Between Saturday and Tuesday, the Red Sox farm system will have been raked over by the San Diego Padres and the rest of Major League Baseball.
By trading Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo to San Diego on Saturday, the Red Sox let go of what Baseball America considered three of the organization’s top-six prospects.
We have not seen this much movement of marquee prospects since the Theo Epstein-era began in 2003.
The last time Theo dealt multiple prospects like this was Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to Cleveland with Justin Masterson for Victor Martinez. Masterson was a Major League pitcher already and Hagadone was considered the star prospect. Good player but Hagadone’s star power was nowhere near that of Kelly and adding in Fuentes and Rizzo makes this epic deal reach otherworldly proportions.
Epstein traded Kason Gabbard and David Murphy in 2007 to Texas for Eric Gagne in what turned out to be his worst trade to date. Murphy was a first round pick out of Rice and Gabbard had 5th starter potential, but nowhere near the package of prospects in the Gonzalez deal.
Epstein has dealt name-brand prospects in the past, but always held on to the big time stars like Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester. Many wondered if Kelly didn’t fit into that same category.
This coming Tuesday, the Rule 5 Amateur Draft will take place and there are minor league prospects that the Red Sox cannot protect.
Historically, the Rule 5 Draft has uncovered some gems tucked away in baseball farm systems. Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, Joakim Soria, Scott Podsednik and Jose Bautista were all Rule 5 draft picks and are now stars for someone else because their original team did not protect them.
The Red Sox have protected a handful of guys and that list includes:
Plenty of Red Sox prospects remain left to choose from if another team is willing to take a chance. The real challenge is whether or not the team that makes the pick can keep the new player on their Major League roster for the 2011 season. If they can’t, they must return the player to the Red Sox. That’s the big gotcha of Rule 5 and it creates an interesting wrinkle to the process. If you draft him, you have to roster him.
Below are a handful of names you are familiar with that the Red Sox have left unprotected. All are eligible to be taken from the Red Sox on December 7th when the draft occurs.
Jason Place – Place was a first round pick of the Boston Red Sox and came directly from Wren High School in South Carolina. SoxProspects calls him an outfielder with five-tool potential but a guy who rubs his teammates the wrong way.
Place has plenty of raw power, but strikes out too much and doesn’t walk. He can be fooled with breaking balls and has shown very little improvement over four years. His raw upside is still incredibly high and may benefit from a change of scenery.
Boston will leave Place unprotected and expect him to be claimed.
Eammon Portice – 12th round pick in 2007 who flashed an elite 12.0 K/9 in Lowell after four years at High Point. Portice was old for every level of the farm system and by the time he reached Portland in 2010 at age 25, he was allowing nine hits a game and could not keep runners off of the bases. His K/9 faded from the elite level to merely dominant and does not enough strikeout dominance to compensate for all of the batters that reach base on him.
Portice still has the ability to strike guys out at an elite rate and owns a professional splitter so he may be enticing for some of the more pitching-starved baseball organizations.
He is a good prospect though, so we hope he stays in Boston.
Jason Rice – Rice has the lights-out qualities you look for in a closer. He has a dominant K/9 with solid control. Rice was a 2010 Eastern League All-Star but the Red Sox elected to exclude him from the 40-man roster, so he may be on his way out the door.
The Red Sox originally claimed Rice from the Chicago White Sox in the (AAA) Rule 5 Draft in 2008. After two seasons of Rice the Red Sox are willing to let him move on to his third MLB organization.
Place wants to stay right here, FWIW.
Chih-Hsien Chiang – Chiang is a middle infielder who is originally from Taiwan and was a high school star in his home country. Chiang has moderate power and makes very good contact with an 86 CT%. He doesn’t have a great eye and his walk rate is a modest 6.5%. One of the biggest flaws in his game is his discipline.
The other is his defense. Chiang was moved to the outfield because his defense at second base was below-average and the team did not see a future for him there. He profiles as a good hitter but lacks a single-dominant skill and appears to be organizational fodder.
A MLB team may claim him this week, but it’s hard imagining a place for him on a Major League roster in 2011.
Aaron Bates – Bates is a 26-year old power prospect that struggles to hit the ball in the air. With as many groundballs as Bates hits, he will never be a power threat despite the talent and strength he possesses.
Bates’ 29% flyball rate is what you look for in guys like Juan Pierre, not a guy who could hit 35 HR a year. Couple his weak FB% with a 76% contact rate and it has caused the Red Sox to leaves Bates unprotected — despite his excellent defensive and leadership qualities.
Bates may have a role as a bench player in the National League so don’t be surprised to see him go at the draft. Teams will often poach older stars due to their maturity and the ease of projecting a role for them at the Major League level.
Bates has already played five games in Boston, so he has a taste of the big show. The chances of him sticking on a National League roster are a lot better than some of the other high-risk prospects.
[Every Player Eligible for the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, MLB blog: Spandemonium written by Dave Gershman]
History tells us that the Red Sox may lose two or three players in the Rule 5 Draft, and if this occurs, it will have been the largest pillage on the farm system since the team started turning the soil in 2003.
The trading of Kelly, Rizzo and Fuentes was for good reason though and Red Sox fans are happy today. The team acquired a cornerstone-type player in Gonzalez and hope that by putting him in a favorable environment, it will take him to the elite level. Fans are hoping for the best for Gonzalez and wishing well for the former Sox prospects on their way to sunny California. All three have bright futures and could one day be the foundation of the Padres.
Padres fans are sad to say goodbye to Gonzalez. He a is native of San Diego and played his whole career for the Friars. Gonzalez was San Diego’s local sports hero and it is hard for them to watch Gonzalez leave.
But we are happy to see him in Boston even if we lost three of our best prospects.
As far as the Rule 5 Draft-eligible players are concerned; it’s fun to think that they could be the next Santana or Victorino. And at the very least will be playing somewhere in the big leagues next year.
It’s too bad the Red Sox may lose them.
Categories: Boston Red Sox