The Middle Men (2004 Minor League 2B + SS)

It’s time for the Corner Organizational Depth Chart Review! Here is last year’s second base installment and shortstop installment.

How do I choose who to profile? The criteria are thus: Must have had the majority of their games at the position profiled. 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.

Thank you to Cuzittt, frequent Red Sox poster on the Cardiac Kids and Sons of Sam Horn who corrected my errors and strengthened my musings about the minor leagues by adding extra information.
Pawtucket Red Sox – AAA International League
Trace Coquillette has seen major league action before, in 1999 and 2000 with the Expos, but hasn’t come close since. This past season, he was 30 and reaffirmed he is not exactly the greatest of hitters, hitting .249/.329/.365. In other words, he provided next to no pop and hits, but it’s okay because Coquillete was not a starter. It’s possible he might be next year however, because the starting second-baseman for Pawtucket is now history, as he is now an Athletic. However, Jim Callis of Baseball America (a minor league baseball publication) seems to think that Ramirez is ready for and will start at AAA, meaning the shortstops of Pawtucket in 2004 will shift over to second base, so this may not become a weakness after all. Also, Cuzittt says Coquillette might not even be back in the organization, as Kenny Perez should become the second baseman.
Tony Schrager spent one and a half seasons in the Boston organization, coming over from the Cubs last year and did a pretty good job as starting second-baseman, hitting .266/.341/.436 in 436 AB with 15 HR. He’s a pretty good player who possibly could eventually see major league time as a stopgap utilityman, which is probably why he moved to Oakland, where they have second-base problems. He was a personal favorite of Cuzittt.
Jimmy Alvarez is 24, and is in his first year in the Sox organization. He is someone with zero pop, even though he has put up pretty good starting numbers the two years he was a starter (2001 A ball and 2002 AA ball) but profiles to be just AAA filler. I don’t know anything about his defense, but if his defense is Reese-esque, he could become a utilityman.
Cesar Crespo had zero hitting skills at the major league level but has pretty good speed and defense. When he was sent down to the minors, he slid into a starting role when Carlos Febles got injured. There he posted a .271/.333/.412 line. The 25-year old is going to keep surfacing in the majors as a utilityman for a competitive team. He could play his way into a starting position for some bottom-feeder.
Carlos Febles was once a highly touted Royal prospect and has spent significant time in the majors (1656 AB as compared to 2110 minor league AB). He was hoping to resurrect his career somewhat in Pawtucket but failed. In 261 AB, he hit .257/.319/.356 before going down with injury.
Portland Sea Dogs – AA Eastern League
Joe Kilburg spent 2003 with the Nashua Pride (and seasons prior to that with the Cleveland minor league system) before being signed away. He should have been listed as a third base prospect because he had 29 games at 2B, 36 games at 3B, 4 games at 1B, and 24 games in the outfield, but it’s okay. Obviously from those numbers he’s a pretty good defender, and he actually got a cup of coffee (4 AB) in Pawtucket. The 29-year old hit .261/.351/.360 and will most likely fill in in Triple-A as a utility man for it’s unlikely Febles will be back, and Schrager is already gone.
Jesus Medrano is yet another importation, spending his first year in the Sox system over from the Marlins. Eyeballing his statistics always shows him as an up-down hitter. If he could consistently hit to his plateau which looks like .250, he might have some promise as a future utilityman but alas, he’s too inconsistent. He is a backup in AA at best.
Kenny Perez showed some promise last year for the Sea Dogs. The 23-year old hit .280/.323/.420 with 12 stolen bases (4 caught stealing). He has the potential to become a utilityman but a starter is pushing it, although it is too early to say. If the Red Sox decide to keep Ramirez at Portland, Perez will probably start in Pawtucket. With the addition of Ramirez, Perez has had to learn second-base, which adds to his utilityman value. Perez did move to second once Ramirez was promoted to Portland. He is very injury-prone. He could be a young David Eckstein.
Hanley Ramirez is The One for the Red Sox. If you’ve been reading Fire Brand of the American League, or are somewhat versed about the Red Sox organization, you know who Hanley is. If you don’t, he is a 20-year old hotshot shortstop prospect that is the Sox’s #1 prospect. He used to have attitude issues but has seemed to get past that now. When I look at Ramirez, I see another Nomar Garciaparra offensively, and from what I have heard, he’s got sensational defense with an arm. He crushed rookie ball, and in the majority of his season at A-Sarasota, he hit .310/.364/.389 – a curious lack of power. However, when he was called up to Portland, his power returned in 129 AB, hitting .310/.360/.512. People seem to think that Ramirez can have one year in AAA and then start for the Red Sox. You know my stance on that, so I won’t rehash it (other than to say apparently Theo likes my idea about Jose Valentin, as “a deal is imminent” according to several sources), but suffice it to say I would prefer to see Hanley get some more at-bats in AA. Time will tell, but this is a person that will be wearing the Red Sox uniform sooner or later – with a single digit number. Cuzittt raises the issue of that “The problem with keeping Hanley at AA is then you either have to jump Pedroia to AAA OR move Pedroia to 2B already. Neither really palatable ideas. If Hanley really is the one, however, pushing him to AAA is not a bad idea. If he isn’t… pushing him back to AA is still an option.”
Sarasota Red Sox – High A Florida League (no longer an affiliate [but still owned by Sox], replaced by the Wilmington Blue Rocks)
Patrick Boran is yet another no-hit player with little upside. He, however, was injured for most of the year.
Jason Ramos is a 22-year old version of Patrick Boran (Boran is 24). Ramos got a significant amount of at-bats but couldn’t do anything with it, with a .243 slugging percentage.
Greg Stone is yet another Boran and Ramos.The Red Sox have quite a few no-hit shortstops at this level. Yet again, another injured player. All these no-hit players could actually have some hits in them, it’s hard to judge considering the middle infield injury plague that struck the Red Sox this year.
Iggy Suarez gives us some offense, and split time between Sarasota and Augusta. For Sarasota in 307 AB, he hit .257/.331/.319. In 141 AB for Augusta, he it .270/.373/.362, so he exhibits a good eye in the zone, but looks like he’ll be nothing than a AAA starter at best.
Dustin Pedroia is the second highest-ranked shortstop in the Red Sox organization, drafted this past year. I’ve covered him plenty in this space, so it should suffice to say I’m very excited about this guy. While I think he’ll eventually switch to second base because of Hanley Ramirez, I think he will be a great second baseman for years to come. If you’re really interested on Dustin Pedroia, here is every single Fire Brand article that mentions Pedroia, which was utilized by the “Search Fire Brand Archives” that is found on the left. You can also search for the statistics of any major leaguer, minor leaguer, or independent league player by searching The Baseball Cube Database, the search function being right above the Fire Brand search.
Augusta GreenJackets – Mid A South Atlantic League (now a S.F. affiliate, replaced by the Capital City Bombers)
Dirimo Chavez could eventually become something, but he’ll have to work harder at it. Last year he spent the year at the rookie level, hitting .342/.413/.378 in 111 AB. He tried his hand in Augusta this year, and hit .250/.341/.293 in 376 AB, so while he has a good eye, that’s basically it as his power is non-existent (although, as I was reminded, power is the last thing to develop. I, however, don’t make this the end-all be-all. It’s mostly homerun power that develops late, not doubles power). out of 94 hits, 83 were singles, and he had only one home-run. He’s played second, third, short, and outfield in 100 games, and made 16 errors. His batting eye makes him a perfect fit here.
Peter Ciofrone spent 2002 and 2003 with the Gulf Coast Red Sox, and was well on his way to his career year in Augusta when he was sent to San Diego. While with Augusta, the 21-year old hit .286/.383/.387. Ciofrone looks like he could end up a good utilityman in the majors. If he suddenly has a power explosion, perhaps he could play himself into a starting role.
Zachary Borowiak is yet another no-hit person the Red Sox have, but yet the only one in Augusta. In 448 AB, Borowiak hit .237/.307/.333 with 70 strikeouts. As Cuzittt says about Borowiak – “Zach Borowiak was the first 2003 Draftee to make it to AA. (I just like mentioning that…) He played at 4 levels in 2003 (Lowell to Portland to Sarasota to Augusta). At least this year he stayed relatively still. What does this say? The Sox drafted him to fill the roster…”
Lowell Spinners – Low A New York Penn League
Lee Curtis played in a utility role most of the year and got most of his at-bats in Lowell, numbering 80 for a line of .250/.371/.362. He has an outstanding on-base percentage, so like any young minor league player who can’t hit, keep an eye on the on-base percentage. The higher, the more likely for them to hit for a better average later on. “Lee Curtis was released from the Sox on 8/3 of this year. Which is not surprising since playing in Lowell was a demotion as he spent the entire year (after being drafted) in Augusta last year. In 4 games in Augusta this year… he put up a .133/.188/.133 line. In 11 games in Sarasota, he went .162/.225/.189. He is 23 years old… he’s not likely to be anything in the future.” – Cuzittt.
Charles Jeroloman spent his first year in the Boston organization who came out of Auburn University and hit .170/.285/.233. He’s going to have to improve if he wants to move up the ladder. His numbers consistently went down the whole year, so fatigue may prove a hand in this. He was a 21st-round pick.
Jason Ramos hit .200/.303/.243 for Lowell as a 22-year old. That’s all you need to know.
Christian Lara is the third of the four top shortstops the Red Sox have. He played in the Dominican Summer League last year, putting up a line of .253/.403/.309 with 35 walks and 24 SBs. The 19-year old (boy, am I getting old!) hit .433/493/.633 for the Gulf Coast Red Sox in 60 ABs, earning a promotion to Lowell, where he hit .277/.404/.336, pretty darn good numbers. Since Hanley has short locked up, Pedroia has second, and Luis Soto (more on him later) most likely has third locked up, perhaps Lara can become a center-fielder. He has good speed, as evidenced by his total 18 SB – 5 CS in 2004. “Excellent speed and good ability to get on base. Switch hitter with extremely quick hands. Great plate discipline. Gets to a lot of balls in the field, but apt to making throwing errors. Learning English quickly” (Sox Prospects).
GCL Red Sox – Rookie Gulf Coast League
Thomas Bawden is repeating this league, and only marginally improved. Last year in 42 AB, he hit .214/.298/.262. That doesn’t bode well. This year, in 127 AB, he hit .244/.324/.354. Certainly a big improvement, but more is needed. He was an undrafted free agent. Most undrafted free agents are filler … except for Hanley Ramirez. Any undrafted free agent who comes from the US is mostly filler.
Alex Penalo also seems to have promise, as Penalo also repeated the rookie league. He was less impressive, but also had to make stops at Sarasota and Lowell. Last year in 82 AB, he hit .305/.370/.402. That bodes well, but unfortunately, he regressed in 85 AB this year, hitting .294/.341/.341. However, the difference is small, so he still has potential. In 40 AB for Sarasota, he hit .175/.271/.225. In 36 AB for Lowell, he hit .139/.162/.194. He probably will start the season in Sarasota.
Luis Soto is the last of the shortstops for the Red Sox, and many people are excited about him.The Red Sox got him for $500,000 signed by Luis Elijua who immediately left the orgainization in 2004. Thanks for the parting gift, Elijua! For the GCL of the Red Sox, he hit .261/.289/.470. This guy is supposed to have a really good arm, and Jim Callis of Baseball America who listed the top 10 Sox prospects on said Soto could handle third base, so it looks like we have a pretty good infield set for the next several years, or at least good trade bait.
We seem to be really stocked in shortstops, and that will help us very much. I’m not too enamored of the second base talent, and I would prefer to have some more solid shortstops, but I’m not going to complain about Ramirez, Pedroia, Lara, and Soto. We seem to be placing particular emphasis on the infield, either that or our infield scouting department is among the most effective in the game. I’m sure the success of the players enabled Theo to have more confidence when dealing Nomar, and it’s going to allow Theo to be more prudent when trying to sign a shortstop for the next several years.

I would not be too worried about the lack of 2nd Baseman. Any team worth their salt is going to be picking up as many SS as possible… and then moving them to 2B, 3B or even the OF if they have too many. We have already seen the start of this movement with Kenny Perez moving from SS to 2B. Dustin Pedroia is likely next. In fact, the Sox drafted 5 SSs in the 2004 draft (Pedroia, Jeroloman and Dustin Kelly (who all signed), Zak Farkes (Sophmore eligible from Harvard who did not sign), and Steven Edlefsen (Possible Draft/Follow signee). They did not draft a single 2Bman.

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