8/3 Pawtucket Red Sox Update

Well, an update of what's left in Pawtucket, anyway. Between promotions and injuries, the roster is looking thin in Rhode Island, at least in terms of pieces that are meant to help Boston's future. Ryan Kalish is still out, Yamaico Navarro has been dealt, and both Josh Reddick and Andrew Miller are in the majors. Ben Buchanan covered Felix Doubront yesterday, but there are still a few other names worth checking in on.

Starting on a high note, Ryan Lavarnway has been tearing up Triple-A. He has cooled off a bit in his last 10 games and hasn't hit a homer in that stretch, but that has brought him down to "just" .343/.426/.669 with 13 homers and 16 doubles in 169 at-bats. This following his .284/.360/.510 showing for Double-A Portland to start the year. 

Lavarnway isn't expected to hit like he has in Pawtucket in the majors, of course, and will most likely settle down to the level he has been on in his other stints in the minors -- namely, the kind of hitting he put up for Portland this year. He has a career minor league line of .289/.380/.525, which would be pretty ridiculous for a catcher assuming he both keeps it up at the plate and is able to stay behind it.

He is throwing out runners 35 percent of the time in Pawtucket and 37 percent of the time on the year. He needs to continue to work on blocking pitches, but he is coming along defensively, and his bat will keep him from being trapped in the minors forever. Chances are good Lavarnway will be in Boston by September 1, if not a day sooner so he's eligible for October and a pinch-hitting role should he merit that position.

*****

Che-Hsuan Lin may have finally hit a level where his numbers aren't just going to translate over. He is at .257/.331/.301, in danger of slugging below the .300 mark should he fail to register an extra-base hit soon. In his last 10 games, he is slugging .158, as he hasn't had an extra-base hit in that stretch. While his Portland numbers weren't excellent by any means -- Lin hit .268/.373/.333 there -- he at least looked like he was putting up the numbers expected out of a future defensive-minded bench outfielder.

He still has a month left to turn things around to keep up his smooth development curve, but if he does, it will be poor timing for Boston. The Red Sox have to make a decision on him, as he will be Rule 5 eligible this winter. While his bat clearly won't be ready for the majors, it's plausible that a team lacking in quality major leaguers will use him as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner in 2012 in the hopes his bat improves. There is room to stash Lin away on a few rosters in the bigs just in case he proves useful eventually -- the nearly bereft of talent Astros come to mind, for instance -- but Boston is not one of those rosters.

*****

 Jason Rice is another PawSox player eligible for the Rule 5 this winter. The 25-year-old reliever has impressive punch out numbers -- he is striking out over a batter per inning in Pawtucket after whiffing 12.1 and 10.6 batters per nine the past two years -- but can get wild, and has just a 2.1 K/BB ratio this season because of it.

He basically has two pitches -- a fastball that can get up to the mid-90s, and a curveball -- hence Boston moving him to relief full-time after acquiring him from the White Sox before the 2009 season. With the 40-man logjam the Red Sox are experiencing, Rice will likely not be moved to it and called up in September when rosters expand, and will be unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. Even with his control problems, a team may take a chance on him and bury him in the back of the bullpen for a year -- unlike Cesar Cabral, who the Rays returned rather than keep, Rice is as close to ready to the majors as he is likely to be.

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