October 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM
For the next five weeks, SoxProspects.com will count down its end-of-season top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and looking at what's ahead for them in 2013. Please note that we will be using the site's official end-of-season rankings, meaning that any moves since September 20 (e.g., the club's acquisition of Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands) will not be reflected in the countdown.
#40: Dan Butler, C
2012 teams: Pawtucket Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
2012 final stats: .247/.342/.403, 9 HR, 40 BB, 62 K
Season in Review: Butler continued his steady ascent up the ladder, beginning the year back in Portland and earning a promotion to Pawtucket on August 3 after Ryan Lavarnway was promoted to Boston. He hit reasonably well in his second go-round in Double-A, with a .251/.351/.397 line in 285 plate appearances. He struggled a good bit more in Triple-A, his .233/.313/.425 line bolstered by a two-home run performance in the regular season’s penultimate game. He struck out in nearly a quarter of his 83 plate appearances in Pawtucket, compared to 15 percent in Portland. He did, however, continue to be a solid defensive presence behind the plate, and threw out 33 percent of potential base-stealers, in line with his career numbers.
2013 Outlook: Butler has positioned himself as a potential injury replacement in Boston next season. He is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft this offseason, but given his ceiling as a serviceable backup catcher at the Major League level, it is no certainty that the Red Sox will add him to the 40-man roster to protect him. If Butler is left unprotected, some team might take a chance on him, but he probably has more value to the Sox as an injury replacement with options than to a potential Rule 5 suitor that would need to keep him on the roster for the full season.
#39: Che-Hsuan Lin, OF
2012 teams: Boston Red Sox/Pawtucket Red Sox
2012 final stats: .245/.321/.313, 2 HR, 42 BB, 65 K, 15 SB
Season in Review: The highlight of Lin’s season was his major league debut on April 14. He was sent back down almost immediately after, and was recalled three more times, In total, he went 3 for 12 with five strikeouts. As nice as it was that he made his debut, the actions of the Red Sox organization showed a lack of confidence in Lin’s ability to be even a bench outfielder at this stage of his career, barely giving him a chance despite having as many as six outfielders on the major league disabled list at times. In Pawtucket, Lin showed what we have come to expect from him: outstanding outfield defense with a great arm, good speed, the ability to take a walk and little-to-no ability to drive the ball with authority at the plate.
2013 Outlook: With two options remaining, Lin would find himself back in Pawtucket to ride the I-95 shuttle as needed next year should he remain in the organization. However, he may have more value to a second-division club that would roster him full-time as a reserve outfielder, making him a potential trade candidate this offseason as a throw-in should a team express interest. That said, Boston will not trade him for the sake of trading him – if this year taught us nothing, it is that a team can never have too much depth. Development is not much of a concern at this point with regard to Lin.
(Photo credit: Both by Kelly O'Connor)