Posts Tagged ‘Blake Swihart’
The lack of progress in getting David Ortiz on the field this Spring Training has been well chronicled.
Will Ortiz be ready to go on April 1 or are the Red Sox experiencing why you don’t want to be signing an older player with an injury history to a multi-year deal?
So what happens if Ortiz needs to start the season on the disabled list?
The good news for Boston is the team is well-stocked with designated hitters – Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes. Maybe even Ryan Lavarnway.
The issue, of course, shifting Napoli or Gomes to DH creates a hole somewhere else.
The Red Sox are already thin at first – with Mike Carp, Lyle Overbay and Mauro Gomez battling to back up Napoli. They are all better suited for bench roles as opposed to starters.
It’s a little more interesting out in left field should the Sox slide Gomes to DH.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is opening a lot of eyes with his spring performance, thus far.
Is he ready for the big leagues?
A player who has played only 61 minor league games above A ball – could Boston put him in the starting lineup?
It’s hard to assess after just 20 spring at-bats. Bradley has certainly been impressive.
But even if Bradley can produce in the majors right now, he can’t expect to produce the power the Red Sox are expecting Ortiz to deliver in the middle of their lineup. Bradley is probably best served with more development time in the minors.
Boston needs Ortiz’ bat and power. The next three weeks should provide a glimpse into whether he can deliver them once again.
Around the Bases
- SoxProspects look at the Red Sox catching minor leaguers with Blake Swihart leading the way. Swihart has prime-time talent but is very young and a long way from The Show. Christian Vazquez is another interesting prospect. He has been turning some heads with his defensive play this spring – especially with his recent highlight reel play.
- Looks like help is on the way with Boston pitching prospects. Typically, the Red Sox go through about 20 pitchers during a season. Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa are prospects who look on track to hit the majors this coming season. With Steven Wright a long shot to contribute.
- Keep an eye on the Cardinals – Rafael Furcal is out for the season. If Boston feels the bigger, stronger Jose Iglesias can handle short, Stephen Drew would be a nice (but expensive) add for St. Louis (that’s the downside of Boston’s fewer years, more money strategy). Or if Drew is the man for Boston in 2013 – they could move Iglesias to clear the path for superprospect Xander Bogaerts.
Here are some Red Sox stories and links that caught my eye.
Will Middlebrooks has declared himself healed from the wrist injury that knocked him out last season.
Middlebrooks says he is “beyond ready” for Spring Training to start – with a top goal of cutting down on the number of times he strikes out this season.
The big question is: What can the Red Sox expect from Middlebrooks in his sophomore year?
If he produces numbers like the ones Bill James projects, the Red Sox will be quite happy.
They are: .277 AVG, 29 HR, 75 RBI. I think he will do better.
Red Sox Prospects
Been reading Jonathan Mayo’s review series on the top MLB prospects – by position.
The Red Sox have been faring okay – not great – so far.
Of course, Xander Bogaerts shows up well – coming in at # 4 among all shortstop prospects. Keep in mind, this is a stud position – so # 4 is excellent.
It was great to see Henry Owens land at # 9 for lefty pitchers. Especially since Matt Barnes did not make the top 10 grade for right-handed pitchers.
Blake Swihart also placed at # 9 – in the catcher category.
Only first base and outfield are left – so the next player to watch for is Jackie Bradley Jr.
Speaking of Bradley, if you want to get to know him better, check out this MiLB video interview.
Welcome Back Pedro
Yes, it was great news to see Pedro Martinez rejoin the Red Sox organization.
In addition to having awesome talent, Martinez always showed himself to be a true craftsman on the mound. Hopefully, he can translate his pitching smarts into teaching prospects and identifying young players.
Plus, all-time greats like Pedro need to remain part of the organizations where they best stood out.
It has become fashionable for pundits to pick on the Red Sox for their lack of action in free agency this off-season.
For instance, Jon Heyman threw out the theory that ownership’s attention to Liverpool is the reason Boston hasn’t spent big this off-season.
Red Sox brass quickly shot down Heyman’s perspective, saying the Red Sox and Liverpool are run as separate enterprises.
And Larry Lucchino publicly spoke out, noting Boston will have the second highest payroll in baseball.
Jeff Passan wrote in the previous five off-seasons, Boston spent $514,475,500 on free agents, compared to only $7.35 million this off-season.
I agree with Tim Britton who noted calling the Red Sox cheap is unfair.
A more apt description – learning the lessons from the past.
Over the last few years, Boston has spent big on free agents with not much to show for it.
Daisuke Matuszaka ($52 million over six years), John Lackey ($82.5 million over five years) and Carl Crawford ($142 million over seven years) have not paid off – at least so far.
Let’s add in 12-game winner (and September disaster) Josh Beckett ($68 million over four years).
The issue is not the amount of money the Red Sox are spending. It’s who they have spent it on.
Also factor in, the Red Sox farm system has not produced an impact player since Clay Buchholz arrived in 2007.
Lack of farm system results has driven free agent spending – which is not a long-term winning proposition.
Especially when AL East competitors Tampa Bay and Toronto have top farm systems (ESPN subscription required), closely followed by New York.
The Red Sox farm system strength is in the lower minors.
This coming season should provide an indication whether young players – like Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart – will move into the elite prospect category.
If they do that may bring some balance to putting a team together – with player development leading the way and free agency filling in the holes.
Ross is Ready. I like the addition of Cody Ross. He’s a gritty player (Sox needed more grit – remember last September) – who can handle all three outfield positions. Ross has experience in playoff pressure. He is a good fourth outfielder who could get a lot of bats. In a conversation with Rob Bradford, Ross says he landed in the right place.
Law’s Review. Keith Law released his list of the top 100 prospects (subscription required). Only two Red Sox – Xander Bogaerts (#62) and Blake Swihart (#100) made the list. Both players are very young and a long ways off. Boston is behind in the AL East player development race. Tampa Bay landed six players on the list. Toronto and New York each had four players, and lowly Baltimore three. Looking at elite talent: the Rays and Orioles each had two players in the top 12 and Toronto had one.
NESN Weighs In. Not to be out-done, NESN is revealing its Top 100 prospect list (they are up to #41 right now) with Will Middlebrooks (#56) and Bogaerts (#63). Also on the list: C Ryan Lavarnway (#99) and Matt Barnes (#88). I got to think that’s all the Red Sox prospects we will see on the NESN list – which will confirm Law’s view: Red Sox are thin on top prospects.
Aging Not So Gracefully. Great analytical piece by Joe Posnanski that shows star players start dropping in production at age 32 and it accelerates as they get older. Boston has got a bunch of long-term contracts where the players go well beyond age 32. The combination of the big salary commitments and declining production could put the Red Sox in a bad position in coming seasons.
Received my copy of Baseball America’s 2012 Prospect Handbook this weekend and it got me thinking what’s the state of the Red Sox farm system.
What the Experts Think
Baseball America placed Boston as the number ten farm system in baseball. Not bad overall.
It is a little troubling the Blue Jays (#5) and Yankees (#6) are ahead of the Red Sox – with the Rays (#11) right behind Boston. Baltimore is way behind at #20.
Shows how competitive the AL East will continue to be.
When you look at the Top 50 prospects – as ranked by Baseball America editors – one sees:
- Jim Callis: No Red Sox in Top 50 – Blue Jays had three, Yankees (one – not counting Jesus Montero who has been traded to Seattle), Rays (two), Orioles (one).
- J.J. Cooper: Red Sox (one – Xavier Bogaerts), Blue Jays (one), Yankees (two), Rays (two), Orioles (two).
- Will Lingo: Red Sox (one – Will Middlebrooks), Blue Jays (two), Yankees (one), Rays (two), Orioles (two).
- John Manuel: Red Sox (none), Blue Jays (two), Yankees (two), Rays (one), Orioles (two).
This perspective fits with how minor league guru John Sickels views Boston’s farm system: deep but no elite prospects.
Sickels pegs Boston as the #11 farm system – behind the Blue Jays (#1) and Rays (#7). But ahead of the Yankees (#16) and Orioles (#19).
Let’s look at one more expert – Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
Mayo has six Rays farmhands in his Top 100 prospect list. Yankees (four), Blue Jays (four), Orioles (two).
Boston fares well on Mayo’s list with four Top 100 prospects – but no one in the top 50.
The list: Middlebrooks (#56), Bryce Brentz (#64), Bogaerts (#76), Ryan Lavarnway (#93).
Where Red Sox Stand
Boston has a solid farm system – particularly when you consider they traded top prospects Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly last off-season.
The Red Sox farm system strength is in the lower minors – where there is a lot of volatility.
Players can move up top prospect lists – or down – quickly.
This upcoming season is important for a number of Red Sox prospects – seeing if they make the step up Boston expects.
Players to watch:
- Middlebrooks – can he demonstrate he’s ready to takeover for Kevin Youkilis at 3B in 2013?
- Bogaerts – does he become a top-tier MLB prospect?
- Matt Barnes – he makes his pro debut – does establish himself as a big-time pitcher?
- Garin Cecchini – can he make it through an entire season injury-free – and flourish?
- Brandon Jacobs – does he become a 20/20 player?
- Blake Swihart – in year one as a pro, does he establish himself as an elite prospect?
Kirk Minihane takes a fresh look at comparing the batting lineups of the Red Sox and Yankees – and the teams come out even.
Going into the game today, they are separated by 3 runs offensively this season.
Both teams will score plenty of runs to win this season.
The team with the best pitching wins – as always.
I enjoy the hoopla around all sports drafts – even baseball with players I have never seen (or mostly heard about) before.
But I try to keep a perspective on the hype – remembering getting 2 or 3 big leaguers a draft may be a success.
A tweet today from Hall of Famer Peter Gammons put the draft in perspective: “Remember draft projections: in 1983, the Red Sox were upset when Expos took Rich Stoll at 14. Papers flew. Had to settle for (Roger) Clemens @19.”
- Tim Britton makes the case that success for the 2011 draft may come down to whether Boston can sign their second first-round pick, high school catcher Blake Swihart. While Alex Speier writes Swihart says his current Plan A is to attend University of Texas.
- ESPNBoston recaps the Day 2 draft picks of the Red Sox. Most intriguing is first pick of the day: the controversial (according to Speier) Williams Jerez who may or may not be 19 years old.
- Tom Verducci rated the best draft classes in MLB history and 2005 – with Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz – ranked number one.