Out in the Field (2004 Minor League OF)

Last year, I started an organizational review depth chart of the Red Sox. It is now time for the second annual depth chart review! To kick us off, I’ve decided to do the outfield first. Here is last year’s installment. How do I choose who to profile? The criteria are thus: Must have had the majority of their games in the outfield. I also will only choose no more than five players, those that spent the most time at said position. I will note who I have left out. 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. 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). Also, last year, I profiled the major league club along with the minor league club. That is changing this year as I will profile the major league positions individually from this review. Without further ado, the outfield:
Pawtucket Red Sox – AAA International League
Mike Curry (27 years old) started the year with the Red Sox, playing 45 games in the outfield until going to the Ranger’s Double-A affiliate. While with the PawSox, Curry had a line of .262/.359/.263 in 164 AB before moving on to the Rangers. Sounds like if Curry got some power he’d be a pretty good backup outfielder in the majors. Alas …
Adam Hyzdu is actually on the Red Sox right now, having been called up to serve as a backup outfielder. Watching him, he reminds me of another Gabe Kapler – willing to go all-out, a hard nosed fielder with good punch. He actually spent four seasons with the Pirates (one full) as a backup outfielder. He could take Gabe Kapler’s place next year. For Pawtucket he was a starter, and hit .301/.412/.568. A cheap alternative to Kappy, he will be in the Red Sox’s plans as they will scrimp elsewhere to retain their stars. One casualty will be Kapler, so Hyzdu should step in for the major league minimum. He is currently 32.
George Lombard has spent five (parts of, I should say) seasons in the majors (3 ATL 1 DET 1 TB) and is a speedster. He started out at Portland before moving up to accumulate 192 AB with .276/.371/.396 and 16 steals (3 CS). He should bounce around the majors for the rest of his career. He is 29.
Jeremy Owens is 27 and just finished his second season in the Boston organization, having come over from the Padres. He hit .228/.303/.383 in 347 AB – his first real trial in AAA, which he has yet to master. He is known for his defense and could eventually latch onto a team somewhere as a defensive outfielder.
Justin Sherrod is one year younger than Owens at 26 and has spent his entire career in the Boston organization. This year was his first year in Pawtucket, he spent the entire year there and got 341 AB for a line of .267/.323/.504. He has more of a shot at being a backup outfielder for a major league team than Owens.
*Left out Henri Stanley – acquired from SD in a trade, traded to LA.
Portland Sea Dogs – AA Eastern League
Mike Campo came over from Oakland and entered the sophomore jinx in AA ball as the 27 year old hit .233/.353/.419. He’s not going to see a major league uniform. Postscript: Campo was released by the Red Sox in July.
Sheldon Fulse is a 22 year old that entered 2004 for the first time not being affiliated with the Mariners. He had his longest season yet, accumulating 355 at-bats (previous high: 353, then 255) hitting .245/.339/.403. He’s only 22 and in AA ball, so he still has time to progress although his history shows that he’s nothing special.
Eric Johnson came over from the Indians to start 2004 and split time between Portland and Sarasota. His age is unavailable, but he was drafted in the 1999 draft and went to Western Carolina University. If we assume he graduated at 22, that makes him 27. (Edit: Cuzitt over at The Cardiac Kids says Johnson is 27 (DOB: 8/14/97). He hit .250/327/.419 in 136 AB.
Mike Lockwood came over from the Athletics, and contributed to Portland’s season by giving 296 AB (86 for Oakland’s AAA affiliate) hitting .280/.360/456 at age 27. He was in AAA for the A’s and went to AA for the Sox.
Brett Roneberg is 25 years old and perhaps next year will get a shot at AAA. Roneberg has shown he can handle AA ball. This was his third year in AAA, hitting .278/.360/.462 while playing both the outfield and infield. While Roneberg may never be a starter in the majors, if he can catch some breaks, he can be a utility guy somewhere.
*Left out Justin Headley – limited playing time this year.
Sarasota Red Sox – High A Florida League (no longer an affiliate [but still owned by Sox], replaced by the Wilmington Blue Rocks)
Chris Durbin recieved a promotion this year to Sarasota after hitting .229 for Augusta last year. As I noted last year about Durbin (and the rest of the Augusta outfield):

Coffey, Durbin, Soto, and Veracierto are all very weak outfielders for Augusta. We?re going to forget Augusta and deal with Sarasota and Lowell. They had no business starting games for Augusta which (predictably) went 49-87. Time shouldn?t be wasted on those people.

Well, apparently the Red Sox were patient with Durbin, and thought a promotion was in the works. Durbin responded, going to a tune of .279/.344/.417 in 470 at-bats. It was a breakout season for him. Perhaps the Red Sox will aggressively push him to Portland, but I have a feeling he’ll hang around Sarasota (actually, it’ll be Wilmington) and be part of a two-headed monster in the outfield with Moss. I don’t think the 23-year old projects any higher as a possible utilityman in the majors.
Brandon Moss had a breakout season. When we mean breakout, we don’t mean career season, as in building on his previous accomplishments. He took his previous accomplishments, threw them out the window, and was a whole new hitter this year. Moss came out of high school into the GCL Red Sox at age 19 and posted a .204/.295/.292 line in 113 AB. The next year, the Red Sox tried to push him, sending him to Lowell. He didn’t respond, .237/.290/.430. The .430 showed enough promise that he was again promoted to Augusta in 2004. A new workout method paid dividends, and in 109 ABs, hit .339/.402/.515. The Red Sox promoted him to Sarasota. Was he going to continue his success or pull a David Murphy circa 2003 and flunder at the high level? He succeeded. 83 AB, .422/.462/.542. A crown jewel at age 21. At this age, the Red Sox can afford to have him spend time at Wilmington and then perhaps conservatively send him to Portland near the end of the season.
David Murphy was Brandon Moss circa 2003 before a failed promotion and injury year this year sent him spiraling down the prospect list. It’s too early to get a definitive read on Murphy, but what we’ve seen of the 22-year old so far shows us he has a good batting eye, but lacks in power. He hit .261/.323/.346 for Sarasota and is doomed to repeat another year. Unless Murphy turns it around next year, we’re going to have to project him as a solid AAA regular. But next year is the true test.
Matt Murton was included in the Nomar deal because the Cubs wanted someone in case Nomar left as a free agent. No problem here. Murton is projectable as an average left fielder in the majors, which come by the pound. However, Murton had a solid year for Sarasota before the trade, whacking 11 HR in 102 ABs, .301/.372/.452.
Jay Sitzman was 26 years old and got 304 ABs in the 2004 season. He hit .270/.361/.362. If he’s still here next year, I’ll be surprised.
Augusta GreenJackets – Mid A South Atlantic League (now a S.F. affiliate, replaced by the Capital City Bombers)
Claudio Arias is 22, and hit .273/.322/.445, exhibiting good power. He has greatly increased his batting eye. Last year for Lowell, he went .262/.293/.401. In 209 AB this year, he hit 8 HR and 10 2B. If he can continue progressing, we could have a find on our hands.
Ian Cronkhite had a dissapointing season. The 21-year old took a step back from last year, which he played at Sarasota. Last year, he hit .245/.349/.368. This year for Augusta he had his at-bats essentially doubled and went .216/.287/.277. Time for this guy to consider going to college.
Mickey Hall is three months older than me. He hit .246/.342/.427 for the GreenJackets, 13 HR, 13 SB and 64 RBI in 118 AB. I could beat that guy easy. This guy is nothing compared to me. While his average is a little low, his OBP differential (1.00) shows he has a good eye and is reason to hope he can blossom. Say he tops out at .270. That would give us about a .270/.360/.500 hitter. Pretty good.
Scooter Jordan came from Texas Tech and started at the GCL, earning a promotion. The promotion was well earned, and he grabbed 200 AB for Augusta. He hit .240/.360/.270. That’s not a typo – .270. So he must have speed, right? He doesn’t – 7 SB and 9 CS. If he can develop power, he could sniff AAA. If he doesn’t, he won’t even sniff Portland.
Bobb Evans has a cool first name. Not so cool hitting skills though, hitting .230/.295/.337. The 23-year old seems to be on his way out of baseball.
Lowell Spinners – Low A New York Penn League
Matthew Ciaramella was drafted this year out of the University of Utah with the 395th pick and signed quickly, enabling him to get 164 ABs where he hit .189/.242/.256. No projections of players at Lowell and below will be made as it is way too early to project players at this level. But Mr. Ciaramella needs to catch up. His senior year at Utah saw a .366/.424/.650 line.
Carlos De La Cruz is 20 and finally made it to Lowell after 2 seasons with GCL. He had his best season at any level, hitting .274/.341/.338. He lost some power but improved on his average and OBP. He stole 15 SBs but was caught 10 times. Smarter baserunning could see him become a 25/5 basestealer. He had 1 HR, 6 2B, and 3 3B.
Chris Turner saw action at three levels. Starting off at the GCL, he hit .250/.293/.559 – wow on the slugging! He went to Lowell and hit .241/.265/.395 and had 11 at-bats in Sarasota (three hits, one double, no walks). The OBP is low, the slugging has promise.
Matthew Van Der Bosch had his first professional baseball season this year, signed out of Oral Roberts University. He hit .271/.376/.400 in 225 AB. This guy is one to watch.
Devoris Williams spent two seasons with GCL and had 118 AB for Lowell this year hitting .203/.338/.263.
GCL Red Sox – Rookie Gulf Coast League
Tom Caple is 24. He came out of the University of San Diego and posted a .282/.385/.362 OBP in 149 AB. Honestly … the guy’s 24, and you’re putting him in the GCL Red Sox? This is something I dont get. Age should be a factor in placement.
Jeff Justice came out of Le Moyne College and had a good season in 112 AB going .302/.362/.336.
Willy Mota came from the Dominican Summer League and surprised, hitting .295/.328/.457 in 129 AB. Most likely will repeat.
Bryan Pritz is 22 and came out of the University of Richmond, where his final season there was completely different from his other three stellar seasons. He had been signed as an updrafted free agent, and stayed around his senior year college level for the GCL, posting .267/.313/.356. Might perhaps be injured.
Christopher Turner did see some action for Sarasota, but spent the bulk of his time at GCL, hitting .250/.293/.559 with 4 HR in 68 AB.
*Left out Austin Easley – very good in limited action for the GCL.
There’s not very much talent in this outfield. The only person that had a great season and is a prospect is Brandon Moss. Other than that, most people that had good seasons were too old or too old for their level. Some people, including David Murphy, also dissapointed. With Manny, Damon and Nixon all aging and with Damon’s contract up after 2005 and Nixon’s after 2006, we need to get some talent in the pipeline here.
So the Yankees are Division Champions and it’s still up in the air who the Red Sox will face. The Twins are dangerous in a 5-game series, but won’t be in a 7-game series. Couple that with my liking for the Angels and my dislike for the A’s (see 2003 ALDS) I am rooting for the Angels to win – but to finish a game behind Minnesota. I think it’ll be easier to take the Angels in the ALDS and then take on the Twins in the ALCS. Speaking of the ALCS, I recieved some very good news today. I scored ALCS tickets for Game 5 and World Series tickets for Game 6. I’m pumped. I can just see the Series ending at Game Six (erasing the stigma of the 1986 Game 6 – Eighty-Sixed in Game Six), and the Red Sox fans stampeding the field. I tear along the side of the field in my ash-grey MVN shirt and a joyous David Ortiz takes his uniform top off and hands it to me. I fall to the ground on the mound with my arms raised high as an AP photographer takes a picture of me. The picture is so poignant that it wins a Pulitzer Prize.
Hey – one can dream.