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.
Mauro Gomez, 1B
Mauro Gomez isn't a prospect, given he's 27 years old, but he has the potential to cause some damage in the big leagues in the right setting. He's been just okay for the Red Sox in 75 plate appearances with them, but it's also his first taste of the majors. As with many International League MVPs, though, Gomez is more likely to be in for a career full of bus trips up and down 95 than he is a long, major-league one.
That's not to say there's nothing to like here. Gomez crushes the ball when he gets a hold of one, and his approach at the plate hasn't been awful or anything. But he's likely not any kind of real replacement at first base, or at designated hitter, and, as we all know from seeing this ourselves, absolutely not at third base. It would help if he were a better defender, but he isn't, and unless he totally mashes, being about average just isn't going to carry him at first. There's use in having him in the organization, though, hence Boston picking him up this past winter in the first place. And he should be able to fill that role, and the bus seat that comes with it, just fine.
Andy LaRoche, 3B
With Will Middlebrooks promoted to the majors, the PawSox ended up with a few different third baseman manning the hot corner. Andy LaRoche is one such player, picked up back in late June after the Cleveland Indians cut him loose. He was much better with the PawSox than with Columbus, but still not enough that you'd get excited about his presence in the organization.
This was LaRoche's first year without a stint in the majors since 2006, back when he was all of 22 years old, and Baseball America's #19 prospect. Not in the Dodgers system, but overall. Potential is about all LaRoche ended up having, though, as, after five organizations and 1,332 major-league plate appearances, LaRoche owns a career line of .226/.305/.337. Like Gomez, you don't mind having the depth around, in case of emergency, but LaRoche isn't even someone to throw on the 40-man roster at this point. Off of the 40-man, he's serviceable roster filler for the minors who could come up in a pinch -- and be designated afterward -- if need be. There's no reason not to have him around, basically, with his current status, and Boston's lack of Triple-A ready third basemen.
Danny Valencia, 3B
You could argue Danny Valencia is a Triple-A ready third baseman, but hey, check out his line from this year. He failed in Minnesota, didn't play well in a brief stint with the Red Sox, and his combined Triple-A numbers aren't exactly appealing either. Plus, he's all of one year younger than LaRoche, so it's not as if the latter is a crusty veteran next to Valencia.
Valencia has potential still, given he's only compiled 1,000 plate appearances in the majors over parts of three years, and was a top prospect in the Twins' organization not that long ago. But, at the same time, expecting very much from him at this point is asking to be disappointed. The hope is that Boston could coax his talent out of him, but if he's going to cost them a 40-man roster spot going forward, that might not be an experiment worth continuing. That being said, with the way he played this year, he might not need to be on the 40-man to stick in this organization going forward.