Monday, November 16, 2009

State of the System: Center Field

As I mentioned in the post on Baseball Prospectus' take on the Sox farm system, the Red Sox have an awful lot of outfield prospects with a chance to stick in center field. I'll take a closer look at three of them here - Ryan Kalish, a 21 year old who just finished up a season at AA and finally Reymond Fuentes, the Red Sox first round draft pick from April. For some thoughts on Westmoreland, see my post on BP's prospect rankings for the Red Sox.

Everywhere I look it seems to pop up that Ryan Kalish's biggest strength is his lack of weaknesses. He makes good contact, plays good defense in centerfield, and has the tools to be a 20/20 player in the majors. Without any outstanding tools there is some downside though. If Kalish fills out too much for centerfield he may end up as a tweener with defense a little too weak for centerfield but a bat that is a little weak for right or left - think David Murphy. Between high A and AA last year Kalish his 18 homeruns and stole 22 bases in 28 attempts. The power was nice to see after a 2008 after Kalish slugged .397 in the hitter friendly California league, although the low slugging could be tied to a lingering wrist injury from 2007. Sox Prospects has him starting the season in AAA, but I could see the organization starting him in AA or AAA as the organization has shown they're willing to promote players directly from AA, although this has been more common for pitching prospects. Even without a major league callup next season the Sox will need to add Kalish to the 40 man roster, otherwise he'll be Rule 5 eligible during the offseason next year. Kalish is playing in the Arizona Fall League right now, and is hitting .306 with one home run and 4 stolen bases, but with only a .387 slugging percentage.

Reymond Fuentes was the Red Sox first round pick in this April's draft. If you've read anything about him you're probably already aware that: 1. He is Carlos Beltran's cousin 2. His workouts were supposed to be amazing. Beyond that there isn't an awful lot to know about Fuentes, an 18 year old high schooler from Puerto Rico. Depending on who you want to believe he's either 5'10" or 6'1", is extremely fast and projects to have good power. Fuentes held his own in his pro debut in the Gulf Coast rookie league, but it will take several years before the Sox really know what to expect from him. Unlike Beltran, even under the rosiest projections Fuentes is not projected to be a 30 home run hitter.

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