Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
A couple of future major-league outfielders spent the majority of their seasons with the Pawtucket Red Sox.
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.
Ryan Kalish, OF
Kalish has split his season between the minors and the majors, picking up just a few more plate appearances with the PawSox than with their big-league counterparts. As has been the case with Kalish many times in his career, injuries were a problem, and they limited him to roughly 250 plate appearances. Recovery from neck and shoulder surgeries was the initial culprit, but Kalish was repeatedly banged up and in need of time off during the season after his return. He has been day-to-day with shoulder soreness for most of September, and, were it any other month besides the one with expanded rosters, would likely be on the disabled list yet again because of it.
There were concerns that Kalish pressed in 2012, attempting to win a major-league job with each swing and defensive play. It did his lines at Pawtucket and Boston no favors, and Kalish, if anything, now looks further behind for a full-time, big-league gig than he did after undergoing two major surgeries. The Red Sox have a few decisions to make with regards to him this off-season because of it. Does Kalish get the job in left field in 2013, to see if he settles in comfortably in a situation where he isn't fighting for a job? Does Boston go out and acquire a new left fielder, and leaves Kalish around as depth, given it's difficult to rely on him to stay healthy? Does he split time in the majors with someone else? He could easily become the club's new (and cheaper) Ryan Sweeney, if nothing else. Or, the Red Sox could send him back down to Pawtucket, letting the likes of Daniel Nava and Sweeney handle the remaining outfield work, and let Kalish hit his way back to the majors.
Che-Hsuan Lin, OF
Lin isn't likely to be a major-league starter, but he doesn't need to be in order to be useful. With his excellent range, speed, and arm, Lin can be a productive bench outfielder, one capable of filling in at any outfield position to provide plus defense when it's needed. His bat is much more of a question mark, though, over time, his line drifted towards what normally tends to be Lin's ceiling at a level. With enough time in the majors, it wouldn't be a shock if Lin's line settled around .240/.330/.325 or so. That's not going to cut it as a starter, but as a superb defensive replacement who can maybe pop a sac fly or draw a walk on days they start? There are far worse uses of a roster spot, especially for an NL club.
The Red Sox don't play in the NL, though, and unless Lin is their future fifth outfielder, isn't likely to have a real future in Boston. He doesn't need to, though, to have value to the Sox, as he could always be placed in a package deal if need be.
Alex Hassan, LF
Hassan is Rule 5 eligible this off-season, but it's unlikely he's going to be plucked from the Red Sox. He knows how to draw a walk, and doesn't strike out overly often, but he doesn't provide much else. He's a poor defensive player, even for a left fielder. He doesn't bring much to the table on the basepaths. He has power potential, but he still doesn't consistently use the lower half of his body in his swing, and that results in seasons like this one, where he posts a .109 Isolated Power. That might be okay for Jose Iglesias, but Hassan doesn't have his glove, nor does he play in the middle infield.
Hassan won't be a minor-league free agent for a few more seasons, so the Red Sox can sit and wait with him a little, seeing if he finally develops the swing that allows him to drive the ball like his potential says he could, would he only do it right. If he can use his legs all of the time, who knows, maybe there would be a career for him as a part-time left fielder and DH somewhere in the AL.