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March 12, 2012 at 7:45 AM

2012 Prospect Previews: Watch List - Depth

Dan Butler
Position: Catcher
2011 Teams: Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox
2012 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 25

2012 Outlook:
Butler heads into the season set to get the bulk of the catching duties with the Portland Sea Dogs. His strength continues to be his defensive chops behind the plate. Butler moves well laterally and fires his feet quickly to smother balls in the dirt. He also pops smoothly out of his crouch to control pitches after he blocks them. While his arm grades as solid-average, he enhances it with a fluid release when throwing down to the bases. Butler has been rounding towards a solid-average-to-better defensive catcher. Polishing off the finer points of catching in the upper minors and taking charge of a pitching staff will be his defensive focus this season. Offensively, Butler’s patience at the plate allows him to work deep into counts. He will be tasked this season in Double-A to be more selective. He has a tendency to struggle with higher velocity fastballs above the thighs, where he has trouble getting his hands above the baseball. Butler will need to zone in more on spots where he can drive the ball. With improvement, he can show more consistent hard contact during the season at this level and prove he is trending towards being capable of sticking on a major league roster in a backup catching role.

Chris Martin
Position: Relief Pitcher
2011 Teams: Greenville Drive/Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
2012 Projected Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Opening Day Age: 25

2012 Outlook: Martin’s professional career stalled out initially and he took time off from baseball, but he received a second chance after the Red Sox signed him out of the independent American Association in March 2011. Tall and lanky, he generates solid sink with his 92-93 mph fastball when he throws downhill. Martin will need to work to lock into his release point to show better command. His heater is effective between the thighs and knees, but flattens out when in the upper tier of the strike zone. He will struggle at the Double-A level if he is consistently working up in the zone. Martin’s 80-82 mph slider is also on the rough side due to his time away from the game. It presently lacks sharp bite and depth. Improving his consistency with producing hard snap will help him miss more bats with it in Portland this season. Martin is a work in progress, but has the potential to take steps forward in 2012. His stuff can play up nicely against opposing hitters, especially if he is spotting his fastball in the lower tier of the strike zone. This year with Portland will be a good test as to whether Martin can get upper level hitters out consistently and show he can take another step up the ranks.

Travis Shaw
Position: First base
2011 Teams: Lowell Spinners/Greenville Drive
2012 Projected Team: Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 21

2012 Outlook:
Well filled-out, Shaw has a smooth swing from the left-side of the plate. He shows a sweet spot for pitches middle-to-in and down in the zone. Shaw pulls these offerings hard with backspin and lift. His advanced approach and plate discipline will serve him well during an assignment with Greenville in 2012. Shaw grinds through at-bats. Given the relatively inexperienced pitching in the South Atlantic League, he should draw his fair share of walks while finding himself in a lot of favorable counts. He does need work covering the entire plate with his swing. Shaw is more apt to take pitches on the outer third instead of trying to hit them into left-field. This limits his zones for making hard contact and also gives opposing pitchers a spot to consistently throw to with confidence. While he should be ahead of the curve in A-Ball, making adjustments to work more frequently to the opposite field will be necessary to be successful in higher levels. Shaw is likely to handle his assignment with Greenville in 2012 well. Work improving using the whole field during his time with the team will give him a chance to transition to the next level more quickly when the opportunity comes.

Miguel Celestino
Position: Starting Pitcher
2011 Team: Greenville Drive
2012 Projected Team: Salem Red Sox
Opening Day Age: 22

2012 Outlook:
Celestino should be set to break camp with Salem when the teams head north at the end of spring training. Featuring a 92-93 mph fastball, this is presently his most relied upon offering. When staying on top of the ball, Celestino’s heater shows downward finish through the strike zone. He is also capable of reaching back to touch 95 mph frequently during outings. An assignment in High A will push him to hone the command of his fastball, as he tends to grab too much of the plate and finish his delivery inconsistently when throwing it. The more advanced hitters in the Carolina League will take advantage of his mistake fastballs. It is important for him to show better feel for the offering to be successful in a starting role during the season. With an improving low-80s changeup, Celestino can get swings-and-misses or generate weak contact with it if he is commanding his fastball well in outings. This pitch has made strong strides over the course of the last couple of seasons. Further development of his 79-82 mph slider will be key to effectively mixing up his pitching patterns this season. Celestino tends to be fastball heavy during his starts. 2012 is a year of continuing to reel in his repertoire to prove he is an arm trending towards getting a shot in the upper levels of the organization.

SoxProspects.com Northeast Scout Ian Cundall contributed to this report. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall

Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen