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SoxProspects News

March 18, 2011 at 4:13 PM

2011 SoxProspects Pre-Season All-Stars

With the 2011 minor league season beginning shortly, the SoxProspects community has voted for all-stars at each position. These are the players that are expected to have the best season in the Red Sox minor league system at their respective positions, and ideally does not take prospect status into consideration.

Catcher: Ryan Lavarnway
Lavarnway has shown impressive polish with his bat in the first two full seasons with the club. In his first full season out of Yale, Lavarnway led the farm system with 21 home runs in 2009. In 2010 he compiled a .289/.392/.487 line with Salem and was promoted to Double-A Portland on July 16. In 44 games with the Sea Dogs he hit 8 homers, and finished the season with a combined slash line of 288/.393/.489, with 22 total home runs. He is likely to begin the season with Portland with a chance to move up to Triple-A Pawtucket before the season is over despite lingering questions regarding his defensive abilities behind the dish.

First Base: Lars Anderson
After an up-and-down season in 2010, Anderson looks to solidify the offensive gains he made towards the end of last season and prove that he is a future starter in the majors. 2008 saw Anderson break out and become the Red Sox' top prospect after posting a line of .316/.436/.526 in 133 at-bats with Portland in his age 20 season. However, after a 2009 season marred by injury and incosistency, Anderson stock fell slightly. Anderson was able to bounce back early in 2010 though, posting a line of .355/.408/.677 in just 62 at-bats before being promoted to Triple-A. He struggled in his first two months with the PawSox, but returned to form later in the summer, hitting .304 for the PawSox in July and August, before hitting just .200 during an 18-game call-up to Boston in September.

Second Base: Oscar Tejeda
Signed as an international free agent in 2006, Tejeda enjoyed a breakout season in 2010 with High-A Salem. Tejeda showed great increases in his ability to hit for average, .307 last season versus .257 in 2009, and for power with 11 homers in 2010 and a previous high of 4. He also set a new personal-high in steals with 17. Still just 21 years of age, Tejeda impressed in big league camp this spring and is expected to begin the season in Double-A, where his hitting skills will really be put to the test.

Third Base: Kolbrin Vitek
Taken with Boston's first overall pick in the 2010 draft, Vitek impressed with his plate approach and quick wrists with Lowell last season. Though he put up a fairly modest slash line of .270/.360/.422 in 204 at-bats with the Spinners, he is expected to improve upon that this year and make a smooth transition into full-season ball. Moving from second to third base upon beginning his professional career, defensive reviews are still mixed on whether he can stick at an infield position though he is expected to man third for the foreseeable future.

Shortstop: Jose Iglesias
Widely considered among the very best prospects in the system, Iglesias' game centers around his defensive abilities. He shows the makings of a future major league Gold Glover at shortstop with extremely quick hands, a strong arm, and good range. Only 21 and adjusting to life in the United States after defecting from Cuba in 2009, he is currently a bit free-swinging at the plate but has shown the ability to make solid contact. In 221 at-bats last season with Portland, he batted .285 but walked just 8 times in a season cut short by a wrist injury. He is considered Boston's shortstop of the future by many and that future may be as soon as 2012, especially if he shows an improved approach at the plate with Portland and/or Pawtucket this season.

Outfield: Ryan Kalish
Currently the top prospect on the SoxProspects.com rankings, Kalish put together a nice 2010 season which saw him quickly ascend through the ranks of the organization and make his major league debut. The 22-year-old started 2010 in Portland, where in 41 games Kalish hit .293/.404/.527. He earned a promotion to Pawtucket on June 1, but spent just two months at the Triple-A level before being called up to Boston on July 31. Kalish hit 13 home runs and 47 RBI in just 293 at bats between Portland and Pawtucket in 2010, compiling a combined slash line of .294/.382/.502. Following his call-up to Boston last season, he hit 4 homers and batted .252 in 53 games.

Outfield: Juan Carlos Linares
Linares has impressed during his short time with the organization since signing in July 2010 after defecting from Cuba. In 13 games with Portland last season, he batted just .239, but opened eyes in the Arizona Fall League by posting a slash line of .397/.423/.662 for the Peoria Javelinas. He has continued to impress in major league camp this spring and put himself in position to be major league depth beyond those on the 40-man roster, should the need arise. With a stocky build, he has deceptive speed and all-around solid tools, enabling him to handle centerfield and both corners adequately or better.

Outfield: Josh Reddick
Reddick had an inconsistent season with Pawtucket in 2010 after making his major league debut in 2009, but finished the year strong. With a wiry frame, Reddick produces above-average power and has one of the strongest outfield arms in the system. The main issue holding him back from fulfilling his hitting and power potential is his lack of discipline at the plate. While he finished the 2010 season batting .266 with Pawtucket, he put up an IsoD of just .035. Early in the season, Reddick was called up to the big leagues and sent down several times, which may have affected his performance as from July-on he batted .327 in 223 at-bats. If he can continue to put up these type of numbers at Triple-A, he is likely to have an impact on the Red Sox in the near-future, or be trade bait.

Starting Pitcher: Anthony Ranaudo
Drafted in the supplemental round in 2010 and signed at the deadline, Ranaudo has yet to make his professional debut. He was considered one of the highest ceiling prospects in the draft and predicted to go as high as the top five in early draft predictions, but fell due to injury and performance concerns in his final season with LSU. However, during the summer following the draft he impressed in the Cape Cod League and appeared to regain prior form, giving the Red Sox the confidence to sign him to a well overslot bonus. He is likely to debut with the Salem Red Sox this season, at which point his future prospect status should come into much clearer focus.

Starting Pitcher: Drake Britton
Having undergone Tommy John surgery in 2008 Britton took most of his 2009 season to recover, but he came back strong in 2010. In 21 starts for Greenville last season, Britton posted a 2-3 record with a 2.97 ERA. The 21-year-old left-hander threw 75.2 innings, yielding 69 hits. He also notched an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.39. Britton, whose fastball currently sits at around 93 MPH, is one of the higher ceiling prospects in the system.

Starting Pitcher: Stolmy Pimentel
Pimentel is another young, high ceiling pitcher who has quickly moved up the system after being signed as a international free agent in 2006. Just 21 years old, he is expected to begin the season with Double-A Portland after spending all of 2010 with Salem. In 128.2 innings there, he posted an ERA of 4.06 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.43. Though those numbers were both up a bit from previous years, he was younger than most of the competition he faced, and showed flashes of brilliance including two separate no-hit bids taken into the sixth inning. He also pitched well enough to earn a spot on the 2010 Futures All-Star team. With some of the best raw stuff in the system, he could be in for a breakout season in the upper levels of the system.

Starting Pitcher: Chris Balcom-Miller
Balcom-Miller was acquired last season from Colorado in return for reliever Manny Delcarmen. Though not a high ceiling prospect, the righthander has dominated competition in the lower minors and is considered to have a high floor. Playing for Colorado's affiliate in the South Atlantic League, he posted an ERA of 3.21 over 108 innings while striking out 117 batters. He also posted a WHIP of 0.97. He is likely to start the season with High-A Salem, but will be given his biggest test with a promotion to Portland either mid-year or next season.

Relief Pitcher: Jason Rice
A Rule 5 pick of the Red Sox in 2008, Rice served as one of the closers for the 2010 Sea Dogs. Showcasing a live fastball and a decent curveball, Rice notched 13 saves in 48 appearances for Portland. In 60 innings pitched, Rice allowed 45 hits, with opposing batters hitting just .211 off him on the season, and had a team-best 10.65 K/9 ratio. Rice also earned a roster spot in the Eastern League All-Star Game, where he pitched the final 2/3 of an inning, allowing no hits and 1 walk.

Relief Pitcher: Michael Bowden
After permanently converting to reliever at the end of last season and over the winter, Bowden seems to be the forgotten man in the battle for the last couple major league bullpen spots. He made his first relief appearance last season on July 7, and pitched a total of 6 scoreless innings while giving up only 1 hit over 4 appearances out of the bullpen before getting the call from Boston. Since the Red Sox still hold an option on him, he is likely to continue his transition to a bullpen role with Pawtucket to start the season. However, should he perform at a high level he could receive an early call from Boston and become a mainstay in the bullpen.

Relief Pitcher: Rich Hill
Hill came up through the Chicago Cubs system and made his debut with the team as a starter. However, control problems and injuries plagued his career and after signing then being released by the Baltimore Orioles halfway through last season he signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox to transition into a bullpen role. This spring the Milton, Mass.-native tweaked his delivery, dropping down his arm angle to throw almost exclusively from a side arm slot, something suggested by former pitching coach John Farrell. So far the transition has been smooth and he has put himself in position to either break camp with Boston or be a primary lefthanded option when a call-up is needed.