September 19, 2010

On Baseball: The Red Sox are watching them, and so should you

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

With the minor-league seasons over, it's time for our second annual top prospects list, expanded from 20 to 31.

Ryan Kalish
click image to enlarge

Ryan Kalish has been a quick learner with the Boston Red Sox after receiving a July 31 call-up. He has the tools to become a prolific player in the next couple seasons.

The Associated Press

We tend to favor players closer to the majors, which explains why there are no Class A players in the top 15, and only one drafted player from 2010 on the list.

Some batting statistics include both batting average and OPS (combined on-base percentage and slugging average). Major-league statistics are through Wednesday's game.

Last year's rankings are included in parentheses.

1. Ryan Kalish (6), 22, outfield. After batting a combined .294/.884 in Portland and Pawtucket, Kalish was called up to Boston on July 31 and quickly showed he belonged. He leveled off but is now batting .293 with five doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI in 12 games in September. Kalish is a quick learner, makes adjustments and projects to be a full-time, five-tool producer for Boston by 2012, if not earlier.

2. Anthony Rizzo (4), 21, first base. Rizzo is the rare power hitter at a young age, with 25 home runs in 136 games with Salem and Portland (20 homers in Double-A). His numbers (.260/.814) reflect an occasional slump, but the more he plays, the better his timing will get. He's also a top fielder. His big-league debut could come in 2011.

3. Felix Doubront (5), 22, pitcher. We rated Doubront high last year and he came through, recording a combined 2.81 ERA in Portland and Pawtucket before his Boston call-up. A future starter with an improving fastball/curve/change-up mix, Doubront may be in the Red Sox bullpen next year.

4. Jose Iglesias (15), 20, shortstop. His rating last year was based solely on hype, but he proved himself with a .285/.672 in Portland an acrobatic plays on defense. Played only 57 games because of injury, but could reach the majors in 2011.

5. Casey Kelly (3), 20, pitcher. Kelly was rushed to Double-A this year and took his lumps (3-5, 5.31). Occasionally, the command of his fastball, curve and change-up showed major-league potential. But he still has a way to go. A 2011 call-up is not out of the question, but he has to improve on his "developmental" year.

6. Josh Reddick (2), 23, outfield. After tearing up spring training (.390), Reddick shuttled back from Pawtucket to Boston, which seemed to wear on him (a warning to Ryan Kalish). Reddick hit under. 200 at both levels before he got hot from June 14 on, hitting .319 the rest of the way for Pawtucket.

7. Ryan Lavarnway (NR), 23, catcher. Perhaps no player had more of a breakout year than Lavarnway, who batted a combined .288/.882 for Salem and Portland with 22 RBI and 102 RBI, tops in the organization. Lavarnway's defense has come a long way. If he keeps improving, he's on his way to the majors someday.

8. Michael Bowden (8), 24, pitcher. Bowden messed with his delivery early and then switched from starter to reliever. Still, he kept a 3.66 ERA in Pawtucket. He has a 5.73 ERA in 12 relief outings with Boston. Set to be a full-time reliever in 2011, Bowden may find his niche.

9. Daniel Nava (10), 27, outfield. Nava was on no one's radar (except ours) last year. He went from being a nobody to playing 49 games (and counting) for Boston. Nava is a switch hitter but is batting only .167 right-handed.

10. Dustin Richardson (11), 26, pitcher. For a lefty reliever like Richardson, the opportunity is there. But he obviously must fix his approach to left-handers, who are hitting .360 against him.

(Continued on page 2)

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