June 13, 2010

On Baseball: No better time for a Red Sox progress report

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

It is almost 10 weeks into the minor league season, which is a good time to check on the Boston Red Sox prospects -- who is moving up or performing to expectations.

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Daniel Nava is a 27-year-old outfielder not considered a top prospect in the Red Sox organization, but he leads Pawtucket in average, homers and RBI in his first Triple-A season. He hit a grand slam in his first at-bat with the Red Sox on Saturday.

2009 Telegram File

Here is a look at Boston's top-performing prospects in the first two months. We looked at the numbers, the level of play and age.

This is our top 20:

1. Jose Iglesias, 20, shortstop. This is Iglesias' first professional season. As advertised, his fielding can be breathtaking. But his quick hands work well with the bat, too. He was hitting .306 before going on the disabled list after suffering a bruised hand May 29. A September call-up to Boston is a possibility.

2. Felix Doubront, 22, left-handed pitcher. He's throwing more strikes and excelling, first in Portland (2.51 ERA) and now in Triple-A Pawtucket (1.08 ERA). He likely would be the first starter called up from the minors.

 3. Daniel Nava, 27, outfield. Nava has never been a top prospect and, yes, he's getting older. But in his first Triple-A season, Nava leads Pawtucket in average (.294), home runs (eight) and RBI (38).

 4. Lars Anderson, 22, first base. He hit his way out of Portland (.355, five home runs, 16 RBI in 17 games) and is adjusting to Triple-A (.238).

 5. Ryan Kalish, 22, outfield. After batting .293 with eight home runs and 29 RBI, Kalish was promoted to Triple-A on May 31. He's aggressive in the field and on the bases.

 6. Anthony Rizzo, 20, first base. He is batting only .255, but has five home runs in 28 games since being promoted to Portland. He has a smooth, powerful swing and is a plus in the field.

7. Oscar Tejeda, 20, second base. After two so-so years as a shortstop in regular Class A (.259), Tejeda has changed positions in advanced Class A Salem. And he's doing something different with the bat: .332 average and eight home runs, but only eight walks.

8. Ryan Lavarnway, 22, catcher. In his first year in Salem, Lavarnway is batting .292 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI and a .393 on-base percentage. Not bad for a backup catcher. Lavarnway also gets at-bats as the DH.

9. Will Middlebrooks, 21, third base. In his third pro season, Middlebrooks is hitting .292 in Salem, with four home runs and 18 doubles. He's a solid athlete who may develop more power.

 10. Robert Manuel, 26, right-handed pitcher. Boston has called up Scott Atchison and Joe Nelson, but Manuel has the 1.11 ERA and 0.96 WHIP (walks/hits per inning).

 11. Dustin Richardson, 26, left-handed pitcher. He may become the second lefty in Boston's bullpen, with a 2.87 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings.

 12. Casey Kelly, 20, right-handed pitcher. The numbers in Portland do not jump out (1-3, 4.57), but he is battling through jams and developing well as the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League.

13. Reymond Fuentes, 19, outfield. In his first full pro season, Fuentes is holding his own with a .276 average and 20 stolen bases.

14. Luis Exposito, 23, catcher. With a strong arm and improving skills behind the plate, Exposito is also a clutch hitter with a team-leading 45 RBI. He is batting .246.

 15. Che-Hsuan Lin, 21, outfield. Lin was batting .189 on April 26. He's pulled his average up to .274 and has a .381 on-base percentage (30 walks). He has good speed with a strong arm.

 16. Alex Wilson, 23, right-handed pitcher. He has a 1.04 WHIP in Salem with 50 strikeouts in 55 innings.

17. Tim Federowicz, 22, catcher. He's batting .255 in Salem with 19 doubles and 32 RBI, arguably the best defensive catcher in the system.

(Continued on page 2)

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