Yankees vs. Red Sox: First Base Prospects

Continuing our comparisons between the Yankees and Red Sox farm systems, we take a look at the crop of first base prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two rival AL East farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: Considering both organizations are known for their corner power hitters at the big league level and each possessing one of the better farm systems, it is a little ironic that neither farm system has a great deal of depth at the first base position, especially in Boston's case.

The Red Sox really only have one legit first base prospect in Lars Anderson who, despite his recent struggles, still projects to be a potential impact bat tailor-made for Fenway Park. He has great plate discipline, he draws a lot of walks, has a good opposite field swing, and above average power potential. Outside of him, however, Boston has a pretty bare cupboard when it comes to first basemen.

It's not as if New York is flush with first base prospects either, however, even though they do have considerably more depth than Boston. That is more of an indictment on the lack of depth the Red Sox have at the position. The Yankees have a quartet of first base prospects who could ultimately make some noise at the big league level; Reymond Nunez, Tyler Austin, Brandon Laird, and Kyle Roller -- none of which are rock-solid, no-brainers to reach their potential though.

The first base prospect with arguably the highest ceiling in either organization is Dominican native Reymond Nunez. Possessing 70 'now' power on the traditional scout's scale with the potential to get even better should his bat come around more consistently, he has prodigious power to all fields from the right side. A little susceptible to better breaking pitches, however, he is the kind of hitter who needs to stay short with his swing. The potential is sky-high but there are question marks about the 21-year old reaching anywhere close to his talent level.

The Yankees have a pair of minor league third basemen in Brandon Laird and Tyler Austin who both have seen significant action at first base because neither really profiles to be much more than a serviceable defensive third baseman at the big league level someday. Laird hit 16 home runs in Triple-A last season, a year after winning the 2010 Double-A Eastern League MVP award that saw him hit .293 with 21 home runs for the Trenton Thunder.

He has power and he has shown an ability to hit for average too, but he's not overly patient at the plate and some scouts feel that could be exposed at the big league level, and that leads to many believing he'd be better suited as a starting corner guy for a second division team long-term.

Austin hit .354 between two short-season league teams in what was essentially his professional debut season last year, swiping 18 bases without getting caught and showing a bit more athleticism than Laird had at similar stages at the minor league level. It's because of that better agility that he does project to have a better chance at sticking at third or moving to a corner outfield spot, but while he does possess good power, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to secure a starting corner spot long-term.

Roller hit a combined .287 with 31 doubles and 16 home runs between two A-ball levels in 2011 in his first taste of the long-season leagues last year and shows a bit more patience than both Laird and Austin even though the walk totals might not suggest it. A left-handed batter, he too has question marks about his long-term power potential to be a starting big league first baseman in the AL East but there's some ceiling here worth tracking and he's shown an ability to get better defensively.

Outside of those five prospects between the two organizations, however, there's merely a list of first basemen who project better as organizational type players than realistic long-term, big league options in markets like Boston and New York. Boston's Reynaldo Rodriguez, a former Yankees prospect, and Travis Shaw are both intriguing because they have some solid power potential and can hit for average, but each has some limiting factors that project them to be more organizational type players than prospects.

Rodriguez, a Dominican native, isn't the most patient hitter in the world and while the power has been solid at the minor league level, at 6-foot and just 190 pounds and already 26 years old, he doesn't have much power projection long-term. Shaw, a third baseman by trade in college, doesn't have great range nor has he has played a ton of first base yet, and while the offensive potential is intriguing, it isn't the plus tool it needs to be to play corner infield for a team like the Red Sox.

The Yankees have 30-year old Mexican native Jorge Vazquez who hit 32 home runs in Triple-A last year but he's not really a prospect anymore because of his advanced age. They also have left-handed hitting Rob Lyerly and right-handed bat Luke Murton. Both have proven to be productive minor league hitters but neither has the plus power potential to project as first base options for the Yankees someday.

If there's one young first baseman in either organization who should be tracked but is not quite on the radar yet it is New York's Austin "Bubba" Jones. A seventh round pick out of high school last year, the left-handed batter has some intriguing long-term offensive potential but he's really just starting his career and has a lot to prove to get into the elite first base prospect category just yet.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: The adage 'there's strength in numbers' certainly comes into play here. While Lars Anderson could theoretically have the best power impact for either club long-term, it's just not enough to compete with the Yankees' depth here right now between Nunez, Laird, Austin, Roller, etc. Advantage: Yankees

Hitting For Average: The same lack of depth hurts Boston here too. Laird, Austin, and Roller have shown they can hit for good average thus far in their careers and there's some intriguing potential with Nunez and Jones too. Advantage: Yankees

Defense: This is really a toss-up category as there really isn't one standout defensive first baseman in either organization among the legit first base prospects. Anderson is solid for Boston but New York, while they have better depth, doesn't have a standout defensive guy either. Advantage: Even

Overall Potential: As it stands right now, there really isn't one first base prospect in either organization that projects to be in the long-term big league plans for either club. Lars Anderson has arguably the best shot of any of them right now but even he is probably better suited for a second division team. That could change, however, should Tyler Austin continue to hit his way up the minor league ladder and stick at first base. The Yankees have a few more proverbial balls in the hopper whereas Boston has put their eggs in the Lars Anderson basket. Advantage: Yankees

Highest Ceilings: Reymond Nunez (Yankees), Lars Anderson (Red Sox), Tyler Austin (Yankees), Brandon Laird (Yankees), Kyle Roller (Yankees)

Best Power: Reymond Nunez (Yankees), Brandon Laird (Yankees), Lars Anderson (Red Sox), Tyler Austin (Yankees), Kyle Roller (Yankees)

Best Average: Tyler Austin Yankees), Lars Anderson (Red Sox), Kyle Roller (Yankees), Brandon Laird (Yankees), Reymond Nunez (Yankees)

Best Defense: Lars Anderson (Yankees), Kevin Mahoney (Yankees), Kyle Roller (Yankees), Tyler Austin (Yankees), Reymond Nunez (Yankees)

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\r\n \r\n\r\nThe Two Farm Systems: Considering both organizations are known for their corner power hitters at the big league level and each possessing one of the better farm systems, it is a little ironic that neither farm system has a great deal of depth at the first base position, especially in Boston's case.
\r\n
\r\nThe Red Sox really only have one legit first base prospect in Lars Anderson who, despite his recent struggles, still projects to be a potential impact bat tailor-made for Fenway Park. He has great plate discipline, he draws a lot of walks, has a good opposite field swing, and above average power potential. Outside of him, however, Boston has a pretty bare cupboard when it comes to first basemen.
\r\n
\r\nIt's not as if New York is flush with first base prospects either, however, even though they do have considerably more depth than Boston. That is more of an indictment on the lack of depth the Red Sox have at the position. The Yankees have a quartet of first base prospects who could ultimately make some noise at the big league level; Reymond Nunez, Tyler Austin, Brandon Laird, and Kyle Roller -- none of which are rock-solid, no-brainers to reach their potential though.
\r\n
\r\nThe first base prospect with arguably the highest ceiling in either organization is Dominican native Reymond Nunez. Possessing 70 'now' power on the traditional scout's scale with the potential to get even better should his bat come around more consistently, he has prodigious power to all fields from the right side. A little susceptible to better breaking pitches, however, he is the kind of hitter who needs to stay short with his swing. The potential is sky-high but there are question marks about the 21-year old reaching anywhere close to his talent level.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees have a pair of minor league third basemen in Brandon Laird and Tyler Austin who both have seen significant action at first base because neither really profiles to be much more than a serviceable defensive third baseman at the big league level someday. Laird hit 16 home runs in Triple-A last season, a year after winning the 2010 Double-A Eastern League MVP award that saw him hit .293 with 21 home runs for the Trenton Thunder.
\r\n
\r\nHe has power and he has shown an ability to hit for average too, but he's not overly patient at the plate and some scouts feel that could be exposed at the big league level, and that leads to many believing he'd be better suited as a starting corner guy for a second division team long-term.
\r\n
\r\nAustin hit .354 between two short-season league teams in what was essentially his professional debut season last year, swiping 18 bases without getting caught and showing a bit more athleticism than Laird had at similar stages at the minor league level. It's because of that better agility that he does project to have a better chance at sticking at third or moving to a corner outfield spot, but while he does possess good power, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to secure a starting corner spot long-term.
\r\n
\r\nRoller hit a combined .287 with 31 doubles and 16 home runs between two A-ball levels in 2011 in his first taste of the long-season leagues last year and shows a bit more patience than both Laird and Austin even though the walk totals might not suggest it. A left-handed batter, he too has question marks about his long-term power potential to be a starting big league first baseman in the AL East but there's some ceiling here worth tracking and he's shown an ability to get better defensively.
\r\n
\r\nOutside of those five prospects between the two organizations, however, there's merely a list of first basemen who project better as organizational type players than realistic long-term, big league options in markets like Boston and New York. Boston's Reynaldo Rodriguez, a former Yankees prospect, and Travis Shaw are both intriguing because they have some solid power potential and can hit for average, but each has some limiting factors that project them to be more organizational type players than prospects.
\r\n
\r\nRodriguez, a Dominican native, isn't the most patient hitter in the world and while the power has been solid at the minor league level, at 6-foot and just 190 pounds and already 26 years old, he doesn't have much power projection long-term. Shaw, a third baseman by trade in college, doesn't have great range nor has he has played a ton of first base yet, and while the offensive potential is intriguing, it isn't the plus tool it needs to be to play corner infield for a team like the Red Sox.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees have 30-year old Mexican native Jorge Vazquez who hit 32 home runs in Triple-A last year but he's not really a prospect anymore because of his advanced age. They also have left-handed hitting Rob Lyerly and right-handed bat Luke Murton. Both have proven to be productive minor league hitters but neither has the plus power potential to project as first base options for the Yankees someday.
\r\n
\r\nIf there's one young first baseman in either organization who should be tracked but is not quite on the radar yet it is New York's Austin \"Bubba\" Jones. A seventh round pick out of high school last year, the left-handed batter has some intriguing long-term offensive potential but he's really just starting his career and has a lot to prove to get into the elite first base prospect category just yet.
\r\n
\r\nHow Do They Compare In...
\r\n
\r\nPower: The adage 'there's strength in numbers' certainly comes into play here. While Lars Anderson could theoretically have the best power impact for either club long-term, it's just not enough to compete with the Yankees' depth here right now between Nunez, Laird, Austin, Roller, etc. Advantage: Yankees
\r\n
\r\nHitting For Average: The same lack of depth hurts Boston here too. Laird, Austin, and Roller have shown they can hit for good average thus far in their careers and there's some intriguing potential with Nunez and Jones too. Advantage: Yankees
\r\n
\r\nDefense: This is really a toss-up category as there really isn't one standout defensive first baseman in either organization among the legit first base prospects. Anderson is solid for Boston but New York, while they have better depth, doesn't have a standout defensive guy either. Advantage: Even
\r\n
\r\nOverall Potential: As it stands right now, there really isn't one first base prospect in either organization that projects to be in the long-term big league plans for either club. Lars Anderson has arguably the best shot of any of them right now but even he is probably better suited for a second division team. That could change, however, should Tyler Austin continue to hit his way up the minor league ladder and stick at first base. The Yankees have a few more proverbial balls in the hopper whereas Boston has put their eggs in the Lars Anderson basket. Advantage: Yankees
\r\n
\r\nHighest Ceilings: Reymond Nunez (Yankees), Lars Anderson (Red Sox), Tyler Austin (Yankees), Brandon Laird (Yankees), Kyle Roller (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Power: Reymond Nunez (Yankees), Brandon Laird (Yankees), Lars Anderson (Red Sox), Tyler Austin (Yankees), Kyle Roller (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Average: Tyler Austin Yankees), Lars Anderson (Red Sox), Kyle Roller (Yankees), Brandon Laird (Yankees), Reymond Nunez (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Defense: Lars Anderson (Yankees), Kevin Mahoney (Yankees), Kyle Roller (Yankees), Tyler Austin (Yankees), Reymond Nunez (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\n

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