It’s a good day to be a fan of the Boston Red Sox.
The rumored trade between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers will save the east coast club more than $200 million but it will also infuses the organization with some young, cost-controlled, high-ceiling talent. Key names that are likely headed to Boston from the west coast include pitchers Rubby de la Rosa and Allen Webster, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr., and outfielder Jerry Sands.
The Red Sox club is also said to be receiving veteran first baseman James Loney but he’s currently on a one-year contract and will be a free agent at the end of the season. It’s unlikely that he’d be re-signed given that he’s been at or below replacement level for the past five seasons (although a move away from Los Angeles should help his offensive numbers to a degree).
The key to the deal is de la Rosa. A hard-throwing native of the Dominican Republic, just 23 years old, he has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter. Only his lack of consistent command and control keep the No. 1 label from being adhered to de la Rosa. There are also some concerns over the durability of the hurler who underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2011 season. He doesn’t have the largest frame and puts a lot of strain on his body by reaching triple-digits with his fastball. His secondary pitches – a changeup and slider – both showed a lot of potential pre-surgery but he’s made just five official appearances since returning from the disable list.
Our very own in-house scout Mike Newman had these glowing words to say about the right-hander after seeing him pitch live:
“…De La Rosa’s fastball was in a different league than any I’d seen previously… the one 98 MPH fastball he located belt high on the inner half is seared into my scouting mind as it bored down and in on a right handed hitter to devastating effect. It was the single most dominant pitch I’ve seen live…”
Allen Webster, 22, would give Boston a second hard-throwing, right-handed prospect. Prior to 2012, I ranked the North Carolina native as the Dodgers’ fourth best prospect behind fellow pitching prospects Zach Lee, Nate Eovaldi, and Chris Reed. Webster throws in the low-to-mid-90s with his heater and complements it with three secondary pitches: a curveball, slider, and changeup.
Interviewer extraordinaire David Laurila interviewed the Dodgers director of amateur scouting Logan White back in February and the well-respected had this to say about Webster, a late-round draft pick:
“With Webster, it’s kind of like you’re shopping for paintings and you go to an art dealer and find one that costs you $150,000. Then you go to a garage sale and get lucky. You find something for a lot less and later discover that it’s really valuable. People simply didn’t realize what it was. To me, that’s kind of Webster’s story… He’s been a gem. We went to a garage sale and found a Mona Lisa of sorts.”
He made 17 starts at the double-A level in 2011 and returned to the level in ’12. He’s made another 27 appearances (22 starts) and has pitched more than 120 innings each of the past three seasons displaying outstanding durability. Webster’s biggest challenges to sticking in the starting rotation are his lack of consistency with the command of his secondary stuff and his wavering control.
He has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter, or could strip down his repertoire to become a dominating high-leverage reliever. I’d slide Webster onto the Red Sox updated Top 15 prospect list at No.3 behind infielder Xander Bogaerts and right-handed starter Matt Barnes.
Infielder DeJesus Jr. came in as the 14th prospect on the Dodgers’ pre-season Top 15 prospect list. He’s a personal favorite of mine even though he hasn’t been quite the same player since suffering a nasty broken leg that cost him most of the 2009 season.
DeJesus has spent the past three seasons playing mostly at triple-A, although he’s also filled in for 40 games at the big league level. His numbers have taken a bit of a hit at triple-A in 2012 mainly due to an increased strikeout rate, and a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered.
At one point I envisioned the 25-year-old Puerto Rico native becoming a solid big league second baseman but his ceiling might now be that of a utility infielder. He has played three infield positions – second base, third base and shortstop – and even dabbled in the outfield for three games at triple-A in ’12. Regular or not, DeJesus will provide some much-needed middle infield depth for the Red Sox.
Sands, soon-to-be-25, has produced some outstanding minor league numbers but he’s struggled to find his footing at the big league level. With the ability to play both corner outfield spots as well as first base, and with plus raw power, the former 25th round draft pick could be a solid right-handed bat off the bench – with an outside shot at developing into a big league regular.
Although Boston will not pry away (arguably) the Dodgers’ top prospect, Zach Lee, the club will apparently still walk away with two power arms and two role players with untapped potential.