Who will be the next Ryan Lavarnway for the Red Sox?


Who will be the next Ryan Lavarnway?

The Red Sox drafted the right-handed hitting Lavarnway in the sixth round of the 2008 draft. Lavarnway, a catcher, rose through the minor league ranks with some impressive power numbers including 22 home runs between Salem and Portland in 2010 and then 32 between Portland and Pawtucket the following season.

Lavarnway was certainly on the fast track as Boston had a right-handed power hitting catcher on the horizon. Smooth out his defense a bit, give him a taste at the MLB level, and then have ten seasons of long ball. Too bad everything went off the rails for a prospect rated as high as number four in the system.

"Potential means you ain’t done nothing yet – Darrell Royal"

Lavarnway is done with the Red Sox unless they resign him somewhere in the future. So far the Dodgers cut him from their roster after a week and he was recently signed by the Cubs as he has now wandered into journeyman territory. Lavarnway’s Boston slash line was .201/.247/.315 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 301 plate appearances. Shades of former number one prospect Lars Anderson.

The Red Sox now have a wealth of talent in their system. Rafael Devers sits in the number four prospect seat once held by Lavarnway. The top prospect is, like Lavarnway, a catcher – Blake Swihart. I’m sure he is also “can’t miss.”

Henry Owens is now the number two rated prospect. The left-handed Owens has shown much promise and just maybe will be the next Felix Doubront (number three)?

Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley all have been either one or two in prospect rankings and in 2014 all had a forgettable season. Bogaerts will play short in 2015, Middlebrooks is now elsewhere and Bradley will be in some baseball purgatory until he sorts out his future. Maybe all three will someday have commendable careers? maybe not?

The fact is many high ranked prospects just flat-out fail. For every Jon Lester or Jonathan Papelbon there is a Michael Bowden or Craig Hansen. Some may eventually “get it” like Jorge De La Rosa and blossom elsewhere or get shipped out like Anthony Rizzo and recently returned Hanley Ramirez and become excellent MLB talent.

The Red Sox have been fortunate. You examine Sox Prospects over the last ten or so years and the Sox have produced some excellent players to be the core of the team, become valued trade chips or have a decent career before packing it in. The downside is nothing is a sure thing and certainly not for a top ranked prospect.