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SoxProspects News

March 22, 2010 at 9:00 AM

2010 Prospect Previews: Sleepers

Today's installment of the series is the last of the Watch Lists and features three prospects with an eye on pushing themselves up the depth chart within the organization in 2010.

Eammon Portice

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

2010 Outlook: Featuring an excellent low-90’s fastball, Portice is a pitcher that likes to attack hitters and can produce a good number of groundballs when he is on. Throwing with an unconventional delivery, he turns his back completely away from the plate before whipping the ball quickly out of the windup towards the plate. This gives hitters less of a look at his offerings and allows him to hide the ball until very late in his release. Portice also features a solid-average split-fingered fastball and uses it when he is ahead in the count to finish batters off. He’s been able to maintain high strikeout totals in the low minors. Portice should be in line for an assignment in Double-A, and will get a chance to prove himself against advanced competition. He’s been a bit older for every level he has played at thus far. 2010 will be a test for Portice to improve upon his slider and maintain consistency during outings to limit the times his command and control slip away from him. Continuing along the path of a starter this season, a move into the bullpen may be in his future, as his stuff has been projected to play up better in that role. After performing well in the low minors while sharpening his overall repertoire in the process, Portice can begin to solidify himself in the upper levels of the Red Sox system in 2010 and provide yet more pitching depth to the organization in the next couple of seasons.

Chris McGuiness

Position: First Base
2009 Teams: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
2010 Projected Team: Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 21

2010 Outlook: After spending the majority of the summer with the Lowell Spinners, McGuiness will break camp with the Greenville Drive and start his development in full-season baseball. A left-handed batter that hits out of an open stance, he shows an advanced approach and excellent patience at the plate, rarely jumping out at balls. McGuiness goes deep into counts to look for a pitch he can drive and draws his fair share of walks due to his understanding of the strike zone. Hitting well to all fields, he has around average power potential and the ability to make consistent contact, utilizing a short stroke at the plate. Defensively, he’s shown he can handle himself around the bag and digs balls out of the dirt well. McGuiness should be able to have success at this level due to his relaxed and consistent approach at the plate. 2010 will be a test for him to show that he can consistently make hard contact in the professional ranks, and will give a look at what type of power he can develop. McGuiness creates a bit more topspin than backspin right now, and hitting through the ball better would boost the amount of carry he gets on line drives, potentially improving his power projection. He needs some work on recognizing more advanced breaking balls, but with continued exposure at this level McGuiness will be more comfortable with that aspect of hitting. New to the system after signing in 2009, this season should show how advanced his skills are, and what type of offensive player he can potentially become upon reaching the upper levels of the organization.

Manny Rivera

Position: Starting Pitcher
2009 Team: Gulf Coast Red Sox
2010 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 20

2010 Outlook: Pitching in the United States for the first time, Rivera handled the competition in the Gulf Coast League with relative ease in 2009. Mainly relying on a low-90’s fastball and change-up with plus potential, he’s been able to limit hard contact against and has shown good command of his arsenal thus far. Rivera will compete for a spot with the Greenville Drive during camp and try to prove that he is ready for his first experience in full-season baseball. This season will be a test of his command against more patient hitters, and will challenge him to keep developing his curveball as a third pitch. Rivera has been able to use his deceptive delivery to his advantage against more inexperience hitters, and he should continue to be able to feature his fastball/change-up combo to keep hitters guessing while getting them out on their front foot at the plate. Development of his curveball is a key need for him to continue along the path of a starting pitcher and have success in full-season baseball. Hitters will start to attack his fastball early in the count if he’s unable to mix in an offering with some break. If Rivera is flashing his curveball more in outings, it will be a good sign that he is gaining trust and the feel for the pitch as the season progresses. After a good season of development of his arsenal in 2009, this season is another year to work on polishing that arsenal. He must also continue building arm strength to withstand the rigors of a full season of professional baseball, while going deeper into outings. Building a foundation to be a successful pitcher, Rivera has a challenging season ahead of him, and one that will lend a big clue into the type of pitcher that he can potentially become.