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SoxProspects News

March 12, 2010 at 9:28 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Madison Younginer and Jose Vinicio

This installment of the series features two highly anticipated prospects starting their professional careers at the lowest levels of the Red Sox organization. Both players show exciting tools that will begin upon a development path in 2010 to sharpen them into impact skills.

Madison Younginer

Position: Starting Pitcher
2009 Team: Did not play
2010 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners
Opening Day Age: 19

Strengths: Another new addition to the Red Sox organization, Younginer is a high-ceiling arm with excellent raw tools and a projectable frame. A hard thrower, his mid-90’s four-seam fastball explodes on hitters and can top out at 97 MPH when he reaches back for extra. Younginer also features a two-seam fastball that he takes a little off of to create downward action and tilt. His fastball projects as a plus pitch and should make him overpowering on hitters. Drawing comparisons to Kerry Wood, he also features a sharp mid-70’s curveball that shows good teeth along with tight rotation and an improving low-80’s change-up that has late fade out of the strike zone. Younginer’s raw stuff all projects to have above-average potential, putting him on the path of a starting pitcher at the professional level. His reserved demeanor on the mound impressed scouts leading up to the 2009 draft, and he brings a mature approach to pitching for his young age.

Development Needs: Younginer pitched few innings during his senior year of high school and was used more in a relief role during the season. Overall, he’s very raw, and early indications have pointed towards him needing some work with his pitching mechanics to harness his arsenal. Relying mainly on velocity against over-matched hitters, his fastball command is about average at present, and he’ll need to improve how he spots up with the offering to pound the strike zone against professional batters. A main focus for his work cleaning up his delivery is to develop a consistent release point so he can get on top of his fastball and improve his control by throwing it through the strike zone. He will also need to work on his changeup to stay on the path of a starting pitcher as he begins to rise up the ranks of the Red Sox system. He has, however, picked up the feel for the pitch pretty quickly. Professional hitters will challenge Younginer’s command and control, and a constant focus on getting ahead in the count will be a good starting point for him in developing these skills.

2010 Outlook: Younginer will get a chance to show where his skills are at during minor league camp in mid-March. Due to being more on the raw side right now, he is a candidate to stay back in Florida after the full-season teams leave to start the year and head north with the Lowell Spinners in June. This type of instruction will be a boost for starting his professional career, and allow him to work on his pitching mechanics under the supervision of the Red Sox coaches. Expect Younginer to flash his live stuff and should show signs of being a strikeout pitcher in 2010 by using his fastball-curveball combination to finish hitters off. His changeup looks like an offering that he’ll be able to begin to trust and work into counts as the season moves along. Just starting his career, Younginer is at the lowest levels of the Red Sox organization, and has a year of building his skills ahead of him. 2010 looks to be a season of becoming acclimated with life as a professional pitcher, and one to begin shaping an arsenal that will place him in the future wave of impact players coming up the ranks.

Jose Vinicio

Position: Shortstop
2009 Teams: Did not play
2010 Projected Team: Dominican Summer League/Gulf Coast Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 16

Strengths: The Red Sox signed Vinicio back in July 2009 out of the Dominican Republic and will build this shortstop from the ground up. An excellent, wiry athlete, he shows good bat speed that lends projection to him having the potential for an above-average offensive game as he matures. Vinicio is quick to the path of the ball and makes solid contact. Standing 5’11’’ and 160 pounds, he has the physical projection to add some muscle to his frame, which will enable him to develop some power as he rises up the ranks of the Red Sox organization. Despite projecting to get bigger as he matures, Vinicio has the makings of an above-average shortstop defensively and should stick at the position, already showing good range and a plus arm across the diamond. In signing him to a nearly-$2 million bonus, the Red Sox put a premium on his raw tools, and will begin working with Vinicio to shape him into an above-average all-around baseball player.

Development Needs: In a nutshell, Vinicio is in the infant stages of professional development and will spend the next couple of seasons mainly working on improving his fundamentals and developing an approach at the plate. Both needs share equal importance, with his approach being the foundation for him becoming a productive hitter down the line. He will slowly be exposed to professional pitching and will need to build pitch recognition to become comfortable with off-speed pitches. In the field, Vinicio will mainly focus on footwork, fronting balls, and reads at the shortstop position. His natural instincts should serve him well as he learns to read balls off the bat. As is the case with a lot of young players, Vinicio will have to work on bringing the game to him in the field and resisting the urge to rush plays, which lead to things like wild throws and pulling off groundballs too quickly.

2010 Outlook: Vinicio could begin as high as the Gulf Coast League in 2010. It remains to be seen where his skills currently are compared to the competition and whether the Red Sox are ready to bring him to the United States to play baseball this year. 2010 will be a big adjustment for him to get used to the rigors and demands of being a professional player. He will begin working on his fundamentals and will receive a lot of instruction during the season. Look for Vinicio to lend a clue as to where his approach is. It won’t be surprising for him to be more of a free-swinger and to need work on staying back on pitches when he sees his first game action. A relative mainstream scouting unknown within the baseball community, the Red Sox saw a lot in Vinicio’s potential and felt like they had a lot to work with in signing him. Realistically, Vinicio is five or six seasons away from entering the potential major league mix with the Red Sox, but 2010 will serve as an introduction to this high-ceiling talent, one for followers to bookmark once he makes his way to full-season baseball down the line.