With the additions of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, and Dan Wheeler, the Red Sox appear to be loaded this year.
By that, I mean the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Those four acquisitions, plus the anticipated healthy returns of Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, and Mike Cameron, mean that a good mix of talented young players and seasoned major league veterans are likely to spend much of the 2011 season at McCoy Stadium.
My friends at soxprospects.com update the projected rosters for the Red Sox and all of their minor league affiliates approximately every 10 days during the off-season (you can see the latest projections here). Injuries, last-minute deals, and spring training performances will lead to some changes, but for the most part, we already have a pretty good idea of what the PawSox opening day roster should look like.
Catchers: Luis Exposito and Mark Wagner
(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Exposito certainly appears ready to make the jump to Triple-A after finishing with 39 doubles, 11 HR, and 94 RBI for Double-A Portland last year. Wagner is looking to rebound from an injury-plagued season. Highly-touted prospect Ryan Lavarnway batted .288 with 22 HR and 102 RBI between Salem and Portland last year, and could earn a quick promotion to Pawtucket.
First Base: Lars Anderson.
With the arrival of Gonzalez in Boston and the trade of power-hitting prospect Anthony Rizzo to San Diego, Lars figures to spend most of the season with the PawSox where he’ll look to build on a solid 2009 season between Portland and Pawtucket (37 doubles, 3 triples, 15 HR).
Shortstop: Yamaico Navarro.
The 23-year-old infielder seemingly came out of nowhere to bat .275 (.356 OBP, .437 SLG) between Portland and Pawtucket and eventually played in 20 games with Boston. Top-rated prospect Jose Iglesias missed much of last season with a broken hand, but the flashy 21-year-old is widely considered to be the Red Sox “shortstop of the future” and could make his Triple-A debut in 2011.
Second Base/Third Base: Nate Spears, Drew Sutton, Hector Luna, Brent Dlugach.
Spears is coming off of an outstanding season for Portland with 30 doubles and 20 HR, and has earned an opportunity to compete for a starting spot in Pawtucket. Sutton is a switch-hitting jack-of-all-trades who can play anywhere in the infield as well as the corner positions in the outfield. Drew is a career .279 hitter in the minors with a .378 OBP. Luna has appeared in more than 300 major league games and played for the Cardinals in their 2004 World Series loss to Boston. Hector batted .294 with 16 HR in the PCL last year. Dlugach did not have a great year for Toledo last season, but in 2009, Brent was a Triple-A All-Star when he batted .294 with 36 doubles and 9 HR.
Outfielders: Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Daniel Nava
With the addition of Crawford and the return of Ellsbury and Cameron, there does not appear to be room on the major league roster (at least to begin the season) for this talented trio.
Kalish appears to be a star in making after batting .294 (.382 OBP/.502 SLG) in the minors with 25 SB in 28 attempts. He wasn’t overmatched as a 22-year-old major league rookie, as Ryan batted .252 (.405 SLG) in 53 games.
After a phenomenal spring training camp with the Red Sox, Reddick had a lousy first half, but rebounded to post decent overall numbers with the PawSox as he batted .266 (.466 SLG) with 28 doubles, 4 triples, and 18 HR. At the age of 24, Josh could have a breakout season for Pawtucket in 2011.
Nava has proven he can hit at any level. The switch-hitter batted .289 (.372 OBP/.458 SLG) in 77 games with Pawtucket and .242 (.351 OBP/.360) in 60 games with Boston, including a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues.
DH and extra outfielders: Bubba Bell and Aaron Bates
Bell started last season on the PawSox bench and wound up being named the team MVP. Bubba batted .293 with a .366 OBP and represented the PawSox at the Triple-A All-Star game. Bates batted .240 with 12 HR while adjusting to playing the outfield after Lars Anderson was promoted from Portland to play 1B.
That’s a pretty formidable Triple-A lineup. I’ll take a look at the projected pitching staff in my next blog entry.
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