Infielder Jed Lowrie of the Boston Red Sox fields a ground ball during a Spring Training Workout Session at the Red Sox Player Development Complex. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Here is the second part of my interview with Boston Red Sox Vice President for Player Development Mike Hazen
SICKELS: Jed Lowrie isn't a rookie or prospect at this point of course, but he's certainly interesting. Do you think he could produce over a full season what he produced last year in limited playing time?
HAZEN: Jed's had a tough go over the last couple of years with injury. It will be very interesting to watch him get to play healthy for the first time in a couple of years.
SICKELS: Ryan Lavarnway: will his defense be adequate for the major leagues?
HAZEN: Ryan has improved in one aspect of the game as much as any player we have had here over the last few years. He works as hard as anyone we have daily on his catching ability and all the technical aspects of the position. Given his intelligence, work ethic and passion for the position, there is every reason to believe he will max his potential in this area and catch in the majors. As with any catcher, developing in this position is probably the hardest thing in the game.
SICKELS: Garin Cecchini and Sean Coyle are two interesting bats from the 2010 draft. Where do they begin 2011 and how fast do you think they can advance?
HAZEN: No decisions yet on their placements - but will say they came as advertised from out scouting guys - probably two of the more mature and advanced bats with regard to fundamental swing mechanics that we've had over the last few years.
SICKELS: I get questions about Xander Bogaerts, but no one seems to know much about him other than vague scouting reports about good tools. What can you tell us?
HAZEN: At 18 Xander is a strong and now physical bodied kid with a good swing and now raw power. His physical maturity and athleticism at this age are exceptional and the swing is good. Defensively he is still developing as a shorstop and will continue to need the reps to master the position but we like the overall package. Still hasn't played in the states yet so we should get a much better read on the playability of the tools this season.
SICKELS: Drake Britton: is he ready to hold up under a larger workload this year?
HAZEN: Drake had a strong year physically last year coming off Tommy John. We still can't get too carried away with his workload this year given the 75-plus innings thrown last year. Having said that he will be able to handle a much more aggressive workload this year and we expect to see him for the full season working deeper into games. The delivery has improved due to the work put in while rehabbing the TJ. He is much more physically mature with the ability to hold his power longer into outings. Curveball and changeup consistency still need work as you could expect losing a year on the mound. Has a chance to be really good.
SICKELS: Anthony Ranaudo: What is his health status?
HAZEN: Anthony is healthy and full go - on full-season starter progression in camp - no restrictions at this time
SICKELS: I have been pushing Chris Balcom-Miller as a sleeper prospect. What is your take on him, can he perform in the high minors the same way he's performed in the low minors?
HAZEN: CBM has the strongest handshake in the system - crazy strong - I believe that has zero relevance to you question but thought I'd mention. We had a very short look at him last year but love the sinker and changeup potential and attacking mentality. Slider was also very strong late last year.
SICKELS: Your take on Brandon Workman?
HAZEN: Strong bodied power pitcher with multiple major league tool potential that hasn't pitched a professional inning - same as Anthony - look forward to seeing them when the lights come on.