Boston Red Sox: Their Top 10 Prospects To Get Excited About

Daniel Hudson@daniel3417Correspondent IIIJune 7, 2011

Boston Red Sox: Their Top 10 Prospects To Get Excited About

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    Baseball America is the first name in baseball scouting.

    I and every other baseball guru (probably you) love going there to take a look at their rankings. With the first round of the MLB draft having been finished tonight, I think now is a great time to begin looking into the farm system.

    The Boston Red Sox have a ton to look forward to during the current season. Most everyone has them at least in the ALCS if not winning the whole thing this year.

    Here are their top 10 organizational prospects with a little help from Baseball America.

No. 10: Blake Swihart

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    Where else can I start but with one of Boston's two first-round picks tonight?

    Blake Swihart is a special case, though, because he plays catcher. The Red Sox may have found a future catcher in Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

    But let me tell you as an Atlanta Braves fan who saw him get drafted in our system: The guy has always had potential. He's just never put it together permanently.

    Swihart is a high school draft pick and a rare switch hitting signal-caller.

    No, he's not Bryce Harper, but that's a pretty appetizing similarity.

No. 9: Matt Barnes

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    Yeah, so I'm a prisoner of the moment. Deal with it.

    Matt Barnes, a member of the University of Connecticut baseball program, was expected to go in the top 10 picks but fell to the Red Sox thanks to some early shakeups.

    Barnes is a big guy at 6'4" and over 200 pounds, drawing comparisons to Detroit Tigers' ace Justin Verlander.

    Barnes also brings a very strong curveball to the mix and a changeup that has received some mixed reviews but is generally considered to have a good deal of potential. 

No. 8: Che-Hsuan Lin

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    Asian baseball players all have several things in come.

    They play with sound fundamentals in the field. They hit for average to all fields. They use their baseball IQ and speed on the basepaths.

    Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin is no different.

    Baseball America named Lin the prospect with the best plate discipline, best outfield arm and best defensive outfielder. High praise.

    The Taiwain native is batting .302 in the minors and is an example of the embarrassment of riches that Boston's farm system has.

    Call me crazy, but I could Lin being a key piece in a future deal for the Red Sox.

No. 7: Garin Checchini

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    Garin Cecchini had an ACL injury his senior year of high school, so the Red Sox have been very patient with their young third baseman.

    The 20-year-old Cecchini could make a brief appearance in the bigs this year as a pinch hitter as well as next year before getting any real action.

    Still, Kevin Youkilis isn't getting any younger, and his career numbers are not quite what you might think.

    This makes Checchini a worthwhile prospect to follow as he bats over .500 in the lowest levels of the minors.

No. 6: Stolmy Pimentel

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    You can't deny the greatness of a pitcher named Stolmy Pimentel. This guy has destiny on his side.

    Pimentel is a powerful pitcher in the making, reminding me of another young hurler out with the Seattle Mariners named Michael Pineda.

    He has a mid-90s fast ball, a low-90s two-seam fastball, a nice changeup and a curveball that produces a lot of whiffs.

    Pimentel works fast, drawing comparisons to similar fast workers like Roy Oswalt and Tommy Hanson. Such a pace helps him keep hot when he's dealing.

    He does, however, need to understand when it's prudent to slow down. At 21 years old, he's got plenty of time.

No. 5: Felix Doubront

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    Felix Doubront could add a much-needed boost to the Red Sox bullpen this very year.

    Boston has only two relievers with an ERA below 4.00. Doubront is mentally prepared for the majors, which is the hardest part of pitching.

    He is a lefty and has good, not great, control.

    Doubront is off to a great start this year with an ERA of 1.66. That can be attributed to his experimentation with his three-quarters delivery.

    At 23 years old, it's not a matter of if but when for Doubront.

No. 4: Josh Reddick

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    Are you one of many wondering when J.D. Drew's time will be up in Boston's right field?

    Josh Reddick is the answer.

    Baseball America predicts that Reddick will get called up for good after the All-Star break meaning any slump that Drew might enter could lead to Reddick's long-term debut as the right fielder.

    His bat is strong but a little undisciplined. He's batting .244 with 12 homers and 30 RBI in the minors but must make sure to be more patient.

No. 3: Drake Britton

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    What better way to follow up an imminent major leaguer than with a guy whose still a couple years away?

    Drake Britton is a strong lefty who reminds Red Sox scouts very much of Jon Lester. You have to like that!

    He had Tommy John surgery in 2008, which set him back a year-and-a-half or so but has bounced back nicely and developed great maturity because of it.

    After working with a restricted pitch count last year, Britton has certainly struggled this year with a 6.75 ERA.

    Once again, you can never place too much confidence in minor league stats, many of which are the results of experimentation that can produce terrific results have enough time.

No. 2: Anthony Ranaudo

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    Anthony Ranaudo is extremely intimidating on the mound at 6'7".

    No one disagreed with that back in 2009 when he was one of the top pitching prospects in the country while playing at LSU.

    But some lingering elbow soreness in 2010 caused him to miss some time, and even worse, it caused him to think too much about each and every pitch.

    He has yet to regain his 2009 form where he could easily sling a downhill 94 mile per hour fastball, but the Red Sox clearly think he can.

    His high ranking is due to his tremendous upside if he can reassess where he is at.

No. 1: Jose Iglesias

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    Numerous Cuban citizens have defected to America over the years. Kendrys Morales did it. So did shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias.

    While he has been able to improve his bat while in the minor leagues STAT, Iglesias is without a doubt a defensive-minded player.

    Baseball America calls him the best defensive infielder in Boston's entire farm system.

    Expect to see Iglesias and his glove in the Red Sox's dugout after the lineup expansions at the end of the season.

Prospecting Ain't Easy

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    I used to collect baseball cards like a mad man. Hundreds of dollars gone in basically a baseball-themed lottery.

    One aspect of the hobby was the research, study and time devoted to looking for the next Albert Pujols or the next Alex Rodriguez. Those players are worth big bucks and the term "prospecting" arose for this challenge.

    The same thing is done by fans, scouts, coaches and GMs, and it's never exact.

    Just ask current Boston Red Sox great David Ortiz what scouting did for his career.