Top 14 in ’14: Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts

Note: Had a lot of people ask me why Boegarts power is only a 55 potential. And that’s because..it shouldn’t be, it’s fixed. Sorry.

And here it is, our very first non-draft prospect list. I decided to go in reverse order of the MLB standings because 1. Boston and St. Louis are systems are fun to write about and 2. repeat step 1.

If you’re curious about if I have any rules about what qualifies someone as a prospect or not: I don’t. I think qualifying someone as a prospect based on arbitrary numbers is a bit silly, and so you’ll see some guys who have exhausted their rookie rights that will make these lists. Probably.

I’ve been a big fan of what Boston has done in the draft last few years, and those drafts and quality scouting (as usual) by their international team has created a system that may not have a superstar in it, but they have as much depth in their system as any in baseball.  There’s a lot of pitching depth, and while they’re light on power bats they have a ton of guys who can get on base and run. The quality of the Red Sox front-office has been talked about to death, but there’s no denying their previous success and they look to have more quality impact players on the way.

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
1 Xander Bogaerts SS R/R 6-3 / 195
There isn’t much more to be said about Bogaerts that you haven’t heard already, but it’s worth repeating, as one of — if not the — best infield prospects in baseball.At the plate, Bogaerts has a quiet approach, with little wasted movement and his hands get through the zone very quickly with good bat speed. His swing is geared more towards contact without a ton of natural loft, but as his frame fills out he should be able to put up above-average power numbers. He has outstanding pitch recognition and has shown a willingness to work counts into his favor at every level.

Some believe that Bogaerts long-term position is third, but I give him every chance to play shortstop to increase his value. He’s not going to be an élite defender, but he has plenty of arm strength and can make plays to his left and right. Even if he does have to make a move over to third in the next two years, Bogaerts should hit enough to play everyday; but if he can stay at short the Red Sox have a special player on their hands.

HIT 50-60 (on base tool would be 70)

POWER 45-60

RANGE 55-55

ARM 60-60

ETA: 2014

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
2 Matt Barnes RHP R/R 6-4 / 205
Some might be surprised to see Barnes ahead of some of the other quality arms in the Red Sox’ system, but take it as a credit to him and not an insult to those he is ahead of. Barnes fastball consistency has improved considerably since he was at Connecticut, consistently hitting 94 on the gun and touching 96 with movement.He’s also seen an uptick with his curveball command, a 12-6 offering with lots of spin and depth that he can throw for strikes or out of the strike zone to get hitters and swing and miss. The change is his weakest offering but continues to get better, and with time should be a competent third offering with fade and improved arm speed.

Barnes isn’t perfect mechanically — he will occasionally land off-balance and doesn’t always find a consistent release point (particularly on his off-speed pitches) — but he doesn’t have any red flags in his delivery, and generally hits his spots. His command and stuff did wane a bit as the year went on, but I still see a future No. 2 — maybe even No. 1 —  ceiling with a solid back-end starter floor.

FASTBALL 60-65

CURVE 55-60

CHANGE 45-55

COMMAND 50-60

ETA: Late 2014-early 2015

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
3 Henry Owens LHP L/L 6-6 / 205
When Owens first came out of Edison High School in California. he was far more projection than finished projection.While there’s still projection left in his left-arm, he’s become a much more complete pitcher in his short time and there’s more coming. Owen’s fastball sits 88-90, inconsistently touching 92 with the occasional 94 and with enough arm strength to project more as his frame begins to fill. The big progression though as been in his secondary stuff. His curveball and slider both will flash average, the curve being the better of the two offerings with big, slow break and lots of spin, but the slider has improved and will show some tilt and late bite at times as well. His best off-speed pitch is his change though, with excellent arm speed and tailing action His command still isn’t where it needs to be, but improves each year and at time should be at least average.

Owens probably isn’t an ace, but a No. 2 isn’t out of the question, as he has as much upside as any pitcher in the system from the left side and if he makes another leap in 2014 like he did last year there’s no telling what his ceiling is.

FASTBALL 50-60

CURVE 50-55

SLIDER 45-50

CHANGE 50-60

COMMAND 40-50

ETA: 2015

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
4 Allen Webster RHP R/R 6-2 / 190
 Webster struggled in his call-up to Boston last year, and many believe that he’s going to have to pitch out of the bullpen. I think it’s way too early to give up on him as a starter with his stuff. His fastball sits 92-94, and will touch 97-98 with sinking action when he stays on top of the pitch. He doesn’t have great command of the pitch, but even a slight up-tick and its a plus-plus offering. His change is also a plus offering, with excellent arm speed with diving action and good arm speed, though it’s generally out of the strike zone. His slider is inconsistent, but will occasionally flash plus at 83-86 with some late tilt that buries into the feet of left-handed hitters, and a curve that’s better than a show me pitch but easily the weakest of his four offerings.

The biggest issue with Webster upon his call-up was his command, as he struggled to get ahead of hitters and put too many guys on base via walks.He repeats his delivery well, but doesn’t always find a consistent release point and at times can rush his arm through the zone. If the command doesn’t improve he’ll likely have to become a reliever — albeit a good one — but he’s too young and his stuff is too good to give up on starting yet.

FASTBALL 60-70

CURVE 40-45

SLIDER 50-60

CHANGE 50-60

COMMAND 40-50

 

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
5 Jackie Bradley, Jr. OF L/R 5-10 / 195
Like Webster, Bradley Jr. struggled during his time at the big league level, but his ineffectiveness shouldn’t sour Boston fans on his future. While Bradley has some glide in his swing – and his footwork at the plate is a bit noisy — he generally gets his hands through the zone quick enough to compensate and he is capable of hitting the ball hard to all parts of the field, and has average power to the pull-side. There’s some swing and miss to his game — usually from over-swinging and trying to hit the ball 800 feet — but he has shown an ability to work counts in his favor and generally doesn’t swing at pitches outside of the strike zone, though.

Bradley is an excellent outfielder, capable of playing all three positions despite only average speed because of his ability to read the ball off of the bat and takes excellent routes. His arm is only average, but it’s accurate and he gets the ball out of his club quickly.He may not make fans forget about Jacoby Ellsbury, but Bradley, Jr. is a quality prospect who can produce at least average offense in center and is capable of playing upper-echelon defense if the bat is good enough to play everyday.

HIT 45-55

POWER 50-50

SPEED 50-50

GLOVE 60-60

ARM 50-50

ETA: 2014

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
6 Gerin Cecchini 3B L/R 6-3 / 210
All Cecchini has done in his three years in the Red Sox’ system is hit, and there’s reason to think he’ll be able to continue as he advances his way to Boston.

At the plate, Cecchini has one of the best swings from the left-side in the minor leagues, staying through the zone with plus bat speed and using his lower half very well, and hits the ball hard to all parts of the field. He has excellent pitch recognition and consistently has shown an ability to get on base, and as he gets stronger he should hit for at least average power at third base. While his actual speed is only average, he is an incredibly smart base runner who reads pitches as well as any hitter in the system.

Whether or not he can stay at third base remains to be seen, however. His hands are average and he has a strong enough arm to stay at the hot corner, but he’s only an average athlete and doesn’t have great instincts in the field. If he was forced to move across the diamond the bat might still play, but the power will have to come to justify that.

HIT 50-60

POWER 40-50

SPEED 50-50

GLOVE 40-50

ARM 55-55

ETA: Late 2015

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
7 Blake Swihart C S/R 6-1 / 175
I’ve long been a fan of Swihart — I was stunned that he feel to the Red Sox in the 2011 draft — and while there’s a long way to go, he’s started to show why I considered him a potential all-star backstop coming out of high school. Swihart has plus bat speed from both sides of the plate with plenty of fluidity, and when he keeps his hands up he is capable of hitting the ball with authority to left and right field. He struggles at times to pick up the ball, however, and when his hands drop — a problem that happens more from the right side — he has pretty significant timing issues. He’s worked hard to improve, though, and with time he could absolutely be an above-average offensive catcher, though big power numbers aren’t likely.

Behind the plate, Swihart continues to improve every year. He has plenty of athleticism and reflexes, and while his arm strength isn’t élite he puts himself into position to make throws quickly. If he needed to change positions he could handle a corner outfield position or perhaps even second or third base, but the bat profiles much better at catcher and with his improvement and natural talent he could be an everyday player in a few years.

HIT 40-55

POWER 45-50

SPEED 55-50

GLOVE 45-55

ARM 55-55

ETA: 2016

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
8 Trey Ball LHP L/L 6-6 / 190
Ball is still very much a work in progress and almost entirely projection, but there’s a reason that the Red Sox scooped him up with the No. 7 pick in last June’s draft. Ball’s fastball sits 89-91, but will touch 94 and there’s plenty of room for more thanks to his arm strength and a body that screams “there’s more here.” Right now his secondary pitches are very inconsistent; his best off-speed pitch is his change (which is also the pitch he has the most feel for), which has inconsistent arm speed but plus-plus movement and has a chance to be an out-pitch in time. He also throws a curve in the low 70′s that will occasionally have big break but inconsistent depth and is too easy to pick up on the bat at this time. He repeats his low-effort delivery well, and there are no red flags in his arm action right now.

I liked Ball more as a hitter coming out of the draft, but the Red Sox know what they’re doing (appeal to authority argument? Perhaps.) and that’s a potential fallback. On the mound though, Ball is a potential No. 3, maybe higher if the breaking-ball improves significantly.

FASTBALL 50-60

CURVE 40-50

CHANGE 45-60

COMMAND 40-55

ETA: 2017

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
9 Anthony Ranaudo RHP R/R 6-7 / 230
Ranaudo has top of the rotation stuff, with a fastball that will touch 98 and sits 92-94 and a breaking-ball that can be devastating on hitters in the low 80′s with tons of spin and late bite. His change is the weakest of his three offerings at 81-83 with very little movement and too often it’s left above the knees without much movement.In addition to questions about whether or not his third pitch is good enough to start, Ranaudo also has inconsistent command of all three of his pitches, as his arm will drag behind his body and create inconsistent release points. There’s some stiffness to his delivery and has dealt with some arm trouble before from a less than athletic delivery. If the change improves he’s got a chance to be a No.2, but I think Ranaudo is more than likely a high-leverage reliever at the big-league level.

FASTBALL 60-70

CURVEBALL 55-65

CHANGE 40-50

COMMAND 40-45

ETA: Late 2014

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
10 Christian Vazquez C R/R 5-9 / 195
Vazquez is known more for his defensive abilities than at the plate, but he’s improved each year with the bat as well.  He doesn’t have elite bat speed, but he’s got a strong build and has shown some power to the pull side and his feel for hitting has improved each year. He makes consistent contact, and while he won’t remind anyone of Kevin Youkilis he will work counts into his favor and take the occasional walk.

Defense is his calling card, however, and with good reason. Vazquez has a cannon of an arm with a quick release, and can absolutely shut down the running game. He’s not a great athlete and will give up the occasional passed ball, but the overall skillset is that of a top five defensive catcher in baseball. Whether or not he can hit enough to play everyday and justify that ranking remains to be seen.

HIT 40-45

POWER 40-50

SPEED 30-30

GLOVE 55-65

ARM 60-60

ETA: 2015

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
11 Mookie Betts 2B R/R 5-9 / 156
Betts was one of the most pleasant surprise of the Arizona Fall League, showing surprising pop from his frame and good feel for hitting He gets the bat through the zone very quickly with strong wrists, and has shown the ability to put the ball into both the left and right-center gaps and occasionally will put the ball over the left field well. He shows excellent pitch recognition (noticing a pattern yet?) and has shown a knack to get on base and let his plus speed go to work, and he’s a very smart baserunner.

While Betts has the athleticism to play shortstop, he’s better at second as he has only average hands and arm strength. If the Red Sox wanted to, they could give him a chance in the outfield as well because of his speed, but right now he projects to be a second-baseman with above-average offensive and defensive ability.

HIT 50-60

POWER 40-45

SPEED 60-60

GLOVE 50-55

ARM 50-50

ETA: Late 2015

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
12 Bryce Brentz OF R/R 6-0 / 190
Brentz was another steal for the Red Sox in the 2010 draft, and while he doesn’t have the same type of skillset that the typical Boston prospect does, he’s got a chance to be an above-average regular an a corner outfield position. He has above-average power to all parts of the field and gets good extension on pitches on the outer-half of the plate, but his late hand load and struggles with breaking-stuff limit the hit tool. Unlike the other hitters on this list — and seemingly every other prospect Boston has — he is extremely aggressive, and needs to get better at working counts into his favor. He’s not fleet of foot, but he’s a quality outfielder with good instincts and a very strong arm.If Brentz can show more patience and make some adjustments to his swing he’s got a chance to be a quality everyday player, with a floor as a Jonny Gomes type who will likely devour left-handed pitching.

HIT 45-55

POWER 50-60

SPEED 40-40

GLOVE 45-50

ARM 60-60

ETA: 2015

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
13 Manuel Margot OF  R/R 6-0 / 170
Margot impressed in his first professional year, showing some offensive ability to go with plus-plus speed and a chance to be a very good center-fielder. While his swing can get long, he has very good bat speed and strong wrists, and his barrel control improved as the season progressed. His swing-path and frame suggest that power won’t be a huge part of his game, but he should be able to put balls into the gap and use his speed. He isn’t a hacker, but he’s still learning how to recognize pitches and put himself into hitters counts.

As I mentioned (twice) Margot has excellent speed and takes very good routes to the ball, and has more than enough arm-strength to stick in center.He’s not a fast-track guy, but Margot has a chance to be a top-of-the-order hitter if he continues to develop, with a solid 4th outfielder floor.HIT 35-50

POWER 35-45

SPEED 70-70

GLOVE 50-60

ARM 50-50

ETA: 2017

 

Rank Name Position Bats/Throws Height/Weight
14 Ty Buttrey RHP L/R 6-6 / 230
Although he didn’t miss many bats, Buttrey had a solid first professional season, and with prototypical pitcher size and a chance for three above-average pitches, there’s reasons to have high hopes for the right-hander. His fastball sat 90-92, but he has touched 96 in high school and I think with some adjustments to his delivery that will allow him to use his lower half can bring more consistent velocity. His best off-speed pitch is a knuckle-curve — a la Mike Mussina — in the mid 70′s that can be a swing and miss pitch as he develops, and a change that has shown marked improvement since his time in high school. Some worry that there isn’t much projection left in his arm and that he might have to move to the bullpen with mediocre command, but I believe in Buttrey’s talent and see a potential mid-rotation starter that can miss bats and eat innings.

FASTBALL 50-60

KNUCKLE-CURVE 45-60

CHANGE 45-50

COMMAND 40-50

ETA: 2017

And three more:

Brian Johnson / LHP — Four average pitches and solid command have Johnson looking like a potential fast-track No. 4 starter.

Jon Denney / C — Denney has big time power from the right side, though it remains to be seen whether or not he can stick behind the plate.

Wendell Rijo / 2B — Rijo has impressive bat speed and contact skills, and has a chance to be a plus defender at second base.

 

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8 Responses to “Top 14 in ’14: Boston Red Sox”

  1. Dan says:

    Thanks for the first list of the season, Chris. Wondering how much further down the list Henry Ramos resides.

  2. Chris Crawford says:

    Thanks Dan, Ramos is somewhere in the top 25, but not in the top 20 for me right now.

  3. Steven says:

    Would you say your grades on Xander are lower than industry takes on him? I haven’t seen him listed below top 5 on any lists.
    Thanks

    • Chris Crawford says:

      I don’t think so, Steven. That package as a shortstop is a really good player, and his ability to get on-base is higher than his hit tool grade.

  4. Pat says:

    I see that Rubby de la Rosa is not in the top 14 where would he rank? In the top 20 perhaps?

    • Chris Crawford says:

      Sorry for the late response, Pat. Rubby is a quality relief prospect but there are arms in the system I like considerably more who have a chance to start.

  5. […] of just future ones. He kicked off his team prospect rankings with the Red Sox, ranking the top-14 for 2014 while including scouting reports of the […]

  6. VLTC says:

    No Workman? Are you down on him, or just don’t consider him eligible? Despite starting the year with only 25 IP in AA, he made it all the way to the majors and produced. Great control, secondary pitches have come a long way, very good peripherals, etc.

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