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Red Sox notebook

For now, prospects are murky

Email|Print| Text size + By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / December 5, 2007

NASHVILLE - Justin Masterson has been married barely a month - since Nov. 3 - and already his life might be up in the air. That's because, like Jon Lester and Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie and Michael Bowden and Ryan Kalish, Masterson has seen his name surface in the ongoing story of the winter meetings, the Johan Santana trade talks.

Though the parts have been fluid over the past week in discussions between the Twins and Red Sox, those players have been the ones facing headlines and uncertainty. And possibly a new home, or at least a switch in Fort Myers, Fla., spring training venues.

"As far as trade talks, I know absolutely nothing except for the rumors that get thrown around in the news," Masterson wrote in an e-mail just prior to the start of the winter meetings. "It makes for fun entertainment. But anything could happen."

While Lester, Crisp, and Ellsbury are well-known to Red Sox fans, here's the scouting report on those other names in a potential deal, though the proposals could change.

Masterson, a 6-foot-6-inch righthander who spent a year in Tony Gwynn's baseball program at San Diego State and was drafted in the second round in 2006, shot through the organization last season. He went from high Single A Lancaster to Double A Portland midway through the season. He has been starting in the minor leagues but could move to a relief role, where he would be able to showcase his excellent sinkerball.

In his words, he'd like to grade out as a Derek Lowe-type pitcher, and the 22-year-old spent much of last season working to improve his changeup to try to get to that point. He won 10 straight games, his final six with the JetHawks and his first four with the Sea Dogs, before running into a bit of trouble in the final month.

Lowrie, a 23-year-old Stanford-educated shortstop, has his boosters and detractors, the boosters mainly focusing on his stellar offensive skills and plate discipline and the detractors focusing on his defensive shortcomings, especially his range.

He probably projects as a second baseman in the majors, and his bat looks good enough to get him there. He hit .300 in 40 games with Pawtucket and .298 between Double A and Triple A last season. Think a Kevin Youkilis type with the stick.

Bowden dominated in a severely skewed (toward the batter) environment in Lancaster (2-0, 1.37 ERA in eight starts), then struggled in Portland (8-6, 4.28 in 19 starts), which confused even him, he acknowledged during the season. But he's still young, just 21, and could turn into a very good righthanded starter in the major leagues, with an unorthodox delivery. He needs more time to develop in the minors, and probably wouldn't be ready for the majors until 2009.

Kalish's name was brought up yesterday for the first time, in an ESPN report. The outfielder, 19, was a ninth-round draft choice in 2006 (but fell that far only because of signability). He's a speedy base stealer and was a favorite of manager Gary DiSarcina at short-season Lowell.

But Kalish broke his hamate bone July 16 after a red-hot streak and, after waiting to see if the bone would heal on its own, underwent surgery late in the season. He should be ready for next year.

Other business

While Santana is clearly the front-runner for the attention of the Red Sox, the team does have other matters to attend to at the Opryland Hotel. General manager Theo Epstein said, "We're going to meet shortly after you guys [the media] are gone and distribute assignments to our scouts for the evening, check in with other teams on smaller deals, make sure we don't miss any opportunities because of any one potential transaction." . . . Ellsbury has made a change in his representation from Joe Urbon to Scott Boras.

Lamb is expensive

The Sox, in the market for a lefthanded bat who can back up Kevin Youkilis at first, figure free agent Mike Lamb, the former Astro, is out of their price range and probably will sign somewhere else as an everyday player. One option is Brandon Moss, though the outfielder is seeing limited time at first base in the Dominican . . . The paucity of catching has the Sox contemplating bringing back Doug Mirabelli next season . . . David Ortiz won his fifth straight Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, taking the honor unanimously. Ortiz matched the number of times Edgar Martinez won the award before it was named for him in 2004. Ortiz does become became the first player to win it in five consecutive seasons.

Gordon Edes of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

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