Print and Go Back Boston Red Sox [Print without images]

Monday, September 30, 2013
SoxProspects: Top 10 in Sox system

By Mike Andrews,

As we close out the regular season, it’s time again to look at the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system.

Much like the case at mid-season, the system is as strong as it has been since early 2007, when the farm included Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Daniel Bard, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie, David Murphy, George Kottaras and Brandon Moss.

As Jose Iglesias had already graduated from prospect status by mid-season, the primary difference is that Rubby De La Rosa graduated from prospect status, a few prospects made greater second-half strides to display their potential future value, and second baseman Mookie Betts continued his march to the top 10.

Here's a look at the top 10 prospects in the system at the end of the regular season, as ranked by

1. Xander Bogaerts (20)
SS, Boston
How acquired: Signed as an international free agent out of Aruba in August 2009. $410,000 bonus.
2013 Stats: .250/.320/.364 with 1 home run in 44 at-bats for Boston
.297/388/.477 with 15 home runs in 444 at-bats between Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland
Scouting Report: Bogaerts remains one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Despite the fact that he’s generally been playing against competition three to four years his senior for the past few seasons, the Aruban shortstop has shown an improved plate approach while maintaining solid power production. Bogaerts has an athletic frame with a lean body type, and couples those attributes with a high baseball IQ, good work ethic, and maturity beyond his years. On offense, his smooth, fluid swing generates a lot of lift on the ball, and he’s able to hit to all fields. The 20-year-old has strong and explosive wrists with good separation during his hitting stride. The ball explodes off his bat, leading to projections that he’ll be an above-average-to-better power hitter with high home-run and run-producing potential. Bogaerts has also made strides in the areas of pitch recognition and strike-zone judgment, and is generally about average in those areas at this point. On defense, he has a slightly above-average arm with short action, solid range, and fringe-average footwork. He’s been able to slow down his game at shortstop, and he's shown that he will have the ability to stick there for the next few years. However, he still may need to move to third base or left field over the long term, depending on his physical growth.
Projection: All-Star
Ceiling: Franchise player
Floor: Average major league regular
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Starting shortstop for Boston

Jackie Bradley
Jackie Bradley Jr. is still in line to replace Jacoby Ellsbury if he leaves via free agency this offseason.
2. Jackie Bradley, Jr. (23)
OF, Boston
How acquired: Drafted in the supplemental first round, 2011. $1,100,000 bonus.
2013 Stats: .189/.280/.337 with 3 home runs in 95 at-bats for Boston.
.275/.374/.469 with 10 home runs in 320 at-bats for Pawtucket
Scouting Report: Bradley’s 2013 season should be viewed in the context that he was originally projected to start the season in Double-A. Assigned to major league camp in spring training, he outplayed every player in camp and made the big club out of the gate, but later went on to spend a majority of the season in Triple-A. It’s not as if Bradley came out of nowhere -- he was considered a mid-to-high first-round pick in college, but fell to the supplemental round in 2011 due to a wrist injury. Hitting from an open stance, he closes down well on pitch approach to keep himself balanced. Overall, Bradley is an above-average contact hitter with quick hands, fluid mechanics, an upward swing plane, solid bat control, and a disciplined approach. However, he can overextend on occasion and struggle with balls on the inner third of the plate. Bradley’s power projection is slightly below-average at this point, but it’s possible he fills out and adds more strength. He has average speed, and perhaps below-average speed compared with other major league center fielders, but he’s a smart runner on the base paths and should steal 10 bases a year or so. On defense, he’s a very polished outfielder who projects to stay in center field over the long haul. He has shown strong instincts, solid range, a plus arm, and a reliable glove. Despite struggles in early stints with the big club this season, Bradley is still in line to replace Jacoby Ellsbury if he leaves via free agency this off-season.
Projection: Above-average major league regular
Ceiling: Occasional All-Star center fielder
Floor: Solid fourth outfielder
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Starting center fielder for Boston

3. Garin Cecchini (22)
3B, Portland
How acquired: Drafted in the fourth round, 2010. $1,310,000 bonus.
2013 Stats: .322/.443/.471 with 7 home runs in 243 at-bats between Portland and High-A Salem
Scouting Report: A tall, athletic third baseman with strong all-around tools, Cecchini has a sweet swing with outstanding bat speed. He’s a plus contact hitter with outstanding plate discipline and the ability to hit the ball to all fields with gap power. He has below-average present power with the potential to develop into a lightly above-average power hitter. At 22, he has decent speed and excellent baseball instincts. But while Cecchini has already stolen 86 bases over his 254 game minor league career, he doesn’t project to be a major stolen base threat at the major league level -- his speed has the potential to decline as his size and power increase. On defense, he can use some refinement with his reactions and footwork, but he has a nice glove with a plus arm. He’s also a smart player with the ability to learn quickly and make proper adjustments. At best, he’ll be an average major league defender at third base, but it will take some continued improvement to get there.
Projection: Above-average major league regular
Ceiling: All-Star third baseman
Floor: Bench player
2014 Opening Day Prediction: On the bubble between Portland and Pawtucket

4. Henry Owens (21)
LHP, Portland
How acquired: Drafted in the supplemental first round, 2011. $1,550,000 bonus.
2013 Stats: 11-6, 2.67 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 169 strikeouts, 68 walks in 135.0 innings for Portland and Salem
Scouting Report: Owens is a tall, lanky lefty who has a lot of room to fill out and add strength. He has a smooth, deceptive delivery and a mature demeanor on the hill. His fastball presently sits in the 88-92 mph range with decent movement, and inconsistently tops out at 94 mph. He should be able to add sitting velocity if and when he fills out. He currently throws his fastball with below-average command, which is another area of developmental need. Owens’ best secondary pitch is an excellent mid-70s deep breaking curveball, a potential plus offering that he can also loop in the mid-60s to keep hitters off balance. The left-hander also mixes in a steadily improving above-average low-80s changeup with subpar command. Overall, while he was dominant at age-advanced levels in 2013, he will need to add some strength and stamina, improve his command, and continue to refine his changeup if he’s to post anything akin to those numbers at the major league level. At this stage, he profiles as a No. 3 or No. 4 type starter for a first-division club like Boston, but the ceiling is still there to develop into a No. 2 starter if he makes significant improvements with his velocity and command.
Projection: No. 3 or No. 4 Starter
Ceiling: No. 2 starter
Floor: Minor leaguer
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Opening day starter for Portland

5. Matt Barnes (23)
RHP, Pawtucket
How acquired: Drafted in the first round, 2011. $1,500,000 bonus.
2013 Stats: 6-10, 4.13 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 142 strikeouts, 28 walks in 113.1 innings between Portland and Pawtucket
Scouting Report: A tall right-hander with a projectable body and a repeatable delivery, Boston picked up Barnes out of the University of Connecticut with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He was considered a potential top-10 pick after an excellent summer in 2010 with Team USA, but his stock fell due to the impressive pitching depth in the 2011 draft class. In 2012 -- his first professional season -- he was outstanding for the first half, but hit a wall in the second half of the year with Salem. While his stats weren’t eye-popping in 2013, he made advances in his developmental areas, including refinement of his secondary pitches and increased stamina. Barnes’ fastball currently sits in the 91-95 mph range and tops out at 98 mph. His command and control were identified as negatives coming out of college, showed improvement in 2012, but were inconsistent in 2013. His 74-77 mph curveball is his best secondary pitch, grading out as average to solid-average with plus potential. He also mixes in a fringe-average to average mid-80s changeup. It seems feasible that Barnes could add another pitch such as a slider or a cutter to his repertoire in 2014, which would increase the likelihood that he hits his ceiling. Fans should be encouraged by the fact that he showed improvement in July and August, a contrast to his 2012 season.
Projection: No. 4 Starter
Ceiling: No. 3 Starter
Floor: Long reliever
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Pawtucket starting rotation

Anthony Ranaudo
Inconsistency has plagued right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, but a strong 2013 season could mean he's turned a corner.
6. Anthony Ranaudo (24)
RHP, Pawtucket
How acquired: Drafted in the supplemental first round, 2010. $2,550,000 bonus.
2013 Stats: 11-5, 2.96 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 127 strikeouts, 47 walks in 140.0 innings between Portland and Pawtucket
Scouting Report: Will the real Anthony Ranaudo please stand up? The tall right-hander has mixed periods of absolute dominance with extended periods of mediocrity since he led LSU to a national championship as a sophomore in 2009. He dropped from a Top 3 pick to the supplemental round after a subpar junior season, followed that up with a dominant performance in the Cape Cod League in 2010, a solid first half with Low-A Greenville in 2011, a mediocre stint with Salem in the second half of that season, a poor showing in 2012 with Portland, and then went on to have an outstanding campaign in 2013 with Portland and Pawtucket. That inconsistency is likely the result of mechanical and confidence issues, but the hope is that the 24-year-old finally put it all together this season. At 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, Ranaudo has a perfect pitcher’s frame. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range and topped out around 96 mph in 2013. He has thrown at higher velocities in the past, but he’s been able to hone his command a bit in this range. He also features a plus 78-82-mph hammer curveball and a fringe-average low-80s changeup. His developmental needs include keeping a consistent delivery point, working on getting past bad innings and bad outings, and refining his changeup. With polish in those areas, he has the potential to be a very good major league starter. However, the confidence issues could be an area of concern in the Boston market.
Projection: No. 4 Starter
Ceiling: No. 3 Starter
Floor: Long reliever
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Pawtucket starting rotation

7. Allen Webster (23)
RHP, Boston
How acquired: Acquired from the L.A. Dodgers with James Loney, Ivan De Jesus, Rubby De La Rosa, and Jerry Sands for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and cash considerations (Aug. 2012).
2013 Stats: 1-2, 8.60 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 23 strikeouts, 18 walks in 30.1 innings for Boston
8-4, 3.60 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 116 strikeouts, 43 walks in 105.0 innings for Pawtucket
Scouting Report: Webster is a ground-ball pitcher with a lean, projectable frame and excellent athleticism. His delivery is smooth, but he can short-arm the ball on occasion, losing his release point. The 23-year-old’s fastball sits in the 92-95-mph range and tops out at 98 mph, showing strong sinking movement and late life. Webster throws the pitch with below-average command and control. While he has outstanding stuff, he really needs to improve his ability to limit walks and keep the ball down in the zone to solidify himself as a major league starter. His mid-80s changeup has good movement and deception, grading out as a plus pitch. He also features an above-average 83-87-mph slider with tight rotation and late bite. He’s able to generate a lot of swings and misses with his secondary pitches. From a makeup standpoint, Webster is aggressive on the mound, but has had some struggles with confidence and composure in 2013. His ability to put bad outings behind him had previously been a strong suit.
Projection: No. 4 or No. 5 Starter
Ceiling: No. 3 Starter
Floor: Long reliever
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Pawtucket starting rotation

8. Blake Swihart (21)
C, Salem
How acquired: Drafted in the first round, 2011. $2,500,000 bonus.
2013 Stats: .298/.366/.428 with 2 home runs in 376 at-bats for Salem
Scouting Report: Swihart is an athletic, switch-hitting catcher with a fluid swing from both sides of the plate. While he hasn't posted eye-popping stats during his time in the system, scouts are still very impressed with his skill set and potential. He profiles as an above-average contact hitter with plus bat speed and explosive hands. He’s still young, and needs work on his plate approach and pitch recognition. While he’s a bit undersized for a catcher and shows below-average present power, Swihart has solid-to-average home-run power potential. On defense, he’s fluid and agile, and has excellent reflexes, a plus arm, and a smooth release. He made major strides in 2013, taking home the Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year. He absolutely has the tools to work as backstop for the long term, but it’s still not totally clear that Swihart has the frame to endure the rigors of catching every day. He should have the athleticism and the bat to move to second base if necessary.
Projection: Average major league regular
Ceiling: All-Star catcher
Floor: Minor leaguer
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Portland starting catcher

9. Trey Ball (19)
LHP, Rookie-Level GCL Red Sox
How acquired: Drafted in the first round (No. 7 overall) in 2013. Reportedly signed to a $2,750,000 bonus on June 19.
2013 Stats: 0-1, 6.43 ERA, 2.29 WHIP, 5 strikeouts, 6 walks in 7.0 innings with the GCL Red Sox
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-6 and 180 pounds, Ball has tons of projection in his frame. The 19-year-old southpaw's fastball already gets up to 92-94 mph, and he has the potential to add a good deal of sitting velocity as he physically matures in the coming years. He also throws a developing mid-70s deep-breaking curveball with plus potential -- a pitch that his father did not let him throw until he was a junior in high school in order to limit injury risk. His third pitch is a solid 78-82-mph changeup, which is still a work-in-progress but has above-average major league potential. He throws all of his pitches with an easy, repeatable delivery and a clean arm action. An outstanding athlete, Ball was committed to the University of Texas as both a pitcher and center fielder before signing with Boston. While he sits at No. 9 in the rankings right now, he's the type of high-ceiling prospect that could be in the top three within a year. The spread is very wide between his floor and ceiling.
Projection: Middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter
Ceiling: No. 1 Starter
Floor: Minor leaguer
2014 Opening Day Prediction: Greenville starting rotation

10. Mookie Betts (20)
2B, Salem
How acquired: Drafted in the fifth round, 2011. $750,000 bonus.
2012 Stats: .314/.417/.506 with 15 home runs and 38 stolen bases in 462 at-bats for Salem and Greenville
Scouting Report: Betts entered the season as an fringy prospect with high upside. After a phenomenal showing in 2013, he's now on most scouts' radars as a potential impact major league contributor. Back in 2011, Betts was a four-sport star committed to playing at Tennessee, but the Sox were able to scoop him up with a generous bonus for a fifth-round pick. The small-framed infielder has plus speed and the ability to impact the game with his legs, a compact and level swing, and a solid-average hit tool. He has also displayed a disciplined approach for his age, with the ability to work counts, use excellent strike zone judgment, and not get overly aggressive. While he flashed some power in 2013, his power still projects as below-average, but that’s certainly an area where he can prove doubters wrong. A former shortstop, Betts is a plus defensive player with an above-average arm, fluid footwork, a soft glove, and good instincts. He can still use some work on charging infield grounders. Likely blocked at second base in the Red Sox organization, he'll be given the opportunity to play shortstop and outfield at the higher levels of the system.
Projection: Utility infielder
Ceiling: Average first division starter
Floor: Minor leaguer