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SoxProspects News

March 10, 2010 at 7:48 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Arms Watch List

Today's edition of the series features three players who currently project to pitch in the upper levels of the Red Sox system. All three hard-throwing pitchers will look to continue to sharpen their arsenals, with an eye on pushing themselves closer to a potential contributing role at the major league level down the line.

Richie Lentz

Position: Relief Pitcher
2009 Team: Portland Sea Dogs
2010 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 25

2010 Outlook: After a strong showing in 2008 that saw him rise up the ranks to Double-A, Lentz struggled with an arm injury in 2009 that lead to two stints on the disabled list and inconsistent results, especially with his control. Featuring a four-seam fastball that can operate in the mid-90’s when healthy, Lentz aggressively goes after hitters and can dial the pitch up to overpower them in at-bats. His fastball explodes out of his hand when he’s on. Working from the third base side of the rubber, his delivery comes towards right-handed batters, and he’s very tough for them to pick up. Lentz looks ticketed to begin the season with Portland, with an outside shot at leaving Florida with Pawtucket, and should regain the form that made him a candidate to crack the Red Sox bullpen in the next few seasons. A key for Lentz will be displaying better command and control of his fastball, as this deserted him trying to pitch through injuries last season while maintaining high strikeout totals. His 79-82 MPH slider has been sharpening over the last couple of seasons and shows the potential to be a solid-average pitch for him. Lentz is going to have to once again show he can pitch consistently in the upper levels of the Red Sox organization in 2010. A strong showing over the course of the summer will put him back on track to be another potential contributor to the major league team in the near future.

Jason Rice

Position: Relief Pitcher
2009 Team: Salem Red Sox
2010 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 23

2010 Outlook: Acquired in the Triple-A Phase of the Rule 5 Draft in the 2008 off-season, Rice showed he’s an intriguing arm to follow in 2010. This righty brings a live fastball that works in the mid-90’s, occasionally reaching back for a little bit more. Rice posted impressive strikeout totals in 2009 with Salem and was overpowering against High-A batters. He likes to go right after hitters and pounds the strike zone, but occasionally struggles with his control in stints when he gets too quick with his delivery. Rice also throws a hard, mid-80’s slider that he can bury on batters out of the strike zone, giving him a pitch with a wrinkle so batters can’t easily time his fastball. Rice is in a position to get a chance to prove himself with Portland when the teams break camp in April. Expect Rice to continue to display his high strikeout totals, as his fastball-slider combo will continue to give hitters trouble. The big question for him is whether he can keep within his delivery and limit the stretches of inconsistent control to stay ahead of hitters, allowing him to lean on his slider and elevate fastballs up and out of the strike zone to finish hitters off. Double-A hitters will be much more advanced than what he has seen this far into his career, and he won’t be able to get by on pure velocity as much. Rice has the potential to be an overpowering pitcher out of the bullpen, and 2010 will be a proving ground for him as to whether he can make the refinements necessary to be a consistent, shut-down reliever in the upper levels of the Red Sox system.

Ryne Miller

Position: Starting/Relief Pitcher
2009 Teams: Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
2010 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 24

2010 Outlook: 2009 was a season of good strides for Miller after struggling during his first full professional season in 2008. Previously a weakness, he tightened up his control and worked some kinks out of his delivery to produce more consistent stretches on the mound. Miller limited the solid contact against him and saw a rise in his strikeout totals as he pitched in more favorable counts to take advantage of his stuff. Featuring a low-90’s fastball that tops at 95 and a tight 12-to-6 curveball, he has two average to slightly above-average pitches to work with. Miller can generate some swings and misses with his curveball, and has good enough command of it to use it at any point in the count. His change-up has been an improving pitch for him, with his confidence in the offering growing over the course of the 2009 season. Miller looks set to pitch out of Portland’s rotation to begin 2010. The key for him to sustain the success he had at Double-A towards the tail end of last season will be to continue to focus on consistently finishing his pitches out of his delivery. When he’s throwing downhill, he spots his fastball well on the corners. Miller impressed during his 2009 season and now has the challenge of competing for a full season with Portland ahead of him. With continued refinement of his delivery and consistent focus on the mound, he has a chance to push himself up the depth chart and towards another promotion within the Red Sox organization as the season moves along.