SoxProspects: Up-and-coming outfielders

In the outfield, the Red Sox have a handful of prospects that could develop into impact major leaguers, although none are sure bets at this stage.

The club also has some solid depth at the upper levels of the system, whether in the form of major-league veterans who will serve as big-league insurance or minor-league veterans who project as contributing major-league role players. There’s some room for upward advancement to the big club as well, as only Carl Crawford is signed to a long-term deal; Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Sweeney are under club control through 2013, and Cody Ross will be a free agent next offseason.

With that, here’s a look at the top outfield prospects in the Red Sox minor league system.

Ryan Kalish (Age: 23)

How acquired: Drafted in the ninth round in 2006 ($600,000 signing bonus)

2011 stats: .228 AVG/.291 OBP/.293 SLG with 0 home runs for Triple-A Pawtucket and short-season Lowell (rehab assignment) (92 at-bats total)

2012 status: On 40-man roster, 2 options remaining. Kalish will begin the season rehabbing from labrum surgery in extended spring training, and should rejoin Pawtucket in May or June.

Scouting report: Kalish is an excellent athlete with a solid build, good bat speed and lots of quickness. He plays the game at full tilt, which makes him a fan favorite, but has also contributed to injury. He makes average contact to all fields, has decent power, solid plate discipline and above-average speed. He also has a high baseball IQ with a tough demeanor and a high compete level. In the field, he has a reliable glove, excellent range, an average arm and average accuracy. He plays all three outfield positions well. Kalish tends to be a very popular player with coaches, teammates and the front office. He’s missed substantial time during his career with various injuries, and that lost development time could be detrimental to his major-league potential. That being said, he’s still just 23 and already has 53 big-league games under his belt. He’s slated to return to the field with Pawtucket in May or June this season and could contribute to the big club in September.

Projection: Versatile third/fourth outfielder for a first-division club

Ceiling: All-Star outfielder

Floor: Injury-derailed career

Bryce Brentz (23)

How acquired: Drafted in the supplemental first round in 2010 ($889,200 signing bonus)

2011 stats: .306/.365/.574 with 30 home runs for High-A Salem and Low-A Greenville

2012 status: Minor-league camp. Should break camp with Double-A Portland.

Scouting report: Brentz is a solid athlete with a well-developed power hitter’s body. After showing star potential in college, he struggled upon initial exposure to pro ball in 2010, but made nice adjustments in 2011. Offensively, he has plus bat speed and generates strong lift, but he’s ultra-aggressive at the plate and needs to improve his pitch selection. He’s gotten away with chasing hard breaking balls off the plate and taking advantage of mistake pitches in A-ball, but he will eventually be tested by Double-A pitching. Overall, he projects to hit for high power to all fields with a mediocre batting average. If he hones his approach, he could become a solid-average contact hitter. He has slightly below-average speed on the basepaths and range in the outfield. Defensively, he has a plus arm that should keep him in right field. He will need to improve his routes and judgment when charging balls.

Projection: Second-division third outfielder

Ceiling: All-Star outfielder

Floor: Fringe major leaguer

Brandon Jacobs (21)

How acquired: Drafted in the 10th round in 2009 ($750,000 signing bonus)

2011 stats: .303/.376/.505 with 17 home runs and 20 stolen bases for Greenville

2012 status: Minor-league camp. Will start 2012 with Salem.

Scouting report: Prior to signing with the Red Sox, Jacobs was a football commit to Auburn who focused his future on football rather than baseball. Raw upon entering the organization, he has shown strong baseball acumen and ability to incorporate adjustments. He has an ideal power hitter's frame and his body has been evolving into that of a baseball player. Jacobs has a fluid swing with plus bat speed generated from strong hands and lower body torque. However, his swing is on the long side and he can hit out on his front foot too much. The outfielder has plus power potential, a decent plate approach that still needs refinement, fringe-average pitch recognition and above-average speed. In the field, Jacobs is a tick below average, with an average arm, solid-average range and subpar ability to make reads. He projects as a left fielder, meaning his offense will need to carry him.

Projection: Second-division third outfielder

Ceiling: All-Star outfielder

Floor: Double-A player

Jackie Bradley, Jr. (21)

How acquired: Drafted in the supplemental first round in 2011 ($1,100,000 signing bonus)

2011 stats: .250/.325/.361 with 1 home run for Greenville and Lowell (36 at-bats total)

2012 status: Minor-league camp. On the bubble between Salem and Greenville.

Scouting report: At one point considered a mid-to-high first-round pick, Bradley fell to the supplemental round due to a poor start to the 2011 season with the University of South Carolina in which he hit .259 in 37 games, followed by a tendon injury in his left wrist that ended his season. Hitting from an open stance, he closes down well on pitch approach to keep himself balanced. He has quick and fluid hands, solid bat control and generates plus bat speed. His swing has slight upward plane through the hitting zone, but is a little on the long side. Bradley can struggle with balls on the middle third due to over-extension. If he builds a professional approach and learns to hit to all fields, he projects as a plus hitter for average with average power and speed. He’s polished defensively and will likely stick in center field. The 21-year-old displays a plus arm, strong natural instincts and makes excellent reads.

Projection: Second-division fourth outfielder

Ceiling: First-division starter

Floor: Double-A player

Alex Hassan (24)

How acquired: Drafted in the 20th round in 2009 ($90,000 signing bonus)

2011 stats: .291/.404/.456 with 13 home runs for Portland

2012 status: Non-roster invitee reassigned to minor-league camp on March 23. On the bubble to break camp with either Portland and Pawtucket. He’s ready for Triple-A, but may be assigned to Portland due to an outfield logjam in Pawtucket.

Scouting report: Hassan is a local product from Milton, Mass. A two-way player in college, he was drafted as a pitcher but impressed enough in the Cape Cod League in 2009 that the Sox decided that he may be better suited as an outfielder. He has outstanding plate patience and strike-zone judgment, but his swing is on the long side and he can struggle against high-velocity fastballs. Hassan has a great ability to grind out at-bats, somewhat reminiscent of Kevin Youkilis. However, he has an average power ceiling, given that he doesn’t get enough lower body into his swing. He also has fringe-average speed. Defensively, he has slightly below-average range, makes slow reads, has an adequate glove and a strong and accurate arm. He may not have the range to play right field in Fenway Park. If he’s to make the majors as a left fielder, he’ll need to incorporate more power into his offensive game, which could mean retooling his swing mechanics.

Projection: Up & down major leaguer

Ceiling: Second-division starter

Floor: Fringe major leaguer

Others to watch: Che-Hsuan Lin (projects as a valuable defensive-minded fifth outfielder, may be better suited for National League), Jeremy Hazelbaker (impressive speed and power combination, below-average contact hitter), Henry Ramos (terrific athlete from Puerto Rico with high overall ceiling), Williams Jerez (2011 second round pick out of Brooklyn), Kendrick Perkins (20-year-old left fielder with massive frame and high power ceiling), J.C. Linares (27-year-old international signee out of Cuba), Jason Repko (major-league veteran could break camp with Boston), Josh Kroeger (more major-league insurance for Pawtucket), Daniel Nava (same), Matt Marquis (sleeper likely to begin season with Greenville).