The first basemen in the Sox system have the microscope turned upon them. Ever since Mo Vaughn left, we’ve yet to have a dominant, homegrown first baseman come through the pipeline. Is there one here? If not, we’re going to have to keep looking outside the organization for deals we can get for first-basemen to produce. It’s rare that an excellent 1B is allowed to leave by their team.
[[PAWTUCKET RED SOX – AAA INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE]] Roberto Petagine – I’m not going to say Petagine would have gotten us further last year. Maybe we win the division outright (but I’ll settle for co-champions), but I don’t think he’d be the difference between a divisional series win and a World Series win. Petagaine was Bonds-esque in Pawtucket, and hit .327/.452/.635. He hit .281/.361/.438 as the Red Sox’s dissapearing act on the major league roster. Maybe he’ll come back and go back to Triple-A and act as insurance. Petagine certainly should get an extended look as a first-baseman, but not only do the Red Sox need something more of a sure thing, but we, in a win-now mentality in a market such as this, cannot afford Petagine the opportunity – he will have to go elsewhere. Whether or not that’s right is up for discussion, but the fact is that perennial winners do not waste opportunities on scrap-heap pickups and give them a big job outright. Curtis Leskanic was a find and helped immeasurably in 2004, but we signed him to bolster our bullpen midseason and we didn’t pin our hopes on him. We can’t do that, and that was one of our major downfalls during the Duquette era (although Bret Saberhagen was awesome!).
How do I choose who to profile? The criteria are thus: Must have had the majority of their games at the position profiled (rosters taken from the Minor League Baseball website). For those that are utility men and deserve to be profiled but might not have as many games started at a specific position to justify being put in the top five, they will be placed in the position they played the most (or if there is no word of this, a guess will be used). This is not meant to be a top prospects review! This is meant to give people recognition for the seasons they had regardless of age or if they are still with the organization (although comments about their future with the Red Sox will be said).
Sources used: TheBaseballCube.com, BaseballAmerica.com, SoxProspects.com, MinorLeagueBaseball.com, Google.com, respective team websites
Shawn Wooten – For only one day this year, Boston fans could yell “Woot!” from the stands. (If you have no idea what ‘woot’ means, don’t worry about it.) Wooten hit .267/.329/.433 for Pawtucket, with 17 HR and 60 RBI. He was signed as veteran insurance, and will find a place on an AAA team – whether it be us or not – to act as that same insurance.
[[PORTLAND SEA DOGS – AA EASTERN LEAGUE]] Stefan Bailie – Stefan retired midseason when he realized he could no longer hit. After hitting .309/.354/.590 for Portland in 2004, he followed that up with a .147/.197/.302 line. There’s got to be extenuating circumstances for that drop, and we wish the 25-year old the best of luck in whatever future career he undertakes.
Jeremy West – West finished off a rather productive season for Portland. He’ll ascend the ladder to Pawtucket, but if he doesn’t find power soon, won’t succeed in Rhode Island. The 23-year old hit .267/.340/.411, and has usually been DH on teams. He won the ‘Quality Plate Appearances’ award from the Red Sox in April 2005, and should be around fourth on the depth chart. The Red Sox almost certainly will sign a first-baseman to split time with West in Triple-A to act as insurance.
[[WILMINGTON BLUE ROCKS – HIGH A FLORIDA LEAGUE]] Ian Bladergroen – In Ian’s first year for us, he got injured again which depressed his numbers. He hit .240/.337/.331, and the Red Sox have to be hoping he can stay healthy in 2005 to see if the to-be 23-year old has a future ahead of him. He should repeat Wilmington, and hopefully can dominate the level.
[[GREENVILLE DRIVE – MID A SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE]] Austin Easley – In a short time at the GCL level last year, Easley moved up to Greenville. Given extensive playing time, the 23-year old dissapointed, hitting .233/.320/.397.
Logan Sorenson – The 24-year old was easily a dissapointment in 2005. With his skill set and his encouraging 2004 numbers, one certainly would have expected more out of Logan than a .225/.319./314 (ouch…) line. But that’s what Greenville got – in 315 ABs, no less. Sure, his batting eye is ridiculously high (as is Egan’s) but what good is that if you can’t even drive the ball past the pitcher?
[[LOWELL SPINNERS – LOW A NEW YORK PENN LEAGUE]] Tim Burgess – Burgess was released after an inauspicious start for the Spinners. Burgess posted a .696 OPS (.231/.286/.410) this year, a year after posting a .659 OPS. One interesting thing about Tim (as he fades away from baseball memory) is that for Georgia State University in 2004, he pitched. He had a 9.96 ERA in 28.0 IP, six starts and three relief appearances. Hitting went about as well as his pitching career.
Jason Twomley – The local product from Fitchburg who played at U-Mass is one of the brighter first base prospects in this organization. Twomley, who’s a good athlete and did well in the Cape Cod League in 2003, recieved 242 AB and hit .252/.351/.430 with 7 HR and 16 RBI. The 23-year old could turn into a nice option, and the power is not totally worrisome because power usually develops late. Twomley should head to Greenville, and hopefully can continue developing.
[[GCL RED SOX – ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE]] Emilio Linares – Not much is known about Linares, but this much is. He hit .231/.288/.324 in 108 AB for the GCL Red Sox.
This is even more demoralizing than the catchers edition. We may have a lot of high-impact prospects, but we’re far from a deep franchise. The only one of promise here I see so far is Jeremy West. If Twomley and Bladergroen can progress, then we’ll get rather deep. But until then, don’t count on our savior coming from either catcher or first base.