drew Dominguez, Mitch Dening, Ray Chang, Ryan Dent, Willie Holmes, Zach Gentile, Mike Jones, Ronald Bermudez, David Mailman, Anthony Rizzo, TJ Large, Alex Hassan, Chris McGuiness, and Derrik Gibson.

The most impressive lines for the prospects in major league games include Josh Reddick (.417/.447/.722), Mark Wagner (.467/.500/1.067), Felix Doubront (0.00 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in 7 innings), Jeremy Hazelbaker (2-for-6 with 2 walks and 3 runs), and Hissey (4-for-6 with 2 RBI). Among the prospects not able to help their causes in short time in major league games have included Lars Anderson (0-for-18), Aaron Bates (.179 in 28 at-bats), Angel Sanchez (.214 in 28 at-bats), Junichi Tazawa (10.29 ERA); Large (16.20 ERA), Dustin Richardson (16.20 ERA), Ryne Miller (27.00 ERA), and Adam Mills (27.00 ERA).

On the injury front, Jed Lowrie has been a scratch due to fatigue from mono, Zach Daeges remains out with a strained lat, Gil Velazquez is likely out until May with a broken thumb, and Darnell McDonald is day-to-day with a strained oblique.

If you haven't had the opportunity to check it out yet, I wrote a piece for ESPNBoston this weekend on the depth of starting pitching in the Sox system. Please take a look if you get the chance.

Media links: Alex Speier of WEEI writes about how the Red Sox decided on Miguel Celestino as the PTBNL from Seattle in the Casey Kotchman deal ... Sea Dogs broadcaster Mike Antonellis interviewed Richie Lentz about the reasons for his recent retirment and his memories from Portland ... Speier noted on Saturday that Terry Francona had praise for Hissey, commenting that the outfielder has impressed with his ability to work deep into counts ... Both Speier and John Tomase of the Boston Herald authored articles this week on Joe Nelson's attempt to catch on with the big club ... Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal talked to Wagner about his two triples in the major league game on Monday, rare feat for the 25-year-old catcher ... Speier also brings us a great piece on Jason Castro, a former Red Sox draft pick who is now a well-regarded prospect considered to be the Astros' catcher of the future.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but we're headed down to minor league spring training tomorrow, and we’ll be posting regular updates on Twitter. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to sign up and follow the SoxProspects Twitter feed, as well as the feeds for Chris Mellen and Chris Hatfield.

Chris Hatfield, Jonathan Singer, John Gray, and Corey Hersch of SoxProspects.com contributed to this report. Photo by Nick Hanson.
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March 22, 2010 at 10:25 AM

SoxProspects Mailbag, March 22

In the third installment of the SoxProspects Mailbag, we answer another ten questions submitted via the Mailbox. As always, thanks to everyone that submitted questions. We're essentially out of questions now, so if you have any questions, fire away! The next round of questions and answers may also be posted on ESPNBoston.com as part of our collaboration with that site.

Have the Sox ever been beaten by a college team in spring training? More importantly, has a college player ever gained a significant draft boost as a result of a big day against the Red Sox? -- Niko from Los Angeles
SoxProspects: This question really interested me as I’m a Northeastern alum and have a number of alumni of both Northeastern and Boston College in my family, so I tried to dig up as much info as I could find. As you might imagine, it was tough to find definitively full records on Boston’s history in college exhibitions. I was able to find, however, that the first game ever played at Fenway Park featured the Sox beating Harvard 2-0 in a spring exhibition on April 9, 1912. The Sox also played Boston College in 1916 and 1933, and Northeastern in 1977, winning each time. In 1993, when the Sox were being run by Boston College grad John Harrington, the club made Boston College a regular part of its annual spring training schedule. In 2004, the Sox added Northeastern to the annual slate. Neither BC nor NU have beaten the Sox during that time, but the closest games appear to be BC’s 9-6 loss in 2003 and NU’s 9-2 loss in 2006. In terms of whether any college player has gained a significant draft boost as a result of the exhibitions, my inclination is to say no, as that one game probably means very little in terms of scouting and it’s doubtful whether the Sox scouts are even in attendance at those games. But just for argument’s sake, here’s a list of BC and NU players drafted during the tenure of their respective exhibition schedules: (1) Joseph Hayward, OF, Boston College – 45th round, 1993 (did not sign); (2) Curtis Romboli, LHP, Boston College – 21st round, 1995; (3) Jed Rogers, RHP, Boston College – 22nd round, 2001; and (4) Dan Milano, C, Northeastern – 20th round, 2007. None of these four players went on to have long pro careers. But while we’re on the topic, four other alumni who have recently played in the Sox organization include Carlos Pena (NU ’98), Sean McGowan (BC, ‘99), Greg Montalbano (NU ’99), and Justin Hedrick (NU, ’04). -- Mike Andrews, SoxProspects.com

Q: In the past few years the Red Sox have taken some high-risk high school players early in the draft, only to see them struggle in their first few years in the minors, specifically Jason Place, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Dent, and Caleb Clay. Of these prospects who are you the most optimistic about? -- Ray from Boston
SP: Interesting question, Ray. There are always high expectations from people who follow the system surrounding the type of players you have pointed out. What sometimes gets lost is the amount of development that these players have in front of them, and their developmental needs really get exposed early in their careers. For the hitters, things are usually centered on developing a patient approach and stimulating their pitch recognition through continued experience against professional pitching. Young pitchers deal with improving their fastball command and working on the consistency of their mechanics to constantly repeat that optimal release point. A lot of times, these strides take time to show, and you start to see the real gains three or even four seasons into their careers. With regards to the specific players that you mentioned, each have made some gains in their first few seasons in the minors that may not fully show up on a stat sheet or box score. I was pretty impressed with the improvements that Dent made last season. Seeing a lot of him at Lowell in 2008 and how raw he was then, it was good to see him make some strides with his approach, and his defensive game went from being pretty rough to now being a key strength for him. He won the Red Sox 2009 Minor League Defensive Player of the Year Award for his efforts. Dent still strikes out with too much frequency, but he took some big steps in my opinion, and that has me optimistic about him continuing to round out the rough edges with his offensive game, and continue to push towards the upper levels of the system. --Chris Mellen, SoxProspects.com

Q: What does Bryan Peterson need to do to elevate out of GCL ranks and into the elite prospect ranks? -- Eric from Washington
SP: Peterson was drafted as a promising young outfielder in the 11th round of the 2008 draft. He followed that up with an impressive first run through the Gulf Coast League as an 18-year-old, hitting .277/.361/.394 in 137 at-bats and displaying plus power potential and speed. He is an excellent athlete who exhibited top-notch skills, primarily plate discipline, to go along with his plus tools. Unfortunately, 2009 was a lost year developmentally for Peterson, as numerous injuries kept him out of the lineup. This season will be a critical year in Peterson's development. First and foremost, he has to prove that he can stay on the field and that his injuries are fully healed. So far so good this spring, and we're also hearing that he has packed on about 20 pounds to his frame since last March. Though "elite" prospect status may be a long way off, staying healthy and building on his 2008 season will help to keep an ascent up the prospect ranks a strong possibility. Going into the season, it appears that the 20-year-old may be slated for Lowell in 2010, but a shot at Greenville at some point could also be in the cards. Look for Peterson to start translating his power potential into in-game production - a key stat to watch for him this season will be his isolated power. -- Josh Sweeney, SoxProspects.com

Q: Why are there only very rarely trades involving one top prospect for another to suit what the major league team's needs are at that time? -- Mark from Medford
SP: I think you answer that question within your question - when teams make trades involving prospects, it is because one is trying to fill a major league need right away, and acquiring prospects is not the way to do it. This dynamic helps teams agree to deals they think are "fair." Consider the rarity with which two teams would agree on a trade in which each values the other's prospect more than their own. With a major league-for-minor league deal, one team's immediate need for help and the other's desire to build for the future helps greatly to branch that gap. Even in a deal like the Toronto-Oakland Brett Wallace-Michael Taylor trade is the exception that proves the rule, as Toronto was likely willing to part with Taylor because they had just received him in the Roy Halladay deal. Major league front offices tend to be risk averse, perhaps with good reason - when you think of Lou Gorman, don't you immediately think of Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson? Remember, we Sox fans have been spoiled by the likes of Dustin Pedroia, who came up and was almost immediately a stud. Far more typical are the adjustment periods experienced by the likes of Clay Buchholz. A team trying to fill a need immediately is generally not willing to wait out that adjustment period if it is trying to win now, whereas a "seller" at the trade deadline that is a couple years away from contending can be patient with a prospect. -- Chris Hatfield, SoxProspects.com

Q: Everyone knows about the top prospects in the farm system, but which lesser know prospects should we keep an eye on? What prospects could possibly help the Sox in the short-term? -- Seth from Maine
SP: I'll throw two prospects out there for you to keep an eye on for 2010, Seth: right-handed pitchers Stephen Fife and Kyle Weiland. Both players have flown under the radar and have improving repertoires that will push them up through the Red Sox system. Fife is a potential workhorse in the starting rotation that features a nice low-90's sinking fastball, complimented by an improving change-up and a curveball with plus potential. He put in a lot of work harnessing the control of his curve, using it more ahead in counts to finish off hitters. Fife will start with Salem and has a chance to push Portland as the summer moves along. Weiland is a former reliever that the organization has brought along in a starting role, and he has responded very well to the transition. His 90-94 MPH fastball has excellent downward tilt and is one of the best fastballs in the system in my opinion. Weiland has been sharpening his breaking ball into a tight slider and making strides developing a low-80's change-up to keep hitters off-balance. He's slated to begin 2010 with Portland and is definitely a name to watch out for in the next couple of seasons to be in the mix for a contributing role with the major league team.

In response to your second question, besides Junichi Tazawa, Michael Bowden, and Josh Reddick, who have all been talked about a lot during the off-season as potential contributors in 2010, you also have reliever Dustin Richardson, catcher Mark Wagner, and outfielder Ryan Kalish who could be in the mix to contribute at the major league level this year. Kalish will most likely spend the whole season polishing off his offensive game at the upper levels of the system, but with injuries over the course of a season you could see him get a chance, much like Reddick made a quicker jump last season. Richardson was recently optioned to Triple-A, but he could definitely help in the short-term out of the bullpen if he can continue to improve upon the command of his fastball and throw more strikes with it earlier in the count. Wagner is interesting because he's an above-average defensive catcher who excels at throwing runners out. His bat needs to catch up a bit in terms of consistency, and he'll get a chance to prove that at Triple-A this year. However, should the opportunity present itself for short-term catching help over the course of 2010, he's the name to watch. -- Chris Mellen, SoxProspects.com

Q: Hey guys, before hearing of the downsizing, I had only heard tidbits about the proposed new spring facility. Can you compare it to the current one in terms of size and location? Will it be easier to get ST tickets now, and will they still be cross-town rivals with the Twins? -- Niko from Los Angeles
SP: Boston’s current major league facility, City of Palms Park, opened in 1993. It’s a nice looking park with a Floridian feel that sits 8,000 fans with a limited number of luxury boxes and subpar parking options. It’s also located in a fairly rough part of downtown Fort Myers. Its dimensions do not mirror Fenway Park. Meanwhile, Boston’s present minor league facility, the Player Development Complex, is located 2.5 miles east on Edison Avenue in an even less pleasant part of town, to put it nicely. The Player Development Complex has ample parking most of the year when it’s reserved for the minor leaguers, but for the two-to-three weeks each spring that the major leaguers take over, parking is essentially impossible, requiring fans to park at City of Palms and take the shuttle. The minor league complex includes five practice fields, eight batting cages, several bullpens, and a decent-sized clubhouse. The new complex, scheduled to open in 2012, will combine the major league and minor league facilities in one place. It will be located in a woodsy area near the intersections of Route 75 and Daniels Parkway, about six miles northeast of the airport. There are a lot of restaurants and shopping destinations within a short driving distance, and there is also a slew of golf courses and higher-end cul-de-sacs in the general area. I suspect that the Sox may also eventually build up the surrounding area with their own hotels and restaurants, but there has been little in terms of official announcements to that respect. The new state-of-the-art complex will sit about 11,000 fans, have ample parking, and will include six practice fields in addition to the primary playing field. The outfield dimensions of the playing field will mirror Fenway Park, right down to the Green Monster. The home clubhouse will also be very large - about 50,000 square feet. In terms of tickets, I’m going to speculate that it will not be easier to get spring training tickets, at least in the first few years, as I expect that fans will flock down to the Fort to check out the new digs. That being said, I don’t think that it’s terribly difficult to get spring training tickets now, as long as you make your plans well in advance. As to your last question, the Sox will indeed still be cross town rivals with the Twins, perhaps even more so, as the two complexes will now be less than four miles apart. The Twins’ lease on Hammond Stadium runs through 2020. -- Mike Andrews, SoxProspects.com

Q: I've read that the Sox have shown interest in Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz. If they sign him, how would it affect the development path of Lars Anderson and Anthony Rizzo? -- Al from Massachusetts
Ruiz is an interesting prospect, though he has drawn mixed reviews from scouts. It is clear the Red Sox have seen promise in this athletic first baseman, as evidenced by their reported $2.5 million offer to him earlier this year. However, the rumor is that Boston's interests may have cooled earlier this month
due to concerns with Ruiz' conditioning. The most important thing to take away from this is that the Sox will continue to be active on all fronts to bring talent into the organization. The attrition rate of prospects is so high that the presence of one or two good prospects is rarely a reason not to bring in more talent at the same position. The Sox front office has also shown a tendency to try players at several positions late in their development in order to improve their chances of having an impact at the big-league level. With Ruiz's reported athleticism, he could conceivably play a corner outfield position. Though the potential presence of Ruiz would force the Red Sox to get creative with lineups, I don't think that it would cost either Anthony Rizzo or Lars Anderson at-bats. Rizzo is likely to start the year in Salem and Anderson in Portland. Should Ruiz and the Red Sox come to terms, he would likely settle into the Portland lineup as well, but as evidenced by last year's early-season shuffling of Anderson, Aaron Bates, and Jon Still, the team would find a way to get players the necessary playing time. I think that the players most affected by Ruiz's signing would be Still, Mike Jones, and posibly Daniel Nava. -- Josh Sweeney, SoxProspects.com

Q: In your scouting report for Lars Anderson, there is a passing mention of injuries last year that may have contributed to his poor performance. Can you elaborate on this? Were any of those injuries serious? How much of his struggles can just be attributed to them as opposed to normal growing pains? -- Carl from Philadelphia
SP: We have heard some speculation that Anderson was slowed by a back injury in May. If true, we would expect this to have sapped his power, as he would have had trouble turning on the ball and generating much torque in his swing. There weren't many actual reports on such an injury, just some rumors of back pain here and there. What we do know, thanks to our crack moderator amfox1, is the following split from Anderson's 2009 campaign:

April 1 - May 2:
.291/.345/.468 (15 strikeouts)
May 3 - May 11 (possible injury): .065/.147/.097 (10 strikeouts)
May 12 - July 13: .298/.408/.441 (53 strikeouts)
July 14 - September 7: .154/.250/.208 (37 strikeouts)

So while Lars definitely did have issues with strikeouts most of the year, there were stretches when he was an otherwise effective hitter. This is purely conjecture, but my guess is that he had the one stretch in May when he was affected by pain and was unable to perform because of it - note the suddenly complete lack of power sandwiched between two extended stretches of solid power. While he was able to recover, I think he started pressing in that final stretch of the season, feeling the pressure to live up to being the system's top prospect. Either way, I believe it is way too early to give up on him, even despite his struggles this spring in major league camp. -- Chris Hatfield, SoxProspects.com

Q: As a German I am particularly interested in Jennel Hudson, although I know that he has a long way to go to become a serious prospect. What are your thoughts on him? How bad was his injury in 2009? -- Clemens from Bad Sobernheim, Germany
SP: Hudson is a tall, lanky, right-handed pitcher who signed with the Red Sox out of Germany during the summer of 2007. His fastaball currently tops out in the high-80s, though there is plenty of room for growth. Since signing, he has thrown a total of 15 professional innings due to arm problems, missing the entire 2009 season. The extent of Hudson's injuries at this point are a relative unknown. Here at SoxProspects.com, our resources include talking to insider sources, our own first-hand scouting, and statistical analysis, but in the case of Hudson, his lack of playing time really limits our ability to utilize the latter two. The most important thing for Hudson's development in 2010 will be getting on the field and pitching, since that is obviously the only way he can prove his readiness to advance in what likely will be his third year in the Gulf Coast League. At that point, we should be able to utilize our resources to gain a better understanding of his abilities, and perhaps better answer your questions regarding his ability. -- Josh Sweeney, SoxProspects.com

Is there any chance the site has plans for adding some video clips of the players? --Kevin from Chicago
Q: Mike, will there be any attempts to obtain interviews with Red Sox front office employees that have moved on to other organizations? -- Jason from Vermont

SP: A couple of good suggestions for the site, much appreciated. In terms of the video, I note that Ian Theodoridis has a YouTube channel with over 100 Red Sox prospect videos. Check it out
here. We also have a Pics & Vids Subforum on the message board where fans can embed their own prospect photos and videos. Beyond that, I’ve contemplated creating a “video” page where we would embed prospect videos all in one place. That idea is just in the early stages and could come to fruition at some point this year. With regard to interviewing former Red Sox front office employees, it's a decent idea on paper, but in practice it might not work. Front office members like Mike Hazen, Jason McLeod, Craig Shipley, and Eddie Romero are obviously really busy, but have historically taken time out of their schedules to answer our questions in an effort to bring some attention to and instruct the fan base on the Sox minor league system. To get a former front office member to agree to a Q&A may be a little tougher, as they would no longer have a real connection to the fan base. Also, I’m not really sure what direction we could go in if we got someone to agree to such an interview. While we might be able to discuss the general differences in approaches between front offices, other than that there may not be a whole lot of info that the interviewee could share. All that being said, I’ll keep the idea in mind. -- Mike Andrews, SoxProspects.com
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