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SoxProspects News

March 23, 2011 at 8:21 AM

2011 Prospect Previews: Lars Anderson and Felix Doubront

Today's edition of the series focuses on two prospects continuing to put the finishing touches on their games in Triple-A and also look to contend for major league consideration over the course of the season should the Red Sox need to reach down for depth.

Lars Anderson
Position: First Base
2010 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
2011 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 23

Strengths: No stranger amongst followers of the Red Sox system, Anderson brings a smooth and fluid swing from the left side of the plate, highlighted by his ability to bring his hands quickly down through the strike zone to hit inside the baseball. Able to wait back and let pitches get deep on him, he uses the whole field to his advantage and is especially adept at rifling balls into the left-centerfield gap with authority. An improving pull hitter, Anderson has made strides in recent seasons to generate better torque with his lower body and incorporate his hips into his swing mechanics to become less of an upper body hitter. Always patient and willing to go deep into counts to battle opposing pitchers for his pitch, he possesses a grinding, up-the-middle approach at the plate and has a keen understanding of his strike zone. Naturally strong with plus power potential, Anderson is capable of driving balls to all fields with loft when he is staying back and squaring balls up with backspin. Putting a lot of work into his defensive craft, he’s improved his sure-handedness around the bag and worked to hone his reactions to make up for about average range at first base.

Development Needs: Anderson can struggle for stretches with advanced secondary offerings and still has some work to do with recognizing the spin quicker out of the pitcher’s hand. Usually solid with keeping his weight and hands back, in these instances he can get himself too far out in front of breaking balls and typically rolls his top hand over too quickly, causing him to swing over the top or pound groundballs to the right side of the infield. At times Anderson will fish for offerings sweeping across the plate, especially with two strikes, which leads to more at-bats without contact. As a power hitter he can be expected to strikeout with greater frequency, but improvement generating more consistent hard contact when putting the ball in play will push him towards being able to produce enough to be in a major league lineup as an everyday first baseman. While beginning to tap more into his natural power and turn on inside pitches better, Anderson needs a bit more work dropping the head of the bat on higher velocity inside fastballs and not trying to hook balls on the inner third of the plate. Work in this area will leave him less vulnerable to having fastballs get in on his hands and allow him to get good enough wood on them to consistently drive, boosting his home run totals in the process.

2011 Outlook: After an extremely hot start in the beginning of the season with Portland in 2010, Anderson slowly began to find his footing in Triple-A and by season’s end showed more of a comfort level with the International League. Returning to the minor league camp recently, he’ll continue preparing for a return to Pawtucket, where he will look to show he’s capable of consistently handling upper level pitching. Signs of this coming to fruition should show in strong discipline numbers, higher contact rates, and rising power totals in 2011 at Triple-A. Anderson is reaching the stages of development where his maturation as a player and increased comfort in the upper minors can allow his skills to fully come to the surface in the form of positive results. 2011 is a key season for him to show he’s putting things together and trending towards the initial projections of being a future run-producing bat at the big league level. By proving he’s moving ahead of the curve for Triple-A, Anderson can put himself in contention to help the major league team during the summer should the club need to reach down for his position or another bat on the roster, while also angling himself into the potential mix should the designated hitter role open up in 2012. When the organization begins to assess potential needs as the season heats up, especially if his offense is showing signs of being more polished, Anderson could find himself moved in a trade for a contributing piece and get a chance to compete for a big league job with another organization.

Felix Doubront
Position: Starting Pitcher
2010 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
2011 Projected Team: Pawtucket Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 23

Strengths: A maturing left-handed pitcher that has filled out well over the years, Doubront emerged in 2010 as a rising arm within the upper levels of the Red Sox organization. Throwing from a ¾ arm slot with some deception in his delivery, his 90-92 MPH fastball can jump on hitters and get a lot of late swings when moving downward through the strike zone. With the ability to top out at 94 MPH when he reaches back, Doubront has improved the command of his heater by repeating his delivery more consistently and limiting the instances of spotty command, which had plagued him in his early professional career. Producing excellent arm speed when throwing his low-80s changeup, he can turn it over with screwball action or pull the string with more bottom dropping action. Doubront’s changeup currently grades as plus and is his go-to out-pitch. More of a loopy and rolling offering in the past, he began to find more feel and consistent snap for his curveball to give the pitch more depth when breaking through the strike zone. With the emergence of a potential viable third pitch, this will allow him to continue to project as a future starting pitcher at the major league level. Doubront adjusted well to a late season conversion to pitching in relief during his call-up, which gives the organization some flexibility in how they can use him as he breaks into the big leagues.

Development Needs: At times, Doubront loses his footwork out of the windup and lands too far open, which causes him to drag his arm and lose his fastball command, often either missing high out of the strike zone or leaving the ball up in the middle of the plate. A downhill thrower, his fastball is very hittable from the thighs up to the letters and batters can do a lot of damage when it is in this area. The majority of his control and command struggles stem from when he is throwing too much across his body and off-balance during his landing. Doubront has improved with repeating his optimal delivery, but further polish in doing so and also being able to recognize more quickly when he is out of whack will be necessary to limit stretches of wildness against big league batters. It will also be important for him to consistently operate down in the zone and spot up on the corners with his fastball to pound the strike zone early in the count, and then be able to mix in his arsenal of secondary pitches. Able to occasionally drop his changeup in for a strike, gaining the confidence to do so with his curveball will help Doubront mitigate instances of hitters sitting on his heater and laying off his secondary pitches because they are constantly dropping out of the strike zone.

2011 Outlook: Prior to going down early in major league camp with elbow soreness, Doubront was in competition for a potential spot in the bullpen to start the season or be first in line should the big club need to summon a starting pitching. Coming along slowly and beginning to throw off the mound again later in Spring Training, he could find himself starting the season on the disabled list to build the appropriate arm strength and then assume a likely assignment in the starting rotation for the PawSox. After taking a big step forward in 2010, Doubront will look to show that he’s putting the finishing touches on his arsenal in Triple-A. Good signs of this coming to plan include lower rates of solid contact against and a reduction in the amount of free passes he issues, making batters earn their way on base with more frequency in the process. Once the season gets going and if Doubront shows that he’s at peak form, the organization will have to make a decision at some point as to whether he is more valuable as starting pitching depth in Triple-A or needed to potentially help the bullpen during the run to the playoffs. Much of this will also be determined by whether the Red Sox decide to pick up additional starting depth or other candidates emerge, which could slide Doubront into a relief role around mid-season. Viewed as a starting pitcher in the future, his near-term potential role reflects his versatility and ability to get major league hitters out at this point in time. 2011 is a season where followers are most likely going to see him have a strong shot to be a contributor at the major league level in some capacity after coming back up to speed following some missed time in the early going.