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OTM Top Prospect Candidates

Here's where you can find all the write ups for the various eligible prospects. There's no limit to who you can vote for, though, so if you like Will Middlebrooks, vote Will Middlebrooks (I know there's at least 2 people out there who always will). I'll be adding more as the voting continues to keep the stock fresh.

Lars Anderson

Age: 22 | Position: 1B | Level: AA

2008: .317/.408/.513 (A+) | .316/.436/.526 (AA)

2009: .233/.328/.345

Considered by most to be the Red Sox' top prospect at the beginning of the year, Lars Anderson's stock has dropped significantly following a dismal 2009 campaign. Still, Anderson remains a top name in the farm system. He has huge power potential which he had displayed in earlier years, which combined with great plate patience should be the recipe for a top offensive player.

Michael Bowden

Age: 23 | Position: SP | Level: AAA

2008: 2.33 ERA, 101:24 K:BB, .92 WHIP (AA) | 3.38 ERA, 29:5 K:BB, 1.13 WHIP (AAA)

2009: 3.13 ERA, 88:47 K:BB, 1.21 WHIP

If Lars was first last year, Michael Bowden was almost always second. Like Lars, Bowden has also had something of a discouraging year, but unlike Lars, Bowden's problems came at the major league level, where he was pounded, giving up 17 runs in 16 innings. Still, Bowden is young and impressed at AAA, where for much of the year he was outshining Clay Buchholz. The righty has a low-90s four-seamer, a high-80s two-seamer, a curve with a lot of movement, a very good circle change, and a recently added mid-80s slider which has yet to come along.

Drake Britton

Age: 20 | Position: LHP | Level: SS

2008: 4.28 ERA, 26:16 K:BB, 1.36 WHIP

Britton has pitched only 45 innings with the Red Sox since being drafted in 2007. A late-round signability pick, Britton underwent Tommy John Surgery late in 2008, limiting him to only 12 innings in the 2009 season. Since returning from surgery, though, Britton's fastball has gained velocity, going from a low-90s to a mid-90s heater, which he couples with a top-of-the-line curveball. Britton's ability to reach his high ceiling will likely come down to his ability to hit the strike zone and develop a strong 3rd pitch.

Felix Doubront

Age: 22 | Position: SP | Level: AA

2008: 3.67 ERA, 118:24 K:BB, 1.21 WHIP (A)

2009: 3.35 ERA, 101:52 K:BB, 1.41 WHIP

After a breakout 2008, Prince Felix has been rocketing through the Sox system at an impressive pace. Almost entirely skipping advanced-A and making a seemingly seamless transition into AA, Doubront is poised to start 2010 at AAA—something nobody could've predicted when he posted an 8.93 ERA in Greenville in 2007. Doubront is a 3-pitch pitcher with a fastball that sits in the high 80s, a good change, and a curveball. Though his fastball is nothing special, his unique delivery can fool batters.

Luis Exposito

Age: 22 | Position: C | Level: AA

2008: .283/.328/.508 (A) | .301/.331/.509 (A+)

2009: .274/.332/.427 (A+) | .337/.371/.489

Providing much needed hope for the Red Sox behind the plate, Exposito has displayed a great deal of talent both at and behind the plate. At the plate, Expo is an above average power threat for his position, with a good power swing. He makes a fair deal of contact, but doesn't have the speed to make too much use of it. Instead, Expo would likely be better off working on his discipline, which has netted him only 48 walks in over 800 plate appearances over the last two years. Behind the plate, Luis has great defensive catching skills, but needs to work a bit on the mechanics of his throw to translate arm strength into caught baserunners. Exposito is a clubhouse favorite, notably acting as combination best friend and interpreter to fellow prospect Jose Iglesias.

Tim Federowicz

Age: 22 | Position: C | Level: A+

2008: .244/.338/.315 (SS)

2009: .345/.393/.562 (A) | .257/.276/.390

A good defensive catcher, Federowicz' bat will ultimately decide his future in baseball. Behind the plate, Tim has a great set of tools, able to catch baserunners with regularity and works well with a pitching staff. At the plate, Federowicz isn't going to strike out a ton, but he's also not gonna walk much. Has some decent pop hitting 14 homers in about 400 at bats last year with potential for more.

Stephen Fife

Age: 23 | Position: SP | Level: A+

2008: 2.33 ERA, 41:11 K:BB, 1.00 WHIP (SS)

2009: 2.70 ERA, 35:4 K:BB, 0.98 WHIP (A) | 4.44 ERA, 51:10 K:BB, 1.34 WHIP

Stephen Fife is going to throw strikes, and so far, that's worked out for him in the minors. The big righty features a fastball that sits in the low 90s, and a changeup in the low 80s. He's working on adding a curveball and slider, and it's likely the development of those pitches that will determine his future success. None-the-less, guys with Fife's control who can throw 90 have a tough time not making the majors. Suffered from some home run issues in his time at Salem, but still struck out 50 hitters in his first 50 innings following promotion.

Reymond Fuentes

Age: 18 | Position: CF | Level: Rookie (GCL)

2009: .290/.391/.379

The new kid on the block, it's hard to mention Fuentes without drawing comparisons to Jacoby Ellsbury. Lots of speed, little pop, not much of an arm, with a tendency for the spectacular. Fuentes is currently lacking in discipline both on the basepaths, where he stole 9 bases in 14 attempts, and at the plate, where he managed only 7 walks in over 150 appearances. Still, both are areas that are likely to improve with professional experience, and Fuentes already has one key advantage over Jacoby: his ability to make good reads.

Derrik Gibson

Age: 19 | Position: SS | Level: Short Season

2008: .309/.411/.394 (Rookie) | .086/.233/.086 (Short Season)

2009: .290/.395/.380

A hidden gem of the Sox system, Derrik Gibson is an absolute on base machine. His plus speed nets him a high average along with a very good number of stolen bases (28 in 33 attempts last year), and his discipline keeps him on the basepaths. Gibson is a plus defender in the middle, and projects to remain at short or second throughout his career. The one obvious knock on Gibson is that he seriously lacks power, and may well not hit more than 2 or 3 home runs in an average year—he has yet to hit one in the minors.

Pete Hissey

Age: 20 | Position: OF | Level: A

2008: .238/.385/.286 (Rookie) | .265/.359/.265 (SS)

2009: .279/.356/.347

A big-bonus 4th round pick from 2008, Hissey has potential to be an on-base machine with a good contact swing and patience at the plate. Though so far he has yet to show any power at all, Hissey is likely to add some bulk and some pop as the years go on. When he does get on the basepaths, Hissey has the ability to be a menace, stealing 22 bases last year. Still, there's room for improvement on the basepaths, as he was caught 10 times. Projects to be a center fielder.

Jose Iglesias

Age: 19 | Position: SS | Level: ? (A-AA)

The newer kid on the block, Jose Iglesias is already drawing attention in Arizona, where observers say there's a lot to the hype Iglesias had coming in as a top defender. Descriptions like "MLB ready" "plus" and even "Ozzie Smith like" have done nothing to lower expectations. The question with Iglesias remains if he will be able to perform offensively. While there is no doubt he is still raw, so far Jose has performed surprisingly well in a limited sample size against the elite Arizona Fall League competition, where he's currently batting .286/.344/.446 with two homers. While speed is not the reason why Iglesias is such a remarkable defender, he does bring a bit to the table, and is 3-for-3 in attempts so far.

Ryan Kalish

Age: 21 | Position: CF | Level: AA

2008: .281/.376/.356 (A) | .233/.305/.397 (A+)

2009: .304/.434/.504 (A+) | .271/.341/.440

One half of 2009's pair of breakout outfielders, Kalish started the year on fire as his power emerged for the first time. Kalish hit 5 homers in 115 at bats in Salem before being promoted to Portland, where he experienced a decent post-promotion slump. Kalish was not to be kept down, though, and ended the season making AA look as easy as A+, even if the season totals seem unremarkable. Kalish has great patience at the plate, consistently managing high OBPs, and is an above average fielder, showing a good arm, range, and glove. Kalish could pan out as either a center fielder or right fielder. One underrated aspect of Ryan's game is his speed, which has regularly netted him about 20 stolen bases a year with a high success rate.

Casey Kelly

Age: 20 | Position: SP/SS | Level: A+

2008: .173/.229/.255 (Rookie) | .344/.344/.563 (Short Season)

2009: .214/.290/.464 (Rookie) | .224/.305/.313 (A)

2009: 1.12 ERA, 39:9 K:BB, .85 WHIP (A) | 3.09 ERA, 35:7 K:BB, .87 WHIP

Perhaps the greatest source for angst in the Sox' farm system is Casey Kelly's position decision: shortstop, or pitcher? It would seem an obvious choice through 2 years, as Kelly is already pushing AA as a starter, but is clearly not ready to leave A-ball as a shortstop. Unfortunately, Kelly has stated his personal preference for shortstop a few times, and so the angst continues. As a pitcher Kelly mixes in a plus curveball and good changeup with his low-90s fastball. He's got great control over all his pitches and is not going to give up a lot of free passes or high meatballs as a result. As a shortstop, Kelly is a plus defender who has shown some potential for good power, but has yet to consistently get on base.

Ryan Lavarnway

Age: 22 | Position: C | Level: A

2008: .211/.317/.366 (SS)

2009: .285/.367/.540

When Lavarnway hits the ball, it's gonna go a ways. The top home run hitter in the Sox' system last year, Lavarnway slugged 21 to go with 36 doubles for a .255 ISO, with half his 115 hits going for extra bases. He strikes out a fair amount, but isn't afraid to take a walk, fitting into the typical slugger archetype. If Lavarnway can stick at catcher, he could end up being a very valuable player. However, he's only been playing behind the plate for a couple years now, so his skills there are fairly rudimentary. Lavarnway has played a fair bit at DH, and with a bat like his, has the potential to stick in the majors as a 1B/DH type if he can maintain his numbers against tougher competition.

Che-Hsuan Lin

Age: 21 | Position: CF | Level: A+

2008: .249/.342/.359 (A)

2009: .264/.355/.364

A defensive whiz, Che-Hsuan Lin has some of the best speed and one of the strongest arms in the Red Sox system. Unfortunately, to this point, Lin has yet to put together an offensive game to complement the defense. He's not a bad OBP guy—a result of good plate discipline given his strong walk rates (about 12% last year)--but he's going to need to develop his bat if he wants to be more than a utility type. If he can improve his contact rates, than his ability to get on will be coupled with dangerous speed on the basepaths.

Roman Mendez

Age: 19 | Position: RHP | Level: Rookie (GCL)

2008: 2.65 ERA, 46:16 K:BB, 1.16 WHIP (DSL)

2009: 1.99 ERA, 47:8 K:BB, 0.83 WHIP

Mendez, the recipient of a $125,000 signing bonus out of international free agency, had something of a breakout season last year in the GCL. The 19-year-old has a fastball which, depending on who you asks, sits either in the low or mid 90s and tops out at anywhere from 95-98 miles per hour. While it's questionable if Mendez has such heat right now, there's little doubt that he's capable of it. He can hit the strikezone, and employs a good slider as a secondary pitch. If he plans to remain as a starter, he will need to develop a third average-or-better pitch.

Will Middlebrooks

Age: 21 | Position: 3B | Level: A

2008: .254/.298/.368 (SS)

2009: .265/.349/.404

A significant project player, Middlebrooks has the tools to be great, if the organization can develop him right. He has a problems with his swing and discipline that have produced very high strikeout numbers early. If he fixes those problems, though, he's got a ton of power potential and as with everything else the physical gifts to be a top offensive player. Later in the year, Middlebrooks seemed to be taking big steps offensively, perhaps most importantly on plate discipline. In the field, there have been mixed reports on Will, and like with the rest of his game it seems to be an area where he has plus potential but noticeably a work in progress at the moment.

Yamaico Navarro

Age: 22 | Position: SS | Level: AA

2008: .280/.341/.412 (A) | .348/.393/.508 (A+)

2009: .319/.373/.543 (A+) | .185/.270/.304 (AA)

A solid defender with a potentially big bat, Navarro makes solid contact with regularity and has enough power to make a few of them leave the park. Not a hugely disciplined hitter, Navarro is going to have to continue to hit the ball or refine his approach if he wants to be productive at higher level, as his average speed will not bail him out. Navarro is not a plus defender, but will not make you uncomfortable if slotted in at second, short, or third.

Stolmy Pimentel

Age: 19 | Position: SP | Level: A

2008: 3.14 ERA, 61:17 K:BB, 1.08 WHIP (Short Season)

2009: 3.82 ERA, 103:29 K:BB, 1.39 WHIP

With a signing bonus of just $25,000, Stolmy Pimentel is looking like one of the Sox' best international bargains. The tall righty has a fastball that can reach the mid 90s with a potentially plus curve and change. Pimentel has the ability to generate swings and misses without offering up a lot of walks, which should serve him well as he moves up through the organization

Josh Reddick

Age: 22 | Position: CF | Level: AAA

2008: .340/.397/.491 (A) | .343/.375/.593 (A+) | .214/.290/.436 (AA)

2009: .277/.352/.520 (AA) | .127/.190/.183

The Sox' most MLB-ready position prospect, Reddick has cut through the Sox' farm system in a mere 3 years' time. Reddick is a versatile outfielder likely to end up in either center or right depending on who you ask. In center, Reddick would likely have around MLB average range—maybe less, given the recent rise of the position defensively speaking—but would be capable none-the-less. Reddick also has a cannon arm with great accuracy. At the plate, Reddick makes good contact and brings a good deal of power to the table with the potential for more as he matures. Josh has struggled with discipline in the past, but seems to be coming around some, improving to a BB% of around 10 last year.

David Renfroe

Age: 19 | Position: 3B/SS | Level: ? (Rookie-A)

Last year's 3rd round draft pick, Renfroe signed for a >$1 million bonus, and was considered by many to be perhaps the most promising of the Sox' picks. Much like Casey Kelly, Renfroe was drafted as a 2-way player, able to both pitch an hit. But unlike Kelly, Renfroe seems more likely to end up in the field—where he apparently wants to play. So here's to not having the same kind of long, drawn-out process they had with Kelly. Renfroe projects as a strong all-around hitter.

Dustin Richardson

Age: 25 | Position: RP | Level: AAA

2008: 6.33 ERA, 114:51 K:BB, 1.49 WHIP (AA – As Stater)

2009: 2.41 ERA, 80:40 K:BB, 1.29 WHIP (A+) | 1.69 ERA, 17:2 K:BB, 0.94 WHIP (AAA)

With newfound success coming following his conversion to a reliever, Dustin Richardson has quickly moved from being in danger of obscurity to knocking on the major league door. In fact, the lefty got his first experience with the big club this year, throwing 3 scoreless innings. Richardson features a low-90s fastball which he will throw for strikes, along with a slurve. If nothing else, Richardson could project as a LOOGY down the line, given good splits. Richardson had an underwhelming appearance in the AFL, giving up 7 runs in 11.2 innings, though his 18 strikeouts were impressive.

Manny Rivera

Age: 20 | Position: LHP | Level: Rookie (GCL)

2008: 2.24 ERA, 58:19 K:BB, 1.13 WHIP

2009: 1.19 ERA, 50:14 K:BB, 1.02 WHIP

Roman Mendez' partner in crime throughout the season, Rivera mixes a low-90's fastball in with a good changeup. In 3 years and 140 innings, Rivera has managed to avoid much damage in the way of earned runs, but the number of unearned runs he has given up (16—about 40% of the runs scored against him) suggests he may actually be benefiting from some poor defense numbers-wise. On the other hand, he has only allowed 1 long ball in the same period.

Anthony Rizzo

Age: 20 | Position: 1B | Level: A+

2009: .298/.365/.494 (A) | .295/.371/.420 (A+)

After missing much of 2008 following a diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Rizzo has stormed back from his illness and established himself in the upper echelon of Sox prospects. Rizzo brings an advanced approach to the plate and combines it with a strong bat that, while currently being more of a doubles threat, has shown the potential to be a home run threat. Rizzo is a plus defender at first, with a great feel for the game and good range. Given his strong arm, it's not inconceivable that Rizzo could move to third down the line, though for now he projects much better as a first baseman.

Junichi Tazawa

Age: 23 | Position: SP | Level: AAA

2009: 2.57 ERA, 88:26 K:BB, 1.08 WHIP (AA)

Red Sox fans got to see a lot more of Tazawa than they expected to this year. After being predicted to start anywhere from high A to the MLB, Tazawa settled in at AA Portland and pitched very well. Shortly after being called up to AAA (where he pitched 2 games looking much like he had in Portland), Tazawa was rushed to the majors as injuries and mediocrity took their toll on the Sox' rotation. Things did not go well for him there, where he was pounded for 23 runs (21 earned) in 25.1 innings. So he's not ready for the MLB yet. Tazawa still looks every bit like he's got what it takes to be an MLB starter. His fastball sits around 90 MPH with some plus potential, but it's his wide assortment of off-speed pitches that makes Tazawa special. His curveball, slider, and forkball are all above-average pitches, the last 2 with plus potential. Unlike his Japanese compatriot Daisuke, Tazawa has a tendency to attack the zone and as a result does not walk a lot of guys. Future success in the majors will depend on if he can generate swings-and-misses on his secondary stuff.

Mark Wagner

Age: 25 | Position: C | Level: AAA

2008: .219/.304/.364 (AA)

2009: .301/.410/.477 (AA) | .214/.268/.351 (AAA)

Mark Wagner's career has been a roller coaster ride through the minors, hitting highs and lows almost predictably every-other-assignment. This could speak to two things: Either he has difficulty with fatigue towards the end of the season (which is when his lows come), or he has more difficulty than others adjusting to promotions. At his highs, Wagner is a very good offensive catcher, combining very good plate discipline and on-base abilities with decent power. Behind the plate, Wagner is a good defensive catcher with only a few small kinks to iron out, and armed with a very strong arm that has helped him throw out about 40% of base stealers.

Ryan Westmoreland

Age: 19 | Position: CF | Level: Short Season

2009: .296/.401/.484

The official Wunderkind of the Red Sox system, Westmoreland is an amazing all-around player. Offensively he brings an advanced approach to the plate resulting in a BB% of over 15, a power bat good for 7 home runs this year with potential for a good few more, and intelligence and speed (perhaps the fastest player in the entire system) on the basepaths that allowed him to steal 19 bases without being caught once. That speed is also a big part of what makes him a great defensive center fielder. So far Westmoreland has had some injury troubles—a torn Labrum last year, and a broken collarbone this year—but neither are the sort of injury that makes you think he's inherently fragile.

Alex Wilson

Age: 23 | Position: SP/RP | Level: Short Season

2009: 0.50 ERA, 33:7 K:BB, .47 WHIP

Last year's 2nd round pick, Wilson has the potential to be a top reliever or possibly a starter. Wilson spent the last half of 2009 starting with the Spinners, but usually only went for 2 or 3 innings. A former Tommy John patient, Wilson's fastball sits in the low 90s, but there's hope he can get it back towards the high 90s. In college, Wilson made use of a slider that dominated opposing hitters. Ultimately, his effectiveness in the major leagues will rely on whether or not that Slider will continue to fool advanced competition. Wilson is currently also working on other secondary pitches that he would have to mix into his game effectively to remain a starter.

Madison Younginer

Age: 19 | Position: SP | Level: ? (Rookie-A)

Perhaps the best pitching talent the Sox drafted last year, Younginer has a big arm that could take him far. Only 19-years-old, Younginer already sports a mid-90s+ fastball, along with a curve and change. Right now, Younginer has all the potential with few of the required tweaks and skills. But if the Sox can get him sorted out, Younginer could end up being special.