Minors report: Moss' Monster thoughts
Left-handed-hitting prospect working on opposite-field hits
Hot topic: Brandon Moss isn't being presumptuous. The Minor League outfielder is just being prepared.
The left-handed hitter, who hopes to call Fenway Park home in the not too distant future, spends a lot of time trying to hit to the opposite field.
"When you have Fenway in mind, you have a lot of forgiveness in left field," said Moss. "I'm just trying to stay consistent with going the other way. At the same time, you don't want to be too focused on that, because then you lose the other side of the plate."
In Saturday's Grapefruit League contest against the Phillies, Moss got the start in right field and belted a homer to left-center against Adam Eaton. He also made a fine running catch.
The Red Sox drafted Moss out of Loganville (Ga.) High School in 2002, and he has made a steady progression in the club's Minor League system. After playing every day for Double-A Portland the past two seasons, Moss will likely move up to Triple-A Pawtucket this year.
"I mean, you're a little more comfortable, but at the same time, you haven't been there, so you're a little cautious," said Moss. "It's fun, though. [I'm] definitely a lot more relaxed than last year, that's for sure."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona has taken an interest in Moss.
"A lot of guys in the organization, including [Portland manager] Todd Claus -- who has seen him more than anybody, and I have a lot of respect for his opinions -- think this kid is going to turn into an everyday player in the Major Leagues," said Francona. "That's a pretty good compliment. He's the type of kid, we'll give him as much playing time as we can in spring and then turn him loose and let him go play, see how he does."
On the move: Catcher George Kottaras was one of the earliest players to report to camp, and Francona thinks that the hard work has already paid off.
"He came down early and worked with [bullpen coach Gary] Tuck," Francona said. "I think it has really helped his development. Now, nothing will help his development like playing games. But he's come a long way in a short period of time, because he really hasn't caught that much. But he's a left-handed bat, got some arm strength, not incredible, but plenty to be a catcher. This is kind of exciting to watch him mature. He's already made some strides, just in a month.
Kottaras was a third baseman before turning pro.
Another prospect to keep an eye on is third baseman Chad Spann, who hit .294 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs at Double-A Portland last year.
Spann had a rough start to Spring Training, committing two errors in Boston's exhibition opener against the Twins. But he recovered nicely, smashing a game-tying two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday against the Phillies.
"I bet you he was happy," Francona said. "I think he took a deep breath. That's all part of it. We can tell him until we're blue in the face and he's just going to nod and say OK, but it's nice to see him get a hit where he feels good about himself. I can guarantee you he'll go call home and he'll feel a little better."
On the pine: Right-hander Craig Hansen, who could start the year at Triple-A Pawtucket, has been slowed during the spring with a bad back. Hansen has recently started throwing again and could make his exhibition season debut by Wednesday.
They're No. 1: Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston's first pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, has had his ups and downs during his first Major League camp. His debut on Wednesday was particularly interesting.
"He hits the ball, big base hit, rounds first. With the speed he has, he probably needs to be on second," said Francona. "[He] holds up a little bit. Then, four pitches into the at-bat, takes off on a lefty he's never seen. And, again, because of his speed and because of a drop at first, he's safe at second. It's a great learning experience. Every time something happens to him here, there's a chance he's going to learn from it -- which is good. It looks like it's fun for him to run."
David Murphy (2003) has looked noticeably more comfortable in his second camp with the Red Sox.
"He just looks like he's maturing right in front of our eyes," Francona said. "He's obviously stronger. The ball comes off his bat better."
Tidbits: Veteran catcher Alberto Castillo got off to a solid start offensively, producing two hits in his first five at-bats. ... Non-roster invitee Alex Ochoa has made a smooth return from a four-year stint in Japan, making several impressive throws from right field.
What they're saying: "He's a good hitter. He's the type of hitter that, in my view, can hit Major League pitching. He's lunching up on some average Triple-A pitching. This guy looks like he could hit some good pitching." -- Francona, on Jeff Bailey, who recently made the transition from catcher to first base
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.