If you read Baseball Prospectus, it's likely you saw Jason Parks' top-10 Red Sox prospects back in late-November. Parks and his crew went into detail about far more than 10 prospects, giving full reports with upside and downside for those involved, but, hungry as we are for information, we wanted more from him. So, with this in mind, Parks answered our questions about the players he didn't rank, prospects from outside of Boston's best, to get a sense of their future and what contributions, if any, can be expected of them in the next few years.
Over the Monster: In addition to Allen Webster, the Red Sox received Rubby De La Rosa, ranked fifth in Boston's top 10 under 25 at Baseball Prospectus, from the Dodgers in August. What do you envision De La Rosa's role with to be, and just what kind of floor and ceiling does he posses?
Jason Parks: This is a very good question, and I don't have a very good answer. I really don't know. De La Rosa has a very impressive arm, but his command wasn't sharp before the injury, and it remains to be seen if he can return to his previous form. Because of the body and the command, its easy to project a late-inning role, but he has the arsenal and the bat missing qualities of a starter as well, so I don't think his future role is set in stone.
OTM: Keury De La Cruz had a breakout 2012, putting up some impressive numbers at Low-A Greenville. From a scouting perspective, though, was De La Cruz's season something to be excited about, or are there reasons to temper expectations for the 21-year-old outfielder?
JP: He's a prospect, but the scouting doesn't paint a picture of a future impact talent. He can swing a bat, and projects to hit for some average. But the power isn't plus, and might play at below-average at the highest level. He has a good arm and can handle RF, but a corner profile puts more pressure on the bat, and I don't see anything beyond a second-division type, and that's if everything clicks.
OTM: You ranked Chris Hernandez among the possibilities to help the big-league team in 2013. He's not your typical Red Sox pitching prospect, but he's moved through the system quickly -- what do you think he could bring to the Red Sox if pressed into action?
JP: Advanced pitchability with below-average stuff. He has a small margin of error and lives on weak contact, but he knows how to make it work. He can't afford to make many mistakes, but he can change speeds, keep hitter's off-balance, and use his cutter to avoid the meat of the barrel.
OTM: Steven Wright is tough to figure out given his nature as a knuckler, but that aside, who is he, and what is he theoretically capable of providing the Red Sox with now that he's on the 40-man roster?
JP: I can't escape the fact that he's a knuckler, and I really don't know how to scout that. Inherently, the pitch is impossible to command; even the pitcher doesn't know where it will end up. But Dickey found a way to change the pitch and the game by gaining a form of command over it, which made him a monster. I can't speak to Wright's command over the offering, or if that's just a fantasy that only Dickey can make a reality. Gimmick arms are very hard to figure out in the short-term, which can be a big advantage for the Sox.
OTM: The Red Sox protected outfielder Alex Hassan from the Rule 5 draft in November, presumably because his extreme plate discipline is a rarity. What chances do you give him to develop some power and justify his presence on a crowded 40-man roster?
JP: Good hitters have a tendency to develop power, but I don't think Hassan will develop anything more than fringe-average game power. The approach is legit, but a selective approach at the minor-league level doesn't always play at the major-league level, because pitchers won't be afraid to attack Hassan's average-at-best hit tool. If he can work himself into friendly counts, he might be able to stick enough to stick around, but I'm not sold on his future.
JP: His glove is so far ahead of his bat that it has made his development difficult and uneven. From an offensive perspective, he has been rushed, and the bat isn't ready for the highest level. He has some bat-to-ball skills, so it's not a lost cause. He's unlikely to become anything more than a down-the-order hitter, but in the right lineup, he doesn't need to hit a ton to justify his role. His glove is elite.
OTM: Given the dearth of catching depth around, Boston's protection of Christian Vazquez makes sense, but what do you see in his future, assuming there is one?
JP: He's a very good receiver with a fringe bat and a good approach. I think he could develop into a functional backup, but I don't think the bat plays enough to start. I might be low on it, but I think he will struggle to turn balls back against high level pitching.
OTM: Travis Shaw is about all the Red Sox have for first base prospects at the time. Is this highly depressing for Sox fans, or is there something to like here?
JP: It's highly depressing, but in all fairness, do you really want a system full of 1B prospects? You have to hit a ton to be a legit 1B prospect, and you have to prove it at every level. It's rarely a good profile. Shaw isn't a big-time prospect, and he lacks big-time projection. He might develop into a second-level type, but like most prospects at the position, he will have to mash at every level in order to prove it.