October 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM
This week, we enter the top 20 as we continue counting down SoxProspects.com's end-of-season top 40 prospects.
#18 Jose Vinicio, SS
2012 Team: Greenville Drive, Lowell Spinners (rehab)
Final Stats: .277/.320/.371, 3 HR, 24 SB
2012 Season in Review: Coming off a strong season at the Gulf Coast League, Vinicio impressed Red Sox management enough to earn a placement in Greenville as an 18-year-old. Though he went through some tough stretches, the skinny shortstop did much to flash the ability that enticed Boston to give him a $1.95 million bonus in 2009. The SoxProspects.com community named Vinicio the organization's Player of the Week in the very first week of the regular season, and in May and June, Vinicio maintained a .310 batting average and slugged over .400 showing good gap-to-gap power. On the downside, Vinicio was a free swinger, walking only 13 times in 278 plate appearances. He also had difficulty in the field at times, committing 25 errors in only 70 games, but he continued flashing the tools to be an excellent defensive shortstop.
2013 Outlook: Despite missing time with various injuries, Vinicio got into 70 games with Greenville and acquitted himself well at the plate. While a less talented prospect may be destined to repeat a level, the Red Sox have already show an inclination to be aggressive with Vinicio, so a placement in High A Salem seems possible. One factor that may slightly delay Vinicio's ascent is the presence of 2012 first-round pick Deven Marrero; the Red Sox will want both to get consistent playing time at short, so one will likely need to go to Greenville while the other heads to Salem, and which goes where may get worked out in Spring Training. At the plate, Vinicio will look to improve his plate discipline while continue the improvements in driving the ball, but his most important development may come on the defensive side of the ball. While extremely athletic, possessing great range and a strong arm, he needs to show the sure hands and consistency throwing necessary to play shortstop. Also important to watch will be Vinicio's physical development, as he has remained extremely thin. His 160-pound reported weight may actually be an exaggeration.
#17 Brandon Jacobs, OF
2012 Team: Salem Red Sox
2012 Stats: .252/.322/.410, 13 HR, 61 RBI, 30 2B, 17 SB
2012 Season in Review: Taking a cursory glance, it would be easy to look at Jacobs' 2012 numbers, see an across the board drop from his 2011 breakout at Greenville, and think of his season as a step backwards. Digging deeper though, Jacobs was suffering from a hamate bone injury that required postseason surgery. With every swing he took causing pain, Jacobs still managed to produce 30 doubles and 13 home runs in 437 at bats as a 21-year-old. Of slightly more concern to his prospect status were that his walk and strikeout rates moved in the wrong direction,
2013 Outlook: While 2012 was something of a disappointment, Jacobs remains a player to keep a close eye on in 2013. He still possesses excellent tools and has grown into his tall frame, which could result in a big power outburst if he is healthy. Destined for Double-A Portland, Jacobs will be challenged by pitchers with advanced secondary stuff. While far from a make-or-break season for Jacobs, he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft after the 2013 season. In a system that has few players with the power upside of Jacobs, a big season could land him back in the organization's top ten and on the 40-man roster. Failure to improve his pitch recognition, however, could mean serious struggles in Double-A. Needless to say, there is still a significant gap between the upside and downside trajectories Jacobs's career may take.
Photo Credit: Jose Vinicio and Brandon Jacobs by Dave Letizi