As a Red Sox fan, you learn very early never grow attached to prospects. They're just as likely to end up as the centerpiece in a blockbuster as they are a future staple in the Sox line-up.
Sure, there are a few exceptions. Most recently Will Middlebrooks, then obviously guys like Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedrioa and Jon Lester. But for every one of them there's a Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Hansen, Justin Masterson, Anibal Sanchez, David Pauley, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and many more who get shipped out before ever making a serious impact.
The biggest example of the last 10 years?
None other than Hanley Ramirez.
Hanley was 16 when he signed with the Sox in the summer of 2000, and it wasn't long before he was touted as a future star the Sox most exciting home grown prospect since Nomar. But after only two big league at-bats, he was traded to Florida in exchange for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.
Of course, you know this already. You know that Ramirez went on to win the Rookie of the Year in his first season with the Marlins, and became one of the National League's most dynamic players. You know that in his first five years in Florida, Ramirez hit at least .300 with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases every single season. You know that he led the league in runs one year and won a batting title in another. You know he made three All-Star games and won two silver slugger awards.
You also know that he never would have made to Florida if Theo Epstein hadn't taken his sabbatical.
It's one of the worst kept secret in the Sox organization (and that's saying something): Theo never wanted to let Hanley get away. And for that reason not the mention the fact that he turned into such a superstar Ramirez is a guy I've always followed a lot closer than the hundreds of other former Sox prospect floating around the majors.
Even though he's never been known as a terrific guy, I've always been a Hanley Ramirez fan. And on the random occasion when the Sox and Marlins get together, it's always fun to grab a look at what could have been. Lately for Ramirez, that hasn't been much.
A shoulder injury derailed his 2011 (he hit only .243 with 10 homers in 92 games) and this season hasn't been much better. Well, the power number are back (he has 11 homers) but is only hitting .259.
We'll see if he can turn back the clock against the Sox tonight in Miami.
(For his career, Ramirez has played six games against the Sox and has been pretty quiet, hitting only .292 with one home run and one RBI.)