Note: This is the 30th and final installment in a month-long series previewing every prospect heading to the Arizona Fall League this year. You can see a complete team-by-team schedule of the previews here.
The Boston Red Sox 2013 Arizona Fall League participants will be playing for the Surprise Saguaros, along with prospects from the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, and Texas Rangers. The Red Sox will be sending eight players to Arizona - four pitchers and four infielders.
Keith Couch, RHP - Since being a 13th round college pick in 2010, Couch hasn't been extremely old for his levels, but he's been older than most of his competition. Despite that, he hasn't dominated his competition at any of the levels at which he's played. He has, however, been effective, and posted strong FIP's ranging between 2.95 and 3.97 despite never striking out more than seven batters per inning. He's not really a prospect, and would be a fringe starting pitcher at best, but he's a strike thrower who has gotten the most out of his abilities and continues to get chances, like going to the AFL.
Miguel Pena, LHP - A plus change-up gives Pena a fighting chance to continue to develop into a major leaguer, but when it's pared with a fastball that barely reaches 90 mph, it doesn't miss bats enough to really dominate. Pena has worked as a starter, and that change-up gives him a way to attack hitters from both sides of the plate, but he'll be a back-end guy at best. His first stint in Double-A (albeit a brief one) didn't go well, but he throws a ton of strikes so he has a puncher's chance of turning into something usable.
Noe Ramirez, RHP - RIght-handed relief prospects need to strike out batters, and while Ramirez isn't overwhelming in this regard, he does put up good strike out numbers that actually got better after a mid-season promotion to Double-A. Striking out around a batter per inning while demonstrating strong control numbers gives Ramirez a chance to stick as a middle reliever in the majors at some point.
Pete Ruiz, RHP - Ruiz is a strange case, as a former 10th round pick back in 2008 who has climbed methodically up through the Red Sox farm system but is now a 25-year-old reliever in Triple-A. The strange part is that his strike out numbers have climbed at every stop, reaching 11.6 K/9 this season. He's not a prospect and has shaky control numbers, but guys who strike out that many batters that close to the majors are always intriguing.
Mookie Betts, 2B - Perhaps no player in all of baseball made more of a statement in their first year of full-season ball than did Betts. Starting out at Low-A Greenville, Betts hit .296/.418/.477 to force a mid-season promotion. All he did after reaching Salem was hit .341/.414/.551 in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League. He stole 38 bases in 42 attempts and plays a good second base as well, leaving him with few weaknesses. He's not a .340 hitter, because almost no one is, but his patient approach at the plate means he should be able to be a top-of-the-order hitter, even in a potent lineup like Boston's.
Garin Cecchini, 3B - Not to be outdone, Cecchini himself hit .350 in the Carolina League, but unlike Betts, he began the season there and moved up to Double-A during the season. Another impressively patient hitter, Cecchini doesn't currently fit the traditional third base profile because he hit just seven home runs this season, although scouts believe there's more power in there. Regardless, if he's a .300 hitter with strong plate discipline and average defense, he'll be a starter at third for the Red Sox. If he can hit 20 home runs a year while he's at it, he'll be an all-star.
Derrik Gibson, SS - The Red Sox have dreamt on Gibson's athleticism for years now, but he's been passed by a number of times on the organizational depth chart by younger players like Xander Bogaerts. For a player with virtually no power, Gibson's game is centered around speed, but he doesn't get on base enough to truly use it. On defense, not everyone is sold on him sticking at short stop, and he's seen time at second and third base.
Travis Shaw, 1B - Shaw's game is about power and plate discipline, and he has both, although the power dropped off this season in his return to Double-A. Shaw is a patient hitter who draws his walks, which helps make up for some low batting averages, but he'll have to hit more than the 16 home runs he hit this season and needs the doubles power he showed last season to return as well. He's a fringe player in the majors because he's locked in at first base, but with a decent bat, he could find himself a bench role.