With injuries still a major issue for the Red Sox, it’s always important to keep an eye on the boys on the farm. This week’s edition of the Top 10 prospects features a trio of PawSox hitters who are swinging hot bats, as well as another strong surge by the organization’s most recent top pick.
Last week: No. 1
Casey Kelly, RHP
In two starts since we last touched on Kelly, the young righty went 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA, posting a few better bottom lines after a bit of a rough stretch numbers-wise. As mentioned last time, the organization has had no concerns over some of those numbers (5.11 ERA, .305 opponents’ batting average).
Nor should it.
Kelly went a season high-tying six innings against New Britain on Friday night, one start after picking up his second win of the year. And remember, he’s only 20, much younger than several of his teammates and still learning to harness major league-caliber stuff, or at least figure out how to pitch on nights when some of that stuff might be absent.
Kelly remains a notable figure on national lists, and it will be interesting to see how he responds down the stretch. This is, after all, his first full season in the system as a pitcher.
Last week: No. 2
Ryan Kalish, OF
There is no let-up in Kalish, who has served the big club notice that he may be able to help them out if more outfield assistance is required. He is 3-for-8 with a home run, a triple and three RBIs since the All-Star break and has his average up to .337 for Triple-A Pawtucket.
General manager Theo Epstein was meeting with Sox manager Terry Francona after Boston’s loss to Texas on Friday night, and Francona later indicated that there may be more than just the Manny Delcarmen activation on Saturday. It’s speculation for now, but Kalish could get some playing time sooner rather than later if Mike Cameron continues to need time off or if Jacoby Ellsbury’s rehab is slow.
If and when that comes, many Sox fans will love his all-out playing style. It wouldn’t hurt if he continued to hit the way he has for the past month.
Last week: No. 3
Lars Anderson, 1B
After ripping a double and a triple and driving in three runs in a win over Syracuse on Friday night, Anderson had a nice little seven-game hitting streak going on, during which he is 11-for-29 (.379) with four extra-base hits.
Anderson, 22, has thrown in his first Triple-A stolen base for good measure. It’s good to see him raking once again after a difficult stretch in June.
Last week: No. 4
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Prior to the Eastern League All-Star break, Rizzo homered in consecutive games, giving him nine in 60 games since earning a promotion to Portland. That ranks him second on the team to Nate Spears (10 homers in 88 games).
After striking out 25 times and earning five walks in June, his first full month at the Double-A level, Rizzo, who turns 21 on Aug. 8, has been fanned just 11 times while getting seven free passes in July.
Last week: No. 5
Felix Doubront, LHP
As of Saturday morning nothing was official, but it is expected that Doubront will rejoin the PawSox once Clay Buchholz is activated. When he returns, the lefty will have a new cutter in his arsenal, something he developed with Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell.
The 23-year-old used it with good results in his third major league start Friday night at Fenway Park against Texas. When he left the mound with two outs in the fifth inning, he had a 3-2 lead, and the only runs the Rangers had scored to that point were unearned.
Texas unloaded on the bullpen, and two more earned runs were tacked onto Doubront’s line, but even so, he has impressed in his three starts with Boston.
Buchholz and Josh Beckett are both close to returning, but the club can feel confident going to Doubront if and when it needs a spot start down the road.
Last week: No. 6
Jose Iglesias, SS
A broken right hand has kept him out of action since May 29, but Iglesias has begun to swing a bat again and may return by the time August rolls around. Just 20 years old and new to the country, the time on the sidelines is not without precious moments in which he can become more accustomed to the ways of the organization in his first year in the system.
Last week: No. 7
Luis Expositio, C
With Victor Martinez slow to heal from a broken left thumb, Jason Varitek still several weeks from returning from a broken left foot and multiple backstops at the Triple-A level dealing with their own injuries, the Red Sox’ catching situation is in shambles, and there are likely some who would love to see Exposito get a shot.
That won’t happen anytime soon, as Exposito remains a guy who needs consistent playing time. In a year’s time we might be singing a different tune, but for now the 23-year-old has some work to do at the Double-A level. He can start with lifting that batting average a bit. After opening the second half by going 2-for-8 with a pair of doubles and a walk, Exposito is at .259.
The 6-3, 210-pounder remains tied for third in the Eastern League with 61 RBIs.
Last week: No. 8
Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
After finishing the first half of the season by going 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in three starts, Pimentel opened the second half with perhaps his most promising start of the campaign. That is saying something, considering he has twice flirted with perfection in 2010.
In a matchup with Winston-Salem on Friday, the 20-year-old went a season-high seven innings, allowing two earned runs on just three hits and striking out six.
Pimentel also retired the only two men he faced while representing the Sox on the World Futures team at the All-Star festivities in Anaheim.
Last week: No. 9
Josh Reddick, OF
Perhaps Reddick needed a fresh start, and the All-Star break may have provided that opportunity. He hit .207 and posted a measly .255 on-base percentage before the intermission, but has come out swinging to start the second half.
Reddick, 23, had a double, single and a walk against Syracuse on Thursday, and then slugged his first home run of the month Friday night. He hasn’t sustained much at the plate this year, so hopefully this will get him going.
Last week: No. 10
Kolbrin Vitek, 2B/3B
Vitek’s first professional home run came against Brooklyn on Tuesday and was part of his current 8-for-17 (.471) binge over a span of four games. The team’s top pick in the June draft enters Saturday with an impressive .295/.410/.400 line.