Iglesias represents Red Sox on prospect list
Despite injury-plagued year, young Cuban shortstop ranked 42nd
BOSTON -- Despite all the Red Sox gave up to land a top-flight first baseman, despite Jose Iglesias' injury-riddled season, both club and player still made it.
Iglesias, the 21-year-old shortstop who's drawn comparisons to Hanley Ramirez, is the Red Sox's lone representative on the annual MLB.com Top 50 Prospects list, revealed Tuesday night on MLB Network. He checked in at No. 42, three spots higher than he did in 2010.
A native of Cuba who signed a four-year, $8.25 million deal in September 2009, Iglesias was limited to just 70 regular-season games between Class A and Double-A in '10, his first Minor League season. He still hit a combined .295 with a .339 on-base percentage and 13 extra-base hits in 261 at-bats, but the missed time means his arrival at Fenway, at least in any permanent way, has been pushed back.
"Last year was a challenge, just because of the amount of time he lost," Red Sox director of player development Mike Hazen said. "I think we'll approach it the same we kind of went into last year: Coming into big league camp, he'll probably get a lot of reps early, just because he's the young shortstop in big league camp, which will be great for him. We'll see where he's at."
Iglesias' potential remains immense, and the Top 50 nomination is a reminder that despite what the Sox gave up to bring in Adrian Gonzalez -- prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes -- there's depth to their farm system.
MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects features only those who would receive rookie status in 2011 and is compiled from industry sources, taking into account skill sets, high upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, Iglesias was 19 when the Red Sox signed him, and he arrived as a top-flight athlete with a slick glove. Not since Ramirez was traded has Boston had a shortstop this dynamic in its farm system, and not since Nomar Garciaparra was traded have the Sox had a fixture at the position in the bigs.
Iglesias has a quick bat, but didn't display much in the way of patience last season, striking out 57 times while drawing only 15 walks. He hasn't shown power yet, either, but at Double-A Portland, he was often playing against competition several years older. Injury also took its toll: a stray pitch that found his right hand at the end of May landed him on the disabled list.
When he did face younger competition in a brief New York-Penn League stint, Iglesias came out of the gate with a nine-game hit streak, and he hit .350 in 13 games.
Defensively, Iglesias struggled at the start of the season, making seven errors by May 5. He settled, though, and didn't make another miscue until nearly six months later in the Arizona Fall League, where he finished with three errors in 17 games.
Even when counting the AFL, Iglesias totaled just 87 games last season, and that's really the most important stat for him going into 2011.
"He went through the second half of the season, the last month of the season, then in the Fall League and held his own and did well," Hazen said. "I know he's really motivated, talking to him this offseason about coming in in shape, making a good impression, knowing that he lost all that time last year."
The Red Sox could be aggressive and send Iglesias to Triple-A Pawtucket next season, or return him to Portland, at least for the start.
Said Hazen: "We're going to evaluate him over the course of Spring Training, and [we're going to do] what's going to be best for him this coming season."