International League managers at the Triple-A level voted Lavarnway the league's best defensive catcher, according to Baseball America's annual Minor League Tools Survey.
This news is in stark contrast to the criticism Lavarnway once faced regarding his defensive skills. It's also an indication that Lavarnway has worked tremendously hard to improve his all-around game, and that the Red Sox may have taken the right approach in patiently grooming him along. Had they rushed Lavarnway to the bigs, as some have clamored for, he would not have had the opportunity to play every day and hone his skills.
A number of other Red Sox farmhands were recognized as part of the Tools Survey as well. Jose Iglesias and Pedro Ciriaco were named the International League's best defensive shortstop and best defensive second baseman, respectively, while Alex Hassan was found to have the league's best strike-zone judgment. Lars Anderson, who was traded by Boston to Cleveland just before the trade deadline, was voted the level's best defensive first baseman.
The Sox were also represented at other levels of the farm, with Jackie Bradley Jr. showcasing just how much potential he has as a prospect. Bradley received the following honors at High-A Salem of the Carolina League: best hitting prospect, best baserunner, best strike-zone judgment, best defensive outfielder, best outfield arm and most exciting player. Red Sox fans should be pumped to have such a unique talent in their team's system.
Michael Olmsted (best reliever), Christian Vazquez (best defensive catcher) and Travis Shaw (best defensive first baseman) also received High-A Carolina League honors.
At the Double-A level, the Sea Dogs' Bryce Brentz was determined to have the best outfield arm in the Eastern League. Garin Cecchini, who plays for the Single-A Greenfield Drive, was found to have the best infield arm in the South Atlantic League.
Another interesting note for Red Sox fans is former Boston first baseman Brian Daubach's inclusion on the survey. While not a member of the Red Sox system, Daubach was named the best managerial prospect in the Single-A South Atlantic League.
These are all good things for BoSox fans, and are reasons to be optimistic when looking toward the future. Things aren't looking so hot at the major league level right now, but it's not all doom and gloom in other areas of the organization.