Red Sox Prospect No. 7: Lars Anderson

Editor's Note: Diehard Magazine is in the midst of its third annual countdown of the top 50 prospects in the Red Sox chain today. Subscribe to our print magazine in order to learn even more on the top 50! Today: The countdown continues with the no. 7 prospect, first baseman Lars Anderson.

Jason McLeod has heard all the criticism: The Red Sox can land players such as Lars Anderson—first-round talents who slip into the teens or beyond due to their bonus demands—because of their deep pockets.

And it's starting to bother the typically unflappable McLeod.

"It [was] a big misconception last year that Lars Anderson was unsignable," McLeod said last July. "And our area scout [Blair Henry] did a tremendous job of getting to know Lars. We took him later in the draft and we really got to know Lars Anderson and we got to show him what the Boston Red Sox were all about. So this kid ended up signing for much less than what the scouting community thought it would take.

"Now, when you look a year later and see what he's doing as a 19-year-old at Greenville, [people] are like ‘Wow, how did this guy last that long? Signability?' And you can say all you want about ‘They're the Boston Red Sox, they just overpaid, they just overpaid. For that round, did we overpay? Obviously, we did.

"But we also did our homework and a lot of other teams didn't. And that's why we have a Lars Anderson."

Anderson proved worthy of not only the investment—the Sox, who took him out of a California high school in the 18th round of the 2006 draft, reportedly gave him a signing bonus of $825,000—but also McLeod's passionate defense. At 19, Anderson made his professional debut at Single-A Greenville and immediately impressed the Sox with a maturity—on and off the field—and power potential more likely to be seen out of someone with three or four years of college under his belt.

In addition to hitting.288 with 48 extra-base hits in 458 at-bats and a walk-to-strikeout ratio of 71/112, Anderson impressed Greenville observers with how easily he adapted to life as a professional. He hit better than .300 in every month but July, when he hit .194, but he followed that by hitting .328 in 67 at-bats in August to earn a promotion to Lancaster.

"Very encouraged by the performance," Sox director of player development Mike Hazen said. "His inherent knowledge of the strike zone is very advanced for his age. He brought that to the table from the second he stepped into camp."

While the Sox like his plate approach, they'd like to see him act more aggressively in certain situations and to begin hitting the ball to all fields. He provided a glimpse at an ability to make those adjustments during his late-season cameo at Lancaster, where he hit .343 with nine RBI and more walks (11) than strikeouts (nine).

Anderson will begin this season at Lancaster, where the strapping left-handed hitter (he's listed at 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds) is a good bet to enjoy a monster season in the California League. And with Jacoby Ellsbury sure to open the season with the Sox and Brandon Moss likely to be the first player recalled by the Sox if he doesn't begin the year on the big league roster, Anderson should be the top position player prospect in the chain by mid-May. With his power and textbook first baseman's build, he projects as a difference-making first baseman—and the eventual successor to Kevin Youkilis—by no later than 2011.

"We're happy with where he's at," Hazen said.

And 29 other teams, presumably, are not.


Previous prospects ranked No. 7:
2007: Michael Bowden, P
2006: David Murphy, OF (ranked no. 4 in 2007)
2005: Abe Alvarez, P (ranked no. 15 in 2006)


DIEHARD 2008 TOP 50 PROSPECTS
50.) Travis Beazley, P
49.) Beau Vaughan, P
48.) Ty Weeden, C
47.) Mike Jones, 1B
46.) Tommy Hottovy, P
45.) Chad Spann, 3B
44.) Yamaico Navarro, SS
43.) Chad Rhoades, P
42.) Mike James, P
41.) Jay Johnson, OF
40.) Jeff Natale, IF
39.) George Kottaras, C
38.) Bryce Cox, P
37.) Daniel Haigwood, P
36.) Che-Hsuan Lin, OF
35.) Edgar Martinez, P
34.) Andrew Pinckney, 3B
33.) Dusty Brown, C
32.) Jason Place, OF
31.) Jeff Corsaletti, OF
30.) Argenis Diaz, SS
29.) Daniel Bard, P
28.) Brock Huntzinger, P
27.) Adam Mills, P
26.) David Pauley, P
25.) David Mailman, OF
24.) Anthony Rizzo, 1B
23.) Chris Province, P
22.) Bubba Bell, OF
21.) Hunter Jones, P
20.) Zach Daeges, OF
19.) Jon Still, C/1B
18.) Oscar Tejeda, SS
17.) Reid Engel, OF
16.) Kris Johnson, P
15.) Chris Carter, 1B/DH
14.) Ryan Dent, SS
13.) Mark Wagner, C
12.) Josh Reddick, OF
11.) Dustin Richardson, P
10.) Ryan Kalish, OF
9.) Nick Hagadone, P
8.) Aaron Bates, 1B
7.) Lars Anderson, 1B


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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