The Forgotten Men

Post-prospects who have not yet established themselves as full-fledged major leaguers are some of the toughest players to project and assign roles to. Due to a lack of MLB experience, it is risky to rely completely upon them for the upcoming season, yet, veterans' playing time and the limit of the 25 man roster makes it difficult to sign a reasonably consistent fall back option. The Red Sox have 7 such players that fit this bill heading into 2013. The most prevalent of these players is Jose Iglesias, who, barring a Stephen Drew signing or an unexpected trade for a shortstop, appears to be the starting SS heading into Spring Training. As the title indicates, the other six seem to have been forgotten by both the fans and the front office.

The "Make it or Break its"

Ryan Kalish: Thanks to his injury history and atrocious performance last year, it's easy to forget that Ryan Kalish performed admirably enough as a 22-year-old in Boston that he was tabbed by many (OTM included) as our top prospect. But now, Kalish's future looks much murkier. At the moment, the Sox outfield will likely feature a Gomes/Nava platoon in left, Ellsbury in center, and newly signed Shane Victorino in right. This leaves Kalish as the team's 5th outfielder (if they even elect to keep one). Although having depth is critical, Kalish is still only 24 years old, and needs consistent at bats in order to continue developing. Unless the Sox opt to move Ellsbury, Kalish's future doesn't appear to be too bright in Boston.

Ryan Lavarnway: Even though a trade of some catcher seems like a forgone conclusion at this point, the signings of Mike Napoli and David Ross certainly hurt Lavarnway's chances of making the Opening Day roster. Even if Napoli only catches 20 to 30 games, playing the rest at first, Ross and Salty figure to be plenty to handle the remaining 140 games. Although Lavarnway is optionable, he really has nothing left to prove in Pawtucket. Lavarnway has gone from OTM's top prospect in 2011 and heir apparent to either David Ortiz or Salty to a depth catcher whose questionable glove makes his offensive performance in 2012 look even worse. Although Salty has been the subject of many trade rumors, I wouldn't be shocked if the Sox traded Lavarnway now because they don't see his value getting any higher.

Jerry Sands: One of the "other guys" of the famous Punto trade, Sands appeared to be a lock to play a big role for the 2013 Sox at the start of this offseason. However, the Gomes and Napoli signings appear to have filled the role of righty platoon in left field as well as starting first baseman. At this point, Sands seems destined for Pawtucket, even though he put up some gaudy numbers throughout his minor league career, even when factoring in the PCL boost. Unless either Gomes or Sands can somehow play right, which is doubtful, Sands will likely toil away in AAA until an inevitable injury hits.

The almost starters:

Franklin Morales: Although John Lackey (yikes) and Felix Doubront are already being pencilled into the 2013 rotation, Morales' name has been curiously absent from such speculation. Morales performed quite well as a starter, despite not exactly being tailor-made for Fenway. His late-season shoulder injury likely has something to do with this, but given Boston's overcrowded bullpen and a vacancy in the starting rotation, I find it curious that he is not being discussed for the open spot, and instead appears to be projected to return to the bullpen.

Rubby De La Rosa: Another piece of the Punto trade, De La Rosa is an interesting case. His high velocity and wipeout slider make him profile as a late-inning reliever, but his underrated 2-seamer and successful past as a starter are signs that he may very well be most valuable as a starter. Since he is coming off of TJ Surgery and the Dodgers rushed him to the bigs, he seems likely to head to Pawtucket one way or another. But given his stuff and excellent 2011 stats, he may be a candidate to potentially win a spring training battle for a spot in the rotation.

Daniel Bard: 2012 effectively broke Daniel Bard. He could not put together even a semblance of hope, even as a AAA reliever. I would be hesitant to trust him at all in the bigs, and due to our overcrowded bullpen, Bard might be on his way out. Yet he had established himself as a formidable late-inning reliever, and he (hopefully) still has a fastball that hits triple digits. That kind of talent cannot simply be DFA'd or traded for cash considerations.

The roles these guys end up playing in 2013 likely will have a lot to do with the Sox's record in 2013. Although the recent signings will make it tough for them to get on the field, many would argue that Boston might as well just let them play and see what they've got heading forward. If they are stashed in AAA or on the bench, presumably because of acquisitions, the 2013 record may be a lot better, but the development of these high-end talents would be stunted.
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