The 2012 MLB season is quickly approaching, as pitchers and catcher report, Feb. 19, in less than I month from now. This means, before you know it the Boston Red Sox will be playing actual games and their top prospects will be taking the field in Ft. Myers, FL.
Now, in case your out of the loop a bit on your Boston Red Sox top minor leaguers, well, here's a look at the clubs' youngsters who made MLB.com's Top 100 rankings.
Leading off, is the rankings' No. 53rd-ranked player, third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks, 23, is a right-handed third baseman who last season set career highs in hits (125), extra-base hits (50), home runs (23), RBIs (94), batting average (.285) and slugging percentage (.506) with the AA Portland Sea Dogs and the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. Here's MLB.com's scouting report on Mr. Middlebrooks.
"Middlebrooks is everything you want in a third baseman. He's big and strong, with plenty of power and an excellent glove. He's not the most patient hitter in the world, so he may never hit for a ton of average and he's going to pile up a fair share of strikeouts. But Red Sox fans will live with that if he continues to turn his considerable raw power into production as he did in 2011. He has a plus arm and more than enough range to be an above-average defensive third baseman to boot." (via MLB.com)
Next on this list, is outfielder Bryce Brentz, who's ranked No. 64.
Brentz, 23, is a former pitcher who hits and bats right handed and last season hit .306 with 30 HR and 94 RBI in 115 games with the Low-A Salem Red Sox and High-A Greenville Drive. Brentz also had a pretty decent OBP (.365) and a solid slugging percentage (.574) with an overall eye opening OPS (.939). Here'e MLB.com's scouting report on Bryce:
Brentz shook off a rough summer debut in 2010 to have a very successful first full season, earning a midseason promotion and hitting 30 homers along the way. He has a strong, compact swing that allows him to crush the ball to all fields, something that will happen more consistently if he continues to improve his plate discipline. A former pitcher, he has the kind of plus arm that goes nicely with a power bat in right field. (via MLB.com)
The next Red Sox minor leaguer on the list is Xander Bogaerts, who's ranked No. 76.
Bogaerts, 19, is a right handed hitting and throwing shortstop who last season hit .260 with 16 HR and 45 RBI in 72 games played for the A Salem Red Sox in 2011. Bogaerts registered an above average OBP (.324) and a pretty solid OPS (.834), considering the amount of games he played last season. Here's MLB.com's scouting report on the native Aruban:
The native of Aruba played his way from extended spring training to the full-season South Atlantic League and didn't miss a beat. He has legitimate power potential and can hit it far and long to all fields. As he develops better plate discipline, he should become an even better all-around hitter. He's not a bad shortstop right now, but he could outgrow the position in the next couple of years. He'd be just fine at third, both defensively and with that potent bat. (via MLB.com)
Capping off the Red Sox players in the Top 100 prospect list is Ryan Lavarnway, who checks in at No. 93
Lavarnway, 23, is a right handed hitting and throwing catcher who last season hit .290 with 32 HR and 93 RBI in 116 games played for the minors for the AA Portland Sea Dogs and AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. Lavarnway also had a brief stint in the majors last season, where he .231 with 2 HR and 8 RBI in 17 games with Boston. While he strikes out a lot (107 K) he has tremendous power and did well in terms of OBP (.376) and OPS (.939) in the minors. Here's a MLB.com scouting report on Ryan Lavarnway:
A later pick out of Yale, it's safe to say expectations of what Lavarnway would become weren't that high. It's also safe to say he's far exceeded them, as he now looks like an everyday big league catcher in the making. He's always had power, but he's more of a complete hitter than you'd think. He has good plate discipline and doesn't strike out a ton, especially considering his home run ability. Once a liability behind the plate, he's worked hard at becoming acceptable defensively. There's no room right now for him in Boston, however. (via MLB.com)