We've spent September and the early part of the off-season reviewing the Red Sox farm system, and last week, a new new members officially joined Boston. The Los Angeles Dodgers sent the two expected players to be named later from their own farm, Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands, to join with Ivan De Jesus and Allen Webster. De Jesus is a utility player and infielder, but the rest of the bunch deserves some attention as prospects (or, in the case of Sands, as a young talent).
Rubby De La Rosa, P
De La Rosa isn't really a prospect anymore, since he doesn't have prospect status any longer. But, were he prospect-eligible, he would likely rank in just about everyone's top five for Boston. Heading into 2012, De La Rosa ranked seventh in the Dodgers system for 25-and-under talents by Kevin Goldstein -- that's an impressive showing, given Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, two pitchers already in the majors, qualified.
De La Rosa will still be under 25 in 2013, and he'll be further removed from the Tommy John surgery that held him to fewer than 14 innings of pro ball this year to begin with. By the time spring training rolls around, De La Rosa would be even further removed from TJ than John Lackey, who is likely to begin the year in Boston's rotation. That likely makes him rotation depth for the Sox, but it's still not clear what De La Rosa's ultimate role is going to be yet. That means that, even if he's depth, he can't necessarily be depended upon, since it might turn out that he's a reliever in the AL. Albeit a potentially devastating one.
Allen Webster, P
Webster is a prospect, and does rank in Boston's top five for many. He spent the year in Double-A, though, and while he pitched well, he didn't excel. This puts him on a timetable that says he's not going to be part of the 2013 plans unless he has a stellar start to the year, and then finishes up the season in the bigs. It's hard to see just by looking at K/BB why Webster is heralded, but a look at his grounder rates tells you why. Webster gets tons of his outs on the ground, and also has swing-and-miss stuff. When you combine a fastball with both velocity and sink with swing-and-miss offerings, you get someone like Webster, who might walk too many batters, but can get outs on his own and with the help of his defense.
Webster (and De La Rosa) mean that Boston has far more promising pitching in the upper minors, pitching that just wasn't there before. Matt Barnes will likely join Brandon Workman at Double-A in 2013, giving the Sox nearly a full rotation of pitchers who project to be in a big-league rotation within a couple of years when combined with the former Dodgers.
Jerry Sands, 1B/OF
Sands, like De La Rosa, isn't a prospect. He was also in the Dodgers' list of talents under 25, though, and made it prior to this age-24 campaign. His line from Triple-A Albuquerque looks great -- .296/.375/.524 -- but it's not as easy as that to analyze a player who has spent their time in the offense-heavy Pacific Coast League. The average PCL hitter put up a .278/.345/.430 line -- Sands is still well above-average (a quick-and-dirty OPS+ calculation puts him at 16 percent above-average) but not quite as much as the raw numbers suggest.
The Red Sox don't have a first baseman next year. They also don't have a full outfield, and won't even if they re-sign Cody Ross. He might end up on the 2013 Red Sox from Opening Day onward at either position, especially given the unimpressive free agent crop that's out there. It's no guarantee, and Boston is sure to try to upgrade over Sands, but starting the year with him in either spot, and upgrading later on when the opportunity arises mid-season, wouldn't be terrible. Unless, of course, Sands is an above-average player at either spot. Left field, in particular, if he's capable enough defensively, would be a good place for him, given the lower offensive requirements there compared to first base.