Minors report: Busy times for Hazen

Minors report: Busy times for Hazen

Hot topic: With Minor League games under way, the days get a little longer for Red Sox director of player development Mike Hazen and his staff.

Workouts begin in the morning and games start around 1 p.m. ET. With five teams to monitor every day, it can be a bit of a juggling act.

Hazen is watching the development of the club's top prospects and "gauging their readiness for the season. And we'll have some decisions to make on making clubs. That's a focus, too. We have to really hone in on and make the right decisions."

For several years, the knock on Boston's farm system was that there just wasn't much there. After several successful drafts, that has changed.

It's possible the Sox could have three former first-round picks -- Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and David Murphy -- on the big-league roster at some point this season, with Jacoby Ellsbury right behind them.

Hazen's goal is to make sure players in the Minors can make an impact on the big-league club.

"There's going to be trades, injuries, things that happen," said Hazen. "But if we can develop a depth, then we'll be able to compensate for that to a degree. If you have one or two players and then there's an injury and a trade, what are you looking at? Whereas, if you have six players and an injury and a trade, you still have three or four players still coming. That's the goal long term, to continue to provide that year-over-year depth of talent to the upper levels that ultimately [general manager] Theo [Epstein] needs to get done at the big-league level with these guys."

Ellsbury, the speedy outfielder, is likely the Sox prospect who has drawn the most recent interest, with pitcher Clay Buchholz and outfielders Brandon Moss and Murphy also gathering some attention.

On the move: Hazen had good words for right-hander Justin Masterson, the Sox's second-round pick from San Diego State in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

"He's come in and been everything that's advertised when we drafted him," Hazen said. "He works hard. He's a great teammate. He has good stuff. Everything that the scouts identified has been true. He's progressing nicely. He'll be an interesting guy coming out and starting the season."

Names in the game: After a recent workout, former Sox infielders Frank Malzone and Tommie Harper talked about working with the younger players.

"Kids are the same today," Harper said. "It's not different. It's still baseball."

"You try to get into their heads what to expect when they get to the big leagues," Malzone said. "Some will relate to us, others do their thing. We try to make the path a little smoother for them. We try to let them know it's not just on the field. It's off the field, too. And don't get a reputation for someone who doesn't work. Everybody's watching."

On the pine: There were no significant injuries in the Minor League camp last week, Hazen said.

They're No. 1: Jason Place, the Sox's first-round draft pick last year, is doing well this spring after a solid Gulf Coast League season.

"There's still some things we're ironing out mechanically from an overall setup offensively," Hazen said. "But he works hard every day and is coming along nicely, making steady improvements day in and day out."

Pitcher Daniel Bard, the club's second pick in the '06 first round, recently threw his first three-inning outing.

"The development of his secondary stuff is what we need to continue to improve upon," Hazen said.

Class of '06: Hazen said pitcher Kris Johnson, who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, will see an increased workload this season. Right-hander Caleb Clay, who began pitching his senior year in high school, has shown good arm strength and the ability to have a good fastball, breaking ball and changeup. Bryce Cox, coming off a change in arm slot last year, is showing progress in maintaining his mechanics.

What they're saying: "It was very -- what's the word -- just all good stuff. Whatever the word is, they were very complimentary, very happy with my performance." -- Right-hander Kyle Jackson, on his first big-league camp

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.