Saturday, June 22, 2013

Closer, Closer, Who Will Be the Red Sox Closer?

After Andrew Bailey's streak of blown saves and gopher balls ( hey, at least in Detroit he did not give up a homer to the lead off batter), he has been demoted from closer for now.  Now the question is who will close for the short term and for the rest of the push to the playoffs?? That could very well be two questions with two different answers.  Also mudding up the waters is the fact we are not looking for a Plan B to Andrew Bailey, but a Plan C to Bailey and Joel Hanrahan, who is out for the duration after Tommy John surgery. Here are some of the candidates ( not necessarily a complete list):

Andrew Bailey:  Of course, not for the immediate short term.  Bailey is out per John Farrell. But if putting Bailey back in the set up type role he thrived in beginning 2013 works, he could earn his way back to the end of games.  This would become more likely if his successors do not grab the closer role and run with it.

Koji Uehara:  Koji has been tabbed by John Farrell as first man out of the chute to try on the closer's robe for size.  Yesterday morning on an appearance I made on 92.9 the Ticket, Dale Duff and the other panelist all anointed Uehara as the guy for the job.  I am not so sure.  Based on Uehara's results this year, I would say yes.  But to me three reasons say no. 1/ His age 2/ Farrell's stated desire all year to avoid using Uehara in back to back games to prevent over usage and /or injury. 3/ Who does the job Uehara is all ready filling?

Junichi Tazawa: As far back as late last season, after his spectacular 45/4 strikeouts to walks performance, many including Peter Gammons have been touting Tazawa as future Sox closer.  He has the stuff, but will it translate to closing?

Andrew Miller: At this point in time, this is the guy I would try.  I know, I know his Red Sox career is filled with base on balls.  But he has the overpowering fastball, I prefer in a closer.  And more importantly, since a recent change in his delivery which eliminated his high leg kick and replaced it with a slide step, his control has improved greatly and he still trails only Aroldis Chapman in K's per nine innings for all MLB lefties.  Miller gave up one run in mop up duty last night in Detroit and it was only the second run allowed in his last ten games.  I would not claim Miller is a definite long term solution ( he could be, though) but for now he is pitching the best ball in the pen.

Alex Wilson: I think Wilson definitely belongs in the Boston pen not back in Pawtucket.  His role if increased is likely to be helping fill the 7/8th inning role vacated by whomever moves to closer.

Rubby de la Rosa: This is not the short term ( now) answer, but Rubby could be the closer in August and beyond.  To make this work, the Sox need to get De La Rosa up and as soon as possible, put him in a set up bullpen role to get his feet wet.  Then with any success, put his overpowering stuff at the end of the bullpen for the stretch drive.

No one-  This is for the closer is overrated and use your best relievers whenever needed crowd.  Any combination of the above could be used to accomplish this.  If Uehara is the "closer", at least a modified version of this may be required on days Uehara cannot go the post.

Jonathan Paplebon:  This is not a short term answer because there seems to be no way the Phillies will wave the white flag until the July 31 trade deadline, if then.  But if the Phillies continue to flounder and the Sox can stay in the race until July 31 this becomes more and more possible..  This week Peter Abraham reported the Phils would want multiple high end prospects and of course you would be taking on the big contract through 2015 ( and he reportedly has a very reachable option for 2016) unless Philadelphia would eat a bunch of it  ( usually this comes in return for sending better prospects.)  I think Detroit is a more likely landing spot for Paplebon.

John Axford:  The Brewers hurler who lost his closer job there earlier this season, has pitched well of late with 17 scoreless games in a row.  He should come much more cheaply than Paps, but at what skill level?

Another trade option:  It is really too early to tell what teams are buyers or sellers.  But there may be other options out there, no one with Paplebon's resume, but a Jesse Crain type, perhaps.  Short of an expensive deal for Paps I think the internal options may be stronger.

The last two World Champs of baseball have closed games with Sergio Romo and Jason Motte.  So a title can be won without a big name closer, but some answer needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Red Sox All Star Prospectus 2013

We are delayed in releasing our Red Sox All-Star Prospectus this season as the third release of voting has been released by Major League Baseball. I started to put together this piece around the second release but, have not completed it until now.

34 players will make the AL All-Star team for the game to be played at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets on July 16th. The 9 starters and the Final Selection will be determined by the fans.

In the latest release, it is apparent that last seasons post-season run has excited the fans in Baltimore as Orioles' players are all over the top few vote getters at each position. In this post, we will look at the potential for AL All-Stars based on each team needing a representative and estimating who will end up as the top vote getters. We will also discuss the prospects of the Sox to make the squad.

C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Mauer currently has a comfortable lead of almost 512,000 on Matt Wieters of the Orioles. If the starting position was based on stats alone Mauer would assuredly be the choice. Even though it is based on the fan vote, Mauer should still feel comfortable about getting the starting nod. However, if Wieters were to beat out his Twins counterpart, it would most likely take away a spot from a deserving player as Wieters at this point would not make the squad.
1B Chris Davis, Baltimore
What a year Davis is having, he is 2nd in average, 1st in HR, and 2nd in RBI. Based on those numbers he probably should be the starter, although there are many solid 1st Basemen in the AL. Davis has what appears to be an insurmountable lead over Prince Fielder of the Tigers, up by more than 1 million votes.
2B Robinson Cano, New York
The AL is fortunate to have two elite 2nd Basemen, Cano is one and the Sox own Dustin Pedroia is the other. Currently, Cano leads Pedey by almost 775,000 votes. That lead looks secure unless Sox fans get out en masse and stuff the box for Pedroia before July 4th. Let's go Red Sox Nation!
3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
The reigning Triple Crown winner can start packing his bags for New York. He not only has twice as many votes as Manny Machado of the Orioles, but is in contention to join Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby as the only players to win the Triple Crown twice. Cabrera also leads all AL players in votes.
SS JJ Hardy, Baltimore
This is the first real surprise in the AL voting, if not mostly because of JJ Hardy's lack of name recognition. It can be considered a down season for shortstops in the AL this year and Hardy has taken advantage leading the position in HR and RBI while also being 4th in average. Elvis Andrus of the Rangers is 2nd in the vote getting currently, but trails by a widening margin of less about 513,000. This looks to be Hardy's to lose.
LF Mike Trout, Anaheim
CF Adam Jones, Baltimore
RF Torii Hunter, Detroit
More surprises in the AL outfield as Jones leads in votes with nearly 30,000 more than Trout. Both are nearly doubling up Nick Markakis of the Orioles in the 3rd spot. Torii Hunter of the Tigers, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers, and another Orioles Nate McLouth are all within striking distance of Markakis. The top 3 vote getters all lead their positions in average, while Jones and Trout are putting up other numbers. Markakis' other numbers at not nearly as impressive. Given that Bautista has a history of racking up votes, it is possible that he will end up starting over Markakis, but the Orioles fans appear to be voting early and often this year.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Big Papi has been tremendous since his return from the DL. Many pundits have said that Ortiz looks better at the plate this season than at any point in his career. Ortiz lead in the voting is very safe as he has twice as many votes as 2nd place Lance Berkman of the Rangers.

C Carlos Santana, Cleveland, Jason Castro, Houston
Matt Wieters, Baltimore, Salvador Perez, Kansas City, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston, JP Arencibia, Toronto
Surprisingly there are several solid catching candidates in the AL. That said Santana is clearly the next best backstop behind Mauer. The decision to take a third catcher comes from the fact that Santana can also play 1st Base and the Astros need for a representative. Castro has put together a very solid season and gets the Astros nod over 2nd Baseman Jose Altuve. Salty again comes up short in his bid to make the All-Star team.
1B Prince Fielder, Detroit
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto, Mark Trumbo, Anaheim, Mike Napoli, Boston, Kendry Morales, Seattle, James Loney, Tampa Bay, Billy Butler, Kansas City
Even though there are many good 1st Basemen in the AL, Fielder is the lone backup. Encarnacion is the next closest and may very well get the Jays bid but the need for roster flexibility wins out. The Sox Mike Napoli, who looked like a sure All-Star in April has cooled himself right off the roster.
2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston, Howie Kendrick, Anaheim
Jose Altuve, Houston, Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay, Jason Kipnis, Cleveland, Omar Infante, Detroit
Pedey has been arguably the best 2nd Baseman in the AL and is a shoe-in for the All-Star roster. Kendrick has put up very good numbers on the West Coast and is near the top of the league in average.
3B Manny Machado, Baltimore, Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
Josh Donaldson, Oakland, Adrian Beltre, Texas, Kyle Seager, Seattle, Mark Reynolds, Cleveland
Machado keeps the Oriole All-Star parade on track with his high average and 32 doubles while Longoria could possibly be the Devil Rays lone representative if one of their pitchers don't make the roster. There are many worthy candidates left off the roster at 3rd Base, one of those worthy candidates is not Boston's Will Middlebrooks with his sub-Mendozan average.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit
Jed Lowrie, Oakland, Elvis Andrus, Texas, Alexei Ramirez, Chicago, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland
We already said that SS is a down year in the AL and because of that along with Machado's ability to play short, Peralta is the only backup. Peralta has been putting up great numbers to distance himself from the rest of the field. Boston's best bet for an All-Star SS at this point might be the hot hitting Jose Iglesias.
OF, Coco Crisp, Oakland, Alex Gordon, Kansas City, Alex Rios, Chicago, Jose Bautista, Toronto
Daniel Nava, Boston, Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston, Nelson Cruz, Texas, Nate McLouth, Baltimore, Brett Gardner, New York, Alejandro De Aza, Chicago, Torii Hunter, Detroit
As always there are many great outfielders in the AL. The backups in many ways reflect the terrible need for each team to have a representative as Rios and Bautista are the lone reps from the other Sox and Jays. Gordon has been solid for the Royals despite his recent slump. Crisp has put up good numbers and might get bounced from the roster before it all said and done. Hopefully, Ellsbury or Nava bounce the former Sox for that spot.

Clay Buchholz, Boston, Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle, Felix Hernandez, Seattle, Yu Darvish, Texas, Ervin Santana, Kansas City, Bartolo Colon, Oakland, Max Scherzer, Detroit, Matt Moore, Tampa Bay, Justin Masterson, Cleveland, Jim Johnson, Baltimore, Mariano Rivera, New York, Joe Nathan, Texas, Justin Verlander, Detroit
Hiroki Kuroda, New York, James Shields, Kansas City, Chris Sale, Chicago, Anibal Sanchez, Detroit, Jerome Williams, Anaheim, Bud Norris, Houston, Addison Reed, Chicago, Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay, Glen Perkins, Minnesota, Brett Cecil, Toronto, Tommy Hunter, Baltimore, Jesse Crain, Chicago

It is possible that more pitchers make the roster than the 14 we have chosen. Buchholz, Iwakuma, Darvish, Scherzer, Johnson, Rivera, and Nathan are locks to make the roster. Colon and Masterson are the next most likely to make the roster, leaving Hernandez, Santana, Moore, and Verlander as possibilities to be bumped. However, the others are not really close to being candidates with the exception of Kuroda. As far as Sox pitchers, Jon Lester, much like Napoli, looked like an All-Star in the early part of the season but with his recent collapse Lester has pitched his way into a mid-season vacation.

With a couple of weeks of voting still left and another until the roster selections are complete this roster is very fluid but this appears to be the right combination at this point.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Xander Does Pawtucket ( and Other Minor League/Draft News)

For those of you who were still waiting to go to Hadlock Field to see phenom Xander Bogaerts, you have waited too long.  On Thursday, June 13, the top Red Sox prospect ( as rated by Red Sox Maineiacs, and everyone else in the world) was promoted to AAA Pawtucket.  This was just a matter of time, due to the numbers Bogaerts was compiling at Portland. .311/.407/.502 with 12 doubles and a half dozen triples and home runs each.  He also drew 35 walks as opposed to 1 at Portland last August. In his AAA debut, he walked in an eight pitch at bat, additionally displaying his improved pitch selection. In his third time up, Bogaerts singled for his first AAA hit.  In addition to Bogaerts tearing up the Eastern League, the Red Sox decision to keep Jose Iglesias in Boston created a natural opening to promote Bogaerts.

About a week before Bogaerts' promotion, another member of the RSM top 12 prospects headed from Portland to Pawtucket.  Pitcher Brandon Workman went to AAA and in his first start pitched solidly.  5 2/3 innings while giving up 3 ER with 4K and 3 BB, Workman picked up the win in his AAA debut.

The Sea Dogs starter who has pitched even better than Brandon Workman seemingly will not be far behind on the promotion ladder.  Anthony Ranaudo has been outstanding in every start but one this year. His record is 7-1 with an ERA of 2.15 an a WHIP of 0.93, and after his most recent start has 76K in 67 IP. And what a most recent start it was.  Facing  Erie, the one team who battered Ranaudo for seven runs in his only poor start, Ranaudo pitched 7 2/3 innings allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks while fanning 13 batters. This tied the Sea Dogs team record for strikeouts, last done by Jon Lester in 2005,     (in a game witnessed by some of the Maineiacs.)  Ranaudo cannot be many starts way from joining Brandon and Xander in Rhode Island.

Today, June 14, the Red Sox recalled a pitcher of the day from AAA for the fourth day in a row.  Today it is highly touted prospect,  Rubby de La Rosa.  One of the two jewels pried from the Dodgers last summer, Rubby has 38 strikeouts in 38  IP at AAA with a 3.29 ERA.  He will work out of the Boston pen, and it may be just for a few days this time, but De La Rosa can help this team this year.

Finally, let's touch on a dozen or so of the names the Red Sox took in last weeks' amateur draft.

Round One. Trey Ball, LHP Indiana HS
Round Two. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP Juco
Round Three Jon Denney C  Oklahoma HS

First rounder, Trey Ball, has had the most publicity, he was the ninth rated draft prospect by Baseball America and the top lefty handed pitcher.  He has not signed yet but is expected to, and likely be assigned to the Gulf Coast League.  Stankiewicz has signed and may be going to Lowell.  He is a hard thrower who was drafted out of high school last year also in the second round by the Mets but did not sign.  The sleeper and potentially the best player taken in this draft is catcher Jon Denney.  The high schooler from Oklahoma is considered one of the top power hitters in the draft, with enough power to play first base if catching does not work out.  He was the #25 prospect according to BA, but the Sox snagged him at 81.  Some very early mock drafts in the early spring had the Sox taking him at #7, so a pick at 81 may turn out to be a bargain.

Round Four. Myles Smith, RHP NAIA College
Round Five Corey Littrell LH Univ. of Kentucky
Round Six Jordon Austin, HS OF

Both SmithBA 108) and Littrell ( BA130) are good pitching prospects, Littrell is considered a harder throwing version of Pawsox starter Chris Hernandez.  Austin was not rated in the top 500 by Baseball America, but is a very toolsy high schooler who is expected to have a reasonable chance of signing.

Round 11 Carlos Asauge, SS Nova Southeastern, Div 2
Round 13 Jordan Sheffield, RHP Florida HS
Round 19 Gabe Speier, LHP HS
Round 30 Nick Longhi, OF Florida HS

Both Asauge and Speier have signed, Asuage ( BA 208) is expected to play 2B in the pros, and his strength is his ability to excel at hitting leadoff.  Speier ( BA 265) fell due to signability issues but he signed for twice the post round ten slot of $100,000.  Longhi is another high schooler not expected to sign, but since the draft there have been some rumblings from his camp that he may.

According to conflicting reports, Sheffield may or may not be the nephew or cousin of Gary Sheffield. Young Sheffield was expected to go in the first round or two( he was rated at 88 by BA), but had arm woes in his senior year.  In rounds 7 through 10 the Sox drafted some lesser prospects that will sign for minimal cash in hopes of saving enough to sign someone like Sheffield.

Two other interesting names  were drafted in the later rounds by Boston.  First is a Minnesota high school outfielder named Ryan Boldt, who the Sox drafted in round 22.  He is another player who missed his entire senior year to injury, and was considered a sure first round pick before being hurt.  Even with the injury, Baseball America ranked him at #58 overall for this draft.  He has a full boat to Nebraska to play college baseball, and since the draft has all ready stated his intent to go to Nebraska.  It is estimated to take $2.5 million to change Boldt's mind ( if any amount can)and with the new slot rules the Red Sox may not have that amount to spend.  But this is a name to at least watch during the signing season.  Another player taken by Boston in round 29 was from the University of Florida, Jeff Driskel.  He was taken as an outfielder even though his current position at Florida is quarterback.  Driskel is the starting QB for the Gators and has not played baseball since high school.  Driskel expressed complete bewilderment at being selected in the baseball draft, and said he is not going to sign.  However, there are some special signing guidelines for two sport college players, and he could sign with Boston and continue he college football career, and decide on his sport down the road.

In another three weeks or so the July rankings of the Top 12 Sox Prospects will appear here at RSM.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Maineiacs Monday Live Chat: Sox at Devil Rays 6-10-13

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Red Sox Begin Push to the Half Way Marks

The Red Sox finished another strong home stand today by taking 2 of 3 from the Angels matching the result versus Texas to begin the stand.  After 64 games the Red Sox are 39-25, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees with the Rays and Orioles nipping at the New Yorkers' heels.  The Sox have a winning percentage of .609, which ( cliche alert) puts them on a pace for 98 to 99 wins.  I am still not sure the Red Sox win that many, but I am more sure that the AL East champ will not need to win that many.

So now the Red Sox begin a stretch of games over the next month or so, that will bring them to the statistical halfway mark of the season, and then onto the traditional "halfway" mark, the All Star break.

Beginning tomorrow the Red Sox begin a 10 game stretch versus two of their main competitors for the AL East crown: Tampa Bay and Baltimore.  Beginning with a seven game trip, 3 with Rays and 4 in Baltimore.  The Red Sox then come home for a pit stop two day three game series again with the Rays.  On the 18th there is a day-night doubleheader to make up for a April 12th rainout.

Following the AL East games, the Red Sox go to Detroit to play four with the Tigers, the toughest non AL East team( along with Texas).  The Sox then come home again for an more appropriately long home stand, a nine gamer: 2 with the Rockies, 4 with the Jays and 3 with the Padres.  The first of these games with Toronto, barring any rainouts will be game 81, half through the 162.

To bring the Red Sox up to the July 16th All Star Game ( and up to game 97) they venture on a ten game west coast swing: 3 in Anaheim, 4 in Seattle and 3 in Oakland.  This will be the only trip Boston makes to all three of these cities, although there is one remaining left coast trip, it will be to play the Giants and Dodgers three each in August.

There are several challenges which jump out from those games beginning with the immediate ten games in the division.  This will be an opportunity to keep both teams in the Sox rear view mirror and a  record of anything like 7-3 would likely increase the lead over both.  Catching the Tigers in their own ball park present their own set of challenges ( Miggy, Prince, Verlander, and the other Tiger starters, etc.)  And of course any long west coast trip is potentially fraught with peril, but hopefully the Sox can fatten up on the Angels and Mariners.

Let's take a look at a few concerns going into the next 33 games.

Nagging injures-- Other than closer Joel Hanrahan, the Sox have avoided any long term or season ending injuries.  But all season the Sox have been bit with nagging or ongoing injuries.  This has involved mostly Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks, David Ross,  Jacoby Ellsbury, and recently Clay Buchholz. Of course of these Buchholz is the one Boston must have healthy.  After leaving Saturday night's start with a sore neck, he may be looking at another missed start, as he did recently.  Even if he has to miss a scheduled start versus Baltimore, they have to play it safe here.

Outfield Depth/Pop-- Referring back to the nagging ills of Ellsbury and Victorino( especially), if these two can go nearly every day in CF and RF, the Sox have plenty of depth in left with Nava, Gomes, Mike Carp, and maybe even JBJr.  As a matter of fact Nava may be able to hold down left every day on his own. But if Jacoby and Shane cannot go to the post with regularity, the Sox may well need to trade for another OF bat sooner rather than later.

Shortstop/Third Base Triangle-- In other words, what hath Jose Iglesias wreaked here?  How close is Jose to making his way in the everyday line up, even when ( if?) Middlebrooks comes back from Pawtucket.  By all indications Iglesias is at least going to stay and take Pedro Ciriaco's utility job.  But with Jose hitting better than either Middlebrooks or Stephen Drew, what gives?  I believe the Sox may take their time and let Middlebrooks work out some of his batting issues at AAA ( he can be left on rehab for up to 20 days, and could be optioned down for more if need be).  But I still think they need the power production Will can bring if he gets his stroke back and is healthy.  Would the Sox hand the keys to shortstop to Jose over Drew?  I doubt it ....yet.

Keep on Keeping on with Starters-- Buchholz was discussed above, all they need from the others is more of the same.  Although an uptick from Doubront would be nice.  And Jon Lester needs to prevent any backslide to the 2012 Lester.

Overworked Pen?--I think that Farrell and Nieves have managed this so far, and have been careful to attempt to avoid back to back days for guys like Uehara.  But with the pitch count dominated game today, it seems like the pen is asked to work at least 2 innings, if not more, every day.  But with the exception of Felix , I think the other starters can toss up an occasional (or more often) 8 inning start.

So there is no question from June 10 until the All Star Break could determine if we have a contender here in Boston in 2013.  If the Sox can keeping winning a majority of each series, as they have so far, the answer is gonna be YES.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

RSM Red Sox Top 12 Prospects- June

The calendar has turned to June and it is time for the Maineiacs to reassess the Red Sox stars of the future.  The top three are locked in place, with two big movers up the Top Ten pushing some other down a couple of notches ( or more in one case).  The number behind the players name is May's ranking and the slash line for the batters are HR/RBI/BA/OBP and for the hurlers  W-L/ERA/K-BB/WHIP.  The stats are as of June 1.

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS - Portland {1}  Bogaerts has hit his stride in May getting hotter and hotter at the dish.  His best game was on May 29 driving in 5 with two home runs and a double. Xander is hitting 5/30/.298/.391.  With the idea of leaving Jose Iglesias in Boston as a spare infielder, can Bogaerts promotion be far behind?

2. Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF- Pawtucket {2} Jackie had a bit of a slow start at AAA, after his early season Boston stint.  But after a brief DL stint Bradley, Jr. caught fire.  He recently had a nine game stretch of multiple times reaching base.  His stats upon a recent recall to Boston were 2/9/.354/.457, putting up other worldly OBP as he did at Salem the first half of last year.  On June 1st at Yankee Stadium, Bradley, Jr. had his best offensive game in the big leagues with 2 doubles and a single.

3. Allen Webster, P- Pawtucket {3} Despite a disappointing second big league start in May, Webster is still dealing at AAA at a tune of 5-0/2.57/48-20/1.05.  He is ready if and when the Red Sox need another start, in the meantime he will continue to cement his standing as top Sox pitching prospect.

4. Bryce Brentz, OF- Pawtucket {5} The stats Brentz has posted so far in his first full AAA season are a perfect illustration of what you should expect from a Brentz big league career.  Lots of power and a .275 BA ( 10/39/.275/.324).  Bryce has K'd 54 times, but this goes with his power game.

5. Garin Cecchini, 3B- Salem {8} Garin has put together the most outstanding season of any batter in the system to date.  5/28/.360/.463.  If Cecchini reaches the end of June with similar stats, he could force his way into the Sea Dogs lineup. If Will Middlebrooks continues his struggles, Cecchini will be right in the middle, if not the forefront, of the Red Sox future third base picture.

6. Anthony Ranaudo, P- Portland {10} Just as Cecchini has been the dominant offensive player, Ranudo has been the elite pitcher so far. Therefore they both shoot up the top ten.  After a horrible injury riddled 2012 at Portland, Anthony has returned to lights out pitching: 6-1/1.48/58-15/0.84.
In his last May start he pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout ball with 8 K's at New Hampshire. At this point in time Ranaudo is the main challenger to Webster for top Sox pitching prospect. Any time Ranaudo goes to the hill for the Sea Dogs could be the last before he is promoted to Pawtucket.

7. Henry Owens, P - Salem {6}  May presented a few bumps in the road for Owens, as he pitched well, just not matching the outstanding April.  By June 1st, Owens' line was at 3-2/3.53/62-19/1.10.  The 62 strikeouts have come in 51 innings pitched.

8. Matt Barnes, P- Portland {4} The fairly substantial drop in the rankings really are more of a commentary of the guys who have passed him more than Barnes.  But out of the four young gun hurlers at Hadlock, Barnes is the most likely to need the entire season at AA. Barnes' season has been up and down as the 4.50 ERA as of June 1st shows. ( and his June 2nd start at home vs. Altoona did not help his numbers as Matt failed to pitch out of the second inning allowing three homers in the second.)  There is still plenty to like about Barnes as a potential big league starter, but he has some more work to do.

9. Rubby De La Rosa, P- Pawtucket {7}  This is one of the more misleading rankings as Rubby slips down a couple spots again.  But as De La Rosa gets further into his recovery from Tommy John surgery he still has an excellent opportunity to help Boston, perhaps in the bullpen this season.  If not for the outstanding seasons by the players ahead of Rubby, he would likely still be a top five prospect.

10. Blake Swihart, C- Salem {9} Along with Cecchini, Swihart is compiling a strong year at High A.  The top young catching prospect for Boston is hitting 0/18/.287/.372.  The outstanding OBP highlighting his year so far.

11. Brandon Workman, P- Portland {11} Workman has nearly matched Ranaudo in  outstanding pitching so far.  5-1/3.43/74-17/1.04.  Also like Ranudo, Brandon is a candidate for a recall to AAA.

12. Jose Iglesias, SS- Pawtucket/Boston {14}  Everyone knows and is baffled by his story. Cannot hit at AAA, and cannot be retired in the bigs.  The Sox are hinting they may keep Jose as their utility infielder after Middlebroks is healthy.

The remaining candidates for the Top 12.

13. Deven Marrero, SS
14. Christian Vazquez, C
15. Ryan Lavarnway. C  seems to me to be on the outs in Boston??
16. Alex Wilson, RP  only the roster numbers crunch kept him from staying in Boston
17. Brian Johnson, P
18. Sean Coyle, 2B
19. Michael Almanzar, 1B-3B
20. Mookie Betts, 2B
20A David Chester, 1B  9 Homers with 42 RBI while hitting .260/.344