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Boston Red Sox Pre-Season Top 20 in Review

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Boston Red Sox PRE-SEASON Top 20 Prospects in Review

1) Hanley Ramirez, SS
Hit .271/.335/.385 with 26 steals (but 13 caught stealing) for Double-A Portland. Not a very impressive season overall. Best news is that he is still just 21 years old, but at some point the performance needs to match the hype.

2) Jon Papelbon, RHP
Pitched well at Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, then posted a 3-1 record 2.65 ERA in 34 major league innings, 34/17 K/BB. I think he's ready for major league competition full-time in '06. Main question is whether he will start or relieve.

3) Brandon Moss, OF
Hit .268/.337/.441, 31 doubles, 16 homers for Portland. Large increase in his strikeout rate this year. I think he will stabilize between his '04 and '05 numbers, say .290ish with moderate power. Given his age (21), he has time to develop in several directions.

4) Anibal Sanchez, RHP
Confirmed status as top prospect, pitching well in the Carolina League and in Double-A. Portland numbers: 3-5, but 3.45 in 11 starts, 63/16 K/BB in 57 innings. I'd be leery of pushing him too quickly and wouldn't want to see him in the majors before August.

5) Jon Lester, LHP
11-6, 2.61 in 26 starts for Portland, 163/57 K/BB in 148 innings. Took a huge step forward this year, refining his control while maintaining his velocity and movement. A top prospect no question.

6) Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Hit .324/.409/.508 for Portland, but just .255/.356/.382 after promotion to Pawtucket. Maintained strong plate discipline in Triple-A and I think he will push his numbers back up, but perhaps more like a .280/.360/.420 type guy.

7) Christian Lara, SS
Toolsy shortstop hit .232/.304/.299 in 112 games for Class A Greenville. Best attributes are age (20) and athleticism, but he has a long way to go with the bat.

8) Luis Soto, OF
Hit .293/.377/.431 for short-season Lowell, but just .212/.247/.259 in 23 games for Greenville. Another guy with good tools but erratic performance.

9) Kelly Shoppach, C
Hit .253/.352/.507 with 26 homers for Pawtucket. Repeating the league and improved his performance only slightly. Good defense, good power, but has problems with contact.

10) Abe Alvarez, LHP
11-6, 4.85 in 26 starts for Pawtucket, 109/31 K/BB in 145 innings. Component ratios were very similar to 2004, and I think the rise in his ERA is misleading. Remains a possibility for back end of the rotation.

11) Ian Bladergroen, 1B
Hit just .240/.337/.331 in 75 games for Class A Wilmington, though he was injured for most of the season. Hard to know how seriously to take it due to wrist problems; need to see him healthy.

12) Andrew Dobies, LHP
Combined for 9-9 record, 4.07 ERA between Greenville and Wilmington. Similar to Abe Alvarez, a finesse lefty with good control. Will have to show he can handle higher levels. K/IP ratio was just mediocre at 102 in 144 innings.

13) Manny Delcarmen, RHP
Converted to relief and pitched well in both Double-A and Triple-A, looked good in 10-game audition with the Red Sox. Ready to contribute in the bullpen, although high-leverage situations should be limited pending further improvements in control.

14) Jeremy West, 1B
Hit .267/.340/.411 in 127 games for Portland, just 10 homers. Obviously he has to do better than that if he wants to play as a first baseman in the majors.

15) Mickey Hall, OF
Hit just .216/.304/.384 at Wilmington. Missed half the season with a broken finger. I thought he was a breakout candidate, but he regressed. Still very young at age 20 and has plenty of time to rebound.

16) Cla Meredith, RHP
Made surprise major league appearance after being a 2004 draftee. Pitched well in Double-A but looked rushed in Triple-A, with 5.59 ERA in 40 games, 63 hits allowed in 48 innings. Needs to consolidate.

17) Tommy Hottovy, LHP
Went 3-12, 5.45 in 23 starts for Wilmington, 82/37 K/BB in 104 innings. Very disappointing for a guy I thought was a major sleeper.

18) David Pauley, RHP
9-7, 3.81 in 27 starts for Portland, 104/34 K/BB in 156 innings. Good control, but K/IP and H/IP are not that good. Might be a Quadruple-A guy, although at age 22 he deserves slack.

19) Mike Rozier, LHP
6-5, 3.90 in 20 starts for Greenville. Good arm, but 52/49 K/BB in 92 innings is unattractive, fairly high walk rate without many strikeouts. Raw but physically promising.

20) Kyle Bono, RHP
4.07 ERA in 24 games for Wilmington, 56/32 K/BB in 49 innings. Good stuff but worse-than-expected control. Traded to Arizona.

The 2006 group will look a lot different, with draftees such as Craig Hansen and Jacoby Ellsbury taking prominent places on the list.

Although further progress needs to be made, there is no question but that the Red Sox farm system is greatly improved compared to five years ago.