How do I choose who to profile? The criteria are thus: Must have had the majority of their games at the position profiled. I also will only choose no more than five players, those that spent the most time at said position. I will note who I have left out. For those that are utility men and deserve to be profiled but might not have as many games started at a specific position to justify being put in the top five, they will be placed in the position they played the most. This is not meant to be a top prospects review! This is meant to give people recognition for the seasons they had regardless of age or if they are still with the organization (although comments about their future with the Red Sox will be said). Also, last year, I profiled the major league club along with the minor league club. That is changing this year as I will profile the major league positions individually from this review.
Thank you to SoxProspects.com and Cuzittt, frequent Red Sox poster on the Cardiac Kids and Sons of Sam Horn who corrected my errors and strengthened my musings about the minor leagues by adding extra information. Notes taken verbatim from Cuzitt are either in blockquotes or italicized.
Pull up a chair, this one’s a doozy!
Pawtucket Red Sox – AAA International League
Kelly Shoppach The 24-year old will be repeating a year at Pawtucket. Last year, in his first year for Pawtucket, he hit .233 with a .320 OBP, a .461 SLG, and 138 strikeouts in 399 at-bats. This year, Shoppach will work on cutting down the strikeouts (he has always been prone to strikeouts, but even 2004 was a bit much for him) and sending his batting average back up. One bit of progress in 2004 that he made was home-runs. He hit 22 home-runs, the highest ever. In 2003, he tied his career high with 12 home-runs, so that’s a significant jump. In 2003 for Portland, he hit .282, so if he can improve his batting average, he should become a top-notch backup catcher and could start. He is known to be a great defensive catcher and game-caller, so Shoppach should find himself with a backup job at the very least in the majors in the next few years, whether or not he hits for a high average this coming season. Either way, Shoppach is at minimum, a backup catcher in the major leagues. Also, his age might be a little higher than what we’re used to seeing, but for Pawtucket, Shoppach is on the young end of the spectrum in relation to overall league age and catching age. He was voted to the IL Season Ending All-Star team (which says as much about Kelly as it does about the lack of full-time catchers in the IL.) 21 of his 22 HRs came when he played at catcher. That is a Pawtucket team record. With Varitek signed for 4 years and Mirabelli for 2… Shoppach could become trade bait.
Andy Dominique Dominique recently just signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets. He saw some time in the major leagues, but for the most part, started in Pawtucket where he hit .267/.360/.442, solid numbers for a Triple-A hitter. The 29-year old is going to his third organization, having broken in with Philadelphia and coming to Boston in 2002. He had 15 HRs and 69 RBI. He calls a pretty good game behind the plate, has good hands at first base, and is a good clubhouse person. He could latch on to the Mets roster as a backup catcher/first-baseman if the cards fall his way.
Raul Casanova The long-time catcher signed in May to start in the Red Sox organization, hitting .270 in 74 AB. He moved onto the Royals’ affiliate, being traded June 25th for a player to be named. The 32-year old was just filler, but had a productive AAA season for the Royals’ AAA affiliate, Omaha.
Frank Castillo The former Red Sox #5 starter (succeeded by John Burkett) returned to the Red Sox in 2004 after stints with the A’s and Braves’ AAA clubs in 2003. He only pitched one inning for the Red Sox in 2004, but provided good starts in Triple-A, going 10-9 with a 4.38 ERA. Castillo is a free agent.
Tim Kester Kester was 33 this past year and pitched six seasons for the Houston Astros, then went to Taiwan. He tried out for the Padres in 2001 but was cut, and later went on to play in Italy, before returning to the US to play for an independent team in Pennsylvania, where the Red Sox signed him. He went 12-11 with a 4.20 ERA in 24 games started. Kester will be returning, along with John Stephens. These are the only members of the Pawtucket 2004 rotation not free agents. Tim Kester played for the IL in the AAA All-Star Game in Pawtucket… and was voted Pawtucket’s pitcher of the year.
John Stephens Stephens is 25, and had a 4.47 ERA with a 9-6 record for Pawtucket. He was one of Baltimore’s prized prospects, but has fallen. in 2002, for Baltimore’s AAA affiliate, Ottawa, he went 11-5 with a 3.04 ERA and was called up to the Orioles and turned in a 2-5 record with a 6.09 ERA. If I recall correctly, we beat him up quite well in a start. He has not seen MLB since, turning in a 3.97 record last year for Ottawa. He has a fastball, four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and change, and at 25, still has a chance for a productive major league career. Stephens also played a big role in Greece, helping (along with Brett Roneberg) Australia win the Silver Medal in Olympic Baseball.
Jamie Brown Brown was acquired for Angel Santos in 2003, and just signed to go to Japan. The 27-year old had a 4.82 ERA in 20 starts for Pawtucket, going 4-6 (talk about not factoring into the game when you start) and up until last year had looked to be a good long-man in an MLB rotation, when his ERA neared 5. The year before, in 2003, he had a 13-10 record with a 3.53 ERA starting for Cleveland’s AAA rotation, then came to Pawtucket and was mainly a reliever with a 2.26 ERA. He did get a look in a Red Sox uniform, pitching 7.2 IP with a 5.87 ERA. Best of luck to Brown, and it’s still not too late for him to become a major league reliever, but he’ll have to wait a year. He will earn $400,000 in Japan playing for the Hanshin Tigers.
Byung-Hyun Kim On Christmas Eve (yes, this column has been in production for quite a while) I decided I wanted to write a little about Kim. Then I woke up in the morning, and lo and behold, the Boston Globe had an article in which Theo Epstein said that Kim will probably join the Red Sox in spring training and get a good shot to make the team as a reliever. This is good news for me, because I am not ready to give up on Kim. Yes, I know he flipped off the fans during the 2003 playoffs, but baseball (and sports, by extension) is the land of second chances, and Kim can certainly redeem himself with a top-notch 2005 season. The 2-year, $10 million contract was probably not prudent, but we can live with it. Kim came over from the Diamondbacks in 2003 to be an anchor out of the bullpen, effectively stabilizing the bullpen and by extension, helping to save the season from disrepair. Posting 16 saves, he made it clear he wanted to try and start. To Korean people (or so I have heard) the true value is in starting, and I am sure the same is everywhere, starting a baseball game is good, but Koreans apparently place very low value on relieving or closing games. The Red Sox gave him a shot. In seven games, three starts, for the Sox, he went 2-1 with a 6.23 ERA (this after a 3.18 ERA in 79.1 IP in 2003). Complaining of injury (and relevations that he worked out too hard and refused to scale back and was a loner in the clubhouse) he spent most of the season in Pawtucket, starting 19 games and relieving in three more for 60.1 IP and a 5.34 ERA. Ouch. There was clearly something wrong with Kim, but Kim has assured Epstein that “He’s been working out. We’ve received some communications from him that he’s going to come to spring training early and get into the warm weather and not make the same mistakes he made last spring training where he adjusted his programs several times. Now he seems more focused, so he can have an effective preparation for the season.” The problem with calling Kim a starter is that his role after his demotion from Boston (and subsequent trip to Korea for Balance treatment) is that he really was pitching as a mid-game reliever… except he started the 1st inning. On the other hand, my remembrance of his starts is that he tended to give up runs at the end of his appearances. This bodes well to a return to the pen.
Right now, the Red Sox bullpen seems to line up with Keith Foulke, Matt Mantei, Alan Embree, Mike Timlin, John Halama, Kim, and Anastacio Martinez. If Kim can be a top-notch middle reliever, we could end up having a strong bullpen and take less of a hit should Mantei get injured again. The only reason I would trade Kim is for another reliever, just to get out of the money, but Kim has already accomplished a lot in the majors for a 25-year old, and he still has plenty of time to straighten out.
Edwin Almonte This was Almonte’s first year as a Red Sox. He used to be a strong relief prospect for the White Sox and Mets, posting miniscule ERAs. After a less than stellar White Sox start in 2003, he moved to the Mets where he produced in Triple-A Norfolk, but failed to impress in a cup of coffee in the majors. He could not translate that success to Pawtucket, posting a 5.50 ERA in 72 innings. He has good stuff, but something that he once had is lost. While the 28-year old can still become a good reliever, time is running out. Almonte has returned, signing a minor league contract. If he can get back on track, he should see time in the majors this season.
Matt Duff Duff came over from the Cardinals in spring training for Tony Womack, now a Yankee. The 30-year old has always had impressive statistics in the minors, and I don’t really know why he never got a shot other than a couple of innings in 2002. He pitched 73.1 IP with a 3.93 ERA, and his main weakness is control, posting a ratio of 1.89 strikeouts to walks. The former Pirate and Cardinal farmhand is a free agent.
Tim Hamulack Hamulack was signed away from Seattle with hopes that he could help the Red Sox out in 2004 after a quality history. Alas, he imploded in Pawtucket, a 6.98 ERA in 29.2 IP. He was demoted to Portland, where he pitched 15.1 IP with a 3.52 ERA until being designated for assignment July 9th. He had had a very strong spring training and was one of the last to be cut.
Mark Malaska Malaska was claimed off waivers from the Devil Rays, causing consternation amongst the Devil Ray faithful fans. He had impressed in Tampa in 2003, posting a 2.81 ERA in 16 IP for the D-Rays in 2003. The 26-year old split time with Pawtucket and the Red Sox this season. For Pawtucket, he appeared in 33 games, with a 4.21 ERA. For Boston, he appeared in 19 games with a 4.50 ERA. Malaska should eventually turn into a viable relief candidate in the major leagues.
Anastacio Martinez Anastacio gained three years of age in 2003, going from a 22-year old to a 25-year old so while the 26-year old’s shine may not shine as brightly as it used to, Martinez is still a solid reliever and will probably be Boston’s 12th man out of the bullpen, as he is out of minor league options. He pitched 11 games for Boston, with an unseemly 8.44 ERA (but wrangling a 2-1 record) and posted a 3.74 ERA in Pawtucket.
Pitchers not covered: Matt Beech, Bryan Hebson, James Johnson, Brandon Puffer, Phil Seibel, Brad Thomas, Ed Yarnall
Portland Sea Dogs – AA Eastern League
Jeff Bailey The 26-year old has yet to gain a full-time job in Triple-A despite a solid season in AA, the 2004 season being the most solid of all. Bailey hit .294/.404/.522 with 13 HR in 299 at-bats. He is also an outfielder and first baseman and could eventually wind up in the major leagues. He strikes out a touch too much, however. Bailey is a catcher by necessity only. He was actually signed to be a 4th OF type… but he probably helped his stock a lot by being the primary catcher for Portland (up until his injury). He should be in Pawtucket this year as an OF/1B/C combo player.
Edgar Martinez No, not that Edgar Martinez. This 23-year old out of Venezuela has a very strong arm, but makes too many errors and couldn’t hit to save his life (.163 batting average in 141 AB for Portland this past year) and thus, was converted to being a pitcher (in Augusta)! He impressed, relieving for a total of ten innings and a nice 0.90 ERA with 8 hits, 4 walks, and 5 strikeouts. If the free agent resigns with the Red Sox, he could be a real sleeper. Cuzittt notes that the Sox waited too long to convert him to a reliever.
Clint Chauncey The 23-year old can also play the outfield and has been in the Mets, Cardinals, and Indians’ affiliations. Chauncey has yet to show that he can hit for either average or power. The last time he recieved any significant amout of at-bats was 2002, when he hit .237.
I would mention Mike Lopez-Cao rather than Clint Chauncey… as I believe Lopez-Cao has been resigned. He was signed out of Nashua (Atlantic League) in August after Bailey went down. He also played some 2nd Base late in the year after the infield went down with injury. (Chauncey was traded for in June… before Martinez made the switch but when I think it was obvious they were going to make the switch).
Abe Alvarez Abe has been covered plenty in this space. Abe was the 2004 Portland Sea Dogs Most Valuable Pitcher (as voted by the fans), the 2004 Portland Sea Dogs Pitcher of the Year, and a 2004 Eastern League All Star. He ended the season 10-9 with a 3.66 ERA in 135.1 IP (26 starts). The 22-year old looks to open the season at Pawtucket. While Alvarez doesn’t throw hard, the lefty has good control (compared to Orel Hershiser and Jamie Moyer) and is a focused person who knows what to do to prepare for a game. With Jason Varitek catching and Curt Schilling offering advice, Alvarez could blossom into a frontline starter. For now, however, most projections have him as a 3rd or 4th starter.
Josh Stephens The current free-agent started 20 games, with a 5.24 ERA, and also started 4 games in Pawtucket, with a 5.00 ERA. He was converted to a starter from a reliever, because he had posted good numbers as a reliever. The 25-year old could always be converted back to a reliever, and has always had a high strikeout to walk ratio.
Charlie Zink The knuckleballer took a step backwards in 2004. The 25-year old had posted a 3.90 ERA at Sarasota in 2003 and a 3.43 ERA at Portland in nine starts. He started in Portland, starting 18 games with a 5.79 ERA and then was demoted back to Sarasota, starting three games with a 5.65 ERA. Zink trusts his knuckler wholly, and has been tutored by Tim Wakefield and Luis Tiant. Zink needs to turn in a quality season at Portland next year to continue moving up the ladder.
[Cuzittt] read somewhere that Zink said he really did not work at all last off-season under the mistaken belief that he did not have to work since he was a knuckleballer. It could just be that he is a one-year wonder… but if he can get back to what he showed in 2003… he would be a wonderful replacement for Tim Wakefield (at some point).
Ryan Cameron Cameron started 15 games for Portland and got in a few games in Pawtucket. The 27-year old posted a 4.30 ERA, striking out 8.3 batters per nine innings with a 1.46 WHIP. He had been a pretty good relief prospect before arriving in Boston, but seemed stuck in Triple-A. The Marlins signed Cameron and invited him to spring training.
Chris Smith Smith had an injury in 2002, but that hasn’t slowed the 23-year old who has been compared to Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina. He is a well-prepared individual and relies on his off-speed pitches, including his knuckle-curve. For Augusta in 2003, he had a 4.27 ERA in 8 starts, then made two starts at Sarasota in 2003, not being scored upon. The right-hander continued to progress, throwing 14 starts for Portland, a 5-2 ERA, and a 3.75 ERA. For someone who relies on his off-speed stuff, he strikes out quite a bit of people, an average of 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, while walking an average of 2.5. Smith looks to have good potential. He will turn 24 on April 9th. Chris Smith is a walking injury. He does not have good potential as he went down with a torn labrum. We would be lucky to see him pitch next year.
Juan Perez The 25-year old converted starter was thought to become a very good lefty reliever in the majors, but is now three years older, thanks to forged birth certificates. Perez still has a promising career ahead of him, and posted a 4.14 ERA in 78.1 IP for Portland in 2004, striking out 79 batters.
Ryan Larson The 29-year old is 5’10″ and according to SoxProspects is “short for a pitcher.” It’s not height that matters, its talent. Before 2004, he had had good statistics, but gave us a 5.36 ERA in 40.1 IP this past year.
Joe Nelson The 30-year old posted a forgettable 16.88 ERA for the Red Sox in 2.2 as Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo would go on and on about Nelson’s signature change-up, the “Vulcan.” For Portland, he had a 1.78 ERA in 25 games, and a 4.64 ERA in 16 games for Pawtucket. Nelson still has a chance to make it in the majors, but in both major league stints (he got a couple of innings in 2001 with Atlanta) he has gotten shelled. He will try with the Mets, with whom he signed a minor league contract with.
Bo Donaldson The 30-year old had a 5.05 ERA in 73 IP for Portland, and has bounced around from organization to organization (he was a Yankee in 2002) and before this year had been very effective at all levels. He could eventually get a shot to relieve in the major leagues.
Marc Deschenes Continuing the trend of thirty year olds, the 31-year old who has yet to make it to the majors posted a 2.45 ERA in 33 innings with a 93-mph fastball and a splitter. He was a shortstop for U-Mass Lowell before being converted to a reliever.
Pitchers not covered: Conor Brooks, Andrew Ehrlich, Kason Gabbard, Jerome Gamble, Eric Glaser, Jeremy Lambert, Greg Montalbano, Charlie Weatherby
Sarasota Red Sox – High A Florida League (now a Cincinnati affiliate, replaced by the Wilmington Blue Rocks)
Jim Buckley The Siena College graduate is 25 years old who is supposed to be a good leader with power, but has not professionally shown it. In his second season, he spent 203 at-bats at Sarasota, hitting .202/.291/.384 with eight home-runs. Jim Buckley is organizational filler… but we needed him this year. This was by far his best season… and he was rewarded with a weekend stint with Pawtucket to end the season (after Andy Dominique was waived).
Alberto Concepcion The 23-year old out of USC has started to rise high in the eyes of Red Sox officials. He is a good defensive catcher who can also play third base. He does not have much power or speed but makes it up with an adequate batting average and a good batting eye. This past 2004 season he has played for three teams. He started at Sarasota, where he had been in 2003. In 2003, he hit .218/.309/.250 in 156 at-bats, but improved dramatically in 2004, hitting .281 (first time he had shown any sign of hitting prowess since arriving in the organization in 2002) with a .364 OBP and .402 slugging, and earned a quick promotion to Portland where he hit .214 in 14 at bats. He went to the AFL where he played for Peoria, hitting .279/.396/.488. The question, as we discussed when dealing with the 3rd baseman, is whether the Sox see him as a catcher or a 3rd baseman. I think they see him as a 3rd Baseman… but Dusty Brown’s injury forced them to utilize him more at catcher.
Dusty Brown He has been in the organization since 2001 and hit strongly with GCL in 2002, hitting .321/.404/.440 (159 AB) until being promoted to Augusta in 2003, hitting .263/.358/.386 in 285 at-bats then was again promited, this time to Sarasota. In 118 at-bats, the 22-year old hit .229/.321/.280. Clearly he has a great batting eye but is dipping in productivity as he rises. If he can regain some offensive prowess, he could see higher levels of the organization. Well… he is still young. And, 118 ABs is worth little in the evaluation process. Hopefully we can see a full year for Dusty this year… as he was injured early in the season this year.
Luis Mendoza The glasses-wearing 21-year old has shown a ton of promise. He recently turned 21 in October, meaning he was 20 while pitching for Sarasota in which he went 8-7 with a 3.74 ERA. He does not have very good control, however, walking 54 batters in 137 innings, striking 51 out. He had a 2.23 ERA for Augusta in 2003, in 59.2 innings, walking 14 and striking out 29. Keep an eye on Mendoza. Strikeouts are the problem with Mendoza. A strikeout every 3 innings is BAD. Walking more than you strikeout is BAD. He is young… and he is making it work… but I just can’t feel like I should keep an eye on him.
Jon Papelbon Papelbon was converted from a reliever to starter and has made the successful transition. The 24-year old had a 2.64 ERA in 24 games started for Sarasota, striking out 153 in 129.2 innings, walking 43. His fastball goes as high as 98 miles an hour, and has a slider, changeup, and slurve curveball. He should turn out as a topnotch starter, and from what I have heard, should start in Portland and jump to Pawtucket.
Juan Cedeno The 21-year old had a 4.64 ERA in 22 games started, 3 relief appearances totaling for 120.1 IP. His fastball is similiar to Pedro, but doesn’t have the arsenal yet that Pedro boasts of. Being only 21, the lefty has a lot of promise and could turn out to be a front-line starter.
Jon Lester The pitcher most coveted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and almost traded to the Texas Rangers took the promotion to Sarasota from Augusta in stride, dialing in a 4.28 ERA in 20 games started. He struck 97 out and walked 37. The lefty has a smooth delivery and currently projects as a mid-rotation starter but could improve if he can improve his change-up, curveball, and cut-fastball.
Manny Delcarmen The Boston native had Tommy John surgery in May 2003 and returned in May 2004 with a high-90s fastball. He had a 4.68 ERA in 18 games started, 76 strikeouts in 73 innings. In fall ball, for Peoria, he relieved in twelve games with a 3.68 ERA. The 22-year old should continue his progression. This crop of starters is extremely strong and should start bearing fruit soon. While Pawtucket has no great starting prospects to boast of, Portland and Sarasota have very solid crops that should either make great trade opportunities or turn into pitchers the Red Sox can utilize.
David Pahucki The 23-year old had great promise as a starter, but struggled enough to be converted to a reliever. The Red Sox might have kept him as a starter, but with the other talent in the field plus a thinking that Pahucki could be more valuable as a reliever, they converted him with fantastic results seeing a 1.81 ERA in a total of 59.2 IP with 40 strikeouts and 15 walks.
Justin Sturge The 6’4″ lefty had a 2.80 ERA in 39 games, two of them started for a total of 80.1 innings.
Joe Rogers Joe Rogers was a Cardinal farmhand. The 23-year old was released early in 2004 because his velocity had dipped. He is a career reliever and in 2003 had a 2.30 ERA for Peoria, an A-ball affiliate of the Cardinals. The Red Sox signed him and he had a 3.72 ERA for Sarasota, starting two games. The Red Sox had him learn a knuckleball from Charlie Zink and did well enough for a promotion to Portland, where he started 2 games and relieved three, for a 5.17 ERA. If Rogers can regain some velocity on his fastball, he could become a very effective reliever in the major leagues. A lefty knuckleballer is not very common, wouldn’t you say? Well… he isn’t going to regain velocity on his fastball since he has become a knuckleball pitcher. So hoping for a return of velocity isn’t going to work. However, Knuckleball pitchers are great for the organization because of the relative lack of strain on the arm. Rogers showed that by bouncing between Sarasota and Portland this year.
Brian Marshall The 22-year old closer has a good slider and hard fastball, and had a 3.49 ERA in 27 games, with one save, although he had 6 for Lowell in 2003, and a 1.15 ERA to go along with that. He struck 39 out with 15 walks and the lefty has good promise to become a major league reliever.
Jason Howell The 25 year old spent his fourth year in the organization, repeating in Sarasota before gaining a promotion to Portland. He has very good breaking pitchers but a slow fastball (86 miles per hour). He could turn out to be a lefty specialist. He had a 2.70 ERA for Sarasota in 19 games, but a 7.20 ERA in 23 games for Portland. He is also a lefty.
Pitchers not covered: Willy Corporan, Cla Meredith, Carlos Morla, Shane Rhodes, Andrew Shipman, Greg Stone, Jose Vaquedano
Cuzittt says that Cla Meredith definitely needs to be mentioned, so what follows is Cuzittt’s notes about Cla (looks like we need to keep an eye on this guy):
Augusta: Cla Meredith: The 6th pick out of Virginia Commonwealth, the relief specialist took 13 games (and 15 1/3 innings) of scoreless relief before getting the bump to Sarasota. Cla went 1-0 with 6 saves, giving up 8 hits, 3 walks, 2 HBPs and striking out 18.)
Sarasota: Cla Meredith: The 6th pick out of Virginia Commonwealth, the relief specialist got a bump from Augusta… and while he was not as perfect as in Augusta, he did quite well in 16 games. Cla went 0-2 with 12 saves and a 2.20 ERA. Cla struck out 16 in 16 1/3 innings, while allowing 15 hits and 3 walks.
Augusta GreenJackets – Mid A South Atlantic League (now a S.F. affiliate, replaced by the Capital City Bombers)
Jon De Vries The Red Sox enticed him to sign out of high-school and forego LSU. After dissapointing the Red Sox in 2002 and 2003 (but was good in minimal action in 2001 for the GCL) he got a promotion to Augusta to play full-time. He hit .257/.351/.371 and seems to be finally developing to what the Red Sox had hoped he would develop to.
Mitchel Stachowsky The 6’3″, 230 lbs. catcher was drafted in the final round of the 2003 draft. He was then signed as a Draft and Follow player before the 2004 draft, and spent both time in GCL and Augusta. For GCL, he hit .236/.300/.327 in 55 AB. He exhibits minimal power, and in 78 AB for Augusta, hit .192/.284/.269. He is young (18 or 19) and the fact that he was asked to fill in at Augusta for an extended period shows that the Sox likely think highly of him.
Lance Schartz Schartz was drafted in 2002 and has yet to show anything. As a backup in Augusta, he hit .111 in 27 at-bats. He has basically had zero at-bats to prove his value, so how good he is, we can’t really say, but he certainly hasn’t shown much so far. Lance was drafted as filler… and I’m pretty sure he keeps getting injured. Hard to show anything if you are unable to take the field.
Robert Vankirk Vankirk is in the mold of Schartz, starting with the Red Sox in 2003 and showing nothing in limited action. He provides filler, which the Sox organization needs.
Jarrett Gardner Gardner is projected to join Portland in 2005 as a starter, as the 23-year old blew away Augusta competition in 2004, with a 2.51 ERA in 23 games started, and started one game in Portland, going six innings, with three runs earned. Gardner has extreme control, only walking 11 in 136 innings in Augusta with 92 strikeouts. He was the 2004 Augusta Pitcher of the Year. Fun fact. Gardner walked only 2 batters in 60 innings in Lowell in 2003.
Gary Galvez The 20 year old was signed in February 2003, and pitched his first season in 2004 for Augusta, quite an aggressive promotion for a 20-year old. He started 22 games, relieved eight, showing a 5.14 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 140.0 IP. The Red Sox signed Galvez after losing out on Jose Contreras (thank god). “The Red Sox reached an agreement on a minor-league contract with Gary Galvez, 18, the ace of Cuba’s junior national team who defected in August.” It was an aggressive push for Gary (he pitched extremely well for the Sox Dominican Summer League team in 2003)… and he started off badly. However, he had a good 2nd half of the year… and should be better next year after this years acclimation to the US.
Kyle Jackson Jackson has has injury problems, but turned in a full 2004 season for Augusta, posting a K:BB ratio of 3.61, a 4.64 ERA in 21 games started and 10 games relieved. He was the 2003 Gulf Coast Pitcher of the Year, starting 12 games for them in 2003 with a 1.85 ERA. He struck out 131 batters in 141.2 innings pitched for Augusta.
Jesus Delgado Delgado pitched his first professional baseball since 2001, coming off Tommy John surgery and failed to impress at Augusta with a 5.22 ERA in 58.2 IP, starting 16 games and relieving in five. The low innings total leads me to believe that the Red Sox will convert Delgado to a reliever.
Beau Vaughan The 23-year old out of Arizona State has a strong curveball, fastball and two other top-notch pitchers. The aggressive right-hander threw for a 3.30 ERA in 13 games started for Augusta with a 7-3 record. He struck out 73 batters in 71 innings. All of the starters in Sarasota and Augusta are projected to help the Red Sox in 2006 which means after 2005, the Red Sox will be swimming in pitching prospects in 2006 and 2007, something that surely impacted their negotiations with Schilling and Wells, knowing that if they are injured, they will have strong in-house candidates to step in. The helping hand for 2005 looks bleak, but looks very strong for 2006, 2007, and 2008. I’m not surprised that Schilling and Wells will be free agents (and most likely retired) after 2006, with Clement a free agent after 2008. Arroyo will be a free agent in two years, and Wakefield/Miller after this year. I would say that in 2008 or 2009, I would be very surprised to see any current starter still remaining with the Red Sox as a starter considering the depth of starting pitching we have. I would hate to say you are wrong (as I believe we do have a strong POTENTIAL for starting pitching). However… 2008/2009 is a LONG way away… and all of our starting prospects (with the exception of Alvarez) are below AA. A lot of things can happen. It is great to have a large number of people we hope can make it to the Majors. Because, truth be told, most of them won’t.
Milton Tavarez Tavarez is no longer with the Red Sox as he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the AA phase of the Rule 5 Draft (just think of it as a yearly minor leaguer draft with all baseball teams, but you can protect some players from the draft). We fixed the loss of Tavarez with Steve Langone, taken from the Vero Beach Dodgers. Steve led the NCAA with a 1.54 ERA his senior season at Boston College. As for Milton, he had a 4.55 ERA in 47 relief appearances for Augusta.
Argimiro Guanchez The lefty specialist had a 4.95 ERA in 35 games in 43.2 IP. He struck out 33 batters, walked 23.
Chris Farley The 21-year old has not impressed so far in his Red Sox tenure but is still only 21. In 72.1 innings (38 games relieved) he had a 5.10 ERA but has struck out enough people to hold out hope for Farley.
Michael Dennison The Red Sox are trying to mold Dennison into a closer after being a top-notch closer for Wichita State in 2002 and 2003. After being drafted, he went to Augusta, posting a 1.38 ERA with 5 saves in 18 games. He was promoted to Sarasota, where he had a 2.84 ERA in four games and two saves. This year, he started in Augusta again, and had a 5.12 ERA in 29 games (45.2 IP). He struck 51 out and walked nine, with five home-runs, so he seems like he was unlucky with the hits he did give up. He also saw time in Sarasota, a 6.94 ERA in 18 games (23.1 IP). The 23-year old still has plenty of promise.
Kevin Ool The 23-year old lefty has a great strikeout to walk ratio with a very good curve ball and change up. He could be a great lefty specialist. He had a 4.76 ERA for Augusta in 27 games, and saw time in Sarasota, 5.2 innings worth.
Pitchers not covered: Randall Beam, Adam Blackley, Curt Borland, Ramon Corporan, Elpidio Hilario, Davey Penny, Arty Santos, Billy Simon, Cory Willey
Lowell Spinners – Low A New York Penn League
Salvador Paniagua The 21-year old had a very good season for the GCL rookie team in 2003, hitting .308/.345/.446, and saw time at both Lowell and Augusta this year. For Lowell, he hit .222/.260/.423 in 189 AB while he basically did the same in 118 AB for Augusta – .233/.274/.328. He was the 2003 GCL Player of the Year, and the jury is still out on him. He is known to be a good fielder. Salvador is an oddity. He did very well in the GCL in 2003 (as you say)… but it was a shock to me. He had done very little in the Dominican Summer League in 2002… so which Salvador would show up this year was an open question. The 2002 version showed up. Does this mean he will be a bust? Of course not. He is young, he is a catcher… and we know he has the potential to have another good year. But… I have a feeling (nothing more than a feeling) that he is more Edgar Martinez (our Edgar Martinez) than Jason Varitek.
Patrick Perry For North Colorado in 2004 before being drafted, he hit .478/.550/.844 in 186 AB. Keep in mind this is a Division 1 School, so he’s got some really good promise. In 102 AB for Lowell, he struck out 22 times, walked 10 and had a line of .176/.254/.196. It’s still too early to judge Perry. He’s probably not as bad as he was in Lowell. He has recieved many accolades over the year, such as Division 1 Independent Player of the Year in 2004, and the junior year catcher was selected in the seventh round. It was the highest pick for University of North Colorado since 1986. Throw this year away and let’s see what happens next year. I have an odd feeling that he had trouble switching from aluminum to wood. Would not be surprised if some of his college numbers are altitude related (see Coors Field).
Erich Cloninger The grandson of former Sox pitching coach Tony Cloniger, Erich is 24 and certainly won’t see the majors, not with his bat, which was .226/.300/.258 in 62 AB for Lowell and a cup of coffee with Augusta. He has yet to start.
Anibal Sanchez The 20-year old hurled for a 1.77 ERA in 15 GS, going 3-4 with 101 strikeouts in 76.1 IP. This guy is a flamethrower with very good movement and control and so far looks to be well on his way to dominating the major leagues. He averaged 5.07 IP so his future may be as a reliever, but the statistics may be skewed somewhat if the team philosophy was to have a quick hook for pitchers. One also must remember that he missed 2003 with an injury (elbow I believe). He was the 2002 Red Sox Venezuelan Summer League Pitcher of the year in 2002. Couple the injury and the usual caution and his age… I would not project him to the bullpen just yet.
Andrew Dobies The 21-year old dominated Lowell more than he ever had in college, for Virginia. In 14 games started, he had a 2.03 ERA with 8 walks and 36 strikeouts. This was in 26.2 innings, so his future is most likely as a reliever, but the same philosophy that could have been applied to Sanchez could be the same with Dobies because when he was 19, he pitched 22.1 IP for Virginia. At 20, he pitched 79.2 IP, and this past year he pitched 108.1. Way too early to project Dobies, but he’s off to a good start. One must remember what the Sox did with Dobies, Bono and Hottovy is exactly what they did with Abe Alvarez last year. In no way should this say anything about future plans. Dobies will be a starter next year… as will Hottovy.
Harvey Garcia After a 1.89 ERA for the GCL in 2003, he didn’t do so hot in 2004 with Lowell, a 5.16 ERA in 14 GS. He’s a little wild, with 7 wild pitches and 30 walks in 61 innings, but his 54 strikeouts are at least a positive.
Thomas Hottovy He was mostly a reliever at Wichita State, but started for Lowell, and completely dominated. 14 GS, 0.89 ERA in 30.1 IP. (Looks like it’s team philosophy to yank starters early so they don’t burn out, especially when they’ve just pitched at the college level.) Four walks, 39 strikeouts, and the 23-year old has a repertoire similar to the one I had. He has a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, change-up, and great curveball. I had all except the great curveball, I had a great slider/sinker combo instead.
Barry Hertzler The lifelong Red Sox fan pitched sparingly in 2003 after a long college season, going deep into the college World Series, so this year was the true test. He failed in Augusta, where he had a 8.50 ERA in 25 games, none started, 36 IP and 13 walks with 21 Ks. He was demoted to Lowell, and passed, a 2.67 ERA in 15 games, 9 starts, 81.0 IP.
Eladio Rodriguez The 25-year old was converted to a pitcher this past year. He did okay with a 4.75 ERA in 36 innings as a reliever.
Robert Cochran Cochran had a 5.00 ERA in 22 relief appearances. So far in his two years in the organization, he hasn’t shown much.
Cooper Eddy The 22-year old stunk to high heaven in 2004 for New Mexico with 15 GS and a 6.64 ERA but as a reliever for Lowell in 21 games, brought the ERA down to 4.39 with a good K/BB ratio of 3.38.
Michael James James used to be a closer for the University of Connecticut, then was converted to a starter with less than stellar results. In 20 games for Lowell, he had a 10.90 ERA. It’s most likely fatigue that got to him considering he went from an average of 30 innings pitched per year for UConn to 90 as a starter before being drafted.
Scott Shoemaker The 23-year old had a 2.48 ERA in 17 relief appearances for Lowell with 8 walks and 52 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. Keep an eye on this guy, the number of strikeouts in innings is fantastic, although he was old for the league.
Pitchers not covered: Kyle Bono, Jacob Glanzmann, Matthew Goodson, Jason Ramos, David Sanders, Ryan Schroyer, Robert Swindle
GCL Red Sox – Rookie Gulf Coast League
Michael Leonard The 22-year old has yet to show power and average professionally but had a good on-base percentage – .343. That bodes well for the future, and while he probably never will be able to hit for average, his power is better than a .258 slugging average.
Jose Suarez Suarez is in his third year playing for Boston, and finally made it to the GCL after being in the VCL and DCL (Venezuela and Dominican League) as the 21-year old in 49 AB hit .265/.321/.347.
Jimmy James I have covered Jimmy James in this space before. I’m excited about this guy, although he’s only 20 and long away. At 19, he pitched 46.1 IP in nine starts and two relief appearances with a 2.33 ERA, 15 walks and 35 strikeouts. He was the GCL Pitcher of the Year.
Junior Frias This was Frias’ third season for the GCL. The 20-year old finally improved after a 5.83 and 6.06 ERA the last two seasons. This year he started eight games, relieved two, and had a 3.48 ERA. His control is still the same, but had a ton more strikeouts, so could be maturing.
Olivo Astacio He started out pitching for the DSL, relieving in four appearances before moving to the GCL where he pitched 46.0 IP with a 3.13 ERA.
Johnathan Wilson Wilson dominated GCL in 2003 and started out there again. After posting a 2.50 ERA, he moved up to Augusta where he will most likely start the 2005 season. He started one game in Augusta, getting rocked.
Mario Pena Pena is supposed to be one of the elite pitchers they have out of the Dominican Summer League. In 16 games in 2003, he had a 1.93 ERA in 74.2 starts. He struck 70 out and walked 4! In the GCL this past year he showed more of his dominance, striking out 34 and walking six in 48 IP, with a 3.94 ERA. He was the Red Sox DSL Pitcher of the year in 2003 (over Gary Galvez)… and I have high hopes for him.
Nolan Moser Moser didn’t do so hot ERA wise throughout college until his senior season. He signed as an undrafted free agent and posted a 2.57 ERA in 21.0 IP with seven saves. He apparently thrives under pressure. He will probably repeat as the closer.
Randall Newsom He pitched for Tufts while in college, throwing 14 CG in 28 starts. He had good statistics, but did not get drafted. We signed him and he was a reliever, saving four games with an ERA of 2.81. He also has very good control. It looks as if the Red Sox are focusing on pitchers with impeccable control.
Yader Peralta The 18-year old had a 2.10 ERA in 34.1 IP, all relief appearances. He also had a good K/BB ratio.
Mike Snapp Another person with great control, He was UT-Arlington’s closer and saved four games for the GCL. He had a 2.42 ERA.
James Albury From Australia, he came over to the GCL and started two games, relieved in nine for 39 innings and had a 1.15 ERA although he walked people a little too much.
Pitchers not covered: Brad Hoffar, Jose Martes, Willie Newton
Pitching in my opinion is the strongest feature of the Red Sox although one could argue that it is shortstop. The Red Sox have amassed quite a corps of pitchers in Portland and High-A not to mention promising prospects in levels lower than that. The Sox should eventually reap the benefits of pitchers such as Alvarez, Lester, Papelbon, Hottovy, Delcarmen, Vaughan, Cedeno, Gardner, Dobies, Beam, and Vaquedano (all of whom are the top ten Red Sox prospects as measured by SoxProspects.com).
As I mentioned earlier, I think we could have a whole new rotation by 2008, and they could all be potentially home-grown, which is really saying something for the talent. Of course, it always doesn’t work out that way, but the point is that the potential is there, and that’s all that matters at this point.