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.
Previous entries: Lowell Spinners Outfielders
Keury De La Cruz, OF
De La Cruz was a relative unknown heading into 2012, but he's done a whole lot to change that, mostly because of his performance at Low-A Greenville. The 20-year-old had a huge season, going deep 20 times total in 532 plate appearances, while posting an overall line of .307/.350/.533. This, after a far less impressive 2011 in which he hit .262/.292/.390 for short-season Lowell.
De La Cruz isn't necessarily one of Boston's top prospects just because he had a big year, but this does bump him up on the list. Previously, he had been Baseball America's #16 prospect in the Gulf Coast League, but his middling performance in 2011 dampened that enthusiasm. There's still a lot of work to be done, as you could probably tell by looking at his walk rates. He's not a disciplined hitter, and more advanced pitching is going to test his pitch recognition. This will likely result in either more strikeouts, fewer walks, or both, and he can't afford much of either.
He's not walking a tightrope or anything just yet, but don't be surprised if it takes him a little time to acclimate to High-A Salem. Eventually, he'll be challenged in a way that forces adaptation, but that will be all to the good in the long run.
Henry Ramos, OF
Ramos is all of 20, with three seasons of pro ball under his belt, but he's also a former football player. No, not the kind of football you're thinking of, but rather fútbol. Ramos was Baseball America's #19 prospect in the GCL back in 2010, after he was drafted earlier that summer in the fifth round from Alfonso Casta Martinez High School in Puerto Rico. He showed promise in Rookie league, hitting .309/.370/.449 as an 18-year-old in a league where the average hitter was nearly 20, and producing at .247/.321/.349.
Things didn't go as well in his second stint, with Ramos putting up a 682 OPS at Low-A Greenville in 85 games. He was much better the second time around, but that's all relative. .254/.327/.381 isn't that promising, until you realize he hit with a higher batting average yet sub-.300 on-base in 2011. He walked under five percent of the time in 2011, and jumped that to nine percent this season. He reduced his strikeout rate, but only by about a percentage point, so let's not get too excited about that just yet.
There's a lot of work left to done with Ramos, too, who is still pretty raw, but progress has been made. The 2013 season will be more of a test, whether he's moved to High-A Salem, or repeats Greenville yet again.
Cody Koback, OF
Koback was drafted back in 2011 in the 10th round out of the University of Wisconsin. While he played just 19 games in 2011 after signing, he played closer to a full season this time around. He wasn't as productive this time around, hitting .260/.320/.344 in a league where the average hitter put up .258/.334/.384, at the same age. Unlike De La Cruz and Ramos, Koback didn't get much prospect love in his first year. Baseball America didn't rank him, Kevin Goldstein didn't mention him at Baseball Prospectus at all in 2012, either in the pre-season or during it. That's about as anonymous as you can get.
He played quite a bit, though, and will likely return to Greenville once more when he's 23. Boston has their fair share of promising outfielders in the system, so Koback's lack of progress in 2012 isn't much of a big deal, except for to Koback, of course.