November 11, 2007


Red Sox Top 11 Prospects (Kevin Goldstein, 11/02/07, Baseball Prospectus)

3. Justin Masterson, RHP

DOB: 3/22/85
Height/Weight: 6-6/250
Bats/Throws: R/R
Draft: 2nd round, 2006, San Diego State
2007 Stats: 4.33 ERA at High-A (95.2-103-22-56); 4.34 ERA at Double-A (58-49-18-59)

Year In Review: The big right-hander held his own in Lancaster, then took off once he arrived in the most realistic baseball environs of the Eastern League, allowing five earned runs over 33 2/3 IP in his first five starts for Portland.

The Good: Masterson’s sinker is not only the best in the system, it’s arguably the best in all of the minor leagues. The pitch comes out of his hand at 88-92 mph, touches 94, and features tremendous downward break. Making the pitch even more effective is his ability to locate it in any four quadrants of the zone. He has an intimidating presence on the mound, and his drop-and-drive style gives him some deception.

The Bad: Masterson’s three-quarters delivery is a bit of a concern, as his causes him to often get around on his slider, taking away any depth from the pitch. He made some progress this year with a circle grip on his changeup, but it remains a below-average pitch. Because of these concerns with his arsenal, some project him to be a reliever down the road.

Fun Fact: Masterson was born in Jamaica while his father was serving as the Dean of Students at Jamaica Theological Seminary.

Perfect World Projection: Pitchers like Chien-Ming Wang, Fausto Carmona and Derek Lowe have proven that sinkerballers can have great success in starting roles. While Masterson is in that mold, he’s a notch below them.

Timetable: Masterson’s development has come along a bit more quickly than expected, and he’ll likely begin 2008 at Triple-A Pawtucket. His long-term role with the Red Sox is still undefined, but he could get a big league look by the end of the season.

4. Jed Lowrie, SS

DOB: 4/17/84
Height/Weight: 6-0/180
Bats/Throws: S/R
Draft: 1st round, 2005, Stanford
2007 Stats: .297/.410/.501 at Double-A (93 G); .300/.356/.506 at Triple-A (40 G)

Year In Review: After a disappointing full-season debut, Lowrie had what can only be defined as a breakout campaign, putting up great numbers at both Double- and Triple-A.

The Good: Lowrie is an on-base machine. His approach is highly advanced, as he works the count well, and recognizes which pitches he can drive into the gap. His makeup is off the charts--he’s a baseball grinder who plays and practices with an infectious all-out style. Defensively, he’s fundamentally sound and features a solid, accurate arm.

The Bad: Scouts’ opinions of Lowrie vary wildly, with some seeing him as an everyday big league shortstop, and others seeing him as no more than a very good utility player. There is little doubt that with Lowrie’s average speed and slow first step that his range is a little short to play on the left side of an infield in the big leagues.

Fun Fact: Lowrie is just one of 21 first-round picks to come out of the Stanford baseball program.

Perfect World Projection: A starting shortstop, though second base is more likely.

Timetable: With Julio Lugo still under contract and Dustin Pedroia establishing himself as one of the better second basemen around, Lowrie has no obvious job with the Red Sox. He’ll return to Triple-A in 2008, and probably won’t achieve a full-time role in the majors until he or Lugo gets moved elsewhere.

5. Ryan Kalish, OF

DOB: 3/28/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/205
Bats/Throws: L/L
Draft: 9th round, 2006, Red Bank Catholic HS (NJ)
2007 Stats: .368/.471/.540 at Short-season (23 G)

Year In Review: After earning a $600,000 bonus that bought him away from a college commitment to Virginia, the Red Sox spent extended spring training smoothing out Kalish’s swing mechanics and refining his approach before unleashing him on the New York-Penn League, where he dominated for a month before his season was ended by a wrist injury.

The Good: Kalish is a premier athlete, and none of his tools grade out below average. He’s an excellent hitter with at least average power, and profiles as a leadoff man with some pop, walking more than he struck out during his brief season. He has above-average speed and is an excellent baserunner.

The Bad: Kalish is still raw, especially in the field. He needs to improve his reads and routes to stay in center field, and his offensive profile creates a mismatch if he moves to a corner. He struggles against good lefties, who showed an ability to fool him with breaking stuff. His biggest issue right now might just be a lack of experience.

Fun Fact: In his final 13 games before the wrist injury, Kalish went 23-for-49 (.469) with eight walks and nine stolen bases.

Perfect World Projection: A dynamic outfielder capable of 20 home run/40 stolen base campaigns.

Timetable: Initially thought to require surgery, a second diagnosis prescribed a rest and rehabilitation program for Kalish, who is expected to be 100% by spring training. To call his full-season debut highly anticipated would understate the case.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 11, 2007 12:00 AM


The only player in that top 5 who makes the top 20 prospects if he's in the Yankee system is the Laptop Thief.

That Ellsbury is #2 says it all. The guy had 3 years in a top college program and it still took him 3 seasons in the minors to get a peak at the show. And he hit for a .740 ops at Pawtucket. That, not the gawdy numbers in Sept in Boston, is his future.

The best that can be said of him is that he's a speedster who makes contact. Absolutely no power though. The smartest thing the Sawx could do is trade him now while his value is absurdly overrated. Even the dreadful CocoChanel is a better bet going forward.

Better pray that Papi's and Manny's knees hold up for another season or two, cause there's nothing in the pipeline. If I'm the cadaver in charge, I open my checkbook and write a 350 mil/10 year check to Boras-Rod. That's the only way the Sawx stay competitive vs the Yanks/Jays/Rays.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at November 11, 2007 1:21 AM

What separates them from the Yankees is that while the two teams have similarly good pitching prospects coming the Sox also have position players. There is no one in the Yankees system who will have 1000 major league at-bats by the end of 2011.

Posted by: oj at November 11, 2007 7:25 AM