04 April 2006

Lowrie & Buchholz: 2006 Prospect Watch

As was the case last season (with Papelbon and Moss), I'll be following a positional prospect, and a pitching one for the Red Sox this season. I've chosen to go with 2B/ SS Jed Lowrie, and SP Clay Buchholz. The way I'll do it is as such- Buchholz will get an update after every start. Lowrie, on the other hand, will be handled (more or less) every week. Folks who read the prospect updates last year know I got a little lax with it here and there- this season, I'm going to keep on top of it. In addition, I'll try to keep track of any news articles, interviews, or BA/ BP mentions I can find for either player, and post them in the updates.

JED LOWRIE, 2B/ SS | 6'0" | 185 LBS | B:S T:R | 22 YO

2005 (STA)_____224_______.317_____.416_____.594______41_____41______14
2005 (LOW)_____201_______.328_____.429_____.448______34_____30_______4

According to scouting reports, Lowrie is a plus fielder with great range and an above average arm for a middle infielder. Lowrie played SS in college at Stanford, and was moved to 2B for the majority of his time in Single-A Lowell last season. Drafted in the 2005 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox in the first round, Lowrie performed exceptionally well in his first 200 professional ABs, and was promoted to the Class-A (Advanced) Wilmington Blue Rocks this year, where he will be the team's starting SS. In a player profile from March of 2004 of Lowrie the collegiate player, Baseball America's Willy Kinsey details Lowrie's rise from middling recruit to centerpiece of the team's offense.

He's followed the Stanford ideal of pushing forward and getting better. He hit .500 in regional play last year before spending a summer in the Alaska League and then returning to campus to work out six days a week. He added six pounds to his 6-foot frame to boost his weight to 180.

"He always could get the bat on the ball, but he couldn't turn the outfielder's back," associate head coach Dean Stotz said. Now the switch-hitting Lowrie can make outfielders take a couple steps back when he steps to the plate, especially in key situations.

This spring, Lowrie was invited to big-league camp, in a somewhat surprising move. Lowrie picked up right where he left off last season, putting up a 429/ 556/ 786 line before being assigned to Wilmington. Jed appears to be doing a Player Journal for MiLB.com, where he'll answer questions from fans (an email link is provided in the story). No determinate length is given for how long Jed will do it, but there are two entries up so far.

Additionally, here is a scouting report from John Sickels' site, and an optimistic one that.

Lowrie projects to being a strong player, and while he didn't jump levels out of the gate like Pedroia did, this year should be a very key one in determining a bit more clearly Lowrie's ceiling. If he can master Carolina League pitching early, a promotion to AA shouldn't be an issue. He's not cooked if he struggles at Wilmington, but at 22, he needs to prove he can advance through the system.

Finally, here's an interview with Jed from David Laurila:

DL: You're a switch hitter. How do you compare from each side?

JL: I have more raw pop from the right side and am more consistent from the left. I'm natural from the right, but of course get more left-handed at-bats. Right now I'm trying as hard as I can to be consistently the same each way. If your swing is the same from each side, you can think the same way up at the plate -- you can always be making the same adjustments. The hardest thing about being a switch hitter is keeping both perfect. It takes a lot of swings to get your stroke where you want it to be, and a switch-hitter has to take twice as many to do that.

Lowrie was ranked as Boston's ninth best prospect by Baseball America.

CLAY BUCHHOLZ | RHP | 6'3" | 190 LBs | B:L T:R | 21 YO

2005 (COL)______1.05______0.85_____85.2______129______29________4.45
2005 (LOW)______2.61______1.04_____41.1_______45_______9________5.00

Buchholz is a big RHP with a mid-90's four seamer, a two seamer, a slider, curve and circle change. Buchholz started his collegiate career at McNeese State, before transferring to Angelina Community College, where he actually stood out as a pitcher and an outfielder. Buchholz spent his entire professional campaign in 2005 at Low-A Lowell after being drafted as the Red Sox' third pick in the first round of the draft. This year he will start the season in Middle-A Greenville, with the Drive in the South Atlantic League.

Here was MLB.com's scouting report on Draft Day last year:

Tall, lean, athletic body. Long arms. Slender hips. Similar to Gil Meche. Above avg velocity FB, quick, loose arm. Hard, sluvry-slider w/ 3/4 depth. Slower 3/4 break CB. Throws straight change-up. Aggressive approach. Attacks hitters and challenges w/ FB.

After being placed in Lowell, Buchholz was placed on a strict pitch count and usage regimen that was probably a smart idea after his logging 80+ IP already in the collegiate season. Buchholz, being a JUCO player, was a cheap sign for Boston.

Buchholz' strengths now are his control, his strikeout ability, and his wide arsenal of pitches. The four-seamer, two-seamer and slider, however, are the ones he works with regularly. The curve and circle change are compliment pitches. Buchholz was used with the pick received from New York for signing Pedro Martinez. If Buchholz shows an ability to continue to keep that K/9 above ~9.25, and limits his BBs in as pronounced a way as he has so far, he'll move up quickly. Buchholz has to get out fast in Greenville to advance this season.

Here's an interview with Buchholz from David Laurila:

DL: What type of pitcher do you consider yourself?

CB: I'm a power pitcher. I only hit 92 the other night, but I've topped out as high as 97 this year. I throw a lot of 2-seamers, which I like to work back over the plate. I'll also throw 4-seamers, mostly trying to get hitters to chase.

Buccholz was ranked as Boston's tenth best prospect by Baseball America.

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