Red Sox Top 5 Minor League Performers of 2012
This season has been pretty lackluster for Boston so far and getting fed up with our everyday players can be difficult.
One of the bright spots in the lineup has been Will Middlebrooks, successor of Kevin Youkilis at third base.
Middlebrooks was tearing it up in Pawtucket before being called up earlier this season, but he's not the only one who has had a big year in the minors.
Whether we see these players at the end of this season or in three years, here are the top five performers of Boston's minor league system in 2012.
After a powerful 2011 campaign with Intermediate Single-A affiliate Greenville, Xander Bogaerts is lighting it up once again in 2012.
The 19-year-old shortstop has played in 84 games for Advanced Single-A affiliate Salem, recording a .286 average with 12 home runs and 48 RBI.
He could eventually make a move over to second or third and has potential to be a 25-plus home run infielder in the majors when he arrives in a few years.
For two years in a row now, Bogaerts is proving to be one of the bright spots of Boston's minor league system.
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Boston fans saw the emergence of Ryan Lavarnway when he was called up in September of 2011, and he is making sure that he is the first name called if Kelly Shoppach were to be traded or get injured.
Lavarnway has posted a solid .306 average with seven home runs for Pawtucket this season, and he is as close to major league ready as he'll ever be.
Odds are that Lavarnway will not be the catcher of the future for the Red Sox with Saltalamacchia hitting for so much power, but he could be an everyday DH once Big Papi's time in Boston comes to an end.
Keury De La Cruz
Keury De La Cruz is a new name to most Boston fans and this kid has been lighting it up for Greenville in 2012.
The 20-year-old Dominican has an average of .322 through 76 games this season with 14 home runs and 57 RBI to go with it.
Not bad for a 5'11", 165 lbs outfielder.
He also has 12 stolen bases on the season and he adds even more depth to the outfield in Boston's system.
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One of Boston's 2011 first-round draft picks was Matt Barnes out of UConn. To say that this pitcher has been lighting it up is an understatement.
Barnes was quickly moved out of Greenville after dominating through five starts, posting a 0.34 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 27 innings.
He was then moved on to Salem, where he has continued to pitch fantastically, with a 3.34 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 59 innings.
Barnes may not be in Boston until late 2013 or 2014, but he has the potential to be a core starter for many years at Fenway.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Lastly, we come to one of Boston's other first-round picks of 2011, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley has been a hitting machine in 2012, where he hit .359 in 67 games for Salem before being promoted to Portland where has hit .319 in 24 games.
Bradley has 19 stolen bases between the two squads, and his combined OPS is .957.
Bradley won two National Championships with South Carolina and was named Most Outstanding Player for one of the tournaments.
His fielding and arm strength make him a Gold Glove caliber outfielder, and if his hot hitting continues, Bradley could be making his way to Fenway soon if there is an opening in the outfield.