On the farm: Kottaras, Hansen impressive

With the month of April half over, it’s time to take a look at how things are shaping up in our farm system for 2008. I know these samples sizes are ridiculously meaningless, but it’s still fun to dream, right?

Triple-A Pawtucket

It looks like a little competition has done wonders for 25-year old catcher George Kottaras. In 13 games, Kottaras is now hitting .304/.373/.739 in 46 AB. He’s slugged 5 doubles and 5 HR already, while striking out less (15.7%) and maintaining his walk rate (9.8%). His BABIP and line drive rate have actually fallen off from his norms, so he could be hitting well for some time. He has done most of his damage at McCoy Stadium, and holds a line of .400/.423/1.040 in home games. His competitor, Dusty Brown, has been no slouch, either, hitting .303/.385/.545, but Kottaras wins out so far.

As for pitchers, Craig Hansen has to be recognized for his 6 outstanding appearances so far. It’s just 9 1/3 scoreless innings, but what innings they have been. Hansen has struck out 10 while allowing just 2 hits and 3 walks (all 3 walks came in his first two outings; since then, he’s been awesome). Who knew that sleep apnea could be such a serious problem?

Double-A Portland

Shortstop/third baseman Ryan Khoury is only hitting .225, but he has a .380 OBP and a commanding team lead with 18 total bases. He has five extra base hits and has been controlling the strike zone well. His 19% LD rate is solid, but his BABIP sits at .267, so you can expect that batting average to rise quite a bit soon. Currently has a 5-game hitting streak going.

Justin Masterson continues to be lights out, boasting a 1.29 ERA in 14 IP after three starts. He’s only walked 3 batters while striking out 13, and that sinker is working its magic; 75% ground balls and zero home runs given up. It’s enough to make a you at least a little glad that the Santana trade didn’t go through.

High-A Lancaster

What are they putting in the Red Sox catchers’ Gatorade these days? Jon Still, who hit 25 HR last season between Greenville and Lancaster (mostly at Greenville), is off to a torrid start, with a .345/.441/.793 line and 12 extra base hits (7 HR) to his credit in 14 games. I know, it’s Lancaster, but this guy has shown good power before coming here. He’s drawn 9 walks and struck out 11 times, which is very good if he can sustain that. He had about a 19% walk rate last season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he could.

Lancaster is tough for any pitcher, but judging on his 17:1 K:BB ratio, righty Christopher Jones is doing a pretty decent job. In three starts, he is 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA in 12 1/3 IP. He’s allowed 1 HR, and with a ridiculous .459 BABIP against, my guess is that his ERA is mostly bad luck (and that home park), given the way he’s pitched. His FIP is a svelte 2.06, and his road ERA is 3.60 (versus 6.14 at home).

Single-A Greenville

Infielder Aaron Reza, in his second professional season, has really lit it up with a .375/.457/.750 line through 13 games. He’s not considered a prospect, and he’s just 5-7, 180, so I wouldn’t expect this to last, but hey, you never know.

20-year old lefty Felix Doubront has been dominant over three starts with the Drive. He must have learned a new trick or something, because he was terrible there last year. He’s the roud owner of a 3-0 record, a 0.57 ERA and a 17:1 K:BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings. He’s allowed 14 hits, but 11 of those have been singles, and the others have been doubles.


3 Responses to On the farm: Kottaras, Hansen impressive

  1. Pat says:

    Wow! That’s all good news. We could really use a star catcher to emerge from our farm.

    If Timlin doesn’t turn things around, we could use an effective Hansen sooner than later.

    I hope Masterson turns out to be a good middle of the rotation starter. I wonder right now who will replace Wakefield when he finally retires. Although thinking of that reminds me how amazing it is that we are building around such a young core of pitchers (Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Buchholz, Delcarmen, Papelbon).

    If we can get a few more years of average (for them) production from Ortiz and Manny, it looks like we could have the making of a dynasty.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Pat, I am really encouraged by this look at our farm system, but let’s remember that these are just minor league numbers. Whatever guys may hit down there, it doesn’t always translate.

    I’ve already expressed my deep concern about the catcher situation; so this is great news. Having two viable prospects at Triple-A gives us a lot of flexibility.

    Hansen would be a welcome addition to this bullpen. Having another live arm like his could make this pen the best in baseball by a good margin.

    I’ve said all along, I don’t think Buchholz, Lester, Masterson and Bowden will all blossom at the Major League level. If two of them turn out to be any good, we’ll have done well. The problem is figuring out which two it’ll be. It’s a great situation that we have Beckett and Dice-K who are proven commodities, and we have Wake to buy us time to try these guys out. I think Theo and his team have identified that starting pitching is the most expensive and unpredictable position in baseball. Youngsters flame out, you pay for a strong veteran and they suck. So the best approach is to sign a couple of aces long-term and keep churning young talent through, identifying the diamonds in the rough. That’s the only way you can consistently field a good and affordable rotation these days.

    Ortiz should be good for at least 3-4 more years (barring health), and the way Manny’s raking, it looks like we will pick up the options on him, just as he predicted. In the meantime, we have some years to try and balance out our lineup a little bit, and raise or acquire young bats to support them. I like what the team’s doing.

  3. Dave B says:

    Hey, my name is Dave and I write for a Red Sox MiLB Blog at mvn.com. I am also a recruit. Sorry for having to do this via your comment section but I couldn’t find your email. I’m looking for someone to be a writer on my site. Specifically, i would love someone to write about any team besides Lowell and Pawtucket. If you are at all interested or have questions please email me at rsoripwa@gmail.com. Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.


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