Hi everyone, Happy New Year! Thanks to all who already submitted questions. Let's get this started. Keep in mind I'm going to be sticking mostly to the minor league questions.
What's the latest update on recovering Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland?
The fantastic news on Westmoreland is that he's essentially resumed living a normal life, which in and of itself is a remarkable accomplishment. On top of that, he's back on the baseball field and engaged in limited drills, which is ahead of initial expectations. Right now it's premature to speculate as to when he'll be able to appear in games again. I know he hopes to return to game action in 2011 - I wouldn't put it past him, but I also don't want to set expectations that high. There's just not a lot of precedent for this type of comeback, but if anybody can do it, Ryan can.
What do you think the chances are that Lars Anderson gets traded before the July 31 trade deadline?
While the assumption is now that Lars is pure trade bait, I'm not sure I agree. I think he'll be given a chance to take over the DH role in the event that Ortiz isn't back in 2012. He needs to work on consistency, reducing strikeouts, and adding loft to his swing. But I'm personally still high on him, and think he has the potential to become a solid regular contributor.
Give me one name I've never heard of in the Red Sox system that is going to make noise in the minor leagues this season.
I'm pretty high on Reynaldo Rodriguez right now, a Colombian 1B who played with Greenville in 2010 and put up a .905 OPS. He was old for the league at 24, but I think he has a lot of potential to be a surprise bat.
What's Ryan Kalish's role this season? Will he start in Pawtucket?
Probably, barring injury. Right now the starting OF looks set, with Mike Cameron and possibly Darnell McDonald coming off the bench. Kalish can probably use some more development time, and he'll likely see plenty of time with the big club in 2011 regardless of what level he starts at. I also think he takes over for JD Drew in 2012.
Who is more likely to be the Red Sox catcher of the future, Mark Wagner or Jarrod Saltalamacchia?
Salty. He'll be given a shot this year, whereas Wagner will likely split time with Luis Exposito in Pawtucket. I think Wagner has good backup potential, but I don't see him as a starting catcher of the future on a big market team.
Where will Anthony Ranaudo start the season?
We're projecting him to start at High-A Salem. Given his level of development and the team's history of placement, I'd say that's a fairly safe bet. But I wouldn't be totally surprised if the team took it slow and started him at Low-A Greenville. I would be surprised to see him in Double-A Portland to start the year.
Is Josh Reddick's stock rising or falling?
To me, it's falling. I'm starting to think that he won't be able to overcome his plate discipline issues. That being said, every time I write him off, he seems to come back with a great month. As of right now, I'd say he gets traded and ends up as a decent 3rd/4th outfielder on a low-to-mid market team. His power, speed, defense, and arm should at least carry him that far.
will kyle Fernandez ever make the Red sox bullpen ?
Probably not. But Fernandes may end up catching on with another club after he hits minor league free agency, and it wouldn't surprise me at all for him to see some cup-of-coffee type major league time down the line.
I see you list Yamaico Navarro as one of your top Red Sox prospects. Can you tell me a little more about him? How the Sox acquired him, what they like about him, etc?
Navarro is a SS/3B/2B with high power potential, excellent defense, and decent plate discipline. He struggles with major league breaking stuff though, and some have called his focus into question. He was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican in Sept. 2005. I think he could prove to be a valuable utility man off the Boston bench in late 2011 and 2012. For a great story on Navarro, Google Dirt-poor, talent rich - an excellent piece by Amalie Benjamin from this past September.
Do the Sox currently have any pitching prospects within the system who have the ability to become a number one starter if everything breaks right?
Anthony Ranaudo and Drake Britton are the two at the top of the list. 20-year-old Madison Younginer needs A LOT of refinement, but if everything clicked right, he has ace potential. One extreme long-shot sleeper is Juan Rodriguez, a 22-year old Dominican righty with a really nice fastball. He has the ceiling, but he also has the potential to never make it past A-Ball.
How depleted is the Red Sox farm system aftervthe Adrian Gonzalez trade? Also, who are the top prospects now and what do they bring to the table?
Josh, I'll give you a shout out as you're from my hometown of Salem, NH. Props. To answer your first question - the top of the system is very depleted. There aren't many sure-bet blue chippers, some might even say none. On the other hand, there is still a remarkable amount of depth. I'd say there are at least 50 prospects with some big league potential, many of whom could bloom into blue chippers in the not so distant future. As to your second question, check out the top prospect list at SoxProspects.com.
Are there any prosects that you see contributing to the sox this season?
Old friends Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Daniel Nava, and Josh Reddick should all be back at varying points in the season. As for players who will make their debuts, look for Kyle Weiland, Jason Rice, Mark Wagner, Jose Iglesias, and possibly Nate Spears to see time with the big club. Weiland and Rice should help the bullpen. Wagner adds catching depth. I think Iglesias will see time later in the year, but not a ton. Spears could see time if Dustin Pedroia ever has to hit the DL. In September, also look for Ryan Lavarnway, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Luis Exposito to get some run as 40-man roster call-ups.
Mike what's your take on the covey of Latin players the Sox have brought into the system? Lots of young talent such as Keury De La Cruz, Henry Ramos, Manny Rivera, and Oscar Perez. How do you think this group stacks up against those from the recent past?
I like De La Cruz and Ramos, both of who have great tools. I don't love Rivera, who is a bit of a junkballer. Perez looks the part, particularly on defense, but he just hasn't hit yet. My two favorites of the Latin players are both young shortstops - Xander Bogaerts and Jose Vinicio. Vinicio flashed a nice glove in the GCL at ripe age 16, and Bogaerts is a potential 5-tooler. Both are really, really far away though.
Do you think Ryan Lavarnway will be an competent big league catcher, and what are the Sox plans for him?
He's the #1 catching prospect to me, with an asterisk. Our scouts love his bat. Love it. It projects well at the major league level. But his defense is suspect - he's really stiff behind the plate and his motions are on the slow side (his arm is decent). That being said, he showed a lot of improvement defensively this year. Still not sure he can develop into a defensive catcher that will get by on a daily basis at the major league level. But his bat might carry him in a catcher-DH role.
How loaded is the 2011 draft class and what will the Sox target with all those picks?
It's a very deep draft, and the Sox will have lots of picks. I think they'll spend big, considering this is the last draft before the new CBA, which could result in a slotting system.I can't speak all that expertly about the 2011 draft class (at least not yet), but at this early stage, here are four players I wouldn't mind falling to Boston at #19 - Austin Wood, a righty out of USC; Michael Kelly, a prep arm out of Florida; Alex Meyer, a right out of Kentucky whom the Sox drafted in 2008 (but failed to sign); and Blake Swihart, a prep catcher out of Cleveland High School in New Mexico.
With the free agent signings this winter where do the sox stand on draft picks this upcoming year
-#19 and ~
Of the top prospects for the Sox, who do you view as having the highest upside? Kalish is currently ranked #1 but he seems to be more of a solid/above-average major leaguer rather than an all-star caliber player. Also, do you think Anthony Renaudo could step into the back-end of the rotation by 2012?
Highest upside - RHP Anthony Ranaudo, LHP Drake Britton, IF Garin Cecchini, OF Brandon Jacobs, SS Xander Bogaerts
As for Ranaudo, late 2012 is a definite possibility, but I'd say 2013 is a more reasonable expectation
Iglesias is one of those guys that I was glad NOT to see go during the Gonzalez trade. Does he have the potential to be the answer to our revolving SS position in the future?
Yes. I think Iglesias will see time late in 2011, and the expectation is that he should take over in 2012, joining Jed Lowrie in some capacity. His defense is as advertised. Awesome. His bat, well that's another question. Outstanding bat speed, but he likes to swing at everything. He also doesn't have much power at all. Some fans will enjoy seeing him turn heads on defense every day. Others will be frustrated if and when he hits .275/.295/.325.
Who do see as the guys with the best power potential in the system?
Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, Josh Reddick, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Brandon Jacobs, Yamaico Navarro, Bryce Brentz, Kendrick Perkins, and Luis Exposito.
What position do the Sox see Kolbrin Vitek playing once he makes the majors?
Right field. Early reports on his defense at 3B were not good. But he still has a lot of time to improve. Not worried about his offensive stats from 2010 though - he'll hit. Excellent approach.
Who do you think of the current Red Sox prospects will have a break out year ?
Of the players who are already highly-regarded, I think Drake Britton, Sean Coyle, and Garin Cecchini are the names to watch. I expect them to rocket up the prospect rankings. Kyle Weiland could also turn into a elite bullpen prospect, although he's likely to begin the 2011 season as a starter in Pawtucket, where he'll likely continue to have ups and downs. As I mentioned earlier, my two sleepers are Reynaldo Rodriguez and Juan Rodriguez.
Gammons said he thinks later this season Tazawa could be a big part of this bullpen. What are your thoughts? Should we expect any prospects to make an impact this year?
I'm on board with Gammons here. I like Tazawa a lot and I think he'll be a contributor by mid-season. He's very dynamic with his 4-pitch arsenal.
What prospect do you see having the biggest impact on the bullpen over the course of the whole season? ( maybe not to start but who will have the most impact around playoff time?)
Besides Felix Doubront, I've always liked Jason Rice, but the Sox don't see to be as enamored with him. So I'll say Kyle Weiland. He has potential to have similar success to a Justin Masterson. Mike Hazen loves him. It wouldn't surprise me to see him make the bullpen if and when the Sox make the post-season.
What are your thoughts on Che-Hsuan Lin? He generated a little buzz belting a monster homerun and winning MVP honors in the Futures Game a few years back. I know his game is more blazing speed and strong defense, and a cannon arm, but do you have a timetable on him being called up within the next few years maybe? Also any news on any other Taiwanese prospects in the system? Chien-Ming Wang opened up a lot of hopes for players from Taiwan to follow.
I like Lin a lot. His speed, arm, defense, and plate discipline are all plus. At the very least, he will become an extremely valuable 4th/5th outfielder at the major league level. The problem is that he makes a TON of weak contact, and I think that will hurt him as he climbs the ladder, and we'll see his numbers dip as a result. If he can add some power and start getting something behind the ball, he'll be a player to be reckoned with - a potential starting CF for a top line club. Ultimately, he'll probably fall somewhere in between. He'll need to be added to the 40-man roster next Winter. As far as other Tawainese platers in the system, the only one I can think of his Chih-Hsien Chiang, who has some nice tools but doesn't project as a major leaguer at this point.
Is Exposito a legitmate major league catching prospect? What are his up and downsides?
He's a legitimate prospect, but right now I don't project him as a starter at the major league level. His pluses are his power potential, his frame, his arm, and his personality - his teammates generally love him. On the downside, his plate discipline is subpar, and he needs to work on his game calling and ball blocking skills. Some scouts have said he hasn't put enough work into the finer aspects of catching. But those are areas where he can improve with work. If he does that, he could be a major league starter, but I think that could be 2-3 years away. The best situation for Exposito would be to get paired with a major league vet that can take him under his wing.
Is there a prospect that the Red Sox see as a Bill Hall-esque type (i.e. a super-utility player) in the event that they don't feel they have enough depth?
Yamaico Navarro can adequately play SS, 2B, and 3B at a major league level, but he's never played OF as far as I know. The only super-sub type player in the high minors is Drew Sutton, a 27-year old that can play all IF positions and both corner OF spots. He has major league experience with the Indians and the Reds. For his minor league career, he's hit .279/.378/.434. He'll likely start the 2011 season with the PawSox.
Would Felix Doubront be better off starting the season in Pawtucket's rotation or in the Red Sox bullpen?
I like Doubront for the Red Sox bullpen, unless the Sox sign Brian Fuentes and the entire bullpen is healthy. I think he'll gain more from time in the majors as well. That being said, the starting pitching depth at Triple-A is a potential weakness for 2011 right now.
Can you give a little background on Stolmy Pimentel?
Signed out of the Dominican in July 2006. Right-hander with a lanky frame. Styles himself after Pedro Martinez. He has three potential major league caliber pitches - a four-seam fastball, a very good curveball, and an excellent changeup. Also working on developing a cutter. He's played at an age-advanced level throughout his career. Don't pay too much attention to his 4.02 ERA from 2010 - he was very impressive on the mound. He just needs some development time to work out some kinks - particularly keeping consistent. I see him as a #3 starter down the line.
What might Daniel Nava's role be during the upcoming season?
Probably Pawtucket's left fielder. Beyond that, he's probably 7th in line for the Red Sox OF after Crawford, Ellsbury, Drew, Cameron, McDonald, and Kalish. The Red Sox have crazy depth in the outfield at the upper levels right now. On top of that, the team also has Josh Reddick, Bubba Bell, Aaron Bates, Che-Hsuan Lin, and Juan Carlos Linares.
Where do you think Xander Bogaerts will start the year at?
The GCL. With a 25% shot of starting in Lowell.
What are the chances that Jorge Jimenez gets a chance in Boston? If not, are there any other teams that could use him in the big leagues?
Minimal. Even if Kevin Youkilis has to go on the DL, I think the Sox would look to Jed Lowrie and Yamaico Navarro first. Jimenez almost made Florida last year after the Rule 5 Draft. But that may have bee na let down for him, and he did not hit well with Pawtucket in 2010. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimenez sign on with a club like Florida once he hits minor league free agency.
These are always fun, not the most accurate, but can you give us a projected major league lineup for the Red Sox in 2015?
Going with the fun, but almost definitely not accurate theme, here's my 2015 lineup based on players that are in the system right now.C Jarrod Saltalamacchia1B Adian Gonzalez2B Dustin Pedroia3B Will MiddlebrooksSS Jose IglesiasLF Carl CrawfordCF Ryan KalishRF Kolbrin VitekDH Kevin YoukilisBench - Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Che-Hsuan LinSP:Jon LesterClay BuchholzAnthony RanaudoDrake BrittonStolmy PimentelBullpen: Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland, Alex Wilson, Brandon Workman, Madison Younginer
Could Jose Iglesias start the year in Pawtucket?
Yes. I'd say it's close to 50-50 between Portland and Pawtucket. I lean slightly towards Portland so he can get back into the groove in comfortable surroundings, with a possible quick promotion to Pawtucket. A lot will depend on how he looks this spring.
Who is the most underrated and the most overrated Red Sox prospect?
That depends on who's doing the "rating." Right now I tend to think the major outlets are overrating Josh Reddick and under-rating Bryce Brentz.
You haven't mentioned Oscar Tejada yet. What's his potential?
Tejeda's ceiling is extremely high. His athleticism compares to Hanley Ramirez. He hit .307/.344/.455 with Salem in 2010 during his age 20 season. It wouldn't be all that surprising for him to put up those types of numbers at the major league level at some point. He just really needs to put the work in on his plate approach - recognizing off-speed stuff and knowing what to do with it. If he doesn't continue to make strides in that area, there could be a fall-off similar to what Josh Reddick has experienced above A-Ball.
I'm going to go for about 10 more minutes. After that, I gotta tend to the wife and kids in preparation for New Years' stuff.
Any chance we get to see Casey Kelly pitch for the Padres this year?
Probably not. Maybe a September call-up.
What can I expect from the PawSox this year in terms of prospect development?
Prospects to watch for in Pawtucket (I'll be there for the home opener): Kyle Weiland, Michael Bowden, Jason Rice, Robert Coello, Luis Exposito, Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Daniel Nava, Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, Mark Wagner. No blue chippers except for maybe Kalish, but that puts prospects at almost every position. Ryan Lavarnway, Jose Iglesias, Stephen Fife, and Alex Wilson should also make it to McCoy at some point. Should be a fun season.
any news on hitting coaches for Pawtucket adn Lowell?
Last I heard, Rich Gedman and Chili Davis were highly under consideration. I think those would both be great pick-ups for the organization.
Okay everybody, sorry I couldn't get to all of your questions - thanks a million to everyone who participated. I'll try to do more chats in 2011. Happy New Year! Be safe tonight!