The Boston Red Sox are living up to expectations right now at the big league level. They don't have many glaring holes, though a fractured vertebrae could end Clay Buchholz's season.
The Red Sox were able to get Erik Bedard at the trade deadline without giving up their top prospects, maintaining a strong core of players to take over for the aging major league squad.
Boston's farm system doesn't have a Chris Sale or Aroldis Chapman, a flashy, immediate impact, "bring people to the ballpark" type prospect. But they have some very talented youngsters working their way up.
Ryan Kalish was selected in the ninth round of the 2006 MLB Draft.
Kalish was expected to be on his way to the majors at some point this season, and begin his reign in right field, finally alleviating JD Drew of everyday responsibilities. But after a slow start to the season, Kalish was injured diving for a ball and now a torn labrum in the shoulder might end his season.
Kalish is a career .282 hitter in six minor league seasons, with an OPS of .803. He's an excellent fielder and he is still the best prospect in the Red Sox organization, but this injury might allow someone to skip over him and reach Boston this September.
Before this season, Josh Reddick had 121 BBs and 281 Ks in four seasons. This year at Triple-A Pawtucket, he had 33 walks and only 39 strikeouts. With Kalish hurt, Reddick got the call when the Red Sox needed a spark.
Reddick far surpassed expectations. In 41 games, 124 at bats, Reddick batted .331, with a .922 OPS. He is back to striking out, however, with a 27/11 strikeout to walk ratio.
Boston now has a problem to deal with in their future outfield. Carl Crawford will be manning left field for most of the next decade. Jacoby Ellsbury will be in center unless Beantown foolishly lets him leave. They will have to figure out if Reddick or Kalish will play right field.
Jose Iglesias was Boston's top ranked prospect before this season, ranked No. 52 on Baseball America's Prospect List.
Iglesias batted .295 splitting time between Low A-Ball and Double-A last season and was jumped to Triple-A for the start of 2011. His glove is excellent but he has an OPS of just .526 and is batting just .230 in Triple-A thus far.
The Red Sox could use a shortstop upgrade with Jed Lowrie on the disabled list, but it seems Iglesias might need the rest of this season, if not some of 2012 to get his bat ready.
Beantown's first-round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft, Anthony Ranaudo was fairly dominant at A-Ball, but has struggled to the tune of 2-5 and a 5.12 ERA since his promotion to High-A.
As the No. 67 prospect on Baseball America's 2011 list, he has potential to be a nice addition to the Red Sox rotation in a couple years, probably slotting in behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
Ranaudo has a long way to go. He is averaging less than five innings per start, and loses his control at times, but there is a load of upside.
Drake Britton slipped into the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects for 2011. Then the world caved in. Over 69 innings through 19 starts, Britton is 1-10 with an ERA over seven.
A big part of it is a 1.56 SO/BB ratio. He has allowed 73 hits (10 HR) in 69 innings. Add in a 1.623 WHIP and the record makes sense.
Britton still has a K/9 over eight, which means there is still electric stuff behind the horrendous numbers. Britton might be a couple years away, but there is potential.
Oscar Tejada signed with Boston at 17 years old. Now at 21, he is a career .277 hitter in the minors, with a plus glove.
Boston is pretty well stocked as second base with Dustin Pedroia, the versatility of Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro there too.
Tejada's best shot might come with another team if Boston can find a buyer. He isn't an impact player at this point, but could mature into a useful role player. He would help himself by developing flexibility, and could have value in a utility role.
You thought Britton's numbers were ugly, this shows you it's been a bad season for Red Sox pitching prospects. Stolmy Pimentel is 0-12 with an 8.76 ERA in 19 starts.
He has a 1.17 K/BB ratio, almost 2.0 WHIP. He has split time between High-A and Double-A this season.
He signed at 17 years old in 2007 and put up a 2.90 ERA over 62 innings. In 2008, his ERA rose to 3.14. In 2009 it was 3.82. In 2010 it was 4.06. Do you see a trend? It seems like this former top arm is heading the wrong way.
It is surprising more people aren't talking about the Red Sox 22-year-old Chris Balcom-Miller. in just over 266 innings, he has posted a minor league ERA and WHIP of 3.08 and 1.104.
He also has an impressive 4.15 K/BB rate, 9.1 K/9 with only 12 home runs allowed. Miller was dominant at High-A this year before struggling somewhat in Double-A. Overall he seems on his way to the Red Sox rotation in two to three years.
With the right combination of injuries and a hot start, he could see a cup of coffee in 2012 if this dominance continues.
Lars Anderson has bounced around Baseball America's prospect list. He was No. 40 in 2008, jumped to No. 17 in 2009 and then plummeted to No. 87 in 2010, before going unranked this season.
It seems his future is not in Boston, as first base is safely locked up, but in five minor league seasons, Anderson has a .276 average and .809 OPS. He's also a good fielder.
The time may come sooner than later when the Red Sox can use him to bring in a quality player at a position of need. Anderson would have a clearer path to the majors.
Between Double-A and Triple-A, Ryan Lavarnway has batted .310 with an OPS of .970. He has .289 and .904 career numbers in four seasons of minor league ball.
Lavarnway is somewhat of a poor man's Jesus Montero. There are questions if he can catch at the major league level. In fact, with 50 games at catcher this season, he has 49 as the DH.
The bat is useful, but the glove may keep him in the American League for the duration of his career.