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Ex-Sox prospect Fuentes: Being traded for Gonzalez ‘was huge’ 07.10.11 at 9:53 pm ET
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PHOENIX — The Red Sox have said it many times. When they made the deal for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, they recognized that they would have to part with a wealth of talent.

That forecast is being borne out. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, of course, is already in the majors at age 21. Though he’s struggling (hitting .159 with a .601 OPS entering Sunday), his future is considered extremely bright. Casey Kelly wrapped up a strong first half with Double-A San Antonio on Sunday in which he went 8-3 with a 4.21 ERA.

The third prospect in the deal received the least attention, yet in his own way, Reymond Fuentes has also been enjoying a very strong 2011 campaign that suggests a potential impact contributor. The 20-year-old was selected to represent the Padres as a member of the World Team at the All-Star Futures Game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 mlb all-star game, adrian gonzalez, all-star futures game, reymond fuentes
Red Sox ownership redefines ‘Moneyball’ 02.19.11 at 1:40 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — As long as the Red Sox have the funds available they want their fans to know that they are going to invest it in putting a championship caliber team on the field.

The returning players certainly got that message loud and clear this winter and showed their appreciation by giving ownership a standing ovation during Saturday’ meeting held by skipper Terry Franacona, prior to the first full-squad workout.

And it’s only going to get better.

After addressing the media for 23 minutes, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino announced that the team paid $85 million in revenue sharing to MLB in 2010, including a $1.5 million luxury tax. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Red Sox have an estimated payroll of $161.5 million in 2011, third behind the Yankees ($202.5 million) and the Phillies ($164.6 million).

And, despite the addition of big-ticket stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Red Sox president Lucchino said Saturday the team still has financial flexibility to add even more artillery in the battle to win the AL East in 2011.

“We always have some amount of money to be determined each year, but we will certainly look to make improvements if the team is in the hunt and has a specific need and there’€™s a specific opportunity,” Lucchino said. “Yeah. I think that’€™s a specific obligation of ownership.”

In two megadeals, the Red Sox commited $142 million over seven years to Crawford five days after sending blue chip prospects Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly and Reymond Fuentes and Eric Patterson to San Diego for Gonzalez. The Red Sox are said to be on the verge of a $164 million extension with Gonzalez over seven years. J.D. Drew is in the final season of a five-year, $70 million contract.

“Every team has limits,” Red Sox principal owner John Henry said. “We have a strong commitment to winning, every year, every offseason. But you can’€™t always do everything that you want to do because you have long-term considerations as well as short-term considerations. The right piece for what you’€™re looking for as far as a particular player at a particular position doesn’€™t always match up. This year it did.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Anthony Rizzo, Barclay's Premier League, Boston Red Sox
Ex-Sox minor leaguers Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo top Padres prospect list 01.24.11 at 4:02 pm ET
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When the Red Sox made the dramatic decision to conclude a blockbuster trade with the Padres for superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, they were never under any illusions that they were pulling the wool over the Padres’ eyes. To the contrary, the Sox recognized that in order to acquire the three-time All-Star, they would have to part with some of the most talented prospects in their system.

“We always try to stay away from our core group of prospects [in trades]. The only time we’€™ve included them in deals has been when there’€™s an obvious, impact player coming back that fits a clear need for the foreseeable future. The only two times that I think we’€™ve done that were in the original [Josh] Beckett trade (in which the Sox dealt Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez] and this one with Adrian,” Sox Assistant GM Ben Cherington said recently. “You can’€™t do that type of thing all the time, partly because you don’€™t have the minor league talent to do that all the time, partly because those opportunities just don’€™t come around all the time.”

The potential cost in prospects gained further definition on Monday, when Baseball America released its rankings of the Padres’ top prospects. Right-hander Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo — two of the three prospects dealt by the Red Sox to San Diego in exchange for Gonzalez — were named the top two prospects in the Padres farm system by Baseball America. Outfielder Reymond Fuentes, the third prospect in the deal, was named San Diego’s No. 4 overall prospect.

Kelly was ranked as the Sox’ top prospect by Baseball America, while Rizzo was ranked No. 3 and Fuentes No. 6. The publication suggested that Kelly will reach Triple-A Tucson this year, with a big league ETA of 2012, while Rizzo is expected to spend most of this year in Triple-A while positioning himself to compete for the job of Padres’ starting first baseman by early 2012. Fuentes, 20, is viewed as more raw than his counterparts (whereas Kelly spent all of 2010 in Double-A Portland and Rizzo spent most of the season at that level, Fuentes remained in Single-A Greenville all year), but he is described as being more advanced than Jacoby Ellsbury at a similar stage of his career.

For a more detailed look at the three prospects who netted the Sox Gonzalez, click here.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, Padres
Red Sox, Padres discussed including Jacoby Ellsbury in the deal 12.06.10 at 1:30 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, the Red Sox and Padres discussed several permutations for the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Different major league-ready players were discussed in the deal, including outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, left-hander Felix Doubront and infielder Jed Lowrie.

But the Padres opted to go for three solid prospects (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes), each of whom they believe could develop into big league regulars, and perhaps above-average to well above-average ones. (The Padres simply would not have done a deal without pitcher Casey Kelly.)

The team was especially intrigued by the idea of adding Ellsbury to the deal, but he already has three years of service time behind him, and is now a first-time arbitration eligible player. So, if Ellsbury performed at a high level with the Padres, San Diego felt that it would have been in the exact same position with Ellsbury in two years as it was today with Gonzalez: In a position where they would have to once again trade Ellsbury (a Scott Boras client who is considered unlikely to sign a long-term deal before reaching fre agency) before his final controllable year. Meanwhile, the Sox continue to value Ellsbury as a potentially important part of the club for 2011.

As for the package that the Padres did get, they considered it the package that had the most high-ceiling players. Other proposals that they received might have featured current big leaguers, but San Diego did not feel that it was being offered projected stars, and the idea of short-term gain at the expense of a meaningful long-term infusion of talent in the Sox deal did not make sense for a team whose success will be dictated by its young, controllable players.

It is worth noting that when the Sox and Padres discussed potential deals for Gonzalez in the past, San Diego had been able to target even more substantial returns. In the middle of the 2009 season, for instance, the teams discussed having Clay Buchholz as the centerpiece of a deal that would have included more than three prospects. After the 2009 season, San Diego felt that a fair asking price for Gonzalez started with both Buchholz and Kelly (a proposal that the Sox viewed as too costly). The longer that the Padres waited to deal Gonzalez, San Diego feared, the more his trade value would diminish.

In that sense, Mark Teixeira offered an interesting case study. When traded from the Rangers to the Braves in the middle of 2007 with a year and a half left on his deal, he netted a huge prospect package that included Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus. One year later, when the Braves dealt Teixeira in July — two months before his free agency — Atlanta got a package from the Angels that was featured the highly underwhelming package of first baseman Casey Kotchman and reliever Stephen Marek. The Padres did not want to face such diminishing returns by waiting too long to deal Gonzalez, a fact that helped motivate the deal with the Red Sox.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, felix doubront
A look at what the Red Sox are giving up for Adrian Gonzalez 12.04.10 at 12:06 pm ET
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A source with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed that the Red Sox have agreed to send Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named to the Padres in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez. While the deal is not yet done — Gonzalez must pass a physical, and he and the Sox would have to agree to an extension — here is a look at the prospects whom the Sox would be parting with.

In summary: the Red Sox would be giving up three young, high-ceiling prospects who are considered excellent makeup guys. All three are viewed as future big league starters.


Kelly has been described as having the potential stuff and makeup to become a superstar on the mound. His athleticism on the mound has been compared to that of Royals ace (and 2009 Cy Young winner) Zack Greinke. While he had a 5.31 ERA in Double-A Portland this year, and saw his tremendous command numbers take a hit (he more than doubled his walk rate, from 1.5 per nine innings to 3.3 per nine innings), he saw the development of a power arsenal. His fastball velocity regularly touched 93-94 mph in 2010 (up from 90-92 in 2009), peaking at 96 mph, and he added a potential swing-and-miss curve to a changeup that his Arizona Fall League manager, Mike Sarbaugh, described as “a separator.”

The Sox believe that Kelly will hone his command anew with another year, and that if he has advanced command combined with three solid to plus pitches, he could be a future No. 1 or No. 2 starter. Kelly, ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Sox system by Baseball America, was the prospect whom the Padres had to have to make a deal happen.

“Watch the stuff. If you watched Casey Kelly pitch, and watched all of the swinging and missing going on — even though the strikeout numbers aren’€™t huge — you’€™d have a hard time, if you know what you’€™re looking at, saying, ‘€˜This guy [is a disappointment],’€™” Sox farm director Mike Hazen said during the season. ‘€œIn the case of Casey Kelly, I know people are going to look at stats and say, ‘€˜This guy didn’€™t have that good of a season.’ … We beg to differ on that. We feel that he’€™s had a really good season.’€

Is he replaceable? Kelly is (was?) the consensus top talent in the Sox system. There is no other player in the system who so clearly projects to be a star. That said, the team is hopeful that it has two pitchers who could develop into No. 2 big league starters, at least based on their talent. The first is 2010 sandwich pick Anthony Ranaudo, a player who, but for injuries he suffered in his junior year, would have been one of the top five to 10 picks in this year’s draft. Still, Ranaudo has yet to throw a pitch in a professional game, so while his talent appeared elite as an amateur, it remains to be seen how that will translate. The other is right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, a 20-year-old with a 3.64 ERA in his four minor league seasons as well as 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He was added to the major league 40-man roster recently, and Pimentel received strong feedback for his 2010 performance.


This is what Adrian Gonzalez did for the Portland Sea Dogs as a 20-year-old in 2002: .266/.344/.437/.781, 17 HR, 96 RBI, 138 games

This is what Anthony Rizzo did for the Portland Sea Dogs as a 20-year-old in 2010, following his early-season promotion from Hi-A Salem: .263/.334/.481/.815, 20 HR, 80 RBI in 107 games

Rizzo became the 20-year-old to hit 20 or more homers in the Eastern League since Dernell Stenson in 1998. Between his two levels, Rizzo finished the year with 25 homers, 42 doubles and 100 RBI, hitting .260/.334/.480/.814.

‘€œWe haven’€™t seen this kind of power production from a player in the last five years that I’€™ve been here, especially not from a high school kid,’€ said Hazen. ‘€œHe’€™s an exciting hitter. The numbers speak for themselves, I think. To do that at that age and at that level is pretty impressive.’€

It is even more impressive when considering that Rizzo missed almost all of the 2008 season while being treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He showed few ill effects of the cancer treatment during an outstanding 2009 season, but Rizzo emerged with an enormous 2010 that established him as the Sox’ best power-hitting prospect. He clubbed his 20th Double-A homer in his final game of this season.

‘€œRight then and there, I reflected on my season and said, ‘€˜Great year,’€™’€ said Rizzo. ‘€œThis year, there were a couple balls I hit where I got into the dugout and I said, ‘€˜I didn’€™t know I could do that.’ Hopefully as I get older, stronger, more mature, even more power is to come.’€

Rizzo was named the No. 3 prospect in the Red Sox system by Baseball America. He was taken by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2007 draft.

Is he replaceable? The Sox do not have another power-hitting prospect with the proven track record of Rizzo. Because the Sox are getting an elite first baseman in the deal, the idea of parting with the organization’s top prospect at that position seemed a natural.


As a 19-year-old in full-season Single-A Greenville, Fuentes hit .270/.328/.377/.705 with five homers and 42 steals in 47 attempts. When the Sox drafted him, they suggested that the cousin of Carlos Beltran has surprising power, with his wrists reminding some of Alfonso Soriano. Even so, speed is more Fuentes’ game. He is a burner with a chance to make an impact on the bases and, especially important for the Padres, in the outfield. Fuentes is considered a potentially well-above-average center fielder, a significant consideration for the Padres in spacious Petco Park, where games are truly won and lost with pitching and defense.

“This guy has some pop. He’s an impact defender,” Hazen said during the season. “He’s a traditional gazelle.”

Is he replaceable? The Sox are dealing with a position of some strength and depth in center field. Ryan Kalish showed that he might be able to play center in the majors, and the Sox believe that Josh Reddick can do so as well. Che-Hsuan Lin, in Double-A, was the best defender in the organization, and had a .386 OBP in his age 21 season. And Jeremy Hazelbaker also turned in a tremendous season as Fuentes’ teammate in Greenville. While he is not viewed as the same high-ceiling prospect (or defender) as Fuentes, he has great speed on the bases (he stole 63 bases, most by a Sox prospect in more than 30 years) with solid pop.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, reymond fuentes
Source: Red Sox, Padres agree in principle to Adrian Gonzalez deal at 9:12 am ET
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A source familiar with the negotiations confirmed that the Red Sox and Padres have agreed in principle to a deal that would send first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Boston in exchange for prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes. The deal is pending a physical on Gonzalez as well as the negotiation of an extension for the slugger.

ESPN.com was the first to report the deal. Multiple sources familiar with the situation note that there are still roadblocks to a deal, and that there is at least the chance that it could blow up, but both teams expect a deal is likely to get done.

ESPN’€™s Buster Olney reports that Gonzalez was flown to Boston in order to negotiate a contract extension (the Padres exercised a $6.2 million option on his deal for 2011, after which he is currently slated to be a free agent) and to take a physical, with Major League Baseball having granted a window for a deal to be negotiated. While Gonzalez’ shoulder — which required surgery shortly after the season, and which will prevent him from swinging until March — would require a thorough exam, one source familiar with the situation said earlier in the week that he did not expect it to be an impediment to a deal.

The two sides had been discussing various scenarios for a Gonzalez trade for over a year. Last offseason, discussions of any deal began with pitcher Clay Buchholz. But Buchholz became untouchable due to his breakout 2010 campaign, and so the player whom the Sox had to include in a deal became top prospect Casey Kelly, the pitcher who was taken with the Sox’ first-round pick in the 2008 draft under then-director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod, who is now the Padres’ Assistant GM. Talks intensified in the last couple of weeks when the Sox acknowledged that they would have to part with Kelly and figure out the other players to include, yet even as the discussions gained momentum, they remained quiet even as recently as Thursday, when the two teams felt they were closing on a deal.

Gonzalez is considered one of the elite sluggers in the game. Despite playing in the power-killing environment of Petco Park in San Diego, he has hit 30 or more homers in each of the last four seasons, hitting .284/.377/.517/.894 in that time while averaging 34 homers and 105 RBI per season. He has been named an All-Star in each of the last three years, and has won two Gold Gloves. Gonzalez also leads the majors in road homers over the last four years with 90, suggesting that his numbers could take off in a new ballpark. (Indeed, Gonzalez himself has offered such a suggestion.)

While his 2011 salary is eminently affordable, even for the Padres, Gonzalez and his agent, John Boggs, had an understanding with San Diego GM Jed Hoyer that the first baseman would almost certainly depart in free agency after 2011. Boggs suggested that Gonzalez’€™ performance has him in line for a contract along the lines of the eight-year, $184 million deal between Joe Mauer and the Twins, the eight-year, $180 million deal between the Yankees and Mark Teixeira and the five-year, $125 million contract to which the Phillies and first baseman Ryan Howard had agreed. (One source involved in the trade talks guessed that it would take a deal of more than $20 million a year from the Sox to sign Gonzalez, but less than the $25 million a year that Howard will be paid.)

San Diego, as a team with a payroll near $40 million, cannot afford such a deal. And so, the Padres faced a difficult choice for the offseason: Do they retain Gonzalez for another run at the postseason after coming two wins short of the Giants in the NL West, or do they trade him in order to acquire a number of talented, inexpensive prospects who can allow them to compete for the long haul?

One major league source described the dilemma of what to do with a franchise icon as he approaches free agency as the most difficult that a team can face. But in the end, the talent package being offered by the Sox convinced the Padres to make their move. And so, the Sox may get the middle-of-the-order slugger whom they covet, while the Padres acquire three high-ceiling prospects with the chance to impact them — at a low cost — for years.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, jose iglesias
Minor Details: Keith Law on Sox trade chips 11.19.10 at 3:22 am ET
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Keith Law of ESPN.com joined this week’s installment of Minor Details. The weekly podcast, which examines the shape of the Red Sox farm system, focused this week on how well positioned the Red Sox are to make trades this winter now that the Hot Stove season seems to have been ignited.

Law touched on a number of topics, including:

–Is it worth trading top prospects for a one-year rental such as Adrian Gonzalez? Law suggested that while he thinks that the Padres superstar first baseman would thrive outside of Petco Park, the fact that he is only signed through 2011 means that the Red Sox should not deal a top prospect — such as Casey Kelly — for him.

“In the Red Sox’ division, I wonder if they’re ever really high enough of a probability of making the playoffs that it’s worth giving up prospect depth,” said Law. “You could probably look at Kelly and say he could be in the big leagues in 2012. Maybe not with the Red Sox, but he’s not that far away. … Casey Kelly is not untouchable for me, but he’s pretty darn close to it. I don’t think I’d trade Casey Kelly for one year of Adrian Gonzalez, and I love Adrian Gonzalez.”

–Do the Red Sox have the pieces to trade for superstars such as Justin Upton this offseason? For many teams, Law believes the answer is yes. There might be some clubs that are looking for what he described as the “country strong,” light-up-the-radar gun pitching prospect who is not to be found in the upper levels of the Red Sox system. But for most clubs, the array and depth of prospects the Sox feature create the basis for deal.

“Your currency may not be good at all 29 banks in the trade market,” said Law. “It might be good at 20 of them. That’s good enough in most cases.”

–Whether there are untouchables in the Red Sox system?

–The trade value of Felix Doubront, whom Law described as a valuable secondary component to a deal because he is big league ready and capable of either taking a spot in the back of the rotation or filling a bullpen role right now.

“He’s valuable as a chip because he’s a big league-ready arm in some role … who will make no money,” said Law. “That’s tremendous value. … You can’t build a deal around Felix Doubront, but he has a lot of value as the second or even third player in a larger deal because he delivers value to the acquiring club from day one.”

Law described Doubront as being a great fit for teams like the Padres and Pirates.

–How the Sox might view the possibility of trading either Lars Anderson or Anthony Rizzo, based on their relative values, their potential and the fact that the team has some redundancy at first base. Law describes Rizzo as potentially having 30-35 home run power, making him “the more valuable property,” although he also noted that Anderson could play first base for a major league club on opening day.

–Does Jose Iglesias make Jed Lowrie expendable? Does Jed Lowrie make Jose Iglesias expendable? Law described Lowrie as being, like Doubront, a very valuable secondary piece to a deal, a major league-ready piece but someone who does not anchor a deal. Iglesias — about whose defense Law raved — might have more trade value, or value to the Red Sox.

–At what position do the Red Sox possess the greatest surplus for a deal?

–Why did Andrew Miller project to be a star in college, and why does he now represent a project hoping to salvage his career.

–How are Red Sox prospects such as Ryan Lavarnway and some Rule 5-eligible relievers performing in the Arizona Fall League?

To listen to the podcast, click here.

To listen to the first episode of the podcast, discussing Baseball America’s list of the Top 10 Red Sox prospects with Sox farm director Mike Hazen and Baseball America’s Jim Callis, click here.

To send feedback or suggestions for future episodes, email aspeier@weei.com.

Read More: Adeiny Hechevarria, adrian gonzalez, Albert Pujols, andrew miller
Casey Kelly named top Red Sox prospect 11.03.10 at 12:10 pm ET
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Baseball America, in its Top 10 ranking of the Red Sox farm system, named pitcher Casey Kelly as the organization’s top prospect.

(Click here for the basic Baseball America article on the Top 10. Click here for the much more thorough subscriber edition…if you are a subscriber.)

Kelly just concluded his Arizona Fall League season, and between Double-A Portland and the AFL, he threw 111 innings, going 4-5 with a 5.51 ERA, 92 strikeouts and 39 walks.

Kelly, who was ranked No. 2 in the system behind Ryan Westmoreland after the 2009 season, showed the potential for three plus-pitches, with a mid-90s fastball that sat at 90-94 and a swing-and-miss change and curve. His command, which had been exceptional with his fastball and changeup in 2009, faltered, a byproduct, the Sox believe, of his still-growing frame.

But the Sox still see a potential front-of-the-rotation pitcher, and Baseball America concurs that the 2008 first-rounder has a big ceiling:

“It’s easy to forget that 2010 was Kelly’s first full year as a pitcher, after he split time between hitting and pitching in 2009, and his learning curve against Double-A hitters was steep. The Red Sox aren’t worried about his less-than-gaudy statistics, still envisioning him becoming a frontline starter with three possible plus pitches and above-average command. He should reach Triple-A Pawtucket at some point in 2011, perhaps even to start the season, and his big league ETA is 2012.”

Kelly was followed in the system by shortstop Jose Iglesias (just named to the Rising Stars team in the Arizona Fall League), first baseman Anthony Rizzo, 2010 draftee Anthony Ranaudo (who has yet to play in a professional game, but did dominate in the Cape League after being drafted) and left-hander Drake Britton, a power lefty who bounced back from Tommy John surgery to strike out 78 in 76 innings with Single-A Greenville.

There was a fairly stunning omission from the Top 10. First baseman Lars Anderson, who made his major league debut in 2010, was not on the list. Before the 2009 season, he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in all of baseball.

Here is Baseball America’s full Top 10, with related content from WEEI.com for each:

1. Kelly, RHP

Minor Misconceptions: The Red Sox Minor League Season in Context

All-Star Futures Notebook: Casey Kelly’s Year of Development

2. Iglesias, SS

An Infield Coach’s First Glimpse of Iglesias

Glimpse of the Future: Jose Iglesias

3. Rizzo, 1B

Powerful Statement from Red Sox Prospects

Sox Announce Minor League Award Winners

Survive and Thrive: Red Sox Prospect Anthony Rizzo’s Return From Cancer

4. Ranaudo, RHP

A Mound of Expectations for Two New Sox Pitchers

5. Britton, LHP

Britton’s ‘Amazing’ Development

6. Reymond Fuentes, OF

Draft Class Takes Shape

7. Josh Reddick, OF

Glimpse of the Future: Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish

The Discovery and Development of Josh Reddick

8. Felix Doubront, LHP

Doubront’s Long Journey From Lowell to Boston

Why Doubront’s Debut Mattered, From Boston To El Toro

Doubront Joins Line of Sox Pitching Prospects

9. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP

Sox Pitching Prospect Pimentel Gets Taste of the Futures

The (Almost) Perfect Stolm

Balance of Trade: Sox Dealt for 2008 and Beyond

10. Garin Cecchini, 3B

How the Jimmy Fund Brought a Red Sox Prospect Closer to Boston

The Most Interesting Red Sox Draftee

Read More: anthony ranaudo, Anthony Rizzo, baseball america, casey kelly
The Red Sox, the draft and medical risk 06.07.10 at 5:27 pm ET
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Just about everyone and his or her mother has, at some point, suggested that the Red Sox are one of the most likely destinations for LSU right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. The 6-foot-7 hurler was the consensus best college pitcher in the draft entering the year, following a sophomore campaign in which he went 12-3 with a 3.04 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning against some of the top college competition. He was the pitcher of record in the championship game when the Tigers won the College World Series, and his mid-90s fastball, and he also graded as having an above-average curveball and a usable slider.

But in his junior year, he suffered a stress reaction in his right elbow (a precursor to a stress fracture) early in the season and was sidelined for a month. His mechanics fell out of whack when he returned, resulting in inconsistent performances. This year, he is 5-3 with a 7.32 ERA and while his strikeout totals remained high (54 in 51.2 innings), his walks totals also spiked (27).

He has been impressive in recent outings, but because of medical concerns, his performance inconsistency and the fact that his advisor is Scott Boras, who will expect his client to receive a bonus commensurate with his skills when healthy, Ranaudo will likely drop in the draft. The Sox, according to multiple sources and several industry publications, are extremely high on the pitcher’s potential. The team likes to shoot for the players who can make the biggest impact in the farm system, and certainly, prior to this year’s struggles, Ranaudo seemed like just such a pitcher.

But would the Sox pull the trigger on a pitcher who comes with medical risks attached?

Certainly, the Sox attach tremendous value to gathering medical information about every player whom they scout. As Sox GM Theo Epstein said last week, “the currency of the draft is information,” and medical information is one of the crucial components that the Sox have worked to refine over the past few years.

“We have a good process that we work on with our medical staff here. They’€™ve refined the process. We all refine the process every year,” said Sox director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye. “Four years ago I couldn’€™t sit here and say we’€™re as comfortable with the process as we are today.”

But in practical terms, what has that meant? How have the Sox approached prominent draftees who were either medical or performance risks in recent years?

–The closest comparable player to Ranaudo to come out in the draft in recent years was Kyle Gibson, a right-hander out of Missouri who was viewed as a top five or top 10 pick in the 2009 draft before a stress fracture in his right forearm. His velocity dropped during his junior year as a result of the injury, and so, too, did his draft stock.

He remained on the board until the Twins selected him at No. 22 overall, six picks before the Sox made Reymond Fuentes their first-round draft choice.

According to sources familiar with the Sox’ thinking last year, the team did not expect Gibson to fall to them at No. 28. (Indeed, it was a draft day surprise that he was still on the board at 22.) But the Sox were comfortable enough with the pitcher’s medicals to be prepared to consider the talented right-hander had he gotten to their pick.

That would not have been a guarantee that the team would have taken Gibson over Fuentes — a player whom the Sox loved, and who is currently enjoying a terrific first year of pro ball for Single-A Greenville, hitting .275/.321/.401/.723 with three homers and 19 steals (without a single caught stealing). Still, the Sox’ willingness to consider Gibson (who is enjoying a spectacular pro debut, with a 7-2 record and 2.27 ERA in Hi-A and Double-A for the Twins this year) offered some indication that the team was not averse to taking a player who was deemed a medical risk by some clubs if his talent justified an early selection.

–The Sox did take another player who fell from the top of the 2009 draft. Right-hander Kendal Volz was considered one of the top college pitchers entering the 2009 season thanks to a strong performance for Team USA, but his velocity slipped as a junior, and his mechanics got worse over the year. He went 3-7 with a 4.50 ERA, and both his strikeout and strikeout-to-walk numbers took a hit. The Sox took him in the ninth round and signed him for $550,000. This year, he’s 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA for Greenville.

–In 2008, the Sox were very interested in taking right-hander Alex Wilson, even though he’d missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. The Cubs ended up taking the pitcher in the 10th round, but he didn’t sign and re-entered the draft in 2009. Then, the Sox took him in the second round and signed him for the slot bonus of $470,000. In High-A Salem this year, Wilson is 2-1 with a 3.40 ERA and an excellent 50:15 strikeout:walk rate in 55 innings.

–In 2006, the Sox drafted left-hander Kris Johnson one year after he’d undergone Tommy John surgery. He’d pitched in the 2006 season for Wichita State, forging a 4.86 ERA in his recovery year. The Sox were hopeful that they’d get an undervalued pitcher once his stuff played back up to its pre-surgery form, but his curveball — a potentially above-average swing-and-miss offering before the procedure — has never returned with the same bite. In some respects, though Johnson (who is having a decent season this year in Triple-A Pawtucket, with a 4.32 ERA that represents significant improvement on his 6.35 mark of 2009) may reach the majors, it seems unlikely that he will give the Sox the return for which they hoped when they drafted him as a first-round sandwich pick (40th overall).

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Sox to sign first-round pick Fuentes 07.01.09 at 2:06 pm ET
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Reymond Fuentes, the high school outfielder from Puerto Rico whom the Red Sox selected in the first round of this year’s draft, has agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a signing bonus of approximately $1.13 million. Fuentes has already passed a physical and drug test, and his signing will become official on Wednesday.

The outfielder, whose speed and defense have earned him comparisons to Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury, is expected to be assigned to Fort Myers of the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League. This is what we wrote about Fuentes following his selection in the draft:

Fuentes, the first player taken in the first round out of Puerto Rico since 2000, was one of the fastest players in the draft. The 18-year-old confirmed the relevance of speed to his game.

‘€œMy strength is my legs,’€ Fuentes said shortly after the Sox selected him with the 28th pick of the first round of the 2009 draft. ‘€œMy game is slap the ball and start running’€¦ On defense, I have good range, and cover a lot of space and ground in the outfield.’€

Amateur scouting director Jason McLeod said that he has plus-plus speed, and was a sprinting champion in Puerto Rico. Fuentes received comparisons to a pair of Sox (current and past) centerfielders: Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Damon.

Former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora ‘€“ now teammates with Carlos Beltran, Fuentes’€™ cousin ‘€“ offered the following assessment via text message:

‘€œBeltran’€™s cousin, Jacoby’€™s clone,’€ wrote Cora. ‘€œSaw him. He flies. Good level swing. Hard worker.’€

As they followed the 18-year-old, particularly this spring, the Sox began to see something more. Physically, the outfielder ‘€“ who is a cousin of Carlos Beltran ‘€“ began to develop this year. McLeod and G.M. Theo Epstein went to scout Fuentes in Puerto Rico in May, and at that time, his bat had advanced in noteworthy fashion.

‘€œI thought his bat speed had improved from where he was at the beginning of the spring,’€ said Epstein. ‘€œThe ball was coming off his bat much better. He started to really interest us as a guy who was not just going to disrupt on the bases, who was not just going to flash a plus-plus run tool in centerfield, but who could really hit as well. For us, that pushed him up into the first round.’€

In addition to Fuentes, the Sox also announced the signings of fourth-round pick Jeremy Hazelbaker, eighth-rounder Shannon Wilkerson, 12th rounder Michael Thomas and 13th-round pick Chris McGuinness.

For more on Fuentes, including a look at the Sox’ wait inside the draft room to see whether the outfielder would be available when they made their first-round selection, read “Holiday in June: A Day in the Life of the Red Sox Draft.”

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