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Scout’s take: A look at Red Sox prospects in Arizona Fall League 11.18.12 at 5:07 pm ET
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The Arizona Fall League season wrapped up on Saturday, with the Peoria Javelinas edging the Salt River Rafters for the AFL title. The championship game came a couple days after the Red Sox prospects playing for the Surprise Saguaros saw their AFL schedule conclude with a 17-14 record, the third-best record in the AFL.

A few Sox prospects had strong showings in the prospect-heavy AFL. With the help of a pro scout who tracked the Red Sox farm system during the regular season and saw Surprise play in the AFL, here’s a look at the Sox performers in that league.

POSITION PLAYERS

Michael Almanzar, 21 years old, 1B/3B (High-A)
92 PAs, .185/.272/.235/.506, 4 2B, 0 HR, 7 BB, 19 K

Almanzar garnered considerable attention as a 16-year-old when he signed with the Sox for a $1.5 million bonus, at the time the largest ever given by the team to an international amateur. He never emerged as a middle-of-the-order power hitting prospect, however, and struggled for most of his first five pro seasons. However, in 2012, he hit .300/.353/.458/.812 in High-A Salem, giving some hope that he might be a candidate for late-bloomer status.

That said, the corner infielder struggled in the AFL. For now, there appears little risk to the Sox that they might lose the corner infielder should they expose him to the Rule 5 draft.

Scout: “He’s gotten better. I’ve seen him for a few years now and he has gotten better. But he’s such a long-limbed guy. And where he’s going to wind up playing … he doesn’t really have the quickness for third base, you put him over at first and I don’t know if he’s going to hit enough. He’s just kind of a tweener who’s got to keep playing, but he has gotten better and shown some improvement. But for me, he’s still a fringe guy.”

Bryce Brentz, 23 years old, OF (Double-A/Triple-A)
71 PAs, .297/.366/.438/.804, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 19 K

Brentz is the Sox’ most advanced power-hitting prospect (if one does not count big leaguers Will Middlebrooks or Ryan Lavarnway in that designation), and could enter into the Sox’ outfield equation as soon as the middle of 2012. He had a solid though unspectacular minor league line (.290/.349/.465/.814 with 17 homers) during the regular season, with his power going down slightly from a 2011 campaign in which he slammed 30 homers in just 115 contests in two levels of A-Ball. However, the fact that Brentz showed a better approach against more advanced pitching represented a meaningful bit of progress for him. Still, he likely will need to make further gains in his approach before he’s big league ready. Brentz struck out in 26.1 percent of his plate appearances in 2012, and 26.8 percent of his trips to the plate in the AFL. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: arizona fall league, brock huntzinger, bryce brentz, chris martin
Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks sees AFL season end 11.02.11 at 4:20 pm ET
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One day after being named to the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars game, Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks learned that he will not be able to play in that showcase game or in the rest of the AFL season. The third baseman injured his left thumb in a Scottsdale Scorpions game on Monday, jamming it into a tarp while chasing a foul ball.

He left the AFL to fly to Boston, where his injury was examined by Red Sox doctors, who determined that he had suffered a sprain. He was put in a cast for the next four to six weeks. While the injury will end his AFL season, however, it is not expected to impact his offseason preparation for spring training. He is still expected to work out at Athletes’ Performance this winter.

Middlebrooks was replaced on the Rising Stars roster by Diamondbacks third baseman Ryan Wheeler. In 13 games in the AFL, Middlebrooks hit .250 with a .300 OBP, .518 slugging mark and .818 OPS along with four homers for the Scottsdale Scorpions, including a .389/.421/.778/1.199 line in 19 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers.

Read More: arizona fall league, Will Middlebrooks,
Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks named to Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game 11.01.11 at 4:19 pm ET
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Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks, one of the top prospects in the team’s farm system, was named to the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Game, where he will play for the East team. In 13 games in the AFL, Middlebrooks is hitting .250 with a .300 OBP, .518 slugging mark and .818 OPS along with four homers for the Scottsdale Scorpions, including a .389/.421/.778/1.199 line in 19 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers.

Middlebrooks cemented his place as one of the top Red Sox prospects during the regular season, where he enjoyed a huge season with Double-A Portland (.302/.345/.520/.865 with 18 homers and 80 RBI in 96 games) before a late-season promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. In 16 games with the PawSox, Middlebrooks hit .161/.200/.268/.468 with two homers, three walks and 18 strikeouts.

The honor is one of many for Middlebrooks this year. The 23-year-old was named to the All-Star Futures Game, the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game and was also named the top hitting prospect in the Eastern League by Baseball America based on a poll of managers and scouts. He is viewed as a potential above-average offensive and defensive third baseman whose all-around game in the upper levels has convinced many observers inside and outside the Sox organization that he is the organization’s top prospect.

Despite the AFL Rising Stars nod, it remains to be seen whether Middlebrooks will be able to play in the showcase of the prospect-laden league. On Monday, he jammed his thumb while chasing a foul ball and while early indications were that the injury was not serious, the Red Sox were still awaiting the official medical report to determine how long Middlebrooks will be sidelined.

The Rising Stars Game will be broadcast on Saturday at 8:10 pm EST on the MLB Network and online at mlb.com.

Read More: arizona fall league, Will Middlebrooks,
Kelly gets shelled in Arizona Fall League start 10.26.10 at 2:00 am ET
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Top Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly was hit hard in his Monday outing in the Arizona Fall League, allowing eight runs on eight hits in just two innings of work for the Peoria Javelinas. Kelly struck out two, walked one and allowed a homer. Kelly threw 46 pitches, 28 for strikes.

The outing represented a dramatic departure for Kelly, who had excelled in his first two AFL outings. Prior to Monday, he’d allowed three runs (one earned) in nine innings while allowing six hits, walking two and striking out six.

Despite the tough outing, Kelly sounded an upbeat note on his twitter page.

“Its games like these that make you a better player. Adversity is a great thing really shows what kinda player you are,” he wrote.

Kelly is expected to throw 15-20 innings in the AFL in order to make up the innings that he missed at the end of his season with Double-A Portland due to a strained lat muscle.

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Kelly, Iglesias and other Sox prospects set to start Arizona Fall League 10.12.10 at 1:14 pm ET
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The Arizona Fall League, a training ground for top prospects, opens on Tuesday, and the Red Sox will feature eight players on the Peoria Javelias, including a few of their top prospects. Both Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias will play in the AFL for the second straight season, primarily in order to make up some of the time that each missed due to injury this year.

Kelly threw 95 innings for Double-A Portland after being shut down late in the Eastern League season with a strained lat. After taking part in the AFL as a position player last year in the AFL, he will conclude his first full year as a pitcher by throwing 15-20 innings in Arizona. He will make his first start on Wednesday.

Iglesias missed almost two months due to a broken index finger that limited him to 57 games with Portland. After dazzling in spring training, he hit .285/.315/.357/.672 for Portland (and .350/.458/.500/.958 in a 13-game rehab assignment in Lowell). While the Sox view him as a shortstop, he will play both short and third base in the AFL, owing to the fact that he was not designated the “priority” AFL roster member by the Sox. As such, he is required to play multiple positions. Iglesias spent part of the just-completed Florida Instructional League working out at third to prepare for the stint.

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway is also on the Peoria roster, after a year in which he vaulted himself into prospect status by hitting .288/.393/.489/.882 with 22 homers and 102 RBI while splitting time between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. While the Sox raved about the defensive strides that he made behind the plate, Lavarnway caught in just 53 of the 126 games he played this year, and so the opportunity to spend more time behind the dish was a major factor in the team’s desire to send the Yale product to Arizona.

Other Sox minor leaguers taking part in the AFL are:

Seth Garrison: The right-hander was 1-1 with a 4.28 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings spanning 13 appearances for Salem after missing the first half of the season with an elbow injury. Prior to the injury, he had a strong showing in Salem in 2009, going 8-11 with a 3.90 ERA in 25 starts, and a 2.99 ERA from June through the end of the year.

Eammon Portice: A right-hander who was converted to the bullpen this year, Portice had a 3-7 record and 4.65 ERA for Double-A Portland, but he struck out more than a batter an inning (96 punchouts in 93 innings) while walking just 25. He is Rule 5 eligible this coming offseason, so a strong performance in the AFL could make him a consideration for the 40-man roster.

Jason Rice: Like Portice, Rice spent the year in the Portland bullpen, going 3-2 with a 2.85 ERA and striking out 71 (while walking 30) in 60 innings. Opponents hit just .211 against him. The 24-year-old was selected from the White Sox in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft in 2008. He is Rule 5 eligible this offseason.

Daniel Turpen: Turpen was the pitcher whom the Red Sox acquired from the Giants in exchange for Ramon Ramirez at the trade deadline. The right-handed reliever made a dozen appearances with the Sea Dogs, forging a 4.91 ERA while striking out nearly a batter an inning (18 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings) and walking nine.

Juan Carlos Linares: The 26-year-old outfielder, who defected from Cuba, was signed by the Sox this year. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he showed a mix of power and patience as well as defensive skill in Cuba. He hit .239/.271/.391/.662 in 13 games with Portland this year.

Read More: arizona fall league, casey kelly, daniel turpen, eammon portice
Advancing Nomar 05.04.10 at 6:40 pm ET
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Nomar Garciaparra will be formally honored Wednesday for his service to the Red Sox from 1996-2004.

But Red Sox manager Terry Francona, speaking about 24 hours in advance of the ceremony, recalled his first encounter with the 1997 American League Rookie of the Year in the Arizona Fall League when he managed him in the fall of 1994.

‘€œIt’€™s funny because Nomar played here for so long,” Francona said. “But I probably knew him before most of you did. I was with him in the Fall League so I got to see him even though I wasn’€™t in the organization as a young kid. He asked the best questions ever. He was smart.”

[Click here to hear Francona rave about Nomar and relate a story about former Sox manager Kevin Kennedy.]

Francona was Garciaparra’s manager with the Scottsdale Scorpions in ’94, the year the Red Sox drafted the infielder out of Georgia Tech.

‘€œHe wasn’€™t pulling the ball yet but you could see him hitting the ball to right-center and you could see how could he had a chance to be,” Francona said.

Francona then recalled a very interesting visit from then-Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy and his bench coach.

‘€œI was sitting one day in my office in Scottsdale Stadium and it was Kevin Kennedy and Tim Johnson and they had come out to see Nomar play and they were sitting around and saying, ‘€˜Can this kid play second?’€™ I was like, ‘€˜Who’€™s playing short? Move him.’€™ There was talk about his arm and the arm angle and everything. He was just too good-looking of a player,” Francona said.

Read More: arizona fall league, Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox, Scottsdale Scorpions
Red Sox Announce Arizona Fall League Participants 08.26.09 at 12:13 pm ET
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The Red Sox have committed to sending four prospects to the Arizona Fall League. The group that will play for the Mesa Solar Sox includes:

–Outfielder Ryan Kalish, who ranks second among Red Sox farmhands with 15 homers, and has hit .271 with a .755 OPS and 10 homers since a May promotion to Double A Portland.

–Catcher Luis Exposito, a 22-year-old who is considered one of the organization’s top two catching prospects. Exposito has hit .287/.338/.436/.773 at two levels this year. Notably, he has raked since a promotion last month to Double A Portland, hitting .361/.381/.492/.873 in 15 games.

–Left-handed pitcher Dustin Richardson, who has excelled since being moved to the bullpen in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League last fall. Richardson had a 2.70 ERA and held opponents to a .186 average while striking out 80 in 63.1 innings for Double A Portland. That performance earned him a recent promotion to Triple A Pawtucket, for whom Richardson has made three scoreless appearances and struck out five.

–Right-hander Chris Province, a groundball machine in relief for Double A Portland. Province has a 2.94 ERA in 70.1 innings, and has 3.18 groundouts per flyout.

Read More: afl, arizona fall league, chris province, dustin richardson
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