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Monday, May 26, 2014

The Boston Red Sox's Sleeper Prospects Closest to Contributing in Majors

The recent misery of the Boston Red Sox finally ended, as they stopped a 10-game slide with a come-from-behind victory against the Atlanta Braves on Memorial Day. With a record that currently stands at 21-30, the team may need a major injection of young talent from their highly regarded farm system- both in the short and long term. While there are a number of high-end prospects like Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Allen Webster starting to break through, there are many lesser-known youngsters that fans of the team should be aware of.

The highest-ranked prospects may get the lion’s share of the press, but Boston’s system is so deep that the sleepers should be monitored closely- especially those who are closest to possibly contributing at the big league level in the near future. Here are the best of those nearly-ready young players that nobody is talking about.

Bryce Brentz- Outfielder, currently playing at Triple-A: The 25-year-old right-handed hitter appeared ticketed for some time in Boston last year before a spring training firearm accident knocked him off the fast track. A somewhat all-or-nothing approach has resulted in 77 home runs and 451 strikeouts in 438 professional games. Although he is hitting just .230 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 39 2014 games, he is the organization’s most advanced outfield prospect, and could get his first shot in the majors before long.

Henry Ramos- Outfielder, currently playing at Double-A: The 2010 fifth-round pick had a slow start to his career but has gotten better and better with each passing year. The 22-year-old switcher hitter has a big frame and seems to be coming into his power. He is in the midst of a career season that has him hitting .341 with two home runs and 23 RBIs in 45 games. A reported strong arm is offset by inconsistent defensive skills.

Keith Couch, Starting Pitcher, currently playing at Double-A: After winning 11 games in each of the past two seasons, the 24-year-old right-hander may surpass that mark this year by July. Through nine starts, he is a perfect 6-0 with a 2.39 ERA. He has 40 K/11 BB in 52.2 innings, and while he has permitted 55 hits, he is yet to allow a home run. With an arsenal headlined by a low-90s sinker, he is the kind of pitcher who will do best pitching to contact- a la Derek Lowe.

Travis Shaw- First Baseman, currently playing at Double-A: The 24-year-old son of former major league closer Jeff Shaw is the most polished first-sacker in the Boston system. After a miserable 2013 that saw him hit just .221 in Double-A, he is back for more and has clearly learned his lesson. The big left-handed hitter is batting .305 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 47 games. Most impressive is his 29/23 BB/K ratio, which indicates a big league-ready batting eye. On the defensive side, he has even played a little third base, which could come in handy as he continues to climb the ladder.

Noe Ramirez- Relief Pitcher, currently playing at Double-A: The 2011 fourth-round pick began his career as a starter but has settled nicely into a relief role. The right-hander may not throw hard but has a good changeup and has learned how to consistently get hitters out. He has a 3.14 career professional ERA, and has gone 1-0 with four saves, a 0.96 WHIP and a 2.08 ERA in 14 2014 games. At 24, he is at the stage of his career where he is just about ready to see what he can do in the big leagues, and may get that shot this season if Boston’s bullpen develops some holes.

*Statistics as of May 25, 2014.

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