Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Top 10 Red Sox Prospects (#6-10)

In the spirit of the New Year, I thought I'd provide my own ranking of Red Sox prospects. To me, January 1st is just the day that comes after December 31st, but to many the New Year is a symbol of new begins. So I'll play along and look at the future of one of my favorite things - the Red Sox.

6. Nick Hagadone, 22-Year-Old LHP

Hagadone was the Red Sox first round draft pick in 2007. He's a big southpaw, and while he was just drafted, he's already gotten off to a fast start. Hagadone posted an ERA of 1.85, a WHIP of 0.90 and a K/9 rating of 12.21 in 24.1 innings of work at Single-A Lowell. If Hagadone posts similar numbers next year, he'll become the Red Sox next big pitching prospect.

Hagadone has a fastball which tops out at 98 mph. He also has a plus slider at around 83 mph. Mixing in the two, he could find success as a reliever, using a recipe similar to that of Joba Chamberlain. Hagadone's compact delivery would also be conducive to that role. But if he wants to become a major league starter, he'll need to work a lot more on his changeup.

7. Lars Anderson, 20-Year-Old 1B

The casual fan is probably blown away by Anderson's Lancaster numbers from last year. He posted a line of .343/.489/.486. But he did so in Lancaster! That park's like pre-humidor Coors field on crack. Those numbers are useless, and besides, the sample size was small anyways.

I'm not sure I would have put Anderson in this list at all if he wasn't a good defensive first baseman. He'd just be another fumbling power hitting first baseman, and his numbers aren't indicative of Ryan Howard ability. Overall, Anderson is a solid player though. At Single-A Lancaster last year, he posted a line of .288/.385/.443. He also struck out 113 times though in 458 at bats.

If Anderson continues to develop, I think he could be a solid starting first baseman. But unlike other fans, I'm not convinced he's going to be anything special yet. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes a major league player, albeit a good one who's left-handed, plays good defense, gets on base, and has some pop.

8. Michael Bowden, 21-Year-Old RHP

Perhaps I'm just spoiled by the Red Sox upper tier prospects, but I'm not really floored by Bowden either. When the Red Sox drafted Bowden in 2005, they had to know he'd be a project. He was an 18-year-old power pitcher with a low-90's fastball, a hard 12-6 curve, and not much else.

Bowden's minor league career reminds me a lot of Josh Beckett's 2006 season. He has a hard fastball, which he throws far too often, and when he does it gets hit hard. On the down side, Bowden's secondary pitches aren't nearly as good as Beckett's. On the up side, Bowden is just as much a perfectionist as Beckett.

Bowden had a decent season at Double-A Portland last year. He had an ERA of 4.28 and a WHIP of 1.43 at Double-A Portland, but I was more impressed by his Single-A line last year. Bowden posted an ERA of 1.37, a WHIP of 0.93 and struck out a batter an inning. That's a great line on it's own, and a crazy line when you consider that he posted it in Lancaster. So I can understand why people like him so much, I'm just not one of those people.

9. Oscar Tejeda, 18-Year-Old SS

For the more patient fan, Tejeda is a very exciting player. The Red Sox signed Tejeda as a Dominican international free agent when he was just 16. In 2007, as a 17-year-old, he began his first minor league season. And the results were astounding for his age. Tejeda hit .298/.347/.394 in Single-A Lowell.

Tejeda's a toolsy guy. He has excellent speed and range. And even at his age, he has a strong arm. Sometimes he tries to do too much, and make throws from incredible angles. That's no different than any other 17-year-old shortstop though.

Will he develop power? That's the question everyone is waiting to find out. If he does, he'll be a truly special player. If not, he could still be a pretty good player. If he could translate his current numbers to the major league level, he'd be an above average hitting shortstop. And he's got plenty of time to figure out just how to do that.

10. Brandon Moss, 24-Year-Old RF/LF

Moss wasn't blessed with pure power or great speed, but he's done a lot with what he has. He's a true student of the game, and if I could only use one word to describe him, it would be "solid". I hope the Red Sox will use him on the 2008 roster as a backup outfielder, because I think he has a lot to offer the team in that role.

Moss is a lefty but he's pretty consistent, no matter the handedness of the pitcher he's facing. He gets on base at a good rate, .363 last year in 133 Triple-A games. He's also got a little pop, to the tune of .471 last year at the same level. And he reproduced those numbers rather well last year in some major league at bats.

Moss would also make a valuable bench player because of his above average speed for a corner outfield. And to keep the runners honest, he's got a rocket of an arm. If he is used on the bench, I think he'll stick around at the major league level. He's not going to replace Manny Ramirez, and Drew's likely to be around for a while. But the Red Sox are teaching Moss how to play first base so he can get playing time with the Red Sox regardless.

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