It's that time of year again, folks. This year, we're going to be compiling the top 20 prospects in the farm system according to you, the Over the Monster readers, and it will likely be somewhat less cut and dry this time around given the rather seismic nature of the minors this year. We're trying out a new Google Docs based system to make the voting more open. I've provided write ups of 15 of the Sox' best prospects, but voting is not limited to them by any means. Just type in a name and submit.
Age: 22 | Position: 1B | Level: AA
2008: .317/.408/.513 (A+) | .316/.436/.526 (AA)
Considered by most to be the Red Sox' top prospect at the beginning of the year, Lars Anderson's stock has dropped significantly following a dismal 2009 campaign. Still, Anderson remains a top name in the farm system. He has huge power potential which he had displayed in earlier years, which combined with great plate patience should be the recipe for a top offensive player.
Age: 23 | Position: SP | Level: AAA
2008: 2.33 ERA, 101:24 K:BB, .92 WHIP (AA) | 3.38 ERA, 29:5 K:BB, 1.13 WHIP (AAA)
2009: 3.13 ERA, 88:47 K:BB, 1.21 WHIP
If Lars was first last year, Michael Bowden was almost always second. Like Lars, Bowden has also had something of a discouraging year, but unlike Lars, Bowden's problems came at the major league level, where he was pounded, giving up 17 runs in 16 innings. Still, Bowden is young and impressed at AAA, where for much of the year he was outshining Clay Buchholz. The righty has a low-90s four-seamer, a high-80s two-seamer, a curve with a lot of movement, a very good circle change, and a recently added mid-80s slider which has yet to come along.
Age: 22 | Position: SP | Level: AA
2008: 3.67 ERA, 118:24 K:BB, 1.21 WHIP (A)
2009: 3.35 ERA, 101:52 K:BB, 1.41 WHIP
After a breakout 2008, Prince Felix has been rocketing through the Sox system at an impressive pace. Almost entirely skipping advanced-A and making a seemingly seamless transition into AA, Doubront is poised to start 2010 at AAA—something nobody could've predicted when he posted an 8.93 ERA in Greenville in 2007. Doubront is a 3-pitch pitcher with a fastball that sits in the high 80s, a good change, and a curveball. Though his fastball is nothing special, his unique delivery can fool batters.
Age: 22 | Position: C | Level: AA
2008: .283/.328/.508 (A) | .301/.331/.509 (A+)
2009: .274/.332/.427 (A+) | .337/.371/.489
Providing much needed hope for the Red Sox behind the plate, Exposito has displayed a great deal of talent both at and behind the plate. At the plate, Expo is an above average power threat for his position, with a good power swing. He makes a fair deal of contact, but doesn't have the speed to make too much use of it. Instead, Expo would likely be better off working on his discipline, which has netted him only 48 walks in over 800 plate appearances over the last two years. Behind the plate, Luis has great defensive catching skills, but needs to work a bit on the mechanics of his throw to translate arm strength into caught baserunners. Exposito is a clubhouse favorite, notably acting as combination best friend and interpreter to fellow prospect Jose Iglesias.
Age: 18 | Position: CF | Level: Rookie (GCL)
The new kid on the block, it's hard to mention Fuentes without drawing comparisons to Jacoby Ellsbury. Lots of speed, little pop, not much of an arm, with a tendency for the spectacular. Fuentes is currently lacking in discipline both on the basepaths, where he stole 9 bases in 14 attempts, and at the plate, where he managed only 7 walks in over 150 appearances. Still, both are areas that are likely to improve with professional experience, and Fuentes already has one key advantage over Jacoby: his ability to make good reads.
Age: 19 | Position: SS | Level: Short Season
2008: .309/.411/.394 (Rookie) | .086/.233/.086 (Short Season)
A hidden gem of the Sox system, Derrik Gibson is an absolute on base machine. His plus speed nets him a high average along with a very good number of stolen bases (28 in 33 attempts last year), and his discipline keeps him on the basepaths. Gibson is a plus defender in the middle, and projects to remain at short or second throughout his career. The one obvious knock on Gibson is that he seriously lacks power, and may well not hit more than 2 or 3 home runs in an average year—he has yet to hit one in the minors.
Age: 19 | Position: SS | Level: ? (A-AA)
The newer kid on the block, Jose Iglesias is already drawing attention in Arizona, where observers say there's a lot to the hype Iglesias had coming in as a top defender. Descriptions like "MLB ready" "plus" and even "Ozzie Smith like" have done nothing to lower expectations. The question with Iglesias remains if he will be able to perform offensively. While there is no doubt he is still raw, so far Jose has performed surprisingly well in a limited sample size against the elite Arizona Fall League competition, where he's currently batting .286/.344/.446 with two homers. While speed is not the reason why Iglesias is such a remarkable defender, he does bring a bit to the table, and is 3-for-3 in attempts so far.
Age: 21 | Position: CF | Level: AA
2008: .281/.376/.356 (A) | .233/.305/.397 (A+)
2009: .304/.434/.504 (A+) | .271/.341/.440
One half of 2009's pair of breakout outfielders, Kalish started the year on fire as his power emerged for the first time. Kalish hit 5 homers in 115 at bats in Salem before being promoted to Portland, where he experienced a decent post-promotion slump. Kalish was not to be kept down, though, and ended the season making AA look as easy as A+, even if the season totals seem unremarkable. Kalish has great patience at the plate, consistently managing high OBPs, and is an above average fielder, showing a good arm, range, and glove. Kalish could pan out as either a center fielder or right fielder. One underrated aspect of Ryan's game is his speed, which has regularly netted him about 20 stolen bases a year with a high success rate.
Age: 20 | Position: SP/SS | Level: A+
2008: .173/.229/.255 (Rookie) | .344/.344/.563 (Short Season)
2009: .214/.290/.464 (Rookie) | .224/.305/.313 (A)
2009: 1.12 ERA, 39:9 K:BB, .85 WHIP (A) | 3.09 ERA, 35:7 K:BB, .87 WHIP
Perhaps the greatest source for angst in the Sox' farm system is Casey Kelly's position decision: shortstop, or pitcher? It would seem an obvious choice through 2 years, as Kelly is already pushing AA as a starter, but is clearly not ready to leave A-ball as a shortstop. Unfortunately, Kelly has stated his personal preference for shortstop a few times, and so the angst continues. As a pitcher Kelly mixes in a plus curveball and good changeup with his low-90s fastball. He's got great control over all his pitches and is not going to give up a lot of free passes or high meatballs as a result. As a shortstop, Kelly is a plus defender who has shown some potential for good power, but has yet to consistently get on base.
Age: 22 | Position: SS | Level: AA
2008: .280/.341/.412 (A) | .348/.393/.508 (A+)
2009: .319/.373/.543 (A+) | .185/.270/.304 (AA)
A solid defender with a potentially big bat, Navarro makes solid contact with regularity and has enough power to make a few of them leave the park. Not a hugely disciplined hitter, Navarro is going to have to continue to hit the ball or refine his approach if he wants to be productive at higher level, as his average speed will not bail him out. Navarro is not a plus defender, but will not make you uncomfortable if slotted in at second, short, or third.
Age: 19 | Position: SP | Level: A
2008: 3.14 ERA, 61:17 K:BB, 1.08 WHIP (Short Season)
2009: 3.82 ERA, 103:29 K:BB, 1.39 WHIP
With a signing bonus of just $25,000, Stolmy Pimentel is looking like one of the Sox' best international bargains. The tall righty has a fastball that can reach the mid 90s with a potentially plus curve and change. Pimentel has the ability to generate swings and misses without offering up a lot of walks, which should serve him well as he moves up through the organization
Age: 22 | Position: CF | Level: AAA
2008: .340/.397/.491 (A) | .343/.375/.593 (A+) | .214/.290/.436 (AA)
2009: .277/.352/.520 (AA) | .127/.190/.183
The Sox' most MLB-ready position prospect, Reddick has cut through the Sox' farm system in a mere 3 years' time. Reddick is a versatile outfielder likely to end up in either center or right depending on who you ask. In center, Reddick would likely have around MLB average range—maybe less, given the recent rise of the position defensively speaking—but would be capable none-the-less. Reddick also has a cannon arm with great accuracy. At the plate, Reddick makes good contact and brings a good deal of power to the table with the potential for more as he matures. Josh has struggled with discipline in the past, but seems to be coming around some, improving to a BB% of around 10 last year.
Age: 20 | Position: 1B | Level: A+
2009: .298/.365/.494 (A) | .295/.371/.420 (A+)
After missing much of 2008 following a diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Rizzo has stormed back from his illness and established himself in the upper echelon of Sox prospects. Rizzo brings an advanced approach to the plate and combines it with a strong bat that, while currently being more of a doubles threat, has shown the potential to be a home run threat. Rizzo is a plus defender at first, with a great feel for the game and good range. Given his strong arm, it's not inconceivable that Rizzo could move to third down the line, though for now he projects much better as a first baseman.
Age: 23 | Position: SP | Level: AAA
2009: 2.57 ERA, 88:26 K:BB, 1.08 WHIP (AA)
Red Sox fans got to see a lot more of Tazawa than they expected to this year. After being predicted to start anywhere from high A to the MLB, Tazawa settled in at AA Portland and pitched very well. Shortly after being called up to AAA (where he pitched 2 games looking much like he had in Portland), Tazawa was rushed to the majors as injuries and mediocrity took their toll on the Sox' rotation. Things did not go well for him there, where he was pounded for 23 runs (21 earned) in 25.1 innings. So he's not ready for the MLB yet. Tazawa still looks every bit like he's got what it takes to be an MLB starter. His fastball sits around 90 MPH with some plus potential, but it's his wide assortment of off-speed pitches that makes Tazawa special. His curveball, slider, and forkball are all above-average pitches, the last 2 with plus potential. Unlike his Japanese compatriot Daisuke, Tazawa has a tendency to attack the zone and as a result does not walk a lot of guys. Future success in the majors will depend on if he can generate swings-and-misses on his secondary stuff.
Age: 19 | Position: CF | Level: Short Season
The official Wunderkind of the Red Sox system, Westmoreland is an amazing all-around player. Offensively he brings an advanced approach to the plate resulting in a BB% of over 15, a power bat good for 7 home runs this year with potential for a good few more, and intelligence and speed (perhaps the fastest player in the entire system) on the basepaths that allowed him to steal 19 bases without being caught once. That speed is also a big part of what makes him a great defensive center fielder. So far Westmoreland has had some injury troubles—a torn Labrum last year, and a broken collarbone this year—but neither are the sort of injury that makes you think he's inherently fragile.