Boston Red Sox: Lesser-Known Prospects Who Are off to Strong Starts
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Boston Red Sox receive a lot of attention because they have some of baseball’s hottest young players in their farm system. However, the Red Sox also have a number of lesser-known prospects who are making a strong impact this season.
There are obviously a finite number of players who can make a top-10 list, and anyone who falls below that line is pushed into the shadows by default.
That shouldn’t reflect on the talent of the player, but rather on the quality of those they are competing with to someday earn a coveted major league roster spot.
Because Boston has such minor league depth, there are many quality prospects who are currently flying under the radar.
Click through to see a list of lesser-known Red Sox prospects who are off to strong starts this season.
Michael Almanzar, Third Baseman
2013 Stats: 18 G, .333/.375/.587, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, 7 2B, 11 R
Although he is still just 22, the lanky right-handed hitting Michael Almanzar just began his sixth year in the Red Sox system.
The son of former major league pitcher Carlos Almanzar, he signed with Boston for a $1.5 million signing bonus in 2007 as a 16-year-old.
He had a horribly slow start to his career, reaching rock-bottom with a .199 batting average in 111 games between Single-A and high Single-A in 2011.
It’s been a different story since then. Almanzar had his finest professional season last year, hitting .300 with 12 home runs and 54 RBI in 124 games. The highlight of his season was the 16 consecutive at-bats he reached base last July.
The third baseman is off to an even better start this year at Double-A, showing impressive power at the plate.
In addition to his bat, Almanzar has also become a capable fielder and has yet to commit an error in 2013.
Brandon Workman, Starting Pitcher
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Stats: 4 G (3 GS), 3-0, 3.13 ERA, 23 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 5 BB, 28 K
A big right-hander, Brandon Workman was Boston’s second-round draft choice in 2010.
SoxProspects.com describes his arsenal as including a low-90s fastball, a strong cutter, a fringy curveball and changeup.
He went a combined 16-15 with a 3.60 ERA during his first two professional seasons, providing consistent, but unspectacular, production.
His hot start to 2013 shows his career may just be taking off.
The 24-year-old made his final five starts of 2012 for Double-A Portland, where he went 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA. This positive showing against more advanced competition gave the Red Sox the confidence to start him there this year.
So far, he has rewarded the team’s confidence and showed he could be on the verge of joining their top pitching prospects. Most impressive have been the 11 strikeouts he has averaged per nine innings, which helped him be SoxProspects.com’s Pitcher of the Week this week.
Anthony Ranaudo, Starting Pitcher
Ranaudo was once one of the best pitchers in college ball.
2013 Stats: 3 GS, 2-0, 1.15 ERA, 15.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 17 K
When Anthony Ranaudo signed a contract that included a $2.55 million bonus for being Boston’s 2010 first-round draft choice out of LSU, great things were expected of the right-hander.
SoxProspects.com lists a low-90’s fastball, plus curveball and below-average changeup among his weapons.
Unfortunately, he has started living up to his vast potential only recently.
He was a combined 9-6 with a 3.96 ERA in 2011, his first season as a professional. Last year, he was derailed by ineffective pitching (6.69 ERA in nine starts) and injuries.
Finally healthy, the 23-year-old is starting to show why he was such a highly regarded player coming out of college. Pitching for Double-A Portland, he has started the season with three consecutive impressive starts, including one against Binghamton on April 15, where he didn’t allow a hit over five innings of work.
He has also allowed just one hit to left-handed hitters in 21 at-bats (.048 batting average).
If he is able to continue his kind of domination, Ranaudo could have his career back on track in no time.
Sean Coyle, Second Baseman
Coyle is a stereotypical scrappy second baseman.
2013 Stats: 11 G, .326/.392/.761, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 5 SB, 3 2B, 12 R
Sean Coyle was a 2010 third-round draft choice for the Red Sox. Despite his high draft status, it has taken him a while to come around.
After playing briefly in 2010, he averaged a mediocre .248 with 12 home runs and 64 RBI over the next two seasons.
Because of his size (5’8”), Coyle is often compared to Boston’s second baseman Dustin Pedroia, but FanGraphs.com’s Mike Newman wrote how the two players are actually very different.
Newman described Coyle as having unusual power for a player his size, and while he is not currently a great defender, he has a lot of athleticism to help him improve in that area.
Just 21, he is making a strong impression at high Single-A Salem this season, both in the field and at the plate.
NESN.com reported that Coyle (a high school shortstop) may have finally made the necessary adjustments to wooden bats and a new position that will allow him to truly take off in 2013.
Terry Doyle, Starting Pitcher
Doyle doesn't stand out in any way; he just produces.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Stats: 4 GS, 2-0, 1.48 ERA, 24.1 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 10 BB, 19 K
Terry Doyle may be 27 and have yet to appear in a major league game, but he is making a case for himself as a late-blooming prospect.
The right-hander toiled for five seasons in the Chicago White Sox’s farm system before playing for a professional Japanese team towards the end of last year.
Doyle was signed by Boston during the offseason and installed into Triple-A Pawtucket’s starting rotation.
SoxProspects.com describes Doyle as a “command/control pitcher,” who possesses a high-80s fastball, curve, slider and changeup.
Despite the lack of top-end stuff, he has a career minor league ERA of 2.85 and just seems to know how to get batters out. He told the Baseball Historian that he feels he is constantly being underestimated because he is considered so ordinary.
“It's difficult to predict success at the next level when my stuff is defying the odds at every level I've played at,” Doyle told Baseball Historian.
He’s pitching like an ace so far this season, allowing two or fewer hits in three of his four starts.
It may be difficult to break through on a strong veteran team like the Red Sox, but if he continues producing at this level, he could find himself in the majors before long.
Statistics via Milb.com