Similarly to first base, the Red Sox have a hole in left field for the first time in a while this offseason. Beyond Jacoby Ellsbury, the only definite in the Red Sox outfield, the Red Sox have a glut of post-prospects and under-performers like Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish, and Jerry Sands. Maybe one of them will eventually turn into a decent major leaguer, but it probably won’t be next year. On the farm, the Red Sox aren’t in a particularly strong spot for left field prospects either. They have a few high-ceiling, low-floor prospects like Brandon Jacobs (#17), Keury de la Cruz (#16), and Jeremy Hazelbaker (#29), but that’s all.
1. Brandon Jacobs- Just a year ago, Jacobs would have been a Top 5 prospect for the Red Sox among many a baseball analyst. After being promoted to High-A Salem as a 21 year old, however, Jacobs fell hard. Missing some time due to a broken hamate bone in his foot, Jacobs’ numbers fell to .252/.322/.410 with 13 home runs and 17 steals, a far cry from the .303/.376/.505 with 17 home runs and 30 steals he put up in 2011. However, Jacobs is still very young and does have potential to hit for power and run well at the major league level.
2. Keury de la Cruz- The Keury de la Cruz of 2012 was very similar to the Brandon Jacobs of 2011. Out of nowhere, he exploded at Greenville, hitting .308/.352/.536 with 19 home runs and 19 steals after three subpar seasons in the low minors. De La Cruz has potential to hit for a decent average with decent power and to run well as a fourth outfielder or starter on a bad team.
3. Jeremy Hazelbaker- At 25 years old, Hazelbaker is getting a bit old to be a prospect. However, after the solid numbers he put up in 2012, he may not be a prospect for much longer. Between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, he put up a respectable slash line of .273/.335/.472 along with 19 home runs. He runs well, but not well enough to play center, and there’s a very good chance we could see him in 2013.
None of these prospects is particularly likely to make a huge impact at the major league level. However, any of them could probably be a major league starter at some point in their career. If Jacobs can recover from his injury, he could become a solid major league starter and I’d say he’s the most likely of these three to become one. Still, the Red Sox are probably best served going to the free agent market for this offseason.