Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rookies and Young Players to Watch: Boston Red Sox

posted by Jon Williams
The Boston Red Sox have dramatically improved their farm system over the last few years. They have a nice collection of position players and a stunning number of superior pitching prospects. 2006 may be the year that the Red Sox actually work the first wave of prospects onto the major league roster. As with the last group of young players we reviewed please understand that the players listed aren't necessarily fantasy studs (although that potential is there). The players listed should be considered potential bargains and great end-game and late round picks. The idea of the strategy is that young players make better roster filler than the more famous veteran players. Most publications will have you avoiding rookies and young players but I think the key is to incorporate them properly into your roster. Okay, here are the young players to watch on the Red Sox:

Kevin Youkilis: Youkilis has been hanging around for a few years without much opportunity to contribute. this should be his break-out year. KY is a master at drawing walks. He has decent power although not nearly what we've come to expect from a first baseman. He hasn't hit for a great average lately either but I believe thats a result of inconsistent at-bats. The common perception may be that Youkilis is destined for another year on the bench because of the recent signing of JT Snow. Snow is an excellent defensive first baseman but is a decent platoon hitter at best. The Red Sox will give Snow at-bats but Youkilis should get around 500 at-bats between appearances at first, third and DH. UPSIDE: .300/100/20/80/2 from the second spot in the order.

Andy Marte:
Its almost embarassing how easily the Red Sox dumped their $40MM flop in Edgar Renteria for one of the best prospects in baseball. There has been speculation that Marte is suffering from a serious elbow injury. This has been denied by bothe the Braves and Red Sox. The injury story is just a desperate search for an explanation of how the Red Sox out manuevered other teams and saved talent while increasing their talent level. The big question is what the Red Sox plan to do with Marte. Since his acquisition he's been included in almost every Red Sox trade rumor. My gut feeling is the Red Sox traded for marte to play him at third base. Mike Lowell is presently considered by most the Red Sox starter. One of these guys will be moved before the season starts. Its certainly possible that Marte could be used in the outfield but he really doesn't have the foot speed necessary for a permanent switch. Marte is going to be an awesome power hitter. he probably isn't much better than a .280 hitter but he shouldn't be terrible at any aspect of hitting. If by chance he ends up sitting on the Red Sox bench snatch him up as your CI or UTL for cheap or with a late round pick. You won't regret it. Its time for Marte to shine and soon.

Jonathan Papelbon:
Papelbon may start the year as a reliever but he won't stay there. Papelbon is too good a pitcher to waste in a middle relief role. He'll likely be priced as a middle reliever but you should draft him as a starter and a good one. He's been compared to Roger Clemens and while that may be overstating things he will be really good. He should add 150 to 200 strikeouts depending on his role. I see him developing as a solid innings eater who provides strikeouts and wins as long as he stays on a good hitting team like the Red Sox.

Jon Lester: Lester will likely start at AAA but he's even better than Papelbon. Lester is a number one type starter and i don't say that lightly. He's a powerful lefty starter who gets strikeouts and allows few hits. If you can find a way to roster him you should. I think he'll end up just as good as Felix Hernandez who I consider to be the best pitching prospect to come along in decades. Roster Lester any way you can and you won't regret it.

Look for a review of the D'Backs and Yankee young players very very soon.

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