Goodyear, AZ, USA; A general view of a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
With the minor-league regular season over, it's time to look back at what the farm has accomplished in 2012. The plan is go to team-by-team, as we did for our daily prospect updates, but this time around, we'll review by position, so you get a sense of where the Red Sox are strong and where they are lacking depth.
Travis Shaw, 1B
Shaw finished the year at Double-A Portland, but that's just a testament to how well he did at Salem. The first baseman spent 2011 at short-season Lowell, then played two games at Greenville: this constituted his professional experience prior to 2012, and now the 22-year-old finds himself in the upper minors.
He mashed at Salem, but knew when to draw a walk, too, taking a free pass nearly 14 percent of the time. He put the ball in play consistently as well, though, so don't think too heavily about his being a passive hitter. He'll be challenged more on that in Double-A and beyond, anyway, as he already has begun to be. He drew walks 16 percent of the time for the Sea Dogs, while posting a .200 Isolated Power that helped erase some of the damage of his low batting average. Given time, Shaw might very well post a line similar to his Salem one in Double-A. The Red Sox certainly hope so, given they dealt Adrian Gonzalez and his contract extension away less than a month ago. Boston is in need of a first baseman of the future, and while Shaw might not be designated as such yet, another season like this one could go a long way to helping him in that regard.
Michael Almanzar, 3B/1B
Almanzar's season was disappointing out of context, as the 21-year-old was good, not great, not showing a serious amount of pop, even considering he's primarily a third baseman. That being said, Almanzar was terrible in his stint with Salem in 2011, hitting .182/.233/.245 with strikeouts in 24 percent of his plate appearances. This time around, he whiffed just 22 more times in 264 more chances, cutting his strikeout rate from 24 to 15 percent in the process. He also nearly doubled his walk rate, and while 6.6 percent still isn't cutting it, it sure beats failure to cross the four percent threshold.
Almanzar is young enough that this should be viewed as a positive development. There's still time for him to turn into something productive for the Red Sox (whether in the majors or as a trade piece) even if it seems as if he's been in the system forever, failing to do just that.
Heiker Meneses, IF
Meneses began the year at Double-A Portland, but that didn't work out so well, as you can infer from the numbers above. The 20-year-old wasn't particularly productive when sent back to Salem, where he had played for 26 games in 2011, either. But it was a better effort than what resulted from his time with the Sea Dogs.
Meneses is still listed as a third baseman, but that's an oddity at this point, as he spends much more of his time in the middle infield. He's a utility infielder in the making, not much of a prospect in that regard, but there could be something here. It all depends on how well he adjusts to pitches on the inside part of the plate, as pitchers at higher levels can get him out with those offerings at present. He isn't expected to ever have much power, but if he can hit some doubles consistently and play multiple positions, there will be a use for his versatility. He needs to get to that point, though, but at least being all of 20 gives him time to work on that.