The Top Twelve

With the culimination of the minor leagues around the country, a lot of publications are coming out with the Top Ten ranked for each team in pitching and position players. The best site around for Sox fans in regard to prospects is Sox Prospects, in which he upkeeps the entire season. What follows is his Top Twelve Pitchers and Position Players. Please keep in mind that most of the Scouting Reports were written prior to the 2004 season (* – scouting reports are mid-2004 for those who were drafted this year), so when you look at the Scouting Report, make sure you look back at the statistics to see how his season shook out. For example – Anibal Sanchez’s pre-2004 scouting report looked promising, and boy, did he deliver.
Pitchers
1 Abe Alvarez (age 21, AA, Most Valuable Pitcher for Portland, 10-9 with a 3.38 ERA and profiled on ESPN)

Tall and lanky lefty. Has been compared to Orel Hershiser and Jamie Moyer. Changes speeds well and hits his spots with consistency. Fastball isn’t fantastic, topping out in the mid to high 80s, but throws all of his pitches with pinpoint control. Best changeup and command in the Sox farm system. Curveball needs some work. Very mature, knows what he needs to do to prepare for each game. Very focused. Legally blind in his left eye. Wears his hat to the side to balance the lighting in his blind eye – not as a fashion statement.

2 Jon Papelbon (23, A, on FSL’s Post All-Star Team, 12-7 with a 2.64 ERA)

Good pitcher’s build with a live arm and solid delivery. Good fastball, slurve curveball, decent change, and a promising breaking ball. Started 2004 atop Sarasota’s rotation.

3 Jon Lester (age 20, A, 7-6 with a 4.28 ERA)

Very athletic lefty – fastball reaches low 90’s, with an above-average change-up, along with a curveball that is slowly improving. Has an easy delivery motion which has helped him to a fantastic sophomore season. While he may be one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, he still only currently projects as a third starter.

4 Juan Cedeno (21, A, 7-6 with a 4.64 ERA)

Cedeno overpowers batters with his mid-90’s fastball, which has drawn comparisons to Pedro. He also utilizes an improving curveball which he struggles with command-wise. Also needs to work on a change-up in order to project as a top line starter. Still, the Red Sox are very excited about the future for the Dominican lefty.

5 Manny Delcarmen (21, A, 3-6 with a 4.68 ERA)

Boston native always dreamed of playing for the Sox. His career was on the fast track with a mid 90s fastball, and a great curveball – until he injured himself in May 2003. Delcarmen had Tommy John surgery in May 2003, but returned to the mound a year later in May 2004. Post-surgery, Delcarmen’s fastball may have actually gained velocity, as he has topped out in the high 90s. Delcarmen has average control and a very good curve which he uses as his out pitch. Delcarmen’s father played in the Phillies Organization.

6 Beau Vaughan (22, AA, 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA)

Aggressive righty has fastball reaching 91 with good movement. Vaughan is able to throw his biting curve for strikes often. Four strong pitches. Fierce.

7 Jarrett Gardner (23, AA, August Greenjackets Pitcher of the Year, 13-5 with a 2.51 ERA)

Gardner has shown impeccable control, rarely walking a batter. However, he has yet to face a full season at a level appropriate for his age. Still shows a great deal of promise. Gardner also holds the SEC record for least walks per 9 innings pitched.

8 Anibal Sanchez (20, A, 3-4 with a 1.77 ERA)

Sanchez last played in 2002 in the VSL. Used primarily as a starter; excellent k/bb ratio. Throws a 96 mph fastball.

9 Tommy Hottovy* (23, A, 0-1 with a 0.89 ERA – this is in 14 starts, not as a reliever)

Primarily a reliever for four years at Wichita, although Hottovy prefers to start. He throws two and four seam fastballs as well as a change and an excellent curveball. Good command.

10 Andrew Dobies* (21, A, 0-2 with a 2.03 ERA)

Dobies is a fierce competitor with a nice delivery. Fastball hits the high 80s, which is varied by an excellent changeup. and a decent slider. He also throws a nice cutter as an out pitch. Doesn?t walk too many batters.

11 Jose Vaquedano (23, A, 5-1 with a 3.95 ERA)

Tall and lanky righty. Decent fastball with good movement. Both his low 90s fastball and changeup sink away from lefties. Good slider and curve. Likes to work quick, and throws a lot of strikes. Lowell Pitcher of the Year in 2003.

12 Randy Beam (22, A, 10 saves for Augusta; no runs allowed in 23.1 IP, 2-1 with a 0.00 ERA)

Tall lefty pitched 6 innings per game in 2004, with a decent k/bb ratio. Impressively tossed 6 complete games.

Position Players
1 Hanley Ramirez (.310/.360/.512, AA)

Athletic five-tool shortstop with great instincts. Very young, with above average speed and contact. Very good range with an top-notch arm. Has shown power potential,, but numbers have yet to show it. Has all-star potential. However, may have struggled at dealing with all the hype – most reports list Hanley as the #1 prospect in the organization. He was very inconsistent throughout his second season, and had some problems with immaturity, having a few run-ins with management which earned him suspensions. Hanley has shown improved maturity in 2004, improving his game preparation and self discipline despite a lot of spotlight. Highest ceiling in organization.

2 Brandon Moss (.422/.462/.542, A, Augusta GreenJackets Player of the Year, SAL MVP (Augusta Greenjackets League) – and he was called up to Sarasota, which is what his line reflects.)

Athletic Outfielder with a good arm. He didn’t show much at the plate in his first two professional seasons, but put in a good amount of work in the off-season prior to 2004, which has shown early on. Outstanding 2004 season in all respects.

3 Dustin Pedroia* (.336/.417/.523, A)

Small infielder had a tremendous career at Arizona State. Average power for a middle infielder, with good bat speed and excellent plate discipline. Loves the game and has fantastic instincts. Plays top-notch defense up the middle, named the 2003 National Defensive Player of the Year. Very scrappy and a great teammate.

4 Jeremy West (.293/.347/.488, A, FSL Post-Season All-Star Team)

Big, strong first baseman with a stocky build. Aggressive at the plate, steps into the ball with good bad speed. Pounds weak pitching. West has mostly DH’d throughout his career, but has played some first base and even catcher at times.

5 Kelly Shoppach (.233/.320/.461, AAA, Post-Season All-Star)

Top-line defensive catcher – great arm and great glove. Hits the ball to all fields and draws a lot of walks. Has some power, but Boston loves his OBP. Also said to be a natural leader. Many assume he is in line to replace Varitek in 2005.

6 Stefan Bailie (.309/.364/.590, AA)

Big first-baseman has above average power and strikes out a lot. Good speed for his size. Productivity increased greatly in 2004.

7 Chad Spann (.248/.286/.346, A)

Blew away expectations in 2003. Spann is very athletic, has great bat speed, patience, and pitch recognition, with the potential for more power which has yet to show. He has a decent glove as well as good speed. Keeps a very consistent routine and makes adjustments well. Should move through the organization quickly if he continues to retain his 2003 form.

8 David Murphy ( .261/.323/.346, A)

Murphy is a tall, athletic lefty with a sweet swing. Pulls a lot of pitches, and displays excellent patience at the plate. Loves the game, and displays excellent leadership skills. Needs to work on adding more power. Accurate arm with decent range. Average speed. Injury-plagued 2004 season showed mediocre stats.

9 Christian Lara (.277/.404/.336, A)

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.

10 Luis Soto* ( .261/.289/.470, A)

According to Director of former International Scouting Louie Eljaua, “Luis brings a special blend of talent and instincts every time he steps on the field. He has an advanced hitting approach at the plate for someone his age, and he is very athletic with above-average arm strength.”

11 Mickey Hall (246/.342/.427, A)

Strong and athletic lefty bat, originally recruited by GA Tech to replace Matt Murton. Gap hitter with good motivation and great tools. Only HS player taken by the Red Sox in the first 16 rounds of the 2003 Draft.

12 Kenny Perez (.280/.323/.420, AA)

Historically has drawn a good amount of walks. Defensively he has a great arm with average range; offensively makes good contact but has below average power and speed.

We have more of a pitching corps than a hitting corps which actually is quite good. Pitching is such a hard commodity to find, whereas you can always find players to replace each other who are hitters. Case in point – Matt Murton. Matt Murton was replaced by Mickey Hall when Murton left college. Murton profiles as a league average outfielder, and there are many of those out there, and therefore was included in the trade. It’s not much to lose Murton – someone else can replace him easily.
The top three position players are people we can be very confident of helping us soon, and fortunately I feel very confident in the top TWELVE when it comes to pitchers. It’s going to be enjoyable to see some home-grown talent make it to the majors, ala Youkilis and Alvarez.
Off on a tangent, the three most enjoyable events of this year should definitely be Kevin Youkilis’ debut where he air-fived the team, Abe Alvarez’s debut (link includes description of Youkilis’ air-five, at the end) where everyone wore crooked hats, and Manny running out to left field alone (which I unfortunately missed). Fortunately, we’ve got competition now, as this team has really morphed into a fun-loving team. Isn’t it curious that the Red Sox all of a sudden become a feared team in the second half, ala the A’s? Interesting.
Just take a look into the dugout of the Red Sox, and you see so many hair styles, and you see something else important – big smiles.
I can’t close the voting for the Morgan’s Magic poll, but I can unofficially close it with the final statistics:
Q. Is This Better Than Morgan’s Magic?
Total Votes Cast: 29
#—Title—Votes—Ratio
1.—Yes—22—75.9%
2. —No—2—6.9%
3. —Both Are Great!—2—6.9%
4. —Ya Aint Seen Nothin Yet—3—10.3%