Tag:Boston Red Sox
Posted on: April 17, 2012 6:38 pm

Minor happenings

-I'm keeping tabs on the right-field situation in Houston. Brian Bogusevic has gotten off to a less-than inspiring start, while prospect Fernando Martinez is tearing up Triple-A pitching. Remember, F-Mart was a top prospect in the Mets' system for years, but he was plagued by injury. He gets a fresh start with the Astros, and if he is recalled, then he heads to a hitter-friendly park. We might finally see what the scouts have been talking about for years, if Martinez can stay healthy and eventually join the big-league roster.

-Another outfield situation to monitor is on the North Side of Chicago. Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd is off to an awful start in 2012 and Chicago fans will surely be clamoring for prospect Brett Jackson's promotion. However, we shouldn't expect a knee-jerk decision from Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who usually likes to give players a full year at Triple-A. Jackson did appear in 48 games at Triple-A last season, which could speed up his progression to the majors. To be conservative, I'd expect a mid-summer promotion, especially if Byrd keeps sliding and Jackson keeps surging like he has to begin the Triple-A season at Iowa. He has a .393 OBP, .532 slugging percentage and .925 OPS in 11 games.

-I can't wait until Tyler Thornburg becomes a Fantasy relevant player. This kid continues to impress me with everyone outing. His latest effort consisted of 7 1/3 perfect frames. Thornburg has a 2.32 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 178 1/3 minor-league innings. The scouts like Thornburg, but have some concerns, especially about his durability and command because of his unique delivery. Thornburg could end up in the bullpen down the road, which will scare off some long-term keeper owners. But I sure hope Thornburg overcomes those issues because it looks like he has the potential to be a high-end Fantasy option at the current pace he is progressing.

-Marlins prospect Jose Fernandez has piqued my interest with a fast start to his pro career. The 2011 first-round pick owns a 1.64 ERA, .139 opponents' batting average and 18 strikeouts in 11 innings in his first two starts for Class A Greensboro. Fernandez has a fastball that can reach the high-90s. He also has a plus curveball and slider, and he's working on adding a changeup to his arsenal. If Fernandez shows the same dominance he has a few starts into his pro career, then we will be talking about him plenty down the road.

-Another 2011 first-round pick I can't wait to see develop is Red Sox prospect Matt Barnes. The former UConn ace (Go Huskies!) has opened his pro career at Class A Greenville with 10 scoreless innings. He's allowed just three hits in that span, while striking out 16. Most impressively is that no left-handed hitter has gotten a hit off the right-hander and he's struck out 12 of 16 left-handed batters he's faced. If Barnes continues to dominate, then he has the pedigree to move quickly through the minors.

-One guy who probably won't move quickly since he was a high school draftee, but nonetheless impressive, is Diamondbacks' 2011 first-round pick Archie Bradley. The 19-year-old hurler has a 1.12 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in three starts for Class A South Bend. He also has 22 strikeouts in 16 innings. The scouts are already raving about this kid. He seems advanced for his age, but don't be surprised if Arizona handles him with kiddie gloves. They are plenty of quality arms in its rotation right now and plenty of quality prospects further along than Bradley. The Diamondbacks will make sure to build up his strength and stamina, so Bradley is likely a few years away from the majors.
Posted on: April 15, 2012 12:03 pm

Stuck in the Middle-brooks

Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis has to be lucky that he's putting his slow start in the rearview mirror since third base prospect Will Middlebrooks continues to climb organizational ladder. 

Youkilis is turning the corner with a .333 average (5 for 15) and three RBI in his last four games coming into Sunday. If he continued to slump, then the whispers would have begun about a potential ETA for Middlebrooks, who is now considered one of the team's top prospects following a breakout 2011 season. Heck, the whispers still might happen even if Youkilis continues to play well.

Through Saturday, Middlebrooks is batting .359 with three homers and nine RBI in 10 games for Triple-Pawtucket. While his numbers look good, Middlebrooks still has some areas he needs to improve.

The scouts biggest critique of the burgeoning third baseman is that he needs to be more selective at the plate. He's very aggressive and doesn't draw a lot of walks. The trade-off for him is that his power swing continues to develop, but his ceiling as a hitter in the majors might be as a high .200 hitter. He does have good opposite field power, however.

Despite the hot start, probably only an injury to Youkilis would bring Middlebrooks to the majors. He still a candidate for a 2012 recall, but if everyone stays healthy, then that might not come until the second half of the season. But the fact Middlebrooks continues to mature as a hitter has made him a legit long-term Fantasy keeper in all formats.

It's worth noting that the Red Sox own a $13 million team option on Youkilis for next season, so if Boston thinks Middlebrooks is ready, then the front office could have a tough decision on its hands in the offseason. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com