Red Sox Prospect No. 5: Brandon Moss

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. 5 prospect, outfielder Brandon Moss.

Brandon Moss has been tagged with just about every label a prospect can receive since he was selected by the Red Sox out of a Georgia high school in the eight round of the 2002 draft.

He was raw and anonymous when he hit just .226 with seven homers and more than there times as many strikeouts as walks in his first two seasons. Then he was the next big thing when he hit .353 with 15 homers, 111 RBI and 21 stolen bases as a 20-year-old at Single-A in 2004.

Then he was a disappointment when he spent a second consecutive season at Portland in 2006. And over the last year or so, as the likes of Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury surged through the system and the Sox stockpiled impressive teenaged talent via the draft and international free agent market, Moss has been viewed as a throwback to the days when the Sox drafted for depth instead of upside even as he led the International League with 59 extra-base hits and 41 doubles for Pawtucket before he held his own in a pair of big league trials.

Moss said he's not bothered by nor even cognizant of his low profile. "I've had my share of attention," he said last season. "But if I'm flying under the radar, I'm fine with that too. My job isn't necessarily to go out there and make headlines. It's to go out there and play the game."

He should be doing that in the majors this season. Moss is as close to a finished product as anyone in the system after collecting at least 500 at-bats in four consecutive seasons and playing winter ball the last three years.

Moss made impressive strides at Pawtucket, where he hit for far more power than he did the previous season at Portland (where he had 51 extra-base hits in 508 at-bats). His strikeout rate spiked, but so did his batting average on balls put into play—from .363 to .403. He also finished with at least 79 RBI for the third time in four seasons.

"Always, my main thing, whenever I'm in the game is I want to try and get the RBI when I can and drive the runs in," Moss said. "So anytime you can get better with runners in scoring position, I'd like to do that."

Moss said experience was a key factor in his success at Pawtucket. "I think what helped me more than going back to Portland [for a second year] was going to winter ball, because of the guys that you face," Moss said. "The starters there are usually Triple-A starters—they're going to throw the balls that [are] moving and they're going to be around the plate, but they're going to try and deceive you a little bit. Then the guys they bring in later in the game throw 98. So you've definitely got a wide variety there.

"And I think just seeing all those pitchers and having to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat there just to survive definitely benefited me more than anything."

There seems little doubt Moss could help a big league team right now. But with Manny Ramirez and J.D. Drew entrenched in the corners, there's no spot for him with the Sox. He was supposed to play some first base over the winter in Venezuela in preparation for possibly filling Eric Hinske's role on the bench, but he appeared in just one game at the position and the Sox signed Sean Casey to back up Kevin Youkilis.

The Sox' willingness to hold on to him thus far indicates he could follow in Youkilis' footsteps by playing sparingly and occupying a regular spot on the Boston-to-Pawtucket shuttle until a full-time job opens in Boston. Whenever and wherever Moss gets a full-time opportunity, don't be surprised at all if his growing pains prove minimal thanks to his slow and steady path to the majors.

Previous prospects ranked No. 5:
2007: Brandon Moss, OF
2006: Andy Marte, 3B (traded to Indians in January 2006)
2005: Jon Lester, P (ranked no. 2 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
6.) Michael Bowden, P
5.) Brandon Moss, OF


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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