Prospect of the Day: Josh Reddick, OF, Boston Red Sox
Boston rookie outfielder Josh Reddick is on a tear, hitting .404/.455/.638 in 18 games for the Red Sox since being promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket. Nobody expects him to hit .400 all year, but is overall success sustainable and does he have a future as a regular?
Reddick was drafted by the Red Sox in the 17th round in 2006, from Middle Georgia Junior College. His career got off to a good start with a .305/.351/.530 campaign for Low-A Greenville in 2007, then he hit a robust .311/.356/.544 with 23 homers and 14 steals in 482 at-bats at three levels in '08. However, much of his damage was one in the friendly park at Lancaster in the California League, and he occasionally struggled in 34 games in Double-A, hitting .214/.290/.436. He made adjustments in '09, hitting .277/.352/.520 in 63 games for Portland but just .127/.190/.183 in 18 games for Pawtucket and .169/.210/.339 in 27 major league games. Last year he continued to show power in Triple-A, hitting .266/.301/.466 in 114 games, but had serious problems in 29 major league games, hitting .194/.206/.323.
He hit just .230 in 52 games for Pawtucket before his promotion this year, but did hit 14 homers with a 33/39 BB/K in 191 at-bats, a much better ratio than past seasons. Overall, Reddick is a .278/.332/.500 hitter in 1821 minor league at-bats, including .243/.300/.449 in 713 Triple-A at-bats.
Reddick is a left-handed hitter and a right-handed thrower, 24 years old. All of his tools are at least average, and scouts like his bat speed and power potential. Although he's not an aggressive stealer, he runs well, and the combination of his speed and throwing arm makes him strong defensively, especially at the corners.
I've heard different opinions about how "complete" of a hitter he is. Red Sox officials seem optimistic that he'll produce across-the-board, as he's doing on his current hot streak. Sources outside the organization aren't quite as sanguine, projecting that he'll hit for plenty of power, but concerned that his strike zone judgment will hold him back, that he'll be streaky and prone to large fluctuations in batting average and OBP.
His minor league track record supports the more cautious interpretation. He has a tendency to struggle in his first look at a new level before making the needed adjustments. However, he's shown greatly improved plate discipline this year, and he's certainly young enough that this could be a permanent change.
Reddick currently has an unsustainable .450 BABIP in the majors, but he is controlling the strike zone well, and that will obviously help him. In '09 and '10 he posted a 3/32 BB/K ratio in 125 combined major league plate appearances; this year it is 6/8 in 47. If he maintains that sort of progress, he'll greatly improve his chances of seizing a regular job and living up to Boston's expectations.
Will he do so? My guess is yes, although there will be some rough patches. I expect his overall major league line will look very much like his overall minor league line: about .270/.330/.470 or so, with a stronger peak but some weak seasons mixed in.