Thursday, April 21, 2011

Down on the Farm

We're a few weeks in to the minor league season, so I thought I'd check in on how some of the Red Sox top prospects are doing.

Kolbrin Vitek was the Red Sox first round pick in 2010 (20th overall). Because he signed right away, Vitek was able to get 286 at bats split between low A and high A in 2010, putting up a combined .274/.364/.418 with 4 home runs and 17 stolen bases. Vitek is building on a solid debut with a .300/.404/.450 line. That line is particularly impressive given that he started the season by going 2/23. Coming in to the draft, Vitek's bat wasn't in question, but where he would play uncertain. The Red Sox have been playing him at third base, but the jury is still out whether or not he'll be able to stick there.

Anthony Ranaudo was a supplemental round pick for the Red Sox. As I've written before, Ranaudo came in to the college season as a candidate for the #2 pick behind Bryce Harper, before falling due to a poor season. While he didn't sign in time to play any minor league games, the Red Sox were able to see him dominate the Cape Cod League, presumably tipping the scales in favor of signing him for $2.5 million. So far this season, Ranaudo has rewarded the major investment in him, striking out 15 in 15 innings in A ball, while only giving up one run. Given his polish as a college ace, Ranaudo could move up to AA relatively quickly.

Jose Iglesias has been touted as the guy who will close the revolving door at shortstop for the Red Sox. Jed Lowrie is doing his best to establish himself there, but many are predicting Iglesias as the shortstop by midseason of 2012. Iglesias' glove has been described as the best many scouts have seen, and so far his hitting has been a pleasant surprise, hitting .295/.339/.379 as a 20 year old in A and AA. Iglesias has struggled so far this year (.257/.316/.257) in AAA, but it is a very aggressive assignment. Because the bat isn't ready I don't think we'll see him in the majors this season, except for maybe a cup of coffee in September. Iglesias is just 21 years old, so there isn't a need to rush him to the majors, especially with emergence of Lowrie and the steady, if unspectacular, production of Scutaro.

A couple of old friends are doing well in San Diego. Anthony Rizzo, one of the key parts of the Adrian Gonzalez trade, is dominating in AAA, hitting .436/.483/.764. Rizzo is showing his power spike in AA last year, 25 home runs, more than doubling hit previous high, was not a fluke by hitting four home runs in his first 60 at bats. Rizzo could be a huge contributor in San Diego very soon. It's always disappointing to see a prospect breakout after being traded away, but you don't get bats like Adrian Gonzalez cheaply. Casey Kelly, the top prospect in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, has also been solid in three AAA starts. Although he has a 3.31 and 1.04 WHIP through his first 16 innings, the strikeout rate has not been particularly impressive. Kelly has always been touted as a pitcher with an advanced approach, but sooner or later he'll need to strikeout more batters if he is going to become the #2 pitcher that many scouts project him to become.

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