Link 10-5-2011: Top 50 pitching prospects

John Sickels at Minor League Ball gives his take on the top 50 pitching prospects and how they fared in 2011.

You have to go all the way down to number 46 to find Anthony Ranaudo, the only Red Sox prospect on the list. Not good for a team with some major questions about the rotation, not good.

To be fair, I don’t think that John Lackey will be this bad again in 2012, and with Clay Buchholz returning, we will have a strong rotation once more, but our number five is 43-year old Tim Wakefield right now, and if Lackey continues to struggle, we could be in big trouble going forward.

6-8-2011: Red Sox 2011 draftees, part 1

With 4 of the top 40 picks, the Red Sox had quite draft the past two days. Here’s a look at the talent they selected. Now all they have to do is sign them!

Round 1, pick 19: Matt Barnes, 21 yo RHP, University of Connecticut (6-4, 203)

Barnes is as solid as pitching prospects come, with a high baseball IQ and throwing a low- to mid-90s fastball, a plus-curveball and a changeup. Throwing out of a 3/4 arm slot with minimal effort, his size and track record suggest he can be a very durable pitcher. He was seen by many as a top five pick at the beginning of the year. Can’t go wrong with choosing a New England name, even if he is a Yankee fan. Barnes also played for Team USA and in the Cape League. Here are his numbers from UConn:

Year W L ERA IP K/9 BB/9
2011 11 4 1.62 116.7 8.56 2.39
2010 8 3 3.92 82.7 8.17 2.72
2009 5 3 5.43 53.0 9.34 3.91

Multiple scouts mention that he’s got some refining to do with his delivery, so he’s probably going to need about two years of seasoning in the minors. Scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said that the Sox view him as a “middle of the rotation guy” with “three plus-pitches”. Given his age and the lack of openings on the Sox staff, we probably won’t see him before late 2013.

Round 1, pick 26: Blake Swihart, 19 yo C (S/R), Cleveland HS (6-1, 175)

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On the Horizon: LHP Drake Britton

Image courtesy of Bleacher Report

Drake Britton is a 21-year old pitching prospect, currently ranked as the Red Sox’ fourth best prospect and number 97 overall in Baseball America’s annual ranking. As one of the youngest prospects in Boston’s system, he is considered to be a very high-ceiling player. At 6-2, 200 he already has a good frame and is still growing.

Background

Hailing from Magnolia, TX, Britton was drafted in 2007 as the Sox’ 23rd round pick out of Tomball HS. He was committed to Texas A&M, and slipped way down due to signability concerns (Boston eventually got him with a $700k bonus). It looks like he turned out to be a real steal after all.

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2-23-2011: BA top 100 prospects list released

Baseball America has published their annual Top 100 prospects list. Prospect lists should always be taken with several grains of salt, but FWIW, Sox prospects on the list include Jose Iglesias at 52, Anthony Ranaudo at 67 and Drake Britton at number 97. New Padres prospect Casey Kelly falls in line at number 31, and Anthony Rizzo is at 75.

12-5-2010: Red Sox trade for Adrian Gonzalez

It happened a bit faster than what I projected, but the Red Sox are reportedly close to completing a deal that would send Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and a PTBNL to the San Diego Padres for one Adrian Gonzalez. According to many sources, he has passed his physical and it is a done deal. The Red Sox have until 2 PM today to negotiate a contract extension with Gonzalez, who has just one year left on his contract.

If they don’t extend him right now, the deal can still be completed and he can be extended later on, and that might actually be beneficial, points out Alex Speier. So don’t be shocked if no extension gets announced along with the trade.

What we are getting

Gonzalez is a bona fide superstar, having topped 30 HR each of the past four seasons and 100 RBI in three of those (he had 99 RBI back in 2009). Consider that the Padres offense as a whole has been abysmal, not even reaching 700 runs scored since 2007, so he regularly gets the Barry Bonds treatment (35 intentional walks last year alone). Add to that the fact that PETCO Park is one of the worst hitters parks for left-handed batters in all of baseball, and his track record there is just incredible.

Adjust for the transition to the AL, then playing half his games in Fenway against the AL East, and we get a conservative line of .279/.364/.509 for 2011. That’s more than 4 wins based on offense alone. Once you add everything else, we’re talking about a 5-6 win player.

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11-15-2010: The Andrew Miller trade

On Friday, the Red Sox swapped young lefties with the Florida Marlins, obtaining former first-rounder Andrew Miller for 26-year old Dustin Richardson. They are both big lefties who don’t look like they will pan out as big league starters, but might have some promise in a bullpen role.

The two significant differences between them that led to this trade? Miller made $1.8M last year and is out of minor league options, while Richardson is making the league minimum and can be sent to the minors. That’s always a consideration for the Marlins. So what do we get out of this? We get a guy who was once truly dominant in the low minors and with the Tar Heels in college – he was the Anthony Ranaudo of his day. Sure, he hasn’t impressed in a while now, but once a guy’s demonstrated a high level of talent, there’s always some chance he can replicate it later on; Richardson lacks that distinction. At age 25, Miller is actually a year younger than Richardson.

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8-18-2010: So you’re saying there’s a chance, bullpen, outfield, draft signings, etc

This AL East race is just maddening. Every time the Sox look like they’re about to go on a run, they stumble, and every time they stumble, so does either New York or Tampa Bay. This is the season that just refuses to die.

The porous bullpen has been better of late, though it is still prone to blowups. It seems that Felix Doubront has surpassed Dustin Richardson on the depth chart, since Richardson was sent down to make room for Dustin Pedroia.

The outfield situation is beginning to look especially dire, given that Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron are out for the year. Yes, those would be our only real center field options for 2010. Add to that Eric Patterson going on the DL, and we’re looking at a whole lot of Ryan Kalish over the next two weeks. Hey, he’s been playing great for us, but any rookie who is pressed into duty will get exposed a bit… On a related note, Kevin Youkilis thinks he could play in October if we make it that far. Mike Lowell is filling in admirably at first base for now, and with Carlos Delgado on the shelf, we may not have many other options. The Diamondbacks’ Adam LaRoche just cleared waivers today, so there’s an off chance that we could try to bring him back if we get back in the race.

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Links 8-13-2010: Playoff hopes fading, Salty and Hall, draft deadline coming, Sickels reviews our farm

The Red Sox took two of three from the Blue Jays, which is okay, but we should have had game 3. If we let games like that slip away, I don’t see us getting back to the playoffs this year. The math is starting to get pretty tough for us, points out Rob Neyer.

It certainly won’t be any easier with Jonathan Papelbon lacking his previous dominance as a closer. It’s not just one game, but Pap is showing a gradual decline which started last year. He’s still a very good closer, but he’s rapidly losing elite status, and that’s bad with just one year of arbitration left.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was called up this week, and did just fine in his first start yesterday. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we let Victor Martinez walk this offseason, but there’s some hope yet for Salty to become something.

Seems like people only remember a couple of botched plays when they think of Bill Hall, but he’s had a pretty good season at the plate. Jeremy Greenhouse points out that, in at least one situation, you’d rather bat him than Prince Fielder.

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Links 7-22-2010: Trade outlook, getting healthy is painful

There is about a week and a half left before this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, and it appears that the Sox are trying to upgrade their bullpen, outfield and catcher. To me, this year has been all about health, and it may not make sense to pull the trigger on a big trade at this point; Sox Therapy agrees.

According to various reports, the Sox have shown interest in the following players:

Relievers: Scott Downs (TOR), Leo Nunez (FLA)
Outfielders: David DeJesus (KC) , Cody Ross (FLA), Corey Hart (MIL)
Catchers: Chris Iannetta (COL), Chris Snyder (ARI)

That doesn’t mean much in July, however. Everyone’s calling around about options, but that doesn’t mean something’s necessarily going to happen. The market for relievers is notably bad this year – Blue Jays initially asked for Jose Iglesias in exchange for Downs. That shows you how tough it is to actually get a deal done as a buyer. I’m on board with the names on this list, but not so big on spending a lot to get Ross or Hart, not when we already have Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. With Jacoby Ellsbury out until God knows when and Mike Cameron being slow to heal, I’m convinced we need someone who can play a passable center field, and DeJesus fits that the best.

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7-5-2010: 5 Sox All-Stars, vote for Youk, the importance of Cash, injury updates

Even though the popular vote wasn’t too Boston-friendly, the AL roster voted by the players is replete with Red Sox, including Adrian Beltre, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Victor Martinez, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Beltre, Buchholz and Lester are all first-time selections, and Ortiz making it is a great tribute to his turnaround season (it still doesn’t mean we should exercise his team option, though). Kevin Youkilis still has an outside shot of making it if enough fans vote for him in the special runoff vote. Support Youk here!

Speaking of Beltre, his standout season will likely earn him comeback player of the year and Type A free agent status. Should Scott Boras take him to free agency, he will land a hefty free agent deal which I don’t see the Sox matching. For all his ability, the guy just doesn’t seem to fit in with this team’s style of play or personality. It would also be a mistake to expect a repeat of this season next year, even in Fenway.

The Replacements

With our top two catchers hitting the DL in the same week and a mess of injuries at Pawtucket, our catching depth had never been so poor. Luckily for the Sox, Kevin Cash had just been DFA’d by Houston. It’s not that Cash is anything at the plate (his lifetime batting line looks like a typical pitcher’s line), but his familiarity with the Sox staff and Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball in particular made it a no-brainer to go get him. We were lucky, because I could see us losing a lot of games in this stretch without him.

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