Friday, May 14, 2010

A Look At The Youngsters

With the Sox having the day off, I thought it might be nice to see how some of the big names in the system are doing so far. These are guys whom you may have heard mentioned in trade rumors, talked about as future stars and the like.

Casey Kelly: Kelly is the recognized #1 prospect in Boston's system. He had top-flight potential as a shortstop but an even higher ceiling as a pitcher. Kelly decided to focus solely on pitching entering 2010. He has started six games for the Portland Sea Dogs and is 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA. But before you go "Is that all there is??" you need to know those numbers are deceiving. He's throwing limited innings (only allowed two innings of work in the season opener) and so when he gives up a couple of runs, it looks worse than if he had been allowed to go seven or eight innings. He's up to five innings in a game now. In his last start he allowed three runs on five hits, but he struck out seven and walked just two batters. He'll only get better as the season progresses.

Ryan Kalish: Kalish is one of the top two outfield prospects in the Boston system (the other being Josh Reddick) and may show up in Boston during September callups. He is also playing in Portland and having a very solid season. He's hitting .255 with an .817 OPS. He has a hit in eight of his last 10 games and is riding a four-game hitting streak. He is the Eastern League Top 20 for RBI and OPS, the Top 10 for runs scored and walks, and is fourth in steals. His K/BB ratio is fantastic at .62 so far. That's right, he walks more than he strikes out.

Anthony Rizzo: You probably knew him before as the kid who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2008 and then declared cancer-free late that year. You should know him now as the possible future first-baseman for the Red Sox. He hit Single A Greenville at 18, was promoted to Advanced A Salem at 19 and at age 20 was just recently promoted to Portland. That is the kind of steady progression you love to see in a prospect. He's played three games so far, has hit in all three, tallied four RBI and has an OPS of 1.212. That's not a bad start. You have to see him play to appreciate his potential.

Jose Iglesias: Jose is the future shortstop of the Red Sox baring massive injury or an asteroid destroying the earth before 2011-2012. He electrified Boston's spring training with his fantastic glove. He in major-league ready now as far as his defense goes. But it turns out the kid can stroke the ball as well. He's hitting .310 on the year and a .782 OPS, but .381 with a .910 OPS over his last 10 games. If there is one thing Jose needs to work on is being patient at the plate; his K/BB ratio is 3.6 and that's a little high.

Felix Doubront: Casey Kelly may be the pitcher with the highest ceiling, but Doubront is the best pitcher in the system right now. He is 3-0 for Portland with a 3.00 ERA. He has a 2-1 K/BB ratio and has a BAA of .246 so far. He has struggled in the past with leaving the ball up and allowing too many home runs. But so far in 2010 Doubront has yet to allow a homer. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in his last three starts. I would be shocked if Doubront wasn't promoted to the Bucket sometime this summer.

Will Middlebrooks: I figure at least one guy shouldn't be from Portland, so who better than the guy people see as either Boston's future third baseman or as a top-flight trading chip. Middlebrooks plays in Salem right now and is swinging the bat well. He's hitting .343 with a .989 OPS and 16 RBI. He has a strong arm and great range at third. He meeds to work on taking pitches and recognizing what is coming his way, but it's entirely possible he could be in Portland soon. But also consider that 1B/3B is kind of clogged. With Youk definitely taking one of those slot in Boston for at least the next five years and the the other kids (Rizzo, Yamacio Navarro, Lars Anderson) in the mix, Boston can't hold onto all these players indefinitely. And Middlebrooks is the kind of youngster that other organizations want to get in a trade.

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