Thigpen, 20, signed as a 16th-round pick out of an Alabama high school in 2000 and was considered one of the Boston system's better athletes. He went 6-6, 3.92 in 25 games at low Class A August in 2002, when he was bothered by a knot in the back of his shoulder. He was sidelined for stretches and relegated to the bullpen and strict pitch counts for most of the year. His 96-mph fastball was the best among Red Sox farmhands and he also has a solid average curveball. But he's also very raw in terms of his changeup, command and feel.
Considered the top position player in the system the previous two years, Blanco has seen his stock fallen considerably and was light years behind Shea Hillenbrand and Kevin Youkilis on Boston's depth chart. The 21-year-old Blanco, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1998, still has impressive power tools. His pop and infield arm remained the class of the Boston organization until the trade. But he has hit just .248 in two years of full-season ball, and his 148-23 strikeout-walk ratio during that time is even more damning. The Red Sox have worked extensively with him, and he'll show signs of making adjustments in batting practice, but Blanco doesn't carry his lessons into game action. His swing gets too long, and he flies open in his stance trying to pull pitches way out of the park. After shoulder problems cost him time in 2001, he was missed the first two months of 2002 when an errant pitch broke his left hand in spring training. He wound up hitting .221-6-32 in 65 games at Augusta. Blanco doesn't move especially well at third base, but he does have a cannon for an arm.
This was new Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein's first trade, and it reveals the new regime's emphasis on on-base percentage and pitchability, as opposed to raw tools. Thigpen and Blanco have high ceilings but also an extreme lack of polish, and thus Boston deemed them expendable.