November 25, 2012

On Baseball: Bogaerts proves that he's the top Red Sox prospect

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Who are the best prospects in the Boston Red Sox system?

A subjective question, for sure.

Here is our take.

There are well-informed prospect lists, such as soxprospects.com and baseballamerica.com. Our list differs slightly in that it puts more emphasis on players in Double-A and Triple-A. Doing well in Class A is nice, but you have a ways to go. So while pitcher Matt Barnes is near the top of other prospects lists, he is only No. 9 here because he hasn't pitched beyond advanced Class A Salem.

Similarly, lefty Henry Owens, a top-10 selection by others, is No. 17 here because he hasn't pitched above low Class A Greenville.

There are 11 new players on our list. Last year's rankings are in parentheses:

1. Xander Bogaerts (10), age 20, shortstop: Bogaerts stood out in Greenville in 2011. He made a believer out of us once he reached Portland in August of this year, using a smooth swing to bat .326 with five home runs. He certainly looks special and his fielding is just fine.

2. Ryan Lavarnway (1), 25, catcher: Once considered a project behind the plate, Lavarnway was voted the best defensive catcher in the International League. Works counts and shows power potential.

3. Jackie Bradley Jr. (NR), 22, outfielder: Promoted to Portland on June 20, Bradley played the best center field Hadlock Field has seen in a long time. Also showed an advanced batting approach, taking pitches and drawing walks.

4. Jose Iglesias (5), 22, shortstop: It looks like Iglesias will finally get his chance to start in Boston. His glove is ready and, with patience, his bat may become major-league worthy

5. Chris Hernandez (25), 23, pitcher: Our first darkhorse pick. Hernandez, a lefty, does not have overpowering stuff. But he demonstrated a mature mound presence and solid pitch variety to record a combined 3.26 ERA in Portland and Pawtucket.

6. Bryce Brentz (9), 23, outfielder: In 122 games in Portland, Brentz batted .296 with 17 home runs. Also performed well in Pawtucket's playoff run, and in the Arizona Fall League. Add more polish to Brentz's batting approach and his fielding, and he's good to go (to Boston).

7. Rubby De La Rosa (NR), 23, pitcher: Obtained in the mega-trade with the Dodgers, De la Rosa showed an explosive fastball in 13 major league games in 2011 (3.71 ERA) before undergoing Tommy John surgery.

8. Ryan Kalish (4), 24, outfielder: After two wasted years because of injury, Kalish may finally get his chance to be a regular and not just an emergency fill-in.

9. Matt Barnes (15), 22, pitcher: Went 7-5 with a combined 2.86 ERA in Greenville and Salem. The first real test comes this season in Portland.

10. Allen Webster (NR), 22, pitcher: Also dealt in the Dodgers trade, Webster was considered Los Angeles' No. 2 prospect. Raw talent. Had 129 strikeouts (and 61 walks) in 130 innings in Double-A last year.

11. Drake Britton (NR), 23, pitcher: Had bounce-back season this year (3.72) in Portland. A lefty with good stuff, Britton could be close to Boston if he keeps up his command..

12. Steven Wright (NR), 28, pitcher: Obtained from the Indians in the Lars Anderson trade, Wright's knuckleball can be devastating at times. Had a 2.54 combined ERA in Double-A and Triple-A. Smart for the Red Sox to keep him around.

13. Stolmy Pimentel (NR), 22, pitcher: Pimentel is entering his third season on the 40-man roster. Brilliant at times, but inconsistent, he may get another chance to start, or begin 2013 in the bullpen.

14. Juan Carlos Linares (NR), 28, outfielder: Another darkhorse. Maybe it's his age, but Linares gets little attention as a prospect. Linares can hit and hit for power. He could be major-league ready this year.

(Continued on page 2)

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