A Minor Review of 2008: The Red Sox

The Graduate: Justin Masterson | Born: March 1985 | Right-Handed Pitcher

He’s not flashy – but Justin Masterson has the potential to be a beast coming out of the bullpen. The right-hander’s fastball averages out at 89.5 mph but it has incredible sink on it, which causes batters to consistently beat balls into the dirt. In 2008, Masterson allowed just 68 hits in 88.1 innings, along with rates of 4.08 BB/9 and 6.93 K/9. Although he started nine games, the right-hander is better suited for bullpen work where he can focus on his sinking fastball and slider. He used his change-up at the Major League level just 3.1% of the time. Once he cleans up his control, Masterson should really take off.

The Riser: Daniel Bard | Born: June 1985 | Right-Handed Pitcher

Daniel Bard had a horrible 2007 season, which included a 6.42 ERA in A-ball and 56 walks allowed in 61.2 innings. He completely turned things around, though, in 2008 with a shift from starting to relieving. Bard began the year back in A-ball and allowed just 12 hits and four walks in 28 innings. He then moved up to Double-A where he allowed 30 hits in 49.2 innings with rates of 4.71 BB/9 and 11.60 K/9. The control was obviously a little shaky at Double-A, but the potential is there to be a dominating eighth-inning reliever (and eventual closer) with a high-90s fastball and a slider.

The Tumbler: Clay Buchholz | Born: August 1984 | Right-Handed Pitcher

Expectations were high at the beginning of 2008 for Clay Buchholz after he threw the 17th no-hitter in Red Sox history on September 1, 2007 (in just his second big league start). Buchholz, though, ended up back at Double-A in 2008 after posting a 6.75 ERA for the Major League club. He allowed 93 hits in 76 innings and posted rates of 4.86 BB/9 and 8.53 K/9. His fastball velocity was the same as 2007 and he allowed more ground balls but his command suffered, his pitches had less movement and batters made better contact against him (up five percent over 2007). The potential is still there, but Buchholz is in danger of being passed by other pitching prospect in a strong Red Sox system.

The ’08 Draft Pick: Derrik Gibson | Born: December 1989 | Shortstop

A third-round selection out of high school in 2008, Derrik Gibson had an impressive debut by hitting .309/.398/.394 with 14 stolen bases in 94 at-bats. He also earned a 14-game promotion to A-ball where he struggled and hit .086 (His BABIP was .125). Gibson does not possess much power at this point but he stole 16 bases in 2008 in as many attempts and also showed a good eye at the plate with a walk rate of 14 percent. He has the potential to be a solid top-of-the-order threat.

The ’09 Sleeper: Nick Hagadone | Born: January 1986 | Left-Handed Pitcher

Nick Hagadone appeared in just three games in 2008 thanks to Tommy John surgery. He showcased his immense talent in those three games by allowing just five hits and striking out 12 in 10 innings. He also dominated in his pro debut in 2007 with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and an excellent slider. Hagadone could be another dominating late-game reliever or he could find success as a starter if he can improve his change-up. He should be fully recovered from surgery by spring and could begin the year in High-A ball.

Up Next: The San Francisco Giants

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Two things. I think the Coco trade is a step in the direction of making Masterson a starter. I agree he does a damn good job in the bullpen and they just might want to leave him there. A guy that can come in with runners on and induce ground balls is nothing to sneeze at.

Second earlier in the season i was looking at matsuzaka and clay’s numbers. The only thing separating them was the home run rate. The odd thing is that Clay got more ground balls. I think if he makes a good showing he could definitely bounce back.

I’d rather have him start and masterson in the bullpen, that is for sure.