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SoxProspects News

April 2, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Pawtucket, Portland rosters take shape

While nothing has been made official, final rosters are beginning to take shape in the upper levels of the Red Sox system. Here's a look at the highlights; you can also check out the 2010 Projected Rosters for more projections.

There are a couple surprises on the Pawtucket roster, including the promotions of outfielder Daniel Nava (pictured) and utility infielder Ryan Khoury. Nava, 27, has done nothing but hit well since being signed out of an independent league in 2007. Last year, he impressed, putting up a line of .362/.479/.568 in 118 at-bats for Portland after a mid-season promotion from Salem. This year should be the real test as to where his major league potential lies, facing age-appropriate competition for the first time in his career. Khoury, 26, is entering his fifth season in the Sox system and has been used all around the infield by the organization. He batted .223/.346/.313 in 368 at-bats last season in Portland, and may have the makings of a decent big league utility infielder down the line.

In other Pawtucket news, there appear to be only two spots in the bullpen available for relievers Alan Embree, Joe Nelson, and TJ Large. Large may temporarily be the odd man out in this situation, but should still travel north with the team with an eye towards grabbing one of those spots if a bullpen arm is called up to Boston or if Embree opts out of his contract in mid-April. Gustavo Molina is also expected to head to Pawtucket with the team, but unlikely to make the opening day roster. Kason Gabbard is expected to start the season in extended spring training.

Meanwhile, Stephen Fife, Casey Kelly, and Jose Iglesias are three of the many young prospects expected to make Double-A Portland. Fife, currently the 20th ranked prospect by SoxProspects, had a great year in 2009 split between Greenville and Salem after getting a late start due to injury. In total, he posted an ERA of 3.69 over 87.1 innings with 86 strikeouts. Kelly, the top-ranked prospect in the system, dominated all competition last year, finishing with an ERA of 2.08 between Greenville and Salem in 95 innings. Iglesias, the much-heralded international signing out of Cuba, is expected to begin his professional career with the Sea Dogs as well. By all accounts, he appears to be major-league ready on defense at age 20, but it is unknown how his bat will play against advanced pitching.

Felix Doubront, 22, is also expected to head back to Portland after many speculated this spring that he may start the year in Triple-A. Last year with the Sea Dogs, Doubront more than held his own, pitching 121 innings with 101 strikeouts and finishing with an ERA of 3.35. Relievers Andrew Dobies and Tommy Hottovy will also be starting the season with Portland for the fourth and fifth years in Double-A, respectively.

Infielder Jeff Natale and first baseman Brett Harper were the latest casualties of spring cuts. Natale played five seasons in the organization and was known for his excellent plate discipline, posting a .397 OBP for Pawtucket last year. Harper was signed as a minor-league free agent this off-season and it was thought that he may have provided some pop in Pawtucket, but the return of Rule 5 pick Jorge Jimenez from the Marlins may have squeezed him out of a roster spot. Right-handed reliever Chad Povich was also released after struggling with Lowell, Greenville, and Salem last season.