September 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM
As we continue putting the finishing touches on the 2011 season here at SoxProspects.com, we present to you a three-part series in which our staff gives their thoughts on a number of questions regarding the year in the Red Sox system. Today, we will take a general look at the the up and down trends in the system. On Wednesday, we will look specifically at which players left the biggest impressions on us, for better or worse. Finally, on Friday, we'll look ahead to 2012, giving our predictions, listing some sleeper prospects, and even throwing some crazy ideas out for you to consider. Please, enjoy!
Fill in the blank: The 2011 season was _____ for the Red Sox farm system.
A year of transition: New names bursting on the scene while some of the prospects we had known for years fell off the table or were traded. – John Gray, Staff Writer
A year of transition for the Red Sox farm system following the Gonzalez trade. With little top-tier talent in the system, many people were down on the system as a whole going into the year. Throughout the year, some prospects took steps back (Stolmy Pimentel, Drake Britton, Ryan Kalish), but more took huge leaps forward establishing themselves as top-tier prospects (Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Brandon Jacobs) or as interesting players to watch and see how the handle more advanced assignments (Miles Head, Alex Hassan, Christian Vazquez). – Ian Cundall, Northeast Scout
A strong developmental year, with many lower-level prospects taking the first steps in honing their raw skills and established upper-level talent pushing for major league consideration in 2012. This season (including the past off-season) is a particularly good example of how the Red Sox have worked to blend high ceiling young talents with projectable college players to provide waves of prospects ready to either contribute to in the big leagues or used to acquire established major league players to bolster the roster. – Chris Mellen, Director of Scouting
A developmental year for many of the top prospects, and a breakout year for some of the low-to-mid-tier prospects. The hot names coming into the year like Oscar Tejeda, Drake Britton, Stolmy Pimentel, Ryan Kalish, Jose Iglesias, Felix Doubront, Kolbrin Vitek, and J.C. Linares all had middling-to-down years. If you told me coming in that this would be the case, I would have been very worried, but looking back many of those guys have a good chance to have strong bounce-back years. More importantly, it was a season of many lower-level prospects making that step forward that is always talked about, allowing some of them to now be projected as major leaguers with some confidence. It seems like in recent years, some of the high-upside/toolsy guys like Michael Almanzar and Jason Place have not panned out for the Red Sox, but this year that trend changed with those types making that jump to showing the tools in games, like Will Middlebrooks, Brandon Jacobs, and Xander Bogaerts. – Matt Huegel, Staff Editor & Writer
One of growth. The ranks were depleted a bit by the Adrian Gonzalez trade and some graduations (especially if you consider Ryan Kalish graduated). However, a strong draft and a number of breakouts have shown me that this system is still as deep as ever, and I think there will still be 3 or 4 Sox farmhands on the major outlets' Top 100 lists despite not having Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly in the system anymore. – Chris Hatfield, Senior Editor & Columnist
An offensive boon. – Mike Andrews, Executive Editor
Encouraging from an offensive standpoint, but disappointing from a pitching standpoint – Adam, Moderator (amfox1)
A great year for hitters, but a down year for pitchers. – Josh, Moderator (chavopepe2)
Fill in the blank: When I look back on the 2011 season in the Red Sox system, I'll think of _____.
Will Middlebrooks', Ryan Lavarnway's, and Xander Bogaerts' steps up. Drake Britton's and Stolmy Pimentel's steps back. – Andrews
The year that Will Middlebrooks put a firm foothold on becoming the next homegrown player to break into the everyday lineup for future seasons to come. – Mellen
How down this year was for the pitching prospects and how the Red Sox hitting prospects broke out like we have not seen before – Jonathan Singer, Affiliate Correspondent
The lack of pitching development with many of the higher ceiling arms taking major steps back and other supposedly polished prospects such as Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman only putting up pedestrian numbers in leagues they supposedly where advanced for. – Cundall
Tommy Hottovy's perseverance and ultimate reward, the emergence of Xander Bogaerts, Brandon Jacobs, Sean Coyle and Garin Cecchini as "on the come" prospects, the immense power of Bryce Brentz and Ryan Lavarnway, the Rich Hill opportunity and subsequent injury and the incredible journey of Ryan Westmoreland back to the batting cage – Adam
Tommy Hottovy going from his seventh season in Portland to the Majors. A draft that could rival 2005 and 2006. Ryan Lavarnway becoming the first player I saw play in college to make the Majors. – Hatfield
The presence of legit power prospects for the first time in a while, the performances of Bryce Brentz, Ryan Lavarnway, Brandon Jacobs just to name a few. The amazing season that Xander Bogaerts put up at his level relative to his age. – Gray
The emergence of Xander Bogaerts. He has a chance to be the next top prospect and big-time star (obviously it's still early), but this is the year that put him on the map in terms of being a potential future top 50-100 MLB prospect. – Huegel
(Images courtesy of Kelly O'Connor. For her gallery, click here.)