SoxProspects News

February 18, 2011 at 2:21 PM

2011 Prospect Previews: Luis Exposito and Che-Hsuan Lin


Today's installment of the Prospect Previews series takes a look at two prospects within the Red Sox organization in the final stages of their development paths, with an eye on pushing towards being ready to make contributions at the major league level in 2011.

Luis Exposito
Position: Catcher
2010 Team: Portland Sea Dogs
2011 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 24

Strengths: A veteran within the Red Sox system, Exposito is in the fine-tuning stages of his development track. With a broad frame and excellent strength, he is capable of generating solid-average present power and has the potential to develop a bit more as he continues to hone his approach. Exposito creates good extension and lift with his swing through the hitting zone, and has been improving with not trying to swing for the fences on every ball that he attacks. An excellent fastball hitter, he is capable of turning around most fastballs, and excels at driving ones out over the plate. More of a free swinger and on the undisciplined side in the low minors, he has made a noticeable attempt in Double-A to be more selective and try to grind out at-bats, looking for pitches he can handle in his hot spots. With further strides in this area, Exposito has the potential for solid offensive production out of the catcher’s position. Behind the dish, he possesses the type of skills to become an average-to-better defensive catcher at the major league level, highlighted by his plus throwing arm. Agile for a player his size, Exposito moves from side-to-side well and has quick reactions on offerings thrown wide of the zone. Over the last couple of seasons, he has taken steps towards becoming a leader on the field and improving his game management skills.

Development Needs: While making good strides with his approach in the last couple of seasons, Exposito can revert back to old habits and his swing can get extremely long for extended stretches. He has improved with his handling of off-speed pitches, but still fights them or gets fooled on them and doesn’t drive them with consistent authority. A pull hitter, he could stand to go the opposite way more with fastballs on the outer portion of the plate. He does a good job of working himself into hitter’s counts or getting deep in sequences, but tends to pull off fastballs and try to do much with them. Continued work with being patient and taking what pitchers offer him will go a long way towards boosting the amount of hard contact he makes. In order for Exposito to reach his full offensive potential and make enough contact to play regularly in the major leagues, he must find more balance with the length of his swing and stop looking to just jerk balls into leftfield. Despite having a strong arm, Exposito struggles to throw runners out due to a long and slow release. However, he has made improvements in this area, and when he is short and fluid coming out of his crouch, his arm plays up very well.

2011 Outlook: Added to the 40-man roster this past November, Exposito will spend about the first half of spring training with the big club before returning to the minor league camp and most likely heading to Pawtucket to start the season. Still developing his offensive and defensive game, an assignment in Triple-A will challenge him to push his skills to the next level in order to have consistent success in 2011. When on at the plate, Exposito is capable of driving the ball to all fields with power and makes pitchers work hard to get him out. Signs of him getting closer to be major league-ready offensively and polishing off his rough edges should show with a rise of consistent, hard contact and more instances of going with offerings on the outer third of the plate. Exposito could also experience a natural rise in the amount of home runs he hits due to staying on the ball longer and added selectivity. Still adjusting to catching in the upper levels, continued work with the finer points of the game will be the key focus for him this season with Pawtucket, along with some further cleaning up of his throwing mechanics. Strides in these aspects can lead to him being a viable option behind the plate during the summer, should the need arise in Boston. Now approaching the final stop of the system, Exposito will be looking to show that he can round into a backup catching candidate in the near future, with an eye on pushing his skills to prove he can handle a bigger role in the long term.

Che-Hsuan Lin
Position: Outfield
2010 Team: Portland Sea Dogs
2011 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 22

Strengths: A smooth and fluid outfielder with exceptional athleticism, Lin makes it look easy when tracking balls out in center field and turns difficult plays into routine ones frequently. He shows excellent instincts and an innate ability to read balls off the bat, which enables him to get excellent jumps and close in quickly on fly balls. Rounding out Lin’s refined defensive package is a well above-average arm, currently the best in the system, that profiles to be a valuable asset in a major league outfield. In short, he could currently play an above-average center field in the big leagues. Lin hits with a short, compact stroke and generates solid bat speed, highlighted by quick and strong wrists. After coming into the system raw with his pitch recognition and approach, he has honed this area into his biggest strength at the plate, becoming a high-contact player in the process. Demonstrating excellent control of the strike zone, Lin has become adept at working counts and spoiling tough pitches. Very rarely does he expand his strike zone when going after offerings, and he has improved considerably with how he handles breaking balls. Lin shows the makings of a high on-base player because of his elite batting eye. With added work in his reads and jumps, he could take advantage of his plus speed to be an impact baserunner as well.

Development Needs: Lin has made strong strides with his offensive game, but still needs work to create consistent hard contact. A lot of his troubles lie in having swing mechanics that can easily get out of whack and a timing step that can leave him too far out in front on his foot, with his hands also committing with his body instead of staying back. This causes him to drag the head of the bat through the zone to either roll over or chop balls. It is hard to project him maintaining his high on-base rates if he can’t drive balls enough to find gaps or holes through the infield at higher levels. Further simplification of his mechanics can help him square balls up with more frequency. Despite being filled out and possessing good upper body strength, Lin’s game power is below-average, and he doesn’t have much lift in his swing path. He tends to hit with his upper body, and if he is going to tap more into his power, incorporating his lower body into his swing will get more drive behind balls. The amount of improvement with these needs will determine whether Lin can evolve into a potential everyday outfielder at the major league level or if he becomes more of a fourth outfielder/late-inning type.

2011 Outlook: Lin had a good season with Portland in 2010 and made a lot of adjustments by the end of the year, but with the Red Sox’ outfield depth in the high minors, he could find himself back with Portland to start the season. This will give him a chance to further work out the kinks with his swing at a level he is comfortable at and play every day. The first thing to look for with Lin this coming season is a rise in his extra-base hit totals. This would be a good indication that he is creating more solid contact and plugging gaps with line drives, reducing the amount of weak contact he makes in the process. By mid-season, Lin should be challenging for a promotion to Triple-A, if not already there. He appeared to be well ahead of the Eastern League in terms of his discipline and approach, and if he can reproduce the hard contact he started to make towards the end of last season, he will not be challenged for very long in Double-A. An advanced defender and seemingly ready in that area, making him a player likely to help the major league team in some capacity come September, 2011 is all about offensive development for Lin. By the season’s end, we should have a good read on what type of role he will be able to fill at the major league level.

 
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