Each new season is always going to bring change to a farm system. Breakout years, busts, debuts and injuries see to that. But what's going on in the Red Sox' farm system right now is, quite frankly, a bit much.
Over the offseason, you Over The Monster readers voted for your top-20 prospects, producing what was, I thought, a pretty impressive list.
Well, so far, the number one prospect got off to a bad start and may not play again this season, and a couple others in the top-10 would love very much to meet the Mendoza line or its pitching equivalent.
Usually, that sort of start is downright damning. But somehow, the system is balancing itself out with breakout after breakout after breakout. Or, in some cases, resurgences by other prospects. Take, for example, our Major League ready outfielders:
Ryan Kalish: .236/.300/.309
Off to a terrible if somewhat BABIP-fueled start to the year, Ryan Kalish may have had it come to a premature end a couple weeks back. After making a diving catch in the outfield, Ryan Kalish was pulled from the game with what appeared to be a jammed shoulder. While the Sox were initially optimistic about his return after a few weeks of rest, what has since been diagnosed as a torn labrum could require season-ending surgery. Once the heir apparent in right field, Kalish may have opened a door for someone to leapfrog him.
Josh Reddick: .282/.361/.659
Meet that possible someone. With his terrible hacking ways having made many write him off in Boston, Reddick had a lot to prove entering the 2010 season. And while one month can never really prove much, it's certainly been a terrificly encouraging sign. Not only are Reddick's strikeouts (13 in 96 plate appearances) way down and his homers way up (8 so far), but he's actually--get this--walking. With 11 free passes so far, Reddick is on pace to shatter his typical discipline numbers. The only thing that's not been great for him this season is his BABIP at .250, so that line up there is actually a bit unlucky.
We'll take a look at some more interesting cases after the jump.
Triple-A Middle Infielders
Jose Iglesias: .242/.277/.242
Yes, he's got an amazing glove, but can he back it up with his bat? Even the absolute best fielders in their absolute best years aren't going to be major impact players without a bat. Who remembers Rey Sanchez from 2002? One of the best fielders at the time, but with no bat to speak of, he never once broke the 3 WAR mark. At 21-years-old in Triple-A, it's not terribly surprising that Jose isn't performing, but it's also difficult to develop when you're so clearly out of your depth.
Yamaico Navarro: .320/.440/.547
Much like Josh Reddick, Navarro's time in the majors did not go well. And like Reddick, Navarro had a good excuse: he was basically a Double-A player at the time. While playing at a reasonable level, however, Navarro has been enjoying something of a meteoric rise. A decent start in Portland both in patience and power led to 16 impressive games in Pawtucket, and an offseason stint in the Winter Leagues saw him reach base 40% of the time and hit four homers in only 70 at bats. And while he hasn't had quite as many longballs so far, Navarro's eleven extra base hits are keeping his SLG high while his 13 walks (to just 12 strikeouts) are keeping him on base.
Ryan Lavarnway: .232/.289/.391
After a terrible start, Ryan Lavarnway has started to turn things around offensively, with three homers in his last ten games. But he's still not quite been up to par with his 2010 numbers, and it's going to take a while to get back to that point at this rate.
Tim Federowicz: .314/.342/.529
A terrific defender, Federowicz' problems have always been with the bat. After a mediocre 2010 seemed to show that FedEx wasn't ready for even High-A Salem, he's suddenly taken off at Double-A Portland--typically the make-or-break level. While his BABIP is probably a tad high, his three homers in the first month are almost a match for his production all year long in 2010.
Oscar Tejeda: .274/.318/.403
The king of hot starts after last year, Tejeda endeared himself to the fanbase with a strong spring training. The discipline problems that brought him back to Earth at the end of 2010 are still troubling him now. The main difference is that he's not quite hitting for as much power, which was his main strength.
Will Middlebrooks: .338/.384/.647
Middlebrooks also has some discipline questions, but unlike Tejeda, he's showing some improvement, if more in the contact department than in actually drawing walks. Not only is he striking out less, but he's hitting the ball harder, with four homers and eight other extra base hits. If Middlebrooks can maintain this pace, when combined with a glove ranked by many amongst the best in the minors, the Red Sox might suddenly have a surplus at third, where they've struggled to bring prospects up of late.
Alex Hassan: .435/.512/.565
Yes, his BABIP is off the charts, but Hassan has never really done anything but get on base while with the Red Sox--this year being no exception. He probably won't ever hit for a ton of power, and his defense is questionable, but he's a lot closer to a Major League career than most 20th rounders get.
Bryce Brentz: .360/.418/.629
He's not hacking quite so much, which his letting him actually hit the ball. Now he needs to get promoted without too much delay, since being 22 and stuck in Greenville just isn't exactly what you're looking for from a first round draft pick.
Brandon Jacobs: .377/.456/.610
He's hitting the ball about as well as anyone else in the system, but he's also striking out more than anyone else. How far he falls if his strikeouts catch up with him remains to be seen. Or maybe he could just turn himself into the next Adam Dunn, except without the terrible defense.
Chris Balcom-Miller: 1.89 ERA, 21:5 K:BB
Balcom-Miller doesn't light up any guns, but he throws strikes and fools batters well enough to have had some years of ridiculous peripherals. And even though he's had some good years results-wise, so far 2011 has been at another level.
Drake Britton: 11.08 ERA, 7:8 K:BB
It's hard to say what's wrong with Drake Britton, but it's also hard to believe the answer is nothing. He's already even given up three home runs. Britton isn't the kind of guy who would just burn out in High-A, but something is clearly amiss.
Lars Anderson: .271/.416/.329
It's hard to really get down on Lars given his OBP, but the complete lack of any power results is concerning. Of course, the same could have been said about Kevin Youkilis early in the year, but given Lars' tendency to drive the ball into the ground, there's a lot less history to fall back on.
Stolmy Pimentel: 6.75 ERA, 10:7 K:BB
Here's the thing with Stolmy: the production just hasn't matched the hype yet. He's been good, or at the very least solid, but never quite as exceptional as his scouting reports and stuff implies. And, as he's been pushed higher every year, his numbers have been slowly slipping, to the point where now he's just plain struggling.