Results tagged ‘ Boston Red Sox ’
Today, it’s the AL East’s turn for Top 20 Prospect attention. Here are the appropriate links:
For those, who want a little more, here’s OMG (One More Guy), the No. 21 prospect for each AL East team.
Orioles — Clay Schrader, RHP: You have to like the fastball-power breaking stuff combination out of the bullpen, but will he throw enough strikes?
Red Sox — Manuel Margot, OF: The toolsy outfielder has yet to make his United States debut; can really run and has the chance to hit.
Yankees — Rafael De Paula, RHP: He was 21 and pitching in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, so he needs to get moving (identity-related suspension). But he has the chance to have an exciting three-pitch mix.
Rays — Jesse Hahn, RHP: It took a while for the 2010 draftee to make his debut, needing Tommy John surgery then breaking his foot, but Hahn was very sharp in the New York-Penn League in 2012. He could start moving more quickly now that he’s healthy.
Blue Jays — Santiago Nessy, C: A big and strong Venezuelan backstop, he showed he can stay behind the plate and has the chance to hit for a lot of power in the future.
Much like I said when I discussed the Nos. 11-15 catching prospects the other day, coming up with the next set of prospects at the hot corner isn’t the easiest exercise in the world.
Here are some thoughts on who could be 11-15, wiht the admission that it’s very difficult to come up with a set ranking with this group:
Miles Head, A’s — He hit for average and power while reaching Double-A in his first full season with the organization, coming from the Red Sox in the Andrew Bailey deal. Whether he stays at third remains to be seen.
Garin Cecchini, Red Sox — He stayed healthy in 2012 and showed he can really hit and play third. He even stole 51 bases. And I thought his younger brother Gavin was the one with the wheels!
Richie Shaffer, Rays — The first-rounder out of Clemson is an advanced bat with power. He’s playing third right now, but obviously with Evan Longoria entrenched, he’ll have to move to first or the outfield to get his bat into the lineup.
Rio Ruiz, Astros — Houston’s creativity in the Draft allowed them to aggressively pursue Ruiz and his outstanding left-handed bat. He gets comps to Eric Chavez.
Patrick Leonard, Rays — Sure, Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi get all the attention, but Leonard could end up being a very good part of that package for James Shields and Wade Davis the Rays got from the Royals (This my wild card pick).
There’s some depth at the position, and not just in Arizona (they now have Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings AND Nick Ahmed!). Here’s who would make the 11-15 list:
Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins — He came over in the huge deal with the Blue Jays. The glove has never been a question. Now he’ll get to show if he can hit big league pitching.
Luis Sardinas, Rangers — Yup, that’s right, another shortstop prospect in the Rangers system. He’s taken a bit longer to develop, but has the chance to be a good one, too.
Jose Iglesias, Red Sox — He needs to stay on the field and he needs an opportunity to show he can hit big league pitching, especially with Xander Bogaerts charging up from behind him.
Trevor Story, Rockies — Very intriguing all-around skills. Even if he outgrows the position, should be enough bat for third.
Adalberto Mondesi, Royals — Raul’s kid is exceptionally young and exceptionally talented. Don’t be surprised to see him higher on this list in years to come.
The video report features Brentz, Michael Almanzar and Brock Huntziger.
Got two Stars of the Day for you, one from Wednesday and one — witnessed in person! — from Thursday.
For Wednesday, I’m going to go with T.J. House of the Indians. This is the second Star of the Day nod for the lefty and for good reason. He’s been solid this fall. On Wednesday, he went four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four. For the fall, he has a 1.59 ERA and .175 BAA over 17 IP. It’s been a pretty good way for House to cap off a successful 2012 season that saw him spend much of the year in Double-A.
For Thursday’s Star, I have to go with a guy I saw. Kevin Jensen has been mentioned here before, too, named the Star of the Day for last Thursday. I threw out some fun stuff from our friends at Trackman about how Jensen was among the leaders in hardest, and farthest, balls hit in the AFL. Well, he was at it again on Thursday at Salt River Fields. The Marlins’ outfielder went 3-for-3 in the game, driving in driving in a pair and scoring twice. His second hit was a laser triple to center field that hit the batter’s eye (without knowing the ground rules of the place, I thought at first it was gone). In his next at-bat, he crushed a ball out the opposite way. Not sure what Trackman would have to say about either, but they’d have to register somewhere on the hard hit balls list, I’d wager. I’m told that Jensen is more of a mistake hitter than anything else (he did strike out over 160 times in 2012 and his Double-A numbers weren’t great), but boy, he’s not missing any mistakes here so far this fall. He currently stands second in RBIs and SLG and he’s third in OPS.
It’s pretty clear that the Star of the Day comes from the Surprise Saguaros, who beat Peoria, 8-4.
Rangers first base prospect Chris McGuiness went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, falling just a triple short of the cycle (in over 1,500 professional plate appearances, McGuiness has just one triple, so this isn’t exactly shocking). McGuiness, a product of the Citadel, came to the Rangers from the Red Sox as part of the Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal. He’s coming off a solid 2012 campaign in Double-A where he finished fourth in the Texas League in homers and seventh in slugging percentage.
Elsewhere… Rays OF Kevin Keirmaier stole three bases as his Phoenix Desert Dogs lost in 11 innings to the Scottsdale Scorpions, 6-5. And Salt River homered three times. The Diamondbacks’ No. 4 prospect Matt Davidson hit one, and two of the Nationals’ Top 20 went deep as well: Matt Skole (No. 12) in the first inning, going back-to-back with Davidson, and Brian Goodwin (No. 3 and No. 67 overall) in the 9th.
The Red Sox’s new digs at JetBlue Park are very nice indeed. For someone who loves spending time on the back fields, the best part is having the Minor League side right alongside where the big league action takes place. In years past, you had to drive a couple of miles down the road to get to Boston’s minor league camp, so the facility gets props just for that.
This was my first opportunity to get some real prospecting stuff done (I did write a feature on Matt Hague while I was covering the Pirates yesterday). It was a great day indeed, getting to see hitters like Will Middlebrooks, Bryce Brentz and Juan Carlos Linares in action. All of course are firmly on the Red Sox’ Top 20 list. I also had the chance to chat with Brentz, the supplemental first rounder from 2010 who hit 30 homers last year. The story from that (as well as an interview with farm director Ben Crockett) will be up on redsox.com tomorrow. For now, though, here’s the complete video interview with Brentz.
It wasn’t just a day for bats, mind you. Anthony Ranaudo started the Double-A game and was pretty much lights out. He went three innings and touched 97 mph. He was leaving his breaking ball up in the zone a bit, not uncommon given where we are in spring, but he was throwing it for strikes. He also threw his changeup in the zone, leading one Red Sox official on hand to comment that they thought it was the best they’d seen him. After a good learning experience following his promotion to Salem last year, Ranaudo could take off in 2012.
While my main focus with Crockett was on Brentz, I did ask him about a number of other prospects in the system. Here’s what he had to say:
Blake Swihart: “He’s a tremendous worker. He has a really professional approach for an 18-year old kid coming out of high school. Clearly, he’s played at some of the higher levels within the high school [ranks]. His approach to the game is pretty impressive. He did a great job in the offseason with the strength and conditioning program, put on some strength and some good weight. On the field, we’ve been really happy with the progress so far. He’s still learning the position. He hasn’t caught a ton, but he’s a really quick learner and has picked up things rapidly. It’s been exciting. Obviously, with the bat, that’s the calling card. It’s been good. We’re trying not to preach the final result, but more the approach and how we get to the end of the at-bat.” (meaning making hard contact or working the count to get the pitch you want to hit).
As a pretty advanced bat, Swihart has the chance to make the Greenville club, as the Red Sox do have a history of doing that (Sean Coyle comes to mind). The one thing that could hold him back would be the defense, just to give him some more time to work on the nuances of catching.
Matt Barnes:“He’s been really impressive. He’s shown the stuff that got him to where he was last year. He’s adapted well to the program (strength and conditioning, preparing for the five-day routine). He’s worked hard, gone about his business very well. We’re looking forward to seeing him in a game later this week for the first time. We haven’t gotten the chance to see him yet in games. The live BPs and bullpens have been really good.”
Barnes will, in all likelihood, start with either Greenville or Salem.
Xander Bogaerts: “He’s had a really good camp. He hit a home run the other day against Tommy Hunter, then later in the game had a line drive to right field. That approach, those are the exciting things to see that adjustment within a game, especially for a young player who came into his power last year. He came into camp in great shape. Lost a couple of pounds of fat from last year, gained some strength. He’s definitely still a shortstop for us. The athleticism really continues to play. It’s more a matter of refining the fundamentals, the routine types of plays. He has the ability to make some of those highlight type plays.”
Look for him in Salem this year.
Brandon Jacobs: “We’re continuing to push him to make improvements. He made huge strides last year as he got more time in the outfield. The arm strength increased with the programs we had (shoulder strengthening) and improving some of the footwork. Keeping him aggressive out there has been huge and we’ve seen the strides there this Spring Training. I think the impressive thing about him, kind of like Will Middlebrooks did up in the big leagues this spring… despite the power and the lack of overall experience, he really does stay in the middle of the field pretty well. He does a nice job of taking what’s given to him and isn’t always trying to get to that power, which is something that plagues young players sometimes.”
Jacobs should provide a nice 1-2 punch in the Salem lineup with Bogaerts.
Finally, I asked Crockett about any players who have really stood out, maybe who are poised to make a nice jump forward in 2012. He mentioned two: Drake Britton and Kolbrin Vitek. Britton had a pretty awful 2011 season, kind of forcing him off the radar. Vitek had a ho-hum first full season, but as Crockett points out, fared much better as the season wore on (he hit .300 in the second half).
“Drake Britton had a really good camp up there (on the big league side). I know he was greatly on the radar last year and now suddenly [is off] the radar. The stuff in big league camp was really good. He was using his changeup effectively which is a hard thing to do when you’re in that limelight. He really stayed under control a lot better than what he did last year. I think he could step up.”
“Kolbrin Vitek is someone that flew under the radar in part because we pushed him to Salem, in a tough hitter’s park, in his first full season. He’s an advanced college hitter… you look at his second half numbers compared to his first-half numbers, there’s a pretty big difference there. He’s someone who could jump off from where he was in the second half last year and pick up from there and produce a little more than what he did on the whole, and garner a little more attention from the industry.”
Here’s the Red Sox’s Top 10 prospect list. And now, OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Bryce Brentz, OF: Taken in last June’s Draft in the supplemental first round (No. 36 overall), Brentz’s name was mentioned frequently in discussions about best college bats available in the class.
Brentz has a considerable amount of raw power. He doesn’t have the biggest frame you’ll see, but he’s compact and strong and has the potential to hit the ball out to all fields. As a former pitcher, the Middle Tennessee State product has an above-average to plus arm from the outfield. While he’s not a burner, he runs fairly well and profiles as a pretty athletic right fielder.
There is some swing and miss to his game and, in all likelihood, he’s always going to strike out some. But don’t look at his pro debut last summer (.198/.259/.340 with 76 strikeouts in 69 games) as any true indication of what kind of player he will be. There is no question he needed some help with his swing and approach, something he’s worked on at instructs and will continue to work on. It will be interesting to see what kind of progress he makes during his full-season debut in 2011.
You can check out my take on the year that was in the Red Sox organization here.
Sometimes in my line of work, you run into a player who makes an impression. There’s not necessarily a reason why. It’s not because of tools jumping off the page at you when you watch him play or an achievement this player accomplished. Sometimes, it’s simply the way a player carries himself, talks and acts like a professional. Such is the case for me with Kris Negron.
I interviewed Negron two years ago at the first Futures at Fenway doubleheader. He was a 2006 draftee who had just been promoted from the Gulf Coast League — where the GCL Red Sox had won the title, by the way — up to short-season Lowell. Negron had the appropriate wide-eyed look and spoke articulately about the opportunity he was being given to even just take batting practice at Fenway Park. The fact he made an incredible leaping grab in the game certainly added to the first impression. Good makeup + some tools is always a good combination.
Things haven’t gone so smoothly for Negron since. He hit .225 in 2007, mostly with Greenville, though he did steal 31 bases. He went back to Greenville to start the 2008 season and hit .244 with 25 steals over 92 games. The Sox sent him up to Lancaster and he enjoyed the hitting friendly California League, hitting .328 in 33 games, stealing 6 more bags (his 31 steals were good for third in the organization). He even showed some pop with a .629 slugging percentage up there and played every day as the JetHawks made it to, but eventually lost, the Cal League championship.
Was this the start of something for Negron, who’s pretty much a second baseman now, though he’s dabbled in the outfield a bit? Did the move to the California League ignite something in the 22-year-old? Only time will tell, but I can tell you I’ll be one who’ll be watching to find out.