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  1. I would say that Jackie Bradley Jr. projects as a player whose upside is significantly above an average regular. Other guys like that would include Rubby de la Rosa (if he stays healthy), Blake Swihart (though very far away) and Henry Owens (ditto). The number of teams who have 3-5 guys like Bogaerts and Barnes are very rare, so let’s not make it out like the Sox prospect depth is full of bullpen arms and 4th OFs.

    Comment by Harrisoned — November 19, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  2. Also Allen Webster, and if we are including recent graduates, Ryan Kalish and Ryan Lavarnway.

    I mean, how many major league regulars can you reasonably hope to have?

    Comment by glenstein — November 19, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  3. I’ve seen Cecchini a lot and mostly agree with your write up. I’d say his arm is pretty damn good though, calling it so-so is selling it way short imo. There is no single tool that really jumps out at you, but he doesn’t have any big weakness either, which is undersold here. He doesn’t have much present power, but he has great bat speed and with a tweak to his swing he could be a 15-18 future HR guy which is more than adequate with his approach. I should mention his great baseball pedigree, the guy is a baseball lifer and the fact he can steal so many bases with mediocre speed speaks to this, he has a great chance of reaching his floor. I love his makeup and wouldn’t be shocked to see him overachieve throughout his career. I think he’s a guy you appreciate more seeing day in and day out, although perhaps it’s left me biased.

    I will say Jackie Bradley Jr. is absolutely an impact talent. He’s a GREAT defensive CF with a great approach, he’ll be much more than an “average regular/second division starter”. Webster is in the same league as Barnes too. The current Red Sox system isn’t at the 06-07 level, but it’s definitely the strongest it’s been in a few years.

    Comment by brian — November 19, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  4. Yeah honestly I like Webster more than Barnes…not by much, but Barnes seems to be overhyped based on his domination of the first few months last year.

    Comment by brian — November 19, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  5. “he has a great chance of reaching his floor”

    If you have a great chance of reaching your floor, are you getting into a working elevator a couple stories down, or are you falling off of a ladder?

    Comment by Birdlander — November 19, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  6. This article seems to have missed the forest for the trees.

    Boston’s prospect pool is about the strongest it’s been in the last four years (When Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lester, Papelbon and Buchholz all graduated within a few years of each other). Between Bogaerts, Bradley, Webster and Barnes, that’s four guys who’re given high odds of being above average MLB contributors. On top of them, there are high upside guys like Owens, Workman and Cecchini coupled with guys who could be quality regulars with some holes like Brentz.

    That’s a remarkably deep system for a team that’s coming off of its first losing season in fifteen years.

    Comment by Jonathan — November 19, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  7. And through all that, I missed Swihart, a low floor, high ceiling guy.

    Comment by Jonathan — November 19, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  8. I thought Webster was supposed to be a #3/4 guy at peak. That’s a good guy, but not an impact guy. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — November 19, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  9. He’s projected as a mid-rotation starter, a hair below Barnes in terms of upside. His floor is considered high-leverage reliever. I’d call that an impact player.

    Comment by Jonathan — November 19, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  10. I’m not doubting your evaluation, I will just point out that Wade Boggs was left to languish in the minors for years with some of the same labels. Low power potential, problematic glove, range, arm. Average speed at best. Jus’ sayin.

    Comment by Spit Ball — November 19, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  11. Mike, I’d be really interested to see a piece on what historically constitutes a weak/good/great farm system. broken down into projected true impact/big league regulars/2nd division/utility-bullpen/career minor leaguers. something like that. maybe weighted for perceived distance from majors? what were the best ranked farm systems in the last 30 years? how did their players turn out (total major league WAR or something?)? might there be a way to analyze best farm system design?

    Comment by O'Jones — November 19, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  12. I think we had this conversation before Mike but…… Garin = Bill Mueller ceiling?

    Comment by Chris Blessing — November 19, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  13. Lol good catch, it was intended to be his ceiling which I think will be a ~4 WAR player in his prime. I think one of the big factors Mike left out is he was coming off an ACL injury entering the draft, and in 2011 he was only able to play ~30 games or so. He missed key development time, but last year was also his first full season in a few years. Mike’s right to disregard his high SB totals but I think he’s selling his power potential short, seemingly due to his HR total this year. With another full season I’d expect considerably more power than he displayed last year.

    Comment by brian — November 19, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  14. I may have missed something, as I only scanned thru the article looking for something of interest, but a summary of it seems to be, “Marc Hulet overrated Garin Cecchini, so the Red Sox ‘minor league system may not have the horses to successfully turn the page on a franchise in transition.'”

    Comment by Baltar — November 19, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  15. Harrisoned,

    RDLR doesn’t really count as a prospect, but you are correct. If you have read any of my previous pieces where he is mentioned, you will quickly understand how highly I think of him.

    I know everybody is really excited about Jackie Bradley, but he posted crazy numbers as a prospect who was old for the level of competition and came back to earth in Double-A against age appropriate competition. Could he be a solid average regular? Definitely. Above average? Sure, but that’s not an impact player.

    I’d say you are incorrect that the number of times who have 3-5 guys like Bogaerts/Barnes are very rare. Off of the top of my head…

    Tavares, Miller, Martinez
    Zunino, Walker, Hultzen
    Bauer, Bradley, Skaggs
    Singleton, Correa, Springer
    Buxton, Sano, Hicks/Arcia/etc.
    Cole, Taillon, Hansen/Polanco
    Baez, Almora, Soler
    D’Arnaud, Sanchez, Syndergaard

    I could go on, but I’d be here awhile. A number of teams have a better top 3-5 than do the Red Sox. Like I wrote in the piece, the org. isn’t as strong as it was.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

  16. Brian,

    I just don’t agree on many levels.

    I’ve seen guys like Arenado, Singleton, Freeman, LoMo, Flores etc. whose power potential at the big league level has been brought into question who were MUCH better hitters than Cecchini. You are welcome to believe he has 15-18 HR in his bat, but I don’t.

    As for Webster, I’ve seen him a couple of times. Love the stuff early on, but he tires and his stuff falls off of a cliff. He very well might end up as a reliever. That’s not impact.

    As for Bradley, he may be a very good player, but is Pagan an impact talent? The numbers Bradley is expected to produce at the MLB level are similar, no? Pagan is a vastly underrated player, but impact talent? I know WAR would disagree with me, but I don’t think he is.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

  17. Once again, I have to disagree. The organization has depth. It doesn’t have premium talent that will return much in trade. I’ve seen 11? of Marc’s top 15 on multiple occasions and have spoken to contacts about the others. Your comment is exactly why I wrote the piece in the first place. Workman is not an upside guy. Neither is Cecchini. Webster may very well wind up a bullpen arm. Owens could take off, or fall off like Britton who is up and down. Barnes and Bradley are fine prospects, but you are still looking at two guys who generated quite a bit of excitement from toying with younger competition they should have dominated in the first place.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  18. Yes, but people who follow all things Red Sox are much more likely to throw out Scott Cooper as a comp for Cecchini than Boggs.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  19. 30 years? I don’t know if that’s even possible. The Baseball America prospect handbook started in 1999? That would be 14 years? I think they were the first to do rankings as well, but I’m not sure.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

  20. Yeah Chris, I was OK with that comp at first, but I decided to go with something a little closer to a physical comp as well.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  21. Seems like you missed quite a bit more than “something”. Thanks for stopping by.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  22. I’ve seen Swihart and have written about him as well. He was an old 2011 pick, struggled at an age appropriate level and didn’t really show any premium tools. He’s a pretty good prospect, but I saw a number of better catchers this season.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

  23. I’ve seen and written about Webster on multiple occasions. He’s good, but not in the class of a Trevor Bauer, Taijuan Walker, etc.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 19, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

  24. “He was an old 2011 pick, struggled at an age appropriate level and didn’t really show any premium tools.”

    Old? He’s 20 and was drafted out of High School. I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble not calling your analysis into question when you’re calling a 20 year old catching prospect “old.”

    Comment by Jonathan — November 19, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

  25. I read the whole thing and that’s what I came away with too. It basically amounted to “one of my colleagues rated this guy high and I don’t like his tools, so their farm system must be effectively barren.” Like I said, missing the forest for the trees. I know he’s in here defending it, and I respect that, but that doesn’t excuse the fact it’s a remarkably poorly executed thought process.

    It utilizes levels of logic that would give Adam West’s Batman pause.

    Comment by Jonathan — November 19, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

  26. I think there are prospect guys who will disagree with other parts of Mike’s analysis of Swihart, but not about his age. Most high school seniors turn 18 while they are seniors, and thus will be 19 during their first full year of professional baseball. In this context, Swihart was quite old–he was a full year older than most of his fellow high school draftees.

    Comment by Ben Hall — November 19, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  27. This is interesting. The general buzz among Sox prospect guys is that the system is stronger than it has been in several years, so I’m surprised to see this column. I wonder if some people have taken the “strongest it’s been in a while” and turned that into “top organization.”

    Regardless, I think the one thing that’s notable about the current minor league system is Xander Bogaerts. He has the highest ceiling (as a hitter) of anyone the Sox have had in their system since Hanley Ramirez. Pedroia is a great hitter, but he’s not at that level, and no one thought he’d hit the way he has when he was in the minors. Ellsbury had a great 2011, but excepting that he’s just not an impact bat. Bogaerts has Sox fans dreaming about a home-grown superstar hitter, and perhaps that has impacted the impression of the overall system.

    Comment by Ben Hall — November 19, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  28. I would distinguish Pagan and Bradley based on their defense. Bradley is a plus plus defensive CF according to Chris Mellon of whereas Pagan averaged -0.8 UZR/150 over 3880 innings from 2007-2012. Granted, his numbers in RF look a lot better 22/150 over a smaller sample of 538 innings.

    If Bradley can be a plus plus CF with a .329 wOBA, I’d say that’s an impact player.

    Comment by JBJ — November 19, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

  29. I can see where you’re coming from with the Headley comp, but the article comes across as very bearish. Maybe I’m focusing on the triple slash line too much since it’s deflated due to Petco. I think you could adjust that to say .275/.360/.410 and it would be more realistic of his potential future. It also kind of seems like the 51 steals are being shrugged off as a fluke, and while they may disappear at higher levels he could still add value on the basepaths like say torii hunter did this year. I’d say his upside is above average regular and I guess I just don’t see how that’s disappointing from the fifth best prospect.

    Comment by kevin — November 19, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

  30. What strikes me as funny is that a year ago people were writing about the strength of Boston’s farm system because it was so deep – they didn’t really have any true impact talent at the top, but they were exceptionally deep – now they have two (three if you are particularly impressed with Bradley) impact guys, but a lot of their depth has fallen away for various reasons and we see these.

    I’m not sure what to make of this, or even if there is anything to make of it, but it strikes me as odd.

    Comment by KyleL — November 19, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

  31. Predicting prospects at the big league level is such a crapshoot that it’s not really worth trying.

    I especially think that saying “this guy was their 5th best prospect in 2009, the 4 guys above him have been promoted/traded so he is now their number 1 and he ain’t that good” is wasting everybody’s time. It’s 2012, nearly 2013 and these things change so fast.

    Comment by Jarrod — November 19, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

  32. Just wondering if you think there’s any chance his broken wrist had any effect on his power output this year?

    Comment by KyleL — November 19, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  33. This is a pretty poorly written article. What was the point of it? Just to point out the flaws of the 5th prospect in the system?

    Comment by anon — November 19, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  34. I find it interesting that you compare Headley with Cecchini athletically. Yet Headley had 6 steals in 12 attempts in his minor league career. And Cecchini had 51 steals in 57 attempts LAST year.

    You are not alone in under rating his athletic ability though.

    Comment by Kmav — November 19, 2012 @ 11:46 pm

  35. Well said about Xander. No one can be sure what will become of him but everyone seems to agree that his ceiling is higher than a lot of hitters that have passed through the system in the past five years or so

    Comment by jim08 — November 20, 2012 @ 12:37 am

  36. Hey I respect your first hand scouting reports but you really should be more careful. As an amatuer scout you don’t know everything about prospects. You told will middlebrooks has no hope as a position player and it was time for front office to turn him into a pitcher. How arrogant you were. I hope you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

    Comment by Coby76 — November 20, 2012 @ 12:48 am

  37. Same old, same old:

    As you can see from the two links above, whether you are looking back one or four decades, the Red Sox have had an elite player development system.

    Yet despite churning out as much or more actual ML talent as any team, they have, no matter what time frame you choose, had a less than average number of top 5 prospects, a less than average number of top 10 prospects, a less than average number of top 20 prospects and a less than average number of top 50 prospects.

    It has become cache to believe that Red Sox prospects are over-rated, when the actual FACTS suggest they are extremely under-rated.
    The reality is most prospect rating is a case of love at first sight — prospects become top prospects before they are ever drafted and they stay that way (By far the most over-rated farm system is Tampa Bay; given their obsecenely high draft picks, they have actually dramatically under-performed the Red Sox and are about equal with the Yankees). Because the Red Sox always draft late in the first round, they almost never end up with elite prospects (until those prospects make the majors).

    However, I should say I do agree with Mike Newman about Cecchini and Swihart — they both look to me like players whose real attraction is that they are older than people think they are (I am equally unimpressed with Bryce Brentz, although I would hold out some hope that Cecchini’s power was affected by last year’s wrist injury — wrists can take a while). However, I disagree about the overall state of the Red Sox farm system. It is what it always is: a solid, significantly under-rated system that has produced a stunning amount of talent for four decades despite being the only team not to have a top five draft choice in that time.

    Comment by Patrick — November 20, 2012 @ 12:56 am

  38. Especially weird when you consider no one in the system worth tracking, it seems, took steps backward this year except Ranaudo and Jacobs on account of injury.

    Comment by Michael — November 20, 2012 @ 12:59 am

  39. A discussion of Cecchini that does not mention his his school knee and minor league wrist injuries is seriously flawed.

    Comment by Jim in NC — November 20, 2012 @ 6:32 am

  40. Why? This isn’t a prospect retro or Google scouting. Far too often, prospect followers want guys to be given mulligan’s for missed time. However, it IS missed development time and often leaves players a bit behind the curve and forced to catch up.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 7:34 am

  41. You make some valid points, but you failed to discuss where the Red Sox drastically out spent other teams. The 2011 Greenville roster was a 12 million dollar roster if I remember correctly. Cecchini was a 4th rounder given 1st round money due to injury. The Red Sox offered Alex Meyer 2 million dollars in the 20th round. Anthony Ranaudo was an over slot signing. As was Sean Coyle. Workman. Jacobs. Britton. Bradley. ALL over slot signings. I could literally do this for an hour. Plus, the drafts that yielded Pedroia, Ellsbury, etc. were drafts where they had a TON of first round picks. To point to draft slot and say they have outperformed other franchises is cherry-picking. Many of their picks would have been taken much higher and slipped to the Sox.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  42. Yes Coby, people miss sometimes. I missed on Middlebrooks — Probably the worst miss I’ve ever made actually. I’ve discussed it at length.

    To say I’m arrogant is way over the top though. I wrote about Middlebrooks in 2009 when I was in my infancy doing this. Since Middlebrooks, I’ve scouted at least a thousand other prospects and have developed contacts who have helped me hone my scouting skills even further.

    Arrogance would have been me not liking Middlebrooks, sticking to it 100% regardless of the outcome and blaming something or somebody else for being wrong. Instead, I’ve spent a number of hours looking back at Middlebrooks, why I thought what I did and how to avoid making that mistake again.

    After all, I’m pretty sure the reason I’m afforded the opportunity to write at FanGraphs is because I’ve mixed a few swings-and-misses with mostly hits.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 7:49 am

  43. The comp is based on MLB numbers. Headley has similar size and produced seasons of 12, 11 and 4 home runs along with 10, 17 and 13 stolen bases — What I could see Cecchini doing at the MLB level.

    But since you pointed to the minor league numbers, keep in mind Headley posted 12 HR at 22 in High-A and then 20 in Double-A.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 7:54 am

  44. Anon,

    Haven’t seen you on my comment threads in awhile. How did I know it would be a bash when you did?

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 7:55 am

  45. You have a point Jarrod, but this is what time of year it is. Prospect followers are wanting rankings and fueling trade rumors based on them. This pieces was written 1. As a supplement to Marc’s top-15 and 2. Due to a question I received in a chat about whether or not the Red Sox could land Justin Upton for a handful of top-10 Red Sox prospects.

    I do have to say, however, a scout’s job is to predict prospects at the big league level. If they all just threw their hands up and said, “this is too darn hard”, then what would be their purpose?

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 7:59 am

  46. I look at the org. and I still see 1 impact guy — Bogaerts. If Barnes is a #3 starter and Bradley becomes a solid all-around CF, that’s not really impact. The system still has depth, but that depth has more question marks than I’m comfortable with. Britton/Ranaudo/Owens and even Webster/De La Rosa all have command issues. Red Sox fans who are excited about Webster probably don’t know he was pulled from the starting rotation in Double-A at one point because he was floundering. And this is just on the pitching side.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 8:06 am

  47. Kevin, I’m with you, but Headley was a 3 WAR guy during the years I mentioned. Of all third baseman, Headley was ranked 13th during that time. In essence, I’m saying Cecchini could be an above average starting third baseman at the MLB level if things break right. I don’t consider that a slight. He just completed Single-A baseball. It’s actually high praise. Not to mention Headley averaged 15 SB/year at the MLB level during those years.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 8:11 am

  48. Ben,

    From this comment, I suspect you are unfamiliar with my work. If you Google “Mike Newman Xander Bogaerts”, the top-20 google searches will probably be glowing things I’ve said about him.

    Actually, I did it for you. You will see many MANY glowing comments on the young SS. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever scouted and THE impact talent in the system in my eyes.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 8:13 am

  49. Jonathan,

    We agree to disagree then. The problem is actually the opposite of what you are perceiving. I have no problem with Marc’s rank, only that the Red Sox don’t have a better prospect to rank 5th in general. The fact Cecchini is the 5th ranked prospect reflects poorly on the minor league system as a whole and its potential to yield impact talent. In addition what what I’ve seen myself, I’m spoken with contacts who have seen him as well and Cecchini is met with a shoulder shrug.

    At best, Cecchini would have ranked as the 8th best Cardinals prospect as most will have Tyrell Jenkins higher than Marc did.

    Before the Blue Jays blockbuster trade, Cecchini might have ranked outside the top-10 in their organization.

    I’ve seen the Greenville drive in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. I also saw Lowell this past season. 2010 was a down year for Greenville, but the 2011/2012 teams which were supposed to be loaded fell far short of expectation. When compared to the 2009 team, the talent level was considerably below that roster.

    I write based off of what I see. And what I have seen is Bogaerts and a bunch of OK prospects the past three years in Greenville. I thought Lowell would be more impressive as well.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 8:26 am

  50. Brian,

    You can’t simply give a mulligan for missed time due to injury. That time as a young player is extremely important for development and actually left Cecchini behind his counterparts. The MOST legit prospects are passing through the Sally at 18-19. 20 is age appropriate for a good prospect. Cecchini was 21. I stated in the piece he has the opportunity to become a 3-win player. That assessment is kind and forgiving given how important I take age-versus-level considerations.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 8:31 am

  51. Lindor was drafted at 17. Swihart was drafted at 19. Younger = more opportunity to develop in the organization. 20 in the South Atlantic League is age appropriate for the level, but most top prospects have already passed through the league and are onto bigger and better things.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 8:33 am

  52. I’ve actually spoken at length with Chris about Red Sox prospects. I still give him a hard time because I wanted to write for them in my infancy and they pushed me over to the message boards.

    I have nothing but the utmost respect for Chris and the rest of the soxprospects crew. I just hope Red Sox fans understand how lucky they are to have what maybe be the best team oriented prospect resource on the planet.

    I read very few prospect sites due to time restraints, but still check out Sox Prospects.

    What I will say is that Chris and I do frequently disagree on the ceiling of players (as we should really). Mellen > Newman with Middlebrooks. Newman > Mellen with Vitek. We go back and forth.

    Mellen is more bullish on Cecchini’s power potential than I am.

    As for Bradley, he knows much more about him than I do. Based on their write up, is Bradley a guy you build a franchise around? “Single digit power with average speed”. “Plus-plus defender” “Above average regular on a 1st division team”. Even if you take Sox Prospects as the gospel here, is that an impact talent? I’d agree 100% it’s a player a team would probably want to lock up early to a team friendly contract as a great complementary piece to impact talent. However, I’m not sure it equals an impact talent.

    Comment by Mike Newman — November 20, 2012 @ 8:46 am

  53. Mike I know you don’t love this system as much as others, but would you at least consider it above average?

    Comment by Bobby — November 20, 2012 @ 9:05 am

  54. Great article, a bit sobering but honestly we all knew the Sox system isn’t what it was a couple years back. My take away is that if the Sox hadn’t dealt for A-Gon we’d be rebuilding from within with top tier talents like Rizzo at 1B who has 30+ HR power. Now? We hope to win the lottery with Jerry Sands or be force to go outside the org. Casey Kelly could have been headlining a revamped rotation. Instead our best SP prospects Webster and Barnes project as mid to back of the rotation pitchers.

    We parleyed out best prospects into players who are no longer here. As a result we have some solid guys on the farm but only one diamond (Xander). We built a bridge to nowhere instead of a bridge to our well stocked prospect system. Now that system is solid but not elite as it was 2-3 years ago. This means we can’t trade our way back. We also can’t simply wait for 2-3 all-stars to rise up thru the system. The Sox will need to make some very shrewd moves in the next few seasons. Some combo of hitting it big on low risk FA signings, working what talent we do have through the system and hoping we can land a prize FA or two that works out (hint: there aren’t any this year). Otherwise its a much longer, slower rebuilding effort if we end needing to draft the next great Red Sox team….

    Comment by Mcshane — November 20, 2012 @ 9:37 am

  55. I’ll be honest, seeing the Greenville team was a serious let down this season.

    Comment by Chris Blessing — November 20, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  56. Wow, my fellow Red Sox prospect fans are out in force. However, we’re probably wrong here. Seriously, there are many teams with better top 5s than us. Bogaerts is fairly comparable to many #1s, but Barnes really isn’t a top ‘o the rotation starter; more like a solid #2. For crapssake, his ceiling is Beckett and most of us will say that Josh was too streaky to be a true #1.

    Mike, would you rank Cecchini 5th, or even top 10? SoxProspects ranking has him a bit lower, but as you mentioned, they’re also more bullish on him.

    Comment by Jason — November 20, 2012 @ 10:21 am

  57. There really isn’t a clear prospect to rank #5 in this organization after Bogearts, Bradley, Barnes, and Webster. But I think the Sox are pretty solid 5-10 with some prospects potentially ready to take a step forward (Owens, Swihart, Marrero). Owens could be the best pitching prospect in the system by years end.

    I disagree with your last two sentences however. Rubby has the potential to be an impact player as well and he will only be 24 next year. If there is 3 potential impact players in the organization with a couple above average regulars, I think Cherington would consider that a win.

    Comment by John — November 20, 2012 @ 11:05 am

  58. Sounds to me like he has a good shot at being a 2.5-3 WAR guy and that really isn’t bad for a number 5 prospect. Just seems like a higher floor/lower ceiling guy. One might prefer someone with higher ceiling ranked there, but such a player might more readily flame out. I don’t think it is a knock on the system as a hole. They’d likely look a lot better right now if Westmoreland hadn’t gotten sick.

    Comment by wobatus — November 20, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  59. whole.

    Comment by wobatus — November 20, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  60. This comment by Mike was very good. I wish he had included it in the body of the article to make his argument clear to dummies like me.

    Comment by Baltar — November 20, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  61. I have to disagree with this, Jarrod. Seeing the core of the Giants 2010-2012 team rated highly and progressing thru the minors to major league success was very exciting (Cain, Lincecum, Posey, Belt, et. al.)

    Comment by Baltar — November 20, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

  62. Anybody who makes one mistake is worthless?

    Comment by Baltar — November 20, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  63. Gosh, where did Tampa get those 16+ good pitchers on their current staff. I don’t think all of them were free agents.

    Comment by Baltar — November 20, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

  64. “In 2009, the young third baseman might have been the fifth best prospect on a Greenville team featuring Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway.”

    Isn’t this a bit disingenuous? Coming into 2009 none of those guys were even considered prospects, and by the end of the season only Kelly was. BA’s 2009 list only had Anderson (17), Bowden (83), and Bard (98); and their 2010 list had Westmoreland (21), Kelly (24), Reddick (75), and Anderson (87). Those guys made names for themselves later on, but at the time the farm system was generally considered to be pretty week; you can’t really say the system is weaker now than it turned out to have been then.

    BA hasn’t put out their 2013 list, so it’s hard to compare thoroughly, but their mid-season 2012 list had Barnes (13), Bogaerts (31), and Bradley (32), so it’s hard to make the case that the top of their system is weaker now than it was then. In other words, look at what the system is considered now to what it was considered then, not what it is considered now to what it turned out it was back then. 3 years from now we could be looking back at the strength of this year’s system because of breakouts by guys like Buttrey, Owens, Vinicio, Jacobs, and Margot.

    Comment by KyleL — November 20, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  65. Above average center fielders get paid huge money. Look at what BJ Upton is projected to make.

    Comment by joshua — November 20, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  66. I enjoy Mike’s work and always consider the times we swap notes or have a debate on a player to be highly valuable. The funny thing is I don’t think we are too far out of line with Garin Cecchini outside of the power potential. Mike thinks 12 home runs is the ceiling and I see 18-20.

    Like Mike, I don’t always have a ton of time and am wrapped up with my own work to click around a lot, but I always make it a point to check in on his stuff because its an honest, well thought out assessment from someone in the trenches. Its very valuable whether I agree right down to the letter or see it differently.

    Comment by Chris Mellen — November 20, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  67. When the top 100 prospect rankings come out later this off-season though, I’m pretty sure you’ll find Xander Bogaerts in the top 10 and possibly in the top 5 so saying lots of other teams have a prospect like him is, if you place any stock in top 100 lists, not correct (not that Mr. Newman was saying that; Jason was).

    I think it’s too early to say what kind of pitcher Barnes will be. There is development time and he has the tools to be a very good pitcher. Part of the problem here, I think, is the terminology. What is a #1 starter? I’ve heard it said that there are only 10-15 number one starters in baseball. If that’s true, a number two starter is pretty darn good.

    As for your Beckett comment, you should go back and look at Beckett’s stats. Whether you consider him a #1 or #2 starter is up to your definitions I suppose, but he had a few seasons in there where he was one of the best pitchers in baseball.

    Comment by mattymatty2000 — November 20, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  68. It’s not matter whether you missed or not. You might be very unimpressed by will and not high on him. But you don’t have to say it was time to turn him on the mound. You can say what you see and feel but you should know that FO is better to know their prospects than you.

    I believe that your description of Cecchini’s hitting is right. Too content with getting a hit rather than pulling the balls for power with authority. But he is A ball hitter and had his wrist injured one year ago. You can’t say with certainty his power projection would be limited even though you are skeptical on that. He has bat speed and size.

    Veteran pro scouts may miss and they know that. Thus they are humble unlike you.

    Comment by Coby76 — November 20, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

  69. who say he is worthless?

    Comment by Coby76 — November 20, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  70. Mike,

    I think you (understandably) got into a mode of defending yourself in this piece and didn’t read my comment closely. There was nothing there saying you didn’t like Bogaerts. My comment was that having a potential impact bat in the system (which the Sox haven’t had in a long time) may have led to an overestimation of the entire system.

    Comment by Ben Hall — November 20, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  71. Mike Newman, thanks for your write-ups and scouting. As a Sox fan, I am always psyched to read anything written up about my team’s prospects and minor league org. The more objective, the better.

    I like the depth of the current farm, but would agree that it does lack impact players. Sometimes depth is actually what helps a team win in the majors and I’d say it was a huge factor for SF this year. However, there still need to be some impact players coming from somewhere.

    My take, as a fan, is things can happen relativley quickly in the minors as far as prospect status (within a few months of a season, which is already much shorter than the majors). Prospects are just that, and a few good months, or seemingly more often a few bad seem to be huge. As you mention injury can play a part as well…Vitek this year had a huge drop. Poor seasons from Pimentel and Ranaudo drop them from top 5 status to barely making top 20 (rankings from soxprospects).

    The Gonzo (SD) trade is not making me too happy at the moment, but I would be a liar to say that I wasn’t thrilled at the time. It will be interesting to see if the LAD players can contribute meaningful innings for the Sox in 2013 and beyond. Sad to see Gonzo go, but am happy to give Cherington the financial ability to make his own moves. Should be an interesting hot stove in Beantown.

    One thing to remember about someone like Middlebrooks, is he actually reached the show a bit earlier than expected. So did Ellsbury in 2007. My point being is when this happens, it can make the AA/AAA teams look more depleted than they actually are when considering the whole organization (I believe this was what Theo was referencing with the infamous “bridge year” quote). Middlebrooks may not be a prospect anymore, but young talented players under team control are still young talented players. Lavarnway just “graduated” as well. Out of curiosity would you (or did you ever) rate either of them as an impact player?

    Lastly, and to a lesser point, not all impact players were highly touted, top 5 prospects (Jose Bautista comes to mind), so one can always hope…haha. Most probably are though and I would guess there have not been many like him, and least not as extreme (was it 5 teams in one season?), but certainly some players have very impactful seasons (especially pitchers) even if they do not fully develop into an “impact player” for their career.

    All that being said, your job is to write up what you saw/see and then add your analysis. As a Sox fan who just endured a 93 loss team, I certainly wouldn’t mind a few more A/B ranked prospects in Portland or Pawtucket this year.

    Thanks again, I really enjoy reading your stuff!

    Comment by bcp33bosox — November 21, 2012 @ 4:29 am

  72. Matty,

    Re-read my original post. I did not say that lots of other teams have prospects like Bogaerts; I said that he compares favorably to almost all of the the other #1s, which places him from the top 10 to top 25. I also said that Beckett was “too streaky to be considered a true #1″. Doesn’t “a few seasons in there…” describe “streaky”? Barnes has a plus fastball and inconsistent offspeed pitches, to me and to most analysts out there, that does not equal a #1 pitcher.

    Mike was basically saying that the Red Sox farm system lacks multiple “future stars”, which it does. Sure, some could develop into stars, but lots of them project to be “solid regulars”. That translates to a deep system without a lot of peaks in it.

    Comment by Jason — November 21, 2012 @ 8:57 am

  73. Jim Callis (on twiter) weighed in on your Premise that the Red Sox lack impact propsects:

    Bogaerts, Bradley, Barnes, Webster, Owens, etc–have plenty. @bscarge: what do you make of argument #RedSox have few “impact” prospects?

    Comment by joshua — November 21, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

  74. Though, the dispute may be more to do with the definition of “impact”

    Comment by joshua — November 21, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  75. Your use of “impact” has me worried. A number 3 starter or all around good CF aren’t ‘impact’? Really? Does impact = MVP candidates?

    Comment by Charley — November 23, 2012 @ 6:05 am

  76. I believe a lot of these folks don’t understand the term “impact” talent. Jackie Bradley is a good example. Could he become a Johnny Damon with less power or a Michael Bourn? Yes. Does he have the upside right now of a Billy Hamilton whom has Vince Coleman speed and already a better offensive skillset? No. My question about the Red Sox farm system is this. If it’s bare of impact talent other than Bogaerts, shouldn’t the Red Sox try and trade these prospects for more impactful talent or trade Ellsbury, Lester, & Buchholz and gather even more prospects to put together a group of young players to make another 5-8 year run at a World Series title? I just don’t feel that signing free agents with this pool of talent is the way to go at this time.

    Comment by Buddy Munson — November 23, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  77. I have to chuckle at JBJ’s comment above. Newman made a very good point in using Pagan as an above-avg CF that mot teams would love to have, but who clearly is not “impact talent”. And the rebuttal is that your pet prospect having a nice-but-not great season playing at AA is DEFINITELY better because hi glove is ++? LOL.

    I wish I had a dollar for every ++ defensive OF with a suspect power or hit tool that turns out. Bradley might turn out to be an impact player, but the odds are very low given the rate of players with his profile.

    Comment by psuedoscience — November 28, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  78. You’ve got a logical disconnect here. You need to look at the 2010 Prospect lists (not 2009) to see how prospects playing on the 2009 Greeneville team would have then been rated.

    Comment by psuedoscience — November 28, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  79. *DOESN’T turn out

    Comment by psuedoscience — November 28, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  80. “I’m sorry, but I’m having trouble not calling your analysis into question when you’re calling a 20 year old catching prospect “old.””

    So Jonathan, how should we consider your analyses/comments on this board if you are unfamiliar with the concept of an “old pick.”? It’s fairly basic in the world of prospect evaluations.

    Comment by psuedoscience — November 28, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  81. I think people just freak out because of the use of a few specifics here. One is the word impact, we get hung up on arbitrary definitions of labels that separate people from the pack and then exclude our favorite players. Right now the reality is that if you were to actually measure all prospects scientifically, the Red Sox probably don’t have a very strong weighted total if you limit it to each team’s top 20 or something along those lines. Right now they may have a pretty good or even really good/great system overall, but it doesn’t change the lack of very highly likely everyday ML contributors on their roster today. I think the second reason why people reacted so unkindly to this article is related to that last statement there: this article is saying that if you’re not an uber prospect today, you don’t have the potential to be a future impact player. It’s a valid point to consider for everyone in the future in my opinion, but I think much of the unnecessary bickering and essentially childish posting about how bad of an article this was could have been avoided had Mike added a couple of softening minor mentions of the counter argument to what he was saying. For example had he said: “while the system still has a handful of interesting, high ceiling players like Henry Owens and some of the recent draftees, even a Blake Swihart who has good tools but needs to show some advancement this season, right now it lacks the volume of players who look likely to reach that ceiling or on path to reach the ceiling of an ‘impact player’ when compared to some of the most recognized systems.” Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I somewhat disagree with Mike and am more inclined to think Chris Mellen’s assessment of Cecchini is what I hear and see from him: good-to-great hands and batspeed, good overall approach but not enough power potential in his current swing and with some adjustments and development has a ceiling of about 20 HR. What was ellsbury’s perceived HR total ceiling when he was 20-22? I’d guess it was not the 30 mark he surpassed in 2011, although going into that season I had a major argument and bet a friend he’d surpass 25 that year if he played more than 150 games and he obviously pulled through for me. Obviously sample size of 1 and a personal anecdote that means nothing, but for every few Lars Andersons there’s a chase headley or jacoby ellsbury who pleasently surprises or makes an adjustment and it clicks, or misses some injury time and it takes him a season to come back from it so while he might be a little older than you like he’s still a good prospect.

    Comment by Steve Roberts — January 2, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

  82. BJ Upton hit better at AAA as a 19 year old than JBJ did as a 22 year old in AA.

    Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — January 13, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

  83. Garin Cecchini .373 .466 .640 1.106 with BB/K 13/12 in Class A Advanced Carolina League. There are some good reasons why scouts have been high on his offensive potential. Now he is showing that.

    Comment by coby76 — April 28, 2013 @ 2:40 am

  84. This article and subsequent debate are one of the reasons I love baseball prospects. I don’t care what your “eyes” tell you, this write up is nothing more than a SWOT analysis and is similarly limited by being simply a snapshot in time. What your analysis doesn’t tell you is how a kid will grow, work and progress. Looking forward to Cecchini’s continued improvement.

    Comment by Time to Rethink this debate — May 31, 2013 @ 3:31 am

  85. How you thinking about this now?

    Comment by You Were Wrong — June 30, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

  86. Time for an update on this piece.

    Comment by NS — July 24, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

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