All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don’t get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get out of the top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you are looking for.
1) Lars Anderson, 1B, Grade A-: Will hit for power and average, I’m confident home runs will increase.
2) Michael Bowden, RHP, Grade B+: Another personal favorite, strong command of solid stuff.
3) Daniel Bard, RHP, Grade B: Can hit 100 MPH, turned things around, command still a question but huge upside.
4) Josh Reddick, OF, Grade B: At this point I’m not that worried about Double-A struggles. Not a walk machine but it seems to work for him.
5) Ryan Westmoreland, OF, Grade B: No numbers yet, this is based on scouting reports indicating power, speed, and good plate discipline.
6) Michael Almanzar, 3B, Grade B-: Needs work with strike zone judgment, but huge upside. Miguel Cabrera type? If he gets the zone under control. . .
7) Ryan Kalish, OF, Grade B-: Strong leadoff skills, and young enough for the power to come.
8) Nick Hagadone, LHP, Grade B-: Can’t rank higher than B- until we see how he comes back from Tommy John. Excellent stuff when healthy.
9) Yamaico Navarro, SS, Grade B-: Tools and youth, with good offensive upside for a middle infielder.
10) Oscar Tejeda, SS, Grade B-: Tools and youth. I will cut him some slack due to health problems this year.
11) Casey Kelly, SS-RHP, Grade B-: A really difficult grade. Tremendous tools, skills suck at this point, is he a hitter or pitcher?
12) Bryan Price, RHP, Grade B-: High upside arm, though he might advance more slowly if used as a starter than as a reliever.
13) Kyle Weiland, RHP, Grade B-: Much more effective as a pro than in college.
14) Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-, high-upside arm, very projectable.
15) Stephen Fife, RHP, Grade C+: I like this guy a lot and he is a breakthrough candidate in ’09, good stuff, good command, pitched well at Utah and then again in the NY-P.
16) Argenis Diaz, SS, Grade C+: Great glove, not sure about the bat due to lack of power.
17) Che-Hsuan Lin, OF, Grade C+: Great tools, defense, speed, still working on the power.
18) Luis Exposito, C, Grade C+: Interesting catcher with power, doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves.
19) Zach Daeges, OF, Grade C+: Excellent on-base skills with enough pop to keep the pitchers honest, could rank lower depending on what you want to emphasize.
20) Richard Lentz, RHP, Grade C+: Terrific K/IP ratios, command still needs work, but a bullpen sleeper.
Other Grade C+: Derrick Gibson, Pete Hissey, Ryan Lavarnway. Any of them could slot into the 14-20 range, and in fact some of the Grade Cs below are borderline C+ types whose grades may change.
Others: Bubba Bell, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Felix Doubront, Tim Federowicz, Brock Huntzinger, Kris Johnson, Hunter Jones, Ryan Khoury, Ryne Lawson, Will Middlebrooks, Jason Place, Eammon Portice, Dustin Richardson, Anthony Rizzo, Jon Still, Hunter Strickland, and Beau Vaughan.
If there is someone else that you really think should be included, make your case. I always miss someone. Space is limited and some of the players above will probably get cut if I have to add someone else. In fact, I should probably cut one or two guys from the list above.
SYSTEM IN BRIEF: The Red Sox have thinned out a bit at the top, but the system is recharging very quickly and is still quite deep overall. Anderson and Bowden are personal favorites. They have a mixture of tools guys and guys with polish, which I like to see, and they have a nice balance of pitchers and position players. They draft guys from high school, they draft guys from college, they spend money in
One thing I find ironic: whenever I write about the Red Sox, I get two kinds of emails from fans. One group accuses me of pro-Red Sox bias. Another group accuses me of anti-Red Sox bias. I try to be aware of my biases and predilections, and generally speaking they don’t run in favor of teams on either the East or West Coast. If I have a bias it is in favor of Midwestern teams, and I try to correct for that. I admire the way the Red Sox have developed their farm system in recent years, but I have no bone to pick here.
Reports on these guys and over 1,000 others can be found in the 2009 Baseball Prospect Book. Pre-order for January 31st shipping now!
Next up: the Cincinnati Reds, followed by the Toronto Blue Jays.