A Look at our Future

I figured now is as good a time as ever to check out what’s happening in the minor leagues. Let’s check out some notable names and how they’re doing!
As always, a big thanks to Sox Prospects for the job they do.
You may notice an absence in this list, two big ones. That’s because they’re going to be the subject of a column in the short future, so there’s no point in covering them in here. (Mega-bucks if you know who’s missing!)
Dustin Pedroia Pedroia was called up to Triple-A some weeks ago and in the short time he’s been up there has hit .263/.440/.474. Look at that OBP, isn’t it great? Pedroia has been rocketing up the charts, and a lot of people are calling for him to start at second next year in Boston. I think this is much more likely than it is for Hanley to be in CF next year or last year when everyone thought Hanley would be at SS by now. He’s eventually going to be so good, David Eckstein will be called “the poor man’s Dustin Pedroia.” He doesn’t have the time in AAA yet for us to see how well he does, but we’ll know by the time September ends. He could be in Boston sooner than next year though if he is called up in September… or if he takes over for Ramon Vazquez as the utilityman. However unlikely, it is a possibility.
Jon Lester Lester is a 21-year old lefty with talent brimming so much he is a hot commodity in trade talks. Lester is 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA in Portland, a large jump from last year when he was 7-6 with a 4.28 ERA in Sarasota. He’s making a lot of leaps as his K/BB last year was 2.62 and is now 2.89. In the world of math, that’s pretty small, but in baseball it’s significant. He could be the lefty to succeed David Wells in the rotation. As a matter of fact, perhaps the Red Sox signed Wells not only to help him win but to help gauge how well lefties would fare in the park – meaning Jon Lester and Abe Alvarez.
Anibal Sanchez is making a lot of waves this year. Sanchez is 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA and was named to the Futures Game. He turned heads in Lowell last year and is turning them in Wilmington this year. He could end up being much better than Jon Papelbon and actually has stronger statistics than Papelbon. Rotoworld.com projects Papelbon to eventually be a solid #3 starter in the major leagues, and I can see that from Papelbon, although the ace potential is still there. I do see a ton of ace potential in Sanchez, and his time in Portland, whether it be later this year or next year will say a lot about who we have here.
Brandon Moss Moss started the season in a terrible slump but has since turned it around and is hitting .287/.362/.498 and we can start getting excited as the 21-year old is turning heads in Portland. Honestly, he could be in the majors on a part-time basis next year and full-time in 2007. He could be Damon’s eventual successor or even Nixon’s. (One person I am not mentioning here, David Murphy’s teammate in college and now in the Sox system, is Chris Durbin who is playing very well in AA but I don’t see him as anything more than a fourth outfielder, if that.)
Kelly Shoppach We’re all pretty familiar with Kelly, and while I’d prefer they hang onto him, he should be a trade commodity and probably won’t be long for Boston. Shoppach is hitting .250/.360/.542 in AAA, all excellent numbers and which make you salivate. I’d love to keep him here, but the Red Sox decided to ink Mirabelli to a two-year contract, which pretty much spells the end of Shoppach. Wherever he goes, I have a feeling he’ll have a very productive career.
Cla Meredith Meredith was up earlier in the year and figures to return shortly. In more extended work in AAA, he has a 2.91 ERA for them. While he has been relatively human in Pawtucket, he still could turn out to be quite a weapon for us in the years to come and could follow the Mariano Rivera path to closing, being a middle reliever, then setup tutored by John Wetteland, then a dominant closer. We haven’t seen the last of this guy.
Abe Alvarez We also haven’t seen the last of Abe. The increased competition has caught up with him, as he sports a 7-3, 4.23 ERA. He could turn out to be a more than serviceable fifth starter and long man in the pen. These pitchers go a long way in a ballclub and we haven’t fully seen the value of him yet. I could consider him a John Halama, but with more talent – but the comparison is definitely there.
Chip Ambres Finally, the man I am starting to push to start in center next year. Ambres was never really anything special for the Marlins, and became a minor league free agent. We signed him and sent him to AAA, for his first taste of AAA. Ambres continued his progression (2002 he hit .236/.323/.365 with 9 HR in A, 2003 hit .258/.376/.439 with 10 HR for AA, then 2004 in AA hit .241/.352/.449 with 20 HR) and is now at .307/.413/.541, great numbers in AAA. While he’s certainly not this good, he could turn out to be a replacement for Damon next year. If he pans out, great. If not, we’ve got Moss and Ellsbury waiting in the wings.