Monday, April 26, 2010

A Prospect Check Up - Lars Anderson and Anthony Rizzo

Since writing this the Sox called up Lars Anderson to AAA. Not a bad plan to be a bit aggressive with a guy who has already spent a year and a half in AA, albeit with little success last year.

Coming into this season Anthony Rizzo and Lars Anderson seemed to be headed in very different directions. Anthony Rizzo was coming off a very impressive season split between the Sally League (the South Atlantic League, which is a low A league) and the Red Sox high A affiliate in Salem. Anderson, on the other hand, had a massively disappointing season at AA, hitting only .233/.328/.345 with 9 home runs in a repeat of AA Portland. Although Anderson came in to the season as the Red Sox #1 prospect, because of his poor showing and Rizzo's impressive 20-year-old season, analysts were split on who was the better prospect. Because of Rizzo's limited time in the Sally League and Anderson's poor performance as a SeaDog, the Sox kept both of them in high A and AA, respectively.

Lars Anderson is currently hitting .328/.388/.672 in Portland. While it is a small sample size, his slugging percentage is nearly double that of last year, plus he's already hit 5 home runs in 58 at bats, compared to 9 in 450 last year. Anderson is currently leading the Eastern League (one of the AA leagues) in slugging, OPS, and home runs. While there are still four months to go in the minor league season, it is great to see Anderson excelling after such a poor 2009. Anderson turns 23 in late September, so it wouldn't be shocking to see him as a September call up this year.

Just like Anderson, Rizzo is also hitting extremely well to start the season, posting a .304/.380/.507 line to start his season in high A Salem. The knock on Rizzo has always been that he might not have enough power to be an above average first baseman at the major league level. The .500 slugging thus far is a nice bump from the .420 in high A last year, although he'll need to maintain that power as he moves up the minor leagues. That said, with his batting eye and defensive abilities, he has a great shot at being a solid major leaguer.

So far it seems that not moving Rizzo or Anderson up has paid off. It wouldn't shock me to see one or both of them move up to the next level within the next month or so. Rizzo can't really be promoted without also promoting Anderson, although fortunately Anderson already has a full season and a half at AA, so he may be heading down to Pawtucket before too much longer.

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