In celebration of 100 Spinners making the big leagues, we are proud to unveil our list of the 100 greatest Spinners in team history. Compiled by the Spinners front office, the list was determined based on the success each player had in Lowell combined with their accomplishments at the major league level (or in one player's case, the NFL). Players who rehabbed with the Spinners after making their MLB debut, including Rick Porcello, Shane Victorino, Bret Saberhagen, etc., were not considered. This list consists of only players who reached the majors at the time of its unveiling.
20. OF Lew Ford (1999) - Ford had one of most productive offensive seasons in team history when he batted .280 with seven home runs and 34 RBI over 62 games. He made it to the majors as a member of the Minnesota Twins in 2003 and served in the team's outfield until 2007. In 2004, Ford batted .299 with 15 home runs and 20 steals. He completed a comeback in 2012 at the age of 35, appearing in 25 games. Over his career, Ford appeared in over 500 games with a .268 average.
19. RHP Ryan Pressly (2009) - Pressly impressed in his lone season with the Spinners. Appearing in 13 games (11 starts), he went 6-4 with a 3.17 ERA and a 9.7 K/9. He was acquired by the Minnesota Twins in the 2012 Rule-5 Draft and made his major league debut in 2013. He has served as a reliable bullpen arm the last four seasons, posting a career 14-12 record with a 3.55 ERA in 173 games. He will return to the Twins bullpen in 2017.
18. INF Travis Shaw (2011) - In his first season as a professional, Shaw posted a .262/.371/.446 with eight home runs and 37 RBI. He also is tied for the team record of most total bases in a game (10). Shaw made it to the majors in 2015 and surprised many with 13 home runs in 65 games with the Red Sox. He appeared in 145 games this past season and slugged .421 with 16 home runs. This past offseason he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Tyler Thornburg.
17. LHP Jose Alvarez (2009) - Though his professional career began in 2006, Alvarez came to the Spinners in 2009 and did not disappoint. In 14 appearances (12 starts), he posted a 1.52 ERA with eight wins, tied for the single-season record in team history. He made his major league debut in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers and appeared in 14 games (six starts). He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels the following season and has appeared in 130 games out of the Angels bullpen in the last three seasons. He will return to the Los Angeles bullpen for the 2017 season.
16. RHP Alex Wilson (2009) - Wilson dominated the New York-Penn League in his first professional season. In 13 starts, he had an amazing 0.50 ERA while striking out 33 batters in 36 innings of work. Wilson made it to the show in 2013 with the Red Sox and appeared in 44 games over the next two seasons. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2015 as part of the deal that brought Rick Porcello to Boston. He has since established himself as a reliable bullpen arm, appearing in 121 games the last two seasons. For his career, Wilson is 9-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 165 games and will return to the Tigers bullpen for a third year in 2017.
15. RHP Hunter Strickland (2008) - Strickland appeared in 15 games (10 starts) for the Spinners in 2008, going 5-3 with a 3.58 ERA. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009 and claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants in 2013. He made his big league debut in 2014 and earned a spot on the Giants postseason roster which would go on to win the World Series. In his three-year career, Strickland is 7-6 with a 2.64 ERA and four career saves. He remains a reliable arm in the Giant's bullpen to this day.
14. OF Brandon Moss (2003) - One of the best power hitters to play at LeLacheur Park, Brandon Moss hit seven home runs, four triples, and 34 RBI in 65 games for the Spinners. In 2007, Moss made his major league debut with the Red Sox. The following season, Moss was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he struggled for the next two seasons followed by another disappointing season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He turned his career around in 2012 when he signed with the Oakland Athletics, where he hit 76 home runs over the next three seasons. His efforts were rewarded with an All-Star appearance in 2014. He split the last two seasons with the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Cardinals, belting 30 home runs in 2016. This past offseason, Moss signed a contract with the Kansas City Royals.
13. SS Jed Lowrie (2005) - A first round draft pick out of Stanford, Jed Lowrie made his professional debut with the Spinners in 2005. In 53 games, Lowrie had a .328/.429/.448 slash line with four home runs, 32 RBI, and seven steals. He made his major league debut in 2008 with the Red Sox and spent four years in the infield. Lowries has split the last five seasons with the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Astros, highlighted by a 2013 season in which he hit .290 with 15 home runs with Oakland. He will spend the upcoming season with Oakland and will play in his 800th career game on Opening Day.
12. RHP Justin Masterson (2006) - A fan-favorite in his lone season with the Spinners, Justin Masterson started his professional career as a dominant reliever in the New York-Penn League. In 14 relief appearances he had a 0.85 ERA with a 3-1 record. He appeared in 67 (15 starts) games for the Red Sox from 2007-2008 before being traded to the Cleveland Indians for Victor Martinez. Masterson found his footing as a starter in the Indians rotation, leading the league in starts (34) in 2012 and earning an All-Star appearance in 2013. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014 and ended his career back with the Red Sox in 2015.
11. 3B Shea Hillenbrand (1996) - One of the first true stars to come through Lowell, Hillenbrand became the first major league All-Star in Spinners history. In 72 games, a Spinners record to this day, he posted a .315/.371/.416 slash line. Hillenbrand made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2001 and made his first All-Star game in 2002. He went on to enjoy a seven-year career, including a second All-Star appearance in 2005 with the Toronto Blue Jays. A career .284 hitter, Hillenbrand also hit 108 home runs and 490 RBI.
10. OF Andrew Benintendi (2016) - After winning the Golden Spikes award at the University of Arkansas, Benintendi joined the Spinners and immediately let his presence be known. In 35 games, he hit .290 with seven home runs, four triples, and did not commit an error in center field throughout the season. He became the fastest position player in franchise history to reach the majors when he made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2016. He impressed with a .295 average in 34 games and is widely regarded as the top prospect in baseball coming into the 2017 season.
9. 2B Mookie Betts (2012) - One of the best outfielders in basesball and without a doubt the most popular alumni playing in the bigs today, Mookie Betts spent the 2012 season as a fan-favorite infielder with the Spinners. In 71 games, Betts batted .267 and stole 20 bases. He rose through the minors and made his big league debut in 2014, appearing in 52 games. In 2015 he moved from second base to the outfield and started to establish himself as a great young player. Betts became a household name in 2016 after hitting 31 home runs, 113 RBI, 26 stolen bases, and a .318/.363/.534 slash line. He was the runner-up for American League MVP but he did win a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and he started in his first All Star game. At only 24 years of age, Betts appears to have all the pieces to have a long and successful career.
8. RHP Anibal Sanchez (2004) - Arguably no other pitcher in team history had a more dominant season than Anibal Sanchez in 2004. Sanchez became one of two Spinners to record at least 100 strikeouts in a single season, a milestone that hasn't been accomplished since. It wasn't just the strikeouts that impressed, he also had a 2.83 ERA over 15 starts. Sanchez was traded to the Florida Marlins in 2005 as part of a deal that sent Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to Boston. He became the first Spinner in history to throw a no-hitter in the bigs in 2006, his rookie season. Sanchez played with the Marlins until 2012 before being traded to the Detroit Tigers. He won an ERA title in 2013 and still pitches with the Tigers today.
7. RHP Clay Buchholz (2005) - Buchholz holds two distinctive honors in Spinners history. He became the first Spinner to throw a no-hitter in the majors and the longest tenured player with a single club. His career started in Lowell, making 15 starts with a 2.61 ERA and a 9.8 K/9. In 2007, he threw a no-hitter in his second career start. Buchholz spent 10 years pitching for the Red Sox, appearing in two All-Star games and winning a World Series in 2013, appearing in over 200 games (188 starts) during that span. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies this past offseason, marking the first season of his 13-year career he won't be a member of the Red Sox organization.
6. INF Freddy Sanchez (2000) - Few Spinners have gone on to have more successful big league careers than Freddy Sanchez. After posting a .288/.347/.439 slash line with the Spinners, Sanchez made his debut with the Red Sox in 2002. Sanchez took several seasons before finding his groove in the majors in 2005 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2006, not only was he named to his first of three All-Star appearances, he also won a batting title with a .344 average.He joined the San Francisco Giants in 2009 and won a World Series title in 2010. He retired after the 2011 season with a .297 career average.
5. OF Jacoby Ellsbury (2005) - Ellsbury remains one of the most exciting players in team history after all these years. He made his professional debut with the Spinners in 2005 and became a .317 hitter with five triples and 23 stolen bases. He made his debut with the Red Sox in 2007 and instantly became a contributor for the World Series champs. Ellsbury led the league in steals each of the next two seasons and emerged as one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. He was named to his first and only All-Star appearance in 2011, finished as the MVP runner-up, and won both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. He won a second World Series title in 2013 before joining the division rival New York Yankees in 2014 where he still remains today. He has appeared in over 1,100 games and has 323 stolen bases to his name, more than any other former Spinner.
4. 3B Kevin Youkilis (2001) - "The Greek God of Walks" got his start at LeLacheur Park in 2001 with a record-setting season. In 59 games, Youkilis walked a franchise-record 70 times and a .512 on-base percentage. He was also a .317 hitter with 14 doubles, three home runs, and 28 RBI. He made his major league debut in 2004 with the Red Sox where he became a three-time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and a World Series champion in 2007. Following his departure from Boston, he spent a season with the New York Yankees before retiring after the 2013 season. He retired with a .281/.382/.472 slash line, 150 home runs, and over 500 career walks.
3. RHP Jonathan Papelbon (2003) - Without question no Spinner in history has had a more successful career as a closer at the big league level than Jonathan Papelbon. Appearing in 13 games for the Spinners (six starts), he holds the honor of being the only pitcher in team history to strike out the side on nine pitches. He also struck out 36 batters in 32.2 innings of work. Papelbon's ascension to the majors was relatively quick, reaching the show in 2005. He quickly became one of the most electric arms, and personalities, in the majors. He went on to record 368 career saves (ninth all-time), appear in six All-Star games, win the 2007 Delivery Man of the Year award, and a World Series title with the Red Sox. He also had stints with the Philadelphia Phillies and most recently with the Washington Nationals.
2. INF David Eckstein (1997) - One of the most decorated Spinners of all time, the 19th-round pick burst onto the scene in 1997 with a .301/.407/.426 slash line with four home runs and 21 steals in 68 games. He made it to the show in 2001 as a member of the Anaheim Angels. After a strong first four seasons in the bigs, Eckstein made his mark in 2005 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals where we was named an All-Star and became the only Spinner in history to win the World Series MVP. He made a second All-Star team in 2006 and went on to play in over 1,000 games in his career for the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the San Diego Padres before hanging it up in 2010. In 2015, Eckstein became, to date, is the only former Spinner to ever receive a vote on the Hall of Fame ballot.
1. SS Hanley Ramirez (2002) - Before he was the lovable power-hitting first baseman for the Red Sox, Hanley Ramirez was a stud shortstop for the Lowell Spinners. His time with the team was brief (22 games) but he made an in instant impact (.374/.400/.536) while at LeLacheur Park. He appeared in two games for the Red Sox in 2005 but was then the key piece of the trade that brought Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to Boston. He won the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year with the Florida Marlins and appeared in three consecutive All-Star games from 2008-2010. He also added a batting title in 2009 after hitting .342. Following his time with the Marlins he spent three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers before returning to the Red Sox in 2015. He currently is the designated hitter for the Red Sox and is coming off a season in which he hit 30 home runs and a career-high 111 RBI. With over 1,400 games played in his career, Ramirez has played more games in the majors than any other former Spinner in history.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.