Running down the Prospects

Well, the Red Sox finally got done with their little five game losing streak that coincidentally concided with Pedro’s mouth opening. But we won’t get into that, we want good vibes, don’t we? And good vibes entail a look at promising futures, so we will do that in this column.
First, though, let’s take a look at Gorden Edes’ latest mailbag. Much thanks to Mr. Edes for publishing the comment by Dave, MVN’s webmaster. I find it a little mindblowing that Mr. Edes has seen my website. Hopefully, if my dream goes right, I will work alongside him at the Globe.
Anyways. Which prospects are showing good stats, and which are making cases for themselves?
Andy Dominique is going to force a call-up or a trade. Peter Gammons said recently on a radio show that he thinks Barry Zito could wind up in a Red Sox uniform later this year, more likely the off-season. He also mentioned that Dominique is perfect for Beane. Why is Dominique perfect?
1] He can’t run.
2] He plays first, catches, and DHs.
3] His stats are mind-boggling down at AAA with a stat line of .347 AVG/.466 OBP/.632 SLG. Wow. In other words, in 95 at-bats, he’s had 19 walks, 6 HRs, 9 doubles, and 33 hits.
Either way, he’s going to wear a major league uniform very shortly.
Kelly Shoppach is turning it up after a slow start and is currently batting with a line of .233/.291/.493. Is it too early to anoint him catcher of 2005? Most definitely, but he can be the backup of 2005. This would require Varitek to sign a 1-2 year deal, and his agent, Scott Boras, would never go for that. Sad as it may seem, Varitek will most likely leave the Red Sox.
Kevin Youkilis, Greek God of walks, is posting a .345 OBP for Pawtucket, so his line looks like so : .252/.345/.398. Extremely troubling is his lack of power. If you look up and take a look at Dominique’s Barry Bonds-like stats in AAA, he has a SLG of .632. Now look at Shoppach, he of the .233 AVG and .291 OBP. He has a .493 SLG (4 2B and 5 HR).
But Youkilis has six doubles and three home runs in 103 at bats, while Shoppach has done his in 73 at bats.
What is this? Tim Kester was born in 1971 and is in his second year of pro ball…and he has a 1.76 ERA in 6 games – 5 of them starts? Wow, talk about coming out of nowhere.
Anastacio Martinez, relieving fireball of the future, has a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 IP. Other than that, there are no pitchers that really stand out in AAA. How about AA?
Abe Alvarez has had 5 starts and has logged a 3.60 ERA and in 25 innings has 25 Ks and 8 walks. Pretty good. He sports a 2-2 record while luckless Charlie Zink is 0-3, even though he has a 3.71 ERA in 5 starts. In 26.2 innings, he’s had 16 strikeouts and … 19 walks. He’s obviously having trouble harnessing the knuckleball, and will really need to do so if he wants to reach the majors and have a nice, long career. He is now 25 and still stuck in AA. He will need to show good control before reaching the majors. Zink will most likely see Pawtucket but keep in mind that by the age of 25, Tim Wakefield had made the majors and pitched 92 innings with 51 Ks and 31 BBs. Better than Zink right now. (In 2003, Wakefield had 71 BB and 169 K’s.)
Brett Roneberg is posting a solid .274/.330/.432, while 25-year old Jesus Medrano has a line of .333/.373/.495 – very nice. However, the most impressive has been lefty Mike Campo, rattling pitchers to the tune of .278/.384/.542. As I look at these teams, I’m astounded at the lack of young, great players. There are prospects that while they are good, are up there in age. Our farm system is certainly improving, but it’s got a long, long way to go. Portland is nothing special, they are 10-15 while Pawtucket is 14-13.
The true talent starts to be found in Sarasota, where they have a record of 14-12. David Murphy, future Sox centerfielder, has a line of .272/.337/.337 which clearly won’t do, especially the slugging. Thankfully, Matt Murton has stepped it up big time, hitting 6 HRs in 91 AB for a line of .286/.365/.538. Hanley Ramirez, in a nice round figure of 100, has a line of .310/.355/.440. Looks like last year was just a learning curve year. It would be nice to see that OBP rise, but strike zone judgement increases as you play more and more at increasingly high levels. Here’s to hoping.
The pitching? Kason Gabbard (how’s that for a first name) has a 2.63 ERA in 6 games – 5 starts while Jon Lester unfortunately has an ERA of 5.48 in 4 starts, 5 games total. Jon Papelbon thankfully corrects that imbalance to round out the Sarasota Big Three with a 2.95 ERA in 5 IP. Also starting in Sarasota is Juan Cedeno, who has 5 starts and an ERA of 4.85. David Pahucki is the go-to man in the bullpen, entering 10 games and throwing up a 1.08 ERA to stop batters cold.
There are other stars in the minors, but they are lower than Sarasota. High A is really the first place you can start to measure how good certain players are. While there are some people raising eyebrows in Augusta, Lowell, and the Rookie League, there is not much worth in getting excited about them. The true test starts at the high end of single A. So far, some people are making the grade, but the team as a whole is sorely lacking in quality depth, and young blood.

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