The 2012 season is almost over, and the Boston Red Sox are the biggest disappointment in all of baseball.
However, there are reasons to look forward to 2013.
Entering the year, the Red Sox farm system was mediocre, but by trading away several big name players, the Red Sox have replenished the farm.
Here are seven minor league stars that could make an impact in Boston next year.
Jose Iglesias, SS
While Jose Iglesias has more than struggled at the plate since being called up in August, he is still a special talent.
The two hits and .057 batting average he has through 15 games will improve. Even though Iglesias will never be known as an offensive threat, he is an exceptional defender at shortstop
Though I have my reservations regarding Iglesias’ ceiling, he is still only 22 years old and has room to improve as a hitter.
Bryce Brentz, OF
Bryce Brentz is a power-hitting outfielder who resembles current Red Sox right fielder, Cody Ross. Brentz is an average defensive outfielder who could serve well in the shallow left field at Fenway Park.
The 23-year-old’s swing is similar to Ross’ and should translate well in the majors.
If Brentz can continue to develop his plate discipline and stay healthy, there is an outside chance that he could become the everyday left fielder for Boston by the end of the 2013 season.
Matt Barnes, SP
After completing his first season of minor league baseball, Matt Barnes has solidified himself as one of the Red Sox prized pitching prospects.
The 6’4” righty showed that he has strikeout stuff to go along with above average command.
Though he only played in A-ball, don’t be surprised to see Barnes called up when rosters expand next September.
If he continues his rise through the system, Barnes could provide a spot start or bolster the bullpen if needed.
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF
While some compare Jackie Bradley Jr. to current Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, fans should wait before they get too excited.
Bradley Jr. is a great defensive outfielder, but he does not have the same elite speed that Ellsbury possesses and that is a major difference.
So far Bradley Jr. has done well in A-ball, but like Ellsbury he lacks power and size. Without the elite speed , the 22-year-old will need to improve his plate discipline if he is going to be an impact player at the big league level.
Alex Wilson, RP
After being a starter for most of his minor league career, Alex Wilson moved to the bullpen in 2012 and didn’t skip a beat.
The 25-year-old righty was a strikeout machine in Pawtucket recording 78 strikeouts in just 72.2 innings.
Between the combination of success and the fact that he is Rule-5 eligible next season, expect Wilson to fight for a role in the 2013 bullpen.
Allen Webster, SP
One of the players acquired in the trade with the Dodgers, Allen Webster will remind people of Derek Lowe.
The hard-throwing sinker-baller has a chance at starting next season depending on his offseason progress and what Ben Cherington does with the rotation in the offseason.
While I don’t expect Webster to start at the beginning of the season, if he transitions well to AAA, he could be called up if the team makes a trade or someone gets hurt.
Rubby De La Rosa, SP
The prize of the Dodgers trade was Rubby De La Rosa. The 23-year-old Dominican pitcher is the player-to-be-named-later, so even though he isn’t officially a Red Sox yet, he will be soon.
De La Rosa is an elite talent, something the Red Sox desperately needed. He can step in and start in 2013 and has proven that he has the stuff needed to be atop the rotation starter in the big leagues.
The flame-throwing-righty has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can amp it up to 99. Along with the dominating fastball, he has decent control over his curveball, slider and changeup.
In 2011, De La Rosa impressed with 60 strikeouts in 60.2 innings to go along with a 3.71 ERA.
If De La Rosa can work on his command, he could become the ace of the Red Sox pitching staff and be the player they have missed since Pedro Martinez left.