Stedler Division rivals: Lowell Spinners

The Lowell Spinners, New York-Penn League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, finished last season in first place in the Stedler Division with a 45-30 record.  The Spinners should be a threat to win the Stedler Division again this season thanks to a trio of top prospects who will likely be assigned to Lowell.

Mike Andrews of SoxProspects.com joined Connecticut Tiger Den to answer some questions about Red Sox prospects in extended spring training who may be assigned to Lowell when the New York-Penn League season begins in June.

David Renfroe/Photo courtesy of Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Stephen Hamel: Soxprospects.com is projecting three players ranked in the Red Sox top 30 by Baseball America to play for Lowell. What’s the scouting report on David Renfroe, Madison Younginer and Brandon Jacobs?

Mike Andrews: Heading into the 2009 draft, most scouts were higher on Renfroe than they were on Boston’s first round pick, Reymond Fuentes. However, Renfroe slipped to the third round, likely due to signability issues, and ultimately received first-round money in the form of an identical bonus to that of Fuentes. A multi-sport athlete and a two-way player in high school, Renfroe brings solid all-around tools and an excellent baseball acumen to the table. He has a smooth swing that produces excellent backspin on the ball, and he has demonstrated above-average power potential that should begin to show as he improves his pitch recognition. A shortstop in high school, Renfroe moved to third base this past Fall. He’s presently in extended spring training working on adjustments to his offensive approach.

A right-hander given supplemental first-round money after being selected in the 7th round in 2009, Younginer has electric stuff and an arsenal that could round into a devastating three-pitch mix: a mid-to-high-90s four-seam fastball, a 12-to-6 curveball, and a low-80s changeup. This year Younginer will need to work on cleaning up his delivery to develop a consistent release point to enhance his fastball command and continue to work on the feel for his changeup, which showed good progression during the 2009 season leading up to the draft. He should show flashes of dominance with the Spinners in 2010.

Prior to being drafted by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2009 draft, Jacobs had committed to play running back at Auburn. It took early second-round money to buy him out of that commitment in August 2009, at which time he immediately began his professional career in the Gulf Coast League. At 19, he already has a major league body, and he might have the most power potential in the entire Red Sox system right now. Jacobs shows natural loft and lift in his swing that should translate to higher home run totals as he continues to sharpen his approach and pitch selectiveness at the plate, which appeared to be areas of focus for him during spring training. He also has above-average speed, but his defense remains a liability at this early stage of his career, leading most scouts to project him as a future left fielder. His overall game is very raw, but with his mix of power and athleticism, he has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat at the major league level.

SH: Randy Consuegra had a pretty good season a year ago in the Gulf Coast League. What kind of stuff does he have and is he expected to be used as a starter or a reliever in Lowell?

MA: Consuegra is a Colombian right-hander with a solid frame that signed with Boston back in October 2006. His fastball hits 92 mph, and he also mixes in a changeup and a curveball, both of which are advanced for his age. However, he has struggled with control issues, walking 22 batters 45.1 innings in 2009. Right now Consuegra looks to begin the season in Lowell’s starting rotation, but that could change depending on the pitchers that Boston drafts and which of those pitchers sign right out of the gate.

SH: Among the position players expected to be in Lowell this season, who is the best prospect besides the aforementioned Renfroe and Jacobs?

MA: Early in 2009, Jason Thompson was considered the best prep player in Tennessee and one of the top 100 high school prospects in the nation, but a late season hamstring injury derailed his draft status somewhat. Boston picked him in the 11th round last June and gave him a $300,000 bonus to sign him out of his commitment to Louisville. Thompson is an athletic infielder with above-average speed, a reliable glove, and above average arm strength. At the plate, he makes excellent contact, hitting to all fields with gap power. Look for him to be the Spinners’ opening day shortstop.

SH: Is there anyone else in extended spring training that could make a splash in Lowell this year?

MA: Bryan Peterson should be Lowell’s starting right fielder. He’s a potential five tool athlete that has struggled through injuries since the Sox drafted him in the 11th round in 2008. Juan Rodriguez, 21, was Boston’s 2009 Latin Program Pitcher of the Year, and could skip over the Gulf Coast League to start the season in the Spinners’ rotation this season. The Dominican righty put up a 1.55 ERA and struck out 78 batters in 63.2 innings in 2009. Justin Erasmus, a 20-year-old South African right-hander, could compete for the closer job in Lowell. He put up a 2.05 ERA and earned 5 saves with the GCL Red Sox in 2009.

I’d like to thank Mike Andrews for helping me preview the 2010 Lowell Spinners.  His work can be found at SoxProspects.com.

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