The Red Sox have an impressive group of young players who hope to one day be part of the team's traditions.
The Boston Red Sox have steadily built their farm system in recent years, placing six players on MILB.com’s 2013 top-100 list of prospects. The team also has an impressive group of teen-aged players who have just started their professional careers and could soon be making names of their own.
The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson wrote about the incredible amount of work the Red Sox put into scouting each amateur draft in an effort to bring in the best prospects each year.
Boston also invests heavily in international scouting, which has made them a major influence around the globe for baseball, according to SoxProspects.com.
The results of all this behind-the-scenes work is a diverse farm system that’s supplied by a collection of carefully vetted players. Some of the best prospects are the youngest; those under the age of 20, who have had limited exposure and/or production at the professional level, but will be a major part of the future.
Here are some of the best of these teen-aged prospects:
Ty Buttrey, Right-Handed Pitcher
The lanky 19-year-old was a fourth-round pick in 2012, and received attention because he skipped his high school graduation in order to sign with Boston.
Attributed a mid-90s fastball and knucklecurve, he posted a 1.80 ERA in five innings with the Gulf Coast League last year.
Jose Vicinio, Shortstop
Although he is still just 19, the slick-fielding Dominican is about to enter his fourth professional season. FanGraphs.com wrote that he signed for $1.95 million in 2009.
While he has the potential to turn into a top defensive shortstop, he will need to add much more strength to his 150-pound frame in order to continue advancing as a prospect.
In 165 professional games in the low minors, he has hit a combined .271 with six home runs, 72 RBI and 56 stolen bases.
Cody Kukuk, Left-Handed Pitcher
A 2011 seventh-round pick, Kukuk had his first full season derailed last year by an embarrassing arrest for DUI.
Appearing in five games in the Gulf Coast League, he permitted just three hits and one earned run in 10 innings, while striking out an impressive 16 batters.
SoxProspects.com writes Kukuk possesses a low-90s fastball and tight slider. If he can put last year’s transgression behind him, he could rise quickly through the Boston system.
Jamie Callahan, Right-Handed Pitcher
Drafted in the second round last year, the 18-year-old with a low-90s fastball and advanced curveball chose to sign with Boston instead of attending the University of South Carolina, according to The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham.
Callahan struggled with a 5.19 ERA in 8.2 Gulf Coast League innings last season, but since he was just 17 at the time, his results should not be scrutinized too closely.
Tzu-Wei Lin, Shortstop
Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported the 19-year-old was signed last year for $2.05 million out of Taiwan. The Red Sox had signed him in 2010, but the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association threatened to ban him if he signed prior to graduating from high school.
Badler describes the left-handed-hitting Lin as a plus runner, who could hit for average, but not much power. Some scouts thought highly enough of him that it was thought he was the equivalent of a second-round draft pick.
Manuel Margot, Outfielder
The speedy Dominican center fielder was signed for $800,000 in 2011 according to SoxProspects.com.
In a separate article, Badler raved about the 18-year-old’s athleticism and defensive ability.
Margot will look to get his first taste of professional baseball in the States after spending last year in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .285 with four home runs, 45 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 68 games.
Which of these prospects are you most excited about?
Even if some of the Red Sox’s best prospects reach the majors this season, as WEEI’s Alex Speier expects, the team still won’t lack in young talent because of their fine crop of teen-aged players.
Developing a productive farm system requires a steady influx of young players to see what talent can be mined. The Red Sox continue to do an excellent job in this area, and fans should be excited by these prospects who are working to become much better known in the near future.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference