Ft. Myers, FL, USA; A general view from the stands during the sixth inning of a spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Jet Blue Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-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.
We've covered corner infielders for every level -- you can find links to all of them in Pawtucket's entry -- so today we move on to middle infielders.
Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero is the newest addition to the Red Sox middle infield prospects, and he's an exciting one. His bat is the big question mark, but his defense is expected to be plus, enough to give him a major-league career. This isn't a Jose Iglesias situation, though, where people are seriously concerned about his ability to ever hit. It's just more about how much Marrero will eventually hit -- his approach has already brought him some success in the pros.
That being said, he's already 21, has college experience, and was only in short-season ball. The real tests for Marrero come later, against tougher, more age-appropriate competition. But it's hard to be upset about a .268/.359/.374 line from a first-year shortstop, in a league where your average hitter puts up .244/.318/.345. Throw in that he struck out just 17 percent of the time, seemed to transition to wood well, drew 34 walks in 64 games, and finished up with a 10-game run of .343/.385/.486, and you've got yourself a shortstop prospect to look forward to.
Mookie Betts, 2B/SS
Mookie Betts is two years younger than Marrero, but with an extra year of professional experience. Betts was a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, and played with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox to finish up that year. Granted, when we saw "an extra year" of experience, know that what this actually means is that Betts played in one game and collected four plate appearances before the 2011 season ended.
He didn't show any power whatsoever -- not a huge surprise from a 5-foot-9, 156 pound middle infielder who is still a teen -- but overall his approach worked out for him. He drew walks two times more than he punched out, and he showed that he might know a thing or two about stealing bases, with successful thieving in 20 of 24 attempts. He's never expected to hit for any kind of power, but he does project as a high-contact hitter, especially as he develops his pitch recognition.
Aneury Tavarez, 2B/OF
Tavarez used to be a middle infielder, but with Marrero and Betts around, he spent far more time in the Lowell outfield in 2012. Tavarez's line might not seem like much, but there are things worth noting here. For one, in the GCL in 2011, Tavarez hit all of .220/.301/.360. His 2012 showing looks that much better when put up against his previous body of work. There's also the fact, like with Marrero, that the average hitter in the New York-Penn had an OPS of 663, whereas Tavarez was at 736. Then again, Tavarez, as an outfielder now, needs to be well above-average.
Tavarez isn't a big player, coming in at 5-foot-9 and 175, and there's a good chance Boston will attempt to make him into a non-prospect utility player, in the hopes he can turn into something. It all depends on how his patience and power develop, and whether or not he can keep the strikeouts down to an acceptable level.