9-7-2011: Just how good are these prospects, anyway?

The Red Sox had a lot of their top prospects succumb to injury or slump in 2011, but not all the news is bad. Once these guys get up to the Double-A and Triple-A levels, it becomes possible to project what their batting lines might be based on their component rates (how often they walk, strike out, hit home runs, etc.).

Here’s a quick look at what we might get out of these guys next year, based on their track record so far (all numbers assume starting roles for the Red Sox next season, adjusted for Fenway Park).

Josh Reddick, RF (.261/.321/.433 with 35 doubles and 18 HR in 557 AB)

Reddick finally got healthy and got the chance to open some eyes this year with his bat, his glove and energetic play. While he had a great season, most of his batting average came from an unusually high rate of singles, as shown by his high-ish .329 BABIP. His projected 7.6 BB% and 20.9 K% rates for next year suggest that he might be on the cusp of a starting role. It’s worth noting that it won’t take much to better the .232/.304/.360 the Sox got out of their right fielders this season. I fully expect the Sox to give him a shot at the job in the offseason, but they should bring in a short-term veteran for him to compete with.

Will Middlebrooks, 3B (.265/.324/.435 with 27 doubles and 14 HR in 421 AB)

Middlebrooks hit his way up from Low-A Lowell all the way to Pawtucket this season, showing some very good power (23 HR in 439 AB) to go along with his solid play at the hot corner. At 23 years old, his future looks very bright, but his projected 7.0 BB% and 25.3 K% suggest that he’s still too raw to play at this level and be productive. With Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis cemented at the corner spots, Middlebrooks looks like trade fodder to me.

Ryan Kalish, CF/RF (.261/.327/.412 with 20 doubles, 8 HR and 11 SB in 321 AB)

Kalish missed most of 2011 with shoulder and neck injuries, and now he is supposed to have surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck. He’s an exciting player when he’s healthy, but we’ll have to see how he recovers before rushing to judgment. 8.2 BB% and 21.8 K% are not bad, but they don’t scream every day player, either. He may be able to challenge for the 4th outfielder role by the end of 2012.

Jose Iglesias, SS (.266/.334/.387 with 17 doubles, 5 HR and 5 SB in 281 AB)

Iglesias has been known for his glove far more than his bat, but it looks like he may be ready sooner than expected. Still just 21, the challenge will be for him to stay healthy enough to build consistency with the bat. 8.2 BB% and 20.2 K% is not too shabby for a shortstop, but I still think the Sox will take the cautious road and either re-sign Marco Scutaro or get another stop-gap veteran to play in the hole just in case Jed Lowrie gets caught in a bear trap somehow.

Ryan Lavarnway, C/DH (.264/.341/.460 with 19 doubles and 13 HR in 310 AB)

The 23-year old Lavarnway is supposedly improving his defense, but I don’t think that makes him a full-time backstop any time soon (or maybe ever). We project him at 9.1 BB% and 20.9 K% for next season, so the bat is ready, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia showed enough to keep the job next season, so Lavarnway’s spot may be somewhat contingent on Jason Varitek. Having him on the squad as an occasional catcher who can pinch-hit or even DH is pretty valuable.


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