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Top 10 Prospects: The Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox
2010 MLB Record: 89-73 (third place, AL East)
Minor League Power Ranking: 11th (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Jose Iglesias, SS
Acquired: 2009 non-drafted free agent (Cuba)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: SS/AA
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Iglesias vaults to the top of the Red Sox prospect rankings after the Adrian Gonzalez trade with San Diego. The Cuban shortstop had a solid first pro season in North America by hitting .285/.315/.357 in 221 at-bats. On the down side, Iglesias clearly has work to do when it comes to his aggressiveness at the plate. He posted a walk rate of just 3.4 BB%, while his strikeout rate sat at 22.2 K%. I’d like to see him be a little more balanced at the plate; after watching Iglesias in the Arizona Fall League, he does get out on his front foot a little too often against off-speed pitches. The 21-year-old’s value is tied heavily to his glove. He’s a slick fielder who could probably play defense in the Majors right now. He has quick hands and feet, good range as well as a strong arm. Because he struggled after the regular season during the AFL (.265 wOBA), Iglesias could head back to double-A to begin the 2011 season.

2. Drake Britton, LHP
Acquired: 2007 23rd round (Texas HS)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: The Sox originally swayed Britton away from a Texas A&M scholarship with a $700,000 paycheck in 2007. Unfortunately, he hurt his elbow in ’08 and missed most of ’09 after Tommy John surgery. Britton pitched a career high 78.2 innings in ’10 and opened a lot of eyes but durability is still a big question mark. The southpaw has a plus fastball – both in terms of velocity (91-94 mph) and sink (50 GB%). His secondary pitches – a curveball and changeup – also have a lot of potential. Britton missed a lot of bats in ’10 with a strikeout rate of 9.72 K/9 and he also showed improve control with a walk rate sitting at 2.63 BB/9. He uses a three-quarter arm slot and takes a long stride. Britton shows pretty good balance on the mound. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter and should move up to high-A in 2011 where he’ll look to break the 100-inning mark for the first time.

3. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
Acquired: 2010 supplemental 1st round (Louisiana State U)
Pro Experience: None
2010 MiLB Level: None
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Ranaudo was considered a first round talent entering the 2010 college season. Unfortunately, a stress fracture in his elbow sidelined him for a significant period of time and he then posted disappointing numbers. Undeterred, the club took a flyer on him with a supplemental first round pick and followed him in the Cape Cod League. Ranaudo dominated the summer league against top college talent and ended up with a paycheck of more than $2 million. He didn’t pitch during the regular season after signing. He has a strong repertoire with a 90-95 mph fastball, a solid breaking ball and a good changeup. Ranaudo has a good pitcher’s frame and takes a long stride on the mound. He does tend to fall forward in front of the rubber during his delivery at times and needs to stay tall. His delivery was smoother than I had expected given his checkered injury history. Ranaudo has the ceiling of a No. 1 or 2 starter if his history of elbow problems are behind him.

4. Josh Reddick, OF
Acquired: 2006 17th round (Georgia JC)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: With the surprise acquisition of Carl Crawford, the Sox’s outfield has become even less inviting to Reddick, who could now be trade bait with Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald, and Ryan Kalish ahead of him. He will likely face his third taste of triple-A in 2011 but he has yet to truly prove himself at that level of play. In ’10, he hit a respectable .266/.301/.466 in 451 at-bats, while flashing good power (.200 ISO rate). He hit well in the second half of the season, so the club will no doubt hope that is a sign of things to come. Reddick posted a walk rate of just 5.2 BB% but he maintained a solid strikeout rate (16.2 K%) considering his power output. When he stays quiet and tall in his stance, his swing looks good. At times, though, it seems like he struggles to get his hands moving. Defensively, he’s solid and can play all three outfield spots but his strong arm makes him an attractive asset in right field. At worst, he should develop into a solid fourth outfielder on a contending team.

5. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
Acquired: 2006 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Just 20, Pimentel posted a 3.82 FIP in 128.2 high-A innings in 2010. He showed solid control with a walk rate of just 2.94 K/9 and missed a respectable number of bats (7.13 K/9). Pimentel’s repertoire includes a low-to-mid 90s fastball, excellent changeup and improving breaking ball. Since signing, he’s added about 50 pounds and projects as a durable, innings-eater with the ceiling of a No. 3 starter. I am a little concerned about his conditioning and he’s going to have to watch his weight – he’s getting thick around the middle. Pimentel’s arm slot does vary and more advanced hitters are going to pick up on that. He should open 2011 in double-A.

6. Felix Doubront, LHP
Acquired: 2004 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 5 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Doubront has a slightly lower ceiling than Pimentel, but the southpaw could be the first pitcher called upon by the Sox if an injury strikes the starting rotation. He appeared in 12 big leagues games in 2010 and he could open the season in the bullpen. Doubront produced solid numbers in both double-A and triple-A in ’10 and he has little left to prove in the minors. His control is average and he strikes out a fair number of batters (8.27 K/9 in AAA). He produces solid ground-ball numbers. Doubront’s repertoire includes a low-90s fastball, cutter, changeup and curveball. It’s easy to see from his delivery that he could be a dominating LOOGY; his delivery has solid deception to it. Doubront has a fairly easily delivery but he takes a pretty short stride and lands on a pretty stiff front leg.

7. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B
Acquired: 2010 1st round (Ball State U)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: A-/A
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: A two-way player in college, Vitek could really take off now that he’s focusing on hitting full time. He doesn’t have one outstanding tool but he’s a solid all-around hitter who projects to hit for a solid average with 15-20 homers – there is still room for him to fill out and add muscle – and even 10-15 steals. He’s played a number of different positions on the diamond and spent the majority of his time at third base during his pro debut. But he’s probably best suited for the outfield, though he lacks consistent range for center field and the power for a corner spot. He was helped by a .357 BABIP in his debut in short-season ball and managed a line of .270/.360/.422 with an ISO rate of .152. Vitek showed good patience with a walk rate of 10.9 BB% but he struck out at a high rate (29.9 K%). Watching him at the plate, I’m not a huge fan of his hand placement or his load.

8. Lars Anderson, 1B
Acquired: 2006 18th round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Anderson has experienced a lot of ups and downs over the past few seasons. His main competition for the position of first baseman of the future in Boston was helped by the trade of Anthony Rizzo, but veteran first sacker Adrian Gonzalez made his way to the Red Sox in the swap. Luckily for Anderson, Gonzalez has yet to sign a long-term contract to remain with the organization. The youngster, who’s still just 23, made his MLB debut in 2010 after a so-so season in triple-A where he hit .262/.340/.428 in 409 at-bats. One big question about Anderson right now is his lack of power over the past two seasons. His ISO rate was just .112 in ’09 and .166 in ’10. I like the placement of his hands in his stance, as well as his level shoulders. What Anderson could do, though, is keep his eye on the ball through to the catcher’s mitt; he pulls off on the ball at times, which leads to some of his contact issues.

9. Oscar Tejeda, 2B
Acquired: 2006 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0

Notes: Boston has a habit of developing solid middle infield prospects and Tejeda, 21, is another intriguing prospect. The second baseman produced a solid triple-A slash line in 2010 at .305/.342/.453 in 508 at-bats. He doubled his ISO rate from .076 in ’09 to .148. Watching him hit, I’d like to see him quiet his hands a little more. Along with his surprising pop, Tejeda also stole 17 bases in 24 tries but he doesn’t have great speed. He’s mainly a bat-first prospect right now and is still adjusting to life at the keystone after struggling with his range at shortstop. At worst, he should develop into a solid utility or platoon player.

10. Ryan Lavarnway, C
Acquired: 2008 6th round (Yale University)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: I know I’m going to catch a little slack for ranking Lavarnway on the Top 10 list, but I believe in his bat. You could easily argue for other prospects in this slot, such as Brandon Workman, Garin Cecchini or Will Middlebrooks (The 10-15 rated prospects are all close). The 23-year-old prospect had his second straight solid offensive season in 2010. He followed up his ISO rate of .255 in ’09 with another .200+ ISO last season. He also produced a triple-slash line of .285/.395/.494 in 158 double-A at-bats after posting a similar line in 304 single-A at-bats. Lavarnway swings and misses a lot (26.6 K% in AA), but it’s a trade-off for his power output and he helps to offset it with solid walk rates (13.7 BB% in AA). Unfortunately, a number of questions remain in terms of his defensive abilities. He doesn’t move well behind the plate and his throwing is inconsistent. Lavarnway is a Top 10 prospect as a catcher, but be moves down significantly if he ends up as a first baseman on a second-tier club.