4/13 PawSox Update

by Marc on April 13, 2011

in Minors

Photo courtesy of nesn.com

The minor league season has been ongoing for even less time than the major league one, but we would be remiss in our duties were we to avoid discussing the performance of future Red Sox. Because of the limited number of games, the samples are small, but we can take a look at how a few key players have started off the year.

Jose Iglesias, who very well may be Boston’s shortstop in 2012 whether he learns to hit or not thanks to the best glove in the minors at the position, has started off strong. The Cuban import is hitting .308/.400/.308–laugh all you want at the lack of power, but if Iglesias could hit anything close to that in the majors with his glove, he would be worth buckets of money.

The 21-year-old hit .350/.458/.500 in 48 plate appearances with Low-A Lowell in 2010, then, after a promotion that skipped him right past two levels and popped him into Double-A, hit .285/.315/.357 the rest of the way. That line doesn’t look impressive, but in his first season in pro ball, as a 20-year-old at Double-A… well, be impressed, okay? [Edit: Iglesias started the year at Double-A, and went to Lowell for a short stint while recovering from being hit on the hand by a pitch.]

Everyone had a chance to see Iglesias’ glove live during the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game late last year, but that wasn’t enough for me–I’m hoping to head down to Pawtucket in the near future to get a look at it some more.

When we talk about defense for minor leaguers, we are often talking about how good they will become in the future–much like with their bats. Not every player who comes into the majors at 25 years old with plus defensive skills had a glove suited for the majors when they were 20 years old and still learning. Iglesias, on the other hand, is so far ahead of the game defensively that he is one of those rare talents that could succeed in the majors based entirely on his glove right now. His bat is far behind his glove, but it never needs to catch up all the way–as long as it comes on the trip, things will be good.

Yamaico Navarro is another middle infielder who may have a future in Boston, but, unlike Iglesias, chances are good it will be as a utility player. He was promoted just before September call-ups last year due to the rash of injuries Boston was dealing with–the most recent at that stage was Dustin Pedroia going back on the DL and Eric Patterson, who was actually also a center fielder, missing time–but did not perform well during his time in the bigs.

Navarro is expected to be better than the little lost child who roamed around Fenway’s infield, though. He mashed three homers in 58 at-bats in Pawtucket in 2010 after hitting .274/.358/.422 at Double-A over 88 games. That line isn’t blowing anyone away, but as far as future utility infielders go, you could do a lot worse.

He has started off strong in Pawtucket once again, with four doubles in 20 at-bats helping him to a line of .300/.333/.500. He won’t be taking over the shortstop or second base jobs in Boston, even temporarily, but it’s good to see that once Jed Lowrie plays full-time (or ends up on a different team) the Sox should have another solid bench player around to keep a void from opening.

An outfield job will open up in 2012 when J.D. Drew becomes a free agent, and chances are good one of Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish will end up with the gig. Kalish is the better prospect thanks to better plate discipline, but Reddick has, at times, had a more explosive bat, and is a strong defender in his own right.

Reddick will have to learn to lay off pitches out of the zone if he wants to vault back over Kalish on the depth charts. That sounds simplistic, but given he has been in the minors since 2007, and, if anything, has increased the size of his strike zone, I’m not exactly optimistic he will figure it out. Kalish is the better bet to succeed, as he has improved after a rough start to his pro career. A .252/.305/.405 line in 179 major league plate appearances doesn’t scream productive future, but for a 22-year-old forced into action well before his time, it’s a start.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

doctorogres April 13, 2011 at 8:57 am

What do you think about Lowrie vs. Iglesias longterm?

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BigNachos April 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

Lowrie is a bit stretched at shortstop (he mostly played 2B in college), so Iglesias would likely push Lowrie off of short when he’s ready.

I could see Lowrie moving to 3rd in 2013 (Youk’s contract runs through 2012) with Iglesias at short.

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Cristian April 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

Maybe I’m misunderstanding your scenario a bit, but I really doubt that Lowrie would wait till ’13 to get his chance to be an everyday player.

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BigNachos April 13, 2011 at 10:22 am

I actually think Lowrie will become the full-time shortstop sometime this season, and hopefully sooner rather than later, but eventually he’ll be pushed off in favor of Iglesias.

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Matt April 13, 2011 at 9:38 am

If Iglesias is as good as his reputation (and he looked incredible defensively at spring training) then Lowrie may be trade bait. That makes me sad thought because I’m a big Lowrie guy. I think dude can really hit and I would love to see him stay at short long term. I’d give up some range and arm strength for an extra 50 points of OBP and a hundred points of slugging.

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TsB April 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Lowrie doesn’t stand a chance in a Lowrie vs Iglesis competition, but the other thought is how long Ortiz will be around given his contract ending. The Sox could theoretically use the DH position as many other teams do as a ‘rest spot’, allowing Lowrie to stay with the team and still play full time.

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Jim April 14, 2011 at 5:32 am

If Iglesias carries that .400 OPS into the majors, the RS will have found their lead off man.

If Scutaro doesn’t begin hitting soon, Lowrie will be the starter, but I expect that his defensive liabilities will be exposed. Those liabilities won’t Lugo-like booted balls and airmailed throws, but lack of range to his right (past the diving Lowrie…) and a marginal arm for short and for third.

Marc, good evaluation of Reddick, he hasn’t a clue. That said he will be a decent RF’er for a second division team. If he’s lucky he’ll have a Jason Bay-like career whereby he looks like a HoF’er for half the season and like be belongs in a beer league the remainder.

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Jim April 14, 2011 at 5:35 am

That should have been “lack of range to his right

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Jim April 14, 2011 at 5:36 am

screwed it up again, I need more coffee
That should have been “lack of range to his left

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BigNachos April 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

Bay and Reddick aren’t remotely comparable as players, and I think you’re vastly understating Bay’s value (before 2010, anyway). Reddick looks more like, ehhh, Jeff Francoeur, which is to say, not so good…

Iglesias’s current OBP isn’t sustainable. Players with that little power don’t sustain high walk rates. Besides, his biggest flaw up to now has been his plate discipline.

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Marc April 14, 2011 at 7:24 am

Agreed–Iglesias’s upside and downside is a nine hitter. The question is whether he is a guy you don’t mind in the nine slot (like Scutaro) or if his glove ends up holding all of his value.

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