With the Red Sox winding down spring training and with the onset of the regular season, it is time to evaluate Boston's prospects to see which ones will make it to the majors this year.
There were some surprises this spring, including the emergance of Felix Doubront as a potential starter, and then there were some prospects who showed nothing new, like Jose Inglesias and his inability to provide any kind of offense.
However, the Red Sox will use their core group of players (Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis) to bolster one of the best offenses in the country. These players will be supported by their farm system and when given the chance, the young Red Sox players will show management what they can do.
These players listed will make the Red Sox roster during the 2012 season.
Felix Doubront is still technically considered a prospect because he has not pitched enough in the majors.
He learned his lesson from last year where he showed up to spring training out of shape and sluggish. He was not to supposed to compete for a position in the starting rotation this year, but has made a very strong case for it so far this spring.
He is inducing a lot more groundballs and has shown flashes of good, quality pitching. He still needs to work on getting more strikeouts and less walks, but from he has shown the Red Sox that it will happen.
This spring, he has an ERA of 2.90 but a WHIP of 1.44. Doubront has 10 strikeouts and six walks while only allowing one home run in 16.2 innings of work.
If he isn't in the starting rotation to begin the season, he will be later in the year.
Although Jose Iglesias was recently optioned down to Triple-A Pawtucket, he will not be there long.
He is the Red Sox future shortstop. He possesses a fantastic glove and great defensive instincts but has not found his swing.
This spring he's only had a .274 average. In 62 total at-bats, he has had 17 total hits, one of them being a home run and another being a triple. He will need to work on his offense in Triple-A in order for him to be an everyday player in the majors.
However, his defense is so incredible that he will force Bobby Valentine's hand and will be brought up early. Nick Punto and Mike Aviles are not long-term solutions to the Red Sox' shortstop problems, so the more time that Iglesias has to play in the majors, the better he will be.
Ryan Lavarnway has the opposite problem of Iglesias. He is much better offensively than he is defensively.
Lavarnway was already called up late last year for the stretch run and slugged two home runs in one game, but comes into the spring with the prospect tag still on him.
While his slugging numbers are not what they would normally be, he still has produced. He is hitting a .441 average with a slugging percentage of .500. He has zero home runs and only three RBIs, but has a strikeout to walk ratio of close to one.
He will start out the year in Triple-A to work on becoming a better catcher. If he cannot do that, then he will immediately become David Ortiz's successor at the designated hitter position.
He will once again be called up in September to fill out the roster but will also make sporadic appearances in the majors to give Ortiz a rest.
Will Middlebrooks has been near the top of the Red Sox' prospect list for some time now.
His ideal position is third base, as he has the perfect frame for the hot corner. He has a good arm for the position and is comfortable throwing the ball on the move. He has good range and his 6'4" frame helps him make plays on the ball.
Offensively, he is improving all around. He has the ability to hit for power to all areas of the field and is improving his bat speed. He does tend to strikeout a lot, as shown this spring where he has eight strikeouts with zero walks. In fact, in the last two spring training years he has participated in, he has had 12 strikeouts and only one walk.
Middlebrooks has yet to play in the majors yet, but is currently projected to be an everyday player on the major league level. The problem is that Kevin Youkilis is the current third baseman and has not shown signs of giving up the position.
Middlebrooks will eventually make it to the majors this season, but only in a backup role or as a roster filler in September.
Even though Kalish had shoulder surgery and is currently behind five other outfielders, he will eventually make the roster.
Kalish has not played in the Grapefruit league this year in order to recover from his surgery, but is still one of the best prospects the Red Sox have.
In his limited amount of time last year, he had a .239 average with five RBIs. He managed to strikeout 18 times while walking 12 times. He used his speed to steal seven bases and was never caught.
The Red Sox have stocked up on outfielders because of the recent injury to Carl Crawford and Jaocby Ellsbury's disaterous 2010 campaign. The Red Sox figure they can never have enough outfielders.
Kalish will be brought up to the major league level to fill in for injuries and eventually in September (hopefully) for the playoffs.