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January 20, 2011

The future at catcher looks bright for the Sox

CHESTNUT HILL — Catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway was named the Red Sox' 2010 minor league co-offensive Player of the Year, but he doesn't seem that impressed with himself.

"I was minor league offensive player of the year, but I'm still not a big leaguer," Lavarnway, 23, said after working out at the Red Sox Rookie Program at Boston College's Alumni Stadium yesterday.

Lavarnway was joined by 10 other Red Sox prospects, including another talented young catcher, Tim Federowicz. A philosophy major at Yale, Lavarnway hit an NCAA-leading .467 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs in 43 games as a sophomore.

He said he still must become a more consistent hitter and a better defensive catcher.

You are certainly going to hear Lavarnway's name a great deal in the coming years. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder might be the most promising Red Sox catching prospect.

He is being pushed by Federowicz, who was drafted in the seventh round in 2008, one round after Lavarnway.

Lavarnway sure can hit. He batted .288 with 22 home runs and 102 RBIs between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland last year. He then appeared in 21 games for Peoria of the Arizona Fall League and hit .268 with three homers and 12 RBIs.

Lavarnway also had a strong 2009 season at Single-A Greenville, hitting .285 with 21 homers and 87 RBIs.

"He's got a tremendous approach at the plate," Boston's Director of Player Development Mike Hazen said. "He's got good plate discipline. He's got right-handed raw power, which is something ... we haven't necessarily been the best at developing."

Federowicz, meanwhile, is a terrific defensive catcher but still must improve offensively. He hit .253 with four home runs and 61 RBIs and smashed a team-high 34 doubles at Salem this past season.

Lavarnway and Federowicz both likely are a couple of years away from being big-league ready but overall, Red Sox fans should be quite pleased to hear the organization is developing strong, young talent at catcher.

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