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Minor League Ball Gameday, September 3

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Should Rubby De La Rosa be a starter or reliever for the Red Sox? Also: Byron Buxton and George Springer, outstanding power/speed combinations.

Rubby De La Rosa
Rubby De La Rosa
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Good afternoon prospect watchers. Let's get down to business.

***Yesterday's Minor League Ball Gameday thread.

***Tomorrow's Prospect of the Day will be Erik Johnson of the Chicago White Sox. Christian Bethancourt of the Atlanta Braves is next in the queue.

***Marc Normandin at Overthemonster.com, SB Nation's Red Sox community, has some thoughts today about Boston pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, who is not technically a prospect with 66 major league innings under his belt, but who isn't quite established in the major leagues yet either. De La Rosa has been recalled to help the Boston pitching staff down the stretch. He made 20 starts this year for Triple-A Pawtucket, but pitched just 80 innings due to pitch counts related to his Tommy John recovery, posting a 4.26 ERA with a 76/48 K/BB ratio.

Normandin runs down the reasons why it makes sense to use RDLR as a reliever and not a starter and I agree with his case. One of his key points is that converting a starting pitching prospect to the bullpen often feels like an admission of failure, to fans at least, even if it really isn't.

The needs of the team are always paramount compared to the fate of any individual player. The Red Sox have numerous starting pitching candidates for next year, and given his own issues with command and durability, RDLR is a logical pick to move to the pen, assuming that the projected depth holds up.

To my mind, if RDLR (or anyone else for that matter) ends up as an effective and valuable major league relief pitcher, that isn't a failure. While being a solid middle reliever may not be sexy or as desirable as being a 30 start workhorse, there are far worse fates. A failure is a guy who stalls out in Triple-A.

Here is some statistical prospect porn for you:

***Blue Jays pitching prospect Marcus Stroman closed the 2013 season with an 11-strikeout game for Double-A New Hampshire. He finished with a 3.30 ERA in 20 starts, with a 129/27 K/BB in 112 innings with 99 hits allowed.

***Minnesota Twins prospect Byron Buxton's final line between Low-A and High-A: .334/.424/.520 with 19 doubles, 18 triples, 12 homers, 76 walks, 105 strikeouts in 488 at-bats, 55 steals in 74 attempts, in pitcher's leagues. And don't forget the stellar reviews for his defense.

***Houston Astros prospect George Springer's final line between Double-A and Triple-A: .303/.411/.600, 27 doubles, 37 home runs, 83 walks, 161 strikeouts in 492 at-bats, 45 steals in 53 attempts.

I'm going to work up an article about top power/speed combinations in the minors this year, but Buxton and Springer have to be at the top of the list.

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