Boston Red Sox Top 15 Prospects (2012-13)

The Boston Red Sox organization boasts both high-ceiling talent and depth within the system although a number of prospects are coming off of tough seasons. The 2013 season could be a key turning point for the club as those young players look to add a little more shine back to their prospect status.

 

#1 Xander Bogaerts (SS)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 531 146 37 20 44 106 5 .307 .374 .524 .398

Opening Day Age: 20
2012 Level: A+/AA
Acquired: 2009 international FA
Projected 2013 Level: AA/MLB

Bogaerts is an exciting prospect who is just beginning to get the attention he deserves from the non-Boston crowd. One of the best hitting prospects in the minors, the native of Aruba played the 2012 season at the age of 19 and reached double-A. He has an advanced hitting approach and generates outstanding power despite having a slender frame with tons of projection remaining. His pop comes from above-average bat speed.

Bogaerts had immediate success at double-A – albeit in a small sample of 23 games – but his approach deteriorated with his walk rate dropping from 9.9% in high-A to 1.0%. He’ll need to be more patient against the advanced pitching in an effort to get the best pitches to drive. A contact I spoke with said Bogaerts has a number of things working in his favor as a hitter, including pitch recognition, consistency, and the potential for plate discipline. He said the young player “gets pull happy and expands the zone a bit” and needs to focus on taking the ball back up the middle; he doesn’t need to pull the ball to hit it with authority.

When I saw him play in A-ball, Bogaerts looked extremely confident despite his inexperience and age. He was watching balls into the catcher’s mitt and taking lots of pitches. I was also impressed by his quiet batting stance and easy-to-repeat hitting mechanics.

The big question with Bogaerts is his future defensive home. Currently a shortstop, there are concerns that the 6’3” infielder could eventually get too big for the position. The contact I spoke with, though, thinks he’ll remain at his current position stating that the prospect has made “impressive fundamental improvements.” He added that Bogaerts possesses a strong arm good range and athleticism.

Now 20, the top prospect in the system could spent the entire season playingin the upper tiers ofthe minor leaguers but could also receivea brief cup of coffee in the majors at the end of the year. Bogaerts has excellent make-up and baseball intellect and should continue to excel despite the mounting attention and pressures of being a future corner stone of the franchise. The contact stated, “He has a good time playing the game and hasn’t been fazed by anything.”

Additional Notes

Early in 2011, Chris Mellen of Sox Prospects mentioned Xander Bogaerts in passing as a player to look out for once he arrived in Greenville. Little did I know Bogaerts would present as one of the best prospects I’ve scouted in person. At best, the Red Sox have an elite offensive force at the shortstop position. A more likely scenario is for Bogaerts to slide to a corner where his ceiling is that of a perennial All-Star. (Mike Newman)

 

#2 Matt Barnes (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
22 25 25 119.2 97 6 10.00 2.18 2.86 2.58

Opening Day Age: 22
2012 Level: A/A+
Acquired: 2011 draft (19th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: AA/AAA

Selected 19th overall in 2011 in a draft that also added fellow Top 15 prospects Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley and Mookie Betts into the system, Barnes dominated A-ball last season and showed continued improvements as a professional. The right-hander’s repertoire includes an above-average fastball that works in the 92-95 mph range and can touch the upper 90s. A contact I spoke with said Barnes needs to improve his fastball command, but it shows an impressive combination of velocity and life.

The prospect also has a curveball that currently flashes above-average and has the potential to be a plus pitch. The key for Barnes, I’m told, is to focus on improving his changeup in an effort to round out his repertoire. The baseball contact I spoke with said the pitcher learned a valuable lesson in 2012 when it came to the importance of the off-speed pitch. “Later in the year when he wasn’t able to rely on the fastball [due too inconsistent command], the changeup became an important weapon for him.”

When I watched Barnes pitch, I was impressed with how quickly he worked. He had an easy delivery and threw a lot of strikes, going right after the hitters. Despite his size, it appears as though he has more room to fill out and add strength to his frame. Barnes should open 2013 in double-A and could reach the majors in the second half of the season. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter and should reach it with continued polish and confidence in his abilities.

 

#3 Jackie Bradley (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
22 576 147 42 9 87 89 23 .317 .431 .483 .411

Opening Day Age: 22
2012 Level: A+/AA
Acquired: 2011 draft (40th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: AA/AAA/MLB

Bradley entered his junior year of college as a potential first round pick but he struggled offensively and ended up having surgery on an injured wrist. Boston wisely nabbed him with the 40th overall selection in the supplemental first round and he’s produced outstanding offensive numbers since turning pro.

The left-handed hitting outfielder reached double-A in his first full season after dominting high-A ball where he posted a 180 wRC+ in 67 games. His batting average dipped below .300 in double-A but he still produced a solid line, showing line-drive pop, a solid feel for the strike zone and held his own against southpaws. He’s not a base stealer but Bradley has some guile on the base paths. Defensively, he has the potential to be a plus defender thanks to his range, arm and instincts. As a talent evaluator stated, “Jackie is an impact defender with uncanny ability to get to the baseball.”

Bradley could open 2013 back in double-A but he should also see significant time in triple-A. He could be ready to assume a full-time position in a big league outfield by 2014. Depending on what happens with Jacoby Ellsbury, Bradley could be Boston’s center- or left-fielder of the future. His skill set could make him a solid No. 2 hitter in the line-up.

 

#4 Allen Webster (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
22 29 24 130.2 133 2 8.89 4.20 3.86 3.26

Opening Day Age: 23
2012 Level: AA
Acquired: 2012 trade (from Dodgers)
Projected 2013 Level: AAA/MLB

After making just two starts after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer during the blockbuster trade involving Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Boston still doesn’t know exactly what they have with Webster, but they’re intrigued. A talent evaluator was impressed with what he saw in a small sample size after the trade, “The pure stuff is impressive… the fastball was consistently in the mid-90s… He has significant upside.”

That same contact stated that Webster flashed a plus breaking ball. He said the young pitcher needs to be more aggressive and attack hitters with his fastball, if he hopes to dominated as much as his stuff indicates he should. When he’s on, the right-hander produces a lot of ground-ball outs thanks to natural sinking action. Although Webster did not showcase his changeup much after switching organizations, the contact I spoke with felt the hurler could still stick in the starting rotation with the three pitches he currently utilizes but that improved command and control are both needed.

Webster spent the 2012 season – split between two organizations – at the double-A level and should be ready for an assignment to triple-A. He’s probably three to six months of seasoning away from contributing at the big league level. The North Carolina native has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter; if his command and control do not improve enough, though, he could perhaps develop into a dominating high-leverage reliever.

Additional Notes

On two separate occasions, Webster was as good as any pitching prospect I’ve seen for four innings. Then, the wheels fell off as the tired and quickly lost velocity. At his best, Webster’s fastball was 94-96 MPH, touching 98. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup which vary in effectiveness depending on the outing. If the Red Sox can help Webster fill out his frame, they have a mid-rotation starter. If not, then the potential is there for him to become a shut down reliever. (Mike Newman)

 

#5 Garin Cecchini (3B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 526 139 38 4 61 90 51 .305 .394 .433 .380

Opening Day Age: 21
2012 Level: A
Acquired: 2010 draft (4th round)
Projected 2013 Level: A+/AA

On the surface, Cecchini is a very interesting prospect. He’s a solid hitter with a good idea of the strike zone and decent pitch recognition. He also possesses good bat speed and will take a walk. Unfortunately, he doesn’t possess the power teams look for from a third baseman (.127 isolate slugging rate in 2012) and the Red Sox organization has a plethora of hot corner options, including big league incumbent Will Middlebrooks and current shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts.

Cecchini stole more than 50 bases in 2012 but he has modest speed and excels due to strong base running instincts. A contact I spoke with said Cecchini is one of the best base runners in the system and is also one of the most advanced hitters. He said the prospect could eventually develop average or better power. “His [current] approach is up the middle and the other way… As he moves up… we’ll see those [power numbers] improve.”

When asked about his defense, the talent evaluator I spoke with said Cecchini needs to improve at third base but he has the arm strength for the position. The contact said he needs to work on his agility and his range going side to side “but he’s definitely shown the ability to stay there.”

When I watched Cecchini play I was quite taken with his abilities at third base. He made a couple of nice running plays – one coming in and one going to his right -on tough ground balls. At the plate, I noticed that he had a wide, well-balanced base with slightly bent knees. He wasn’t afraid to go the other way and took the pitch where it was thrown, not trying to do too much. His swing mechanics were a little inconsistent with a longer swing during his first at-bat before becoming much quicker to the ball as the game progressed. He didn’t always swing atthe best pitches.

Cecchini will open 2013 in high-A ball and should be ready for the majors around late 2014 or 2015. Left-handed hitters with the ability to hit for a high average are often in demand, whether as a big league regular or part-time contributor. The development of his power tool will be key in determining his future role.

Additional Notes

Cecchini is a bit of a tweener whose statistical line was more impressive than his tools on the field. His 50+ steals are simply not sustainable at the higher levels and I question whether he has more than 10-12 home runs in his bat. However, .285/.350/.425 with average defense is still a three win player at the Major League level. (Mike Newman)

 

#6 Henry Owens (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
19 23 22 101.2 100 10 11.51 4.16 4.87 3.49

Opening Day Age: 20
2012 Level: A
Acquired: 2011 draft (36th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: A+

The 36th overall selection during the 2011 amateur draft, Owens did not officially pick up a baseball until 2012 when the organization gave the 19-year-old hurler an aggressive assignment to full-season A-ball. The southpaw responded with a solid season that included 130 strikeouts in 101.2 innings of work.

Owens, now 20, showed signs of tiring late in the year and elevated the ball a lot in August, resulting in very high fly-ball rates — although the 6’6” lefty was always more of a fly-ball pitcher. He needs to learn to leverage his height and get a better downward angle on his pitches to induce more ground-ball outs.

I watched Owens pitch in late August and he had a tendency to fall forward early in his delivery, dragging his arm behind him. He has a cross-fire motion with a low 3/4 arm slot, both of which help add deception to his delivery. I was a little surprised with the lack of life on his fastball. Owens threw heaters almost exclusively until the second inning when the opponents jumped all over him.

He got much better when he started mixing in all three of his pitches. He showed a good, but inconsistent, curveball, and a potentially-plus changeup that he used to strike out some hitters. The fastball command, which was also inconsistent – especially on the arm side – is key for helping him set up the change of pace.

A contact I spoke with said Owens has a chance to be a top-to-mid-rotation starter with further development. “He has a three-pitch mix with a deceptive fastball – up to 94 mph this year – a plus changeup, and a future above-average curveball… He needs to get stronger and that will help him maintain his delivery, command and quality. He is left handed with a very advanced feel for pitching, changing speeds and attacking hitters.”

Additional Notes

Having seen Owens’ final start of the 2012 season, it’s safe to say he was not at his best. The left-hander I did see was 91-93 MPH, touching 94 with an upper-60s curveball and changeup. While I was impressed with his fastball movement and late breaking curveball, it’s impossible to not wonder if such a slow off-speed pitch is a legitimate offering or trickery. (Mike Newman)

 

#7 Blake Swihart (C/DH)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
20 378 90 17 7 26 68 5 .262 .307 .395 .318

Opening Day Age: 21
2012 Level: A
Acquired: 2011 draft (26th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: A+

Switch-hitting catchers with above-average offensive abilities are rare, which helped make Swihart desirable as the 26th overall selection of the 2011 draft out of a New Mexico high school. A $2.5 million contract prevented the athletic backstop from following through on his commitment to the University of Texas.

Swihart’s calling card probably will always be his offense. A contact said, “He is athletic with fast hands and good hand-eye. He’s better when he tries to work through the middle of the field with line drives… He has more line-drive than loft in his swing but some of those line drives will carry the wall.” A future projection of 10-12 home runs and 30-plus doubles was given.

Like all young hitting prospects, Swihart still has work to do at the plate. “He needs to work on his pitch selectivity and let the ball travel more,” the talent evaluator said. “His swing consistency from both sides is a work-in-progress. He believes he can hit anything so he will predetermine swings on occasion which gets him in trouble.” When I personallywatched him play, I felt Swihart could be shorter to the ball and his swing got loopy at times.

Despite his abilities at the plate, there are still some who believe Swihart has a lot of work to do before he proves capable of playing behind the plate at the big league level. The Red Sox organization, though, believes he has a good shot at sticking as a catcher. The contact told me, “He has improved on the basic fundamentals – receiving, blocking, footwork… He takes to instruction well though and is a quick learner. Pitchers like throwing to him.” The same contact also said Swihart as a “plus arm” but tries to be too quick at times when throwing. He said the prospect’s pop times (throwing to second base) are typically in the 1.80 to 1.95 second range.

Despite producing slightly below average offensive numbers in A-ball in 2012 Swihart should move up to high-A ball and, with some adjustments, could taste double-A by the end of the year.

Additional Notes

Swihart presented as a solid, all-around catching prospect. And while he presented with no real weakness, nothing about his tools screamed former first round pick either. As an older 2011 draft pick, Swihart was age appropriate for the South Atlantic League leaving his offensive numbers a bit concerning. For a prospect considered to be an offense first catcher, he’ll certainly need to hit more to maintain his lofty prospect status. (Mike Newman)

 

#8 Jose Iglesias (SS)


Age PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld WAR
22 77 1 1 .118 .200 .191 .186 4 7.2 0.3

Opening Day Age: 23
2012 Level: AAA/MLB
Acquired: 2009 international FA
Projected 2013 Level: AAA/MLB

Iglesias has been touted as the Red Sox’s shortstop of the future since signing out of Cuba in 2009. Despite being young and undeveloped with the bat, his glove work pushed him through the system quickly and he reached triple-A – with a cup of coffee in the majors – in just his second pro season.

Iglesias will probably never be an impact hitter (my favorite comp for him is Cesar Izturis) but a talent evaluator I spoke with said he really improved his offensive approach in 2012 despite being challenged at such a high level of pro ball. The contact said the young shortstop is currently learning to handle a variety of pitches, rather than focusing solely on fastballs. The club would like to see Iglesias stick to a game plan at the plate and get on base at a higher clip. He has good speed and could swipe double digit bag totals at the big league level.

Although there are concerns about his offense, there are few – if any – questions about his ability to field his position. The middle infielder has outstanding hands, foot work, range and a strong arm. Iglesias’ defensive wizardry will likely make him a big league regular even if his offense stagnates at its current level. As the talent evaluator put it, “His defense is at an elite level… It’s something every club would want.” The Cuban should open 2013 as the club’s starter at shortstop.

 

#9 Deven Marrero (SS/DH)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 284 66 14 2 34 48 24 .268 .358 .374 .351

Opening Day Age: 22
2012 Level: A-
Acquired: 2012 draft (24th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: A+

Marrero entered his junior year of college the same way he entered his senior year of high school – as a potential first round pick. However, for the second time in his amateur career, various unanswered questions caused him to slide a little bit in the draft – but not to the extent that his signability murkiness caused him to slip in 2009 (to the 17th round). The Red Sox were able to get the sure-handed shortstop with the 24th overall selection.

Some teams were concerned with Marrero’s offensive struggles in 2011-12, while others questioned his drive. Boston was just thrilled to get a player that the organization had coveted since his prep days, according to a contact I spoke with. “I don’t really think he struggled with the bat as much as I do that he struggled to live up to the expectations of being the first college position player taken,” the contact said. “Look at the difference in performance – in 2012, he struck out less and hit for more power. He put some unneeded pressure on himself and it caused him to have an erratic junior year.”

Those who love Marrero as a top prospect point to strong athleticism and steady defense. He possesses a strong arm and good range. At the plate, Marrero is streaky and inconsistent but he shows gap power and the ability to produce a solid batting average. He appeared more motivated in pro ball and flashed some potential on the base paths with 24 steals (six caught stealing) in 64 games; he’s not a burner but he has above-average speed. Marrero also did a nice job of working the count and taking some free passes while limiting his strikeouts. He could end up being a solid No. 2 hitter in the lineup.

The talent evaluator I spoke with agreed that Marrero still had polishing to do on his game: “He needs to continue to work on all aspects of the game – he has unbelievable instincts but will try and do too much on both sides of the ball.” The young shortstop will likely open 2013 in high-A ball and a strong first half could push him to double-A. He’s currently stuck behind fellow shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias but, if he develops as the Red Sox hope and Xander Bogaerts is shifted to another position, Marrero’s well-rounded game could make him the shortstop of the future in Boston.

Additional Notes

I’m not sure how Marrero’s agent netted him a two million dollar signing bonus, but I want that guy negotiating my next salary! The Arizona State product is a solid all-around shortstop, but profiles as more of a solid regular than player who excels in any area. Of course that has considerable value in today’s game, but his bonus seems a bit steep considering the Mets first round pick, also a shortstop, received about $800,000 less. (Mike Newman)

 

#10 Brandon Workman (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
23 25 25 138.2 127 12 8.44 1.62 3.50 3.01

Opening Day Age: 24
2012 Level: A+/AA
Acquired: 2010 draft (2nd round)
Projected 2013 Level: AA/AAA

Workman is another Red Sox college draft pick who has been a top prospect since his high schools days, having spurned the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2007 (as a third round selection) to play ball at the University of Texas. Finally signed in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft, the right-hander reached double-A in just his second full season in pro ball. He’s produced very consistent numbers as a professional.

A scout familiar with Workman during both his high school and college days said that the pitcher has come a long way in his development. “As a high schooler, Brandon had a plus fastball and curveball but lacked a real off-speed pitch and his command was not very sharp. He developed his cutter at the University of Texas with the help of pitching coach Skip Johnson and it became a real weapon for him as he continued to improve his ability to locate. By the time (he was drafted) he had plus control.”

When I watched Workman pitch, he showed a good pitcher’s frame with a three-quarter arm slot. He threw a heavy fastball but was not doing a good job of mixing in his secondary pitches. However, the scout I spoke with believes that both Workman’s fastball and curveball are plus pitches. “I think he’ll be a starter based on his mix, great strength, durability and his control. Now he’s developed the changeup and he has a starter’s mix to go along with it. There is effort in delivery and arm action but he has no problems repeating (it). He’s so big and strong that he can handle it.”

For me, Workman appears to be a future No. 3 or 4 starter who should be capable of providing lots of innings at the big league. He will likely open 2013 back at double-A but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him up with the big league club at some point if the pitching staff struggles with injuries.

Additional Notes

After posting solid peripherals between High-A and Double-A in 2012, I can’t help but think Workman’s rank is more due to statistical success than pure stuff. The best Brandon Workman I’ve seen has a heavy, 92-94 MPH sinking fastball and curveball he can throw for strikes. At his worst, Workman strikes me as a seventh inning bullpen arm. (Mike Newman)

 

#11 Drake Britton (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
23 26 24 129.2 128 8 8.19 3.96 4.44 3.62

Opening Day Age: 23
2012 Level: A+/AA
Acquired: 2007 draft (23rd round)
Projected 2013 Level: AA/AAA

Britton has had an up-and-down career since signing out of a Texas high school back in 2007, which also included Tommy John surgery in 2008. He entered the 2011 season as one of Boston’s most promising pitching prospects but had a complete meltdown in high-A ball. He rebounded in 2012 – despite a slow start – and made 16 encouraging starts in double-A.

A scout I spoke with said the Tommy John surgery that Britton had definitely slowed his progress. “I believe that the further away he gets from the surgery, the better he becomes… Consistency with his stuff in the zone is the main thing he has to improve to become a successful major leaguer. The stuff is there and it’s all plus… This type of left-handed arm just doesn’t fall off many trees.” Britton’s repertoire includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. I watched the southpaw pitch and he had a thicker lower half that hinted at strong legs – a necessity for any pitcher – but he didn’t have the smoothest delivery. He also struggled to keep his shoulder closed from the stretch.

Because of his past struggles, the organization may choose to be cautious with Britton and send him back to double-A to begin 2013 but a strong spring training could vault him to triple-A. He has the ceiling of a No. 3 or 4 starter but could also end up in the bullpen if consistency continues to elude him.

 

#12 Bryce Brentz (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
23 589 156 31 19 46 153 9 .292 .351 .464 .365

Opening Day Age: 24
2012 Level: AA/AAA
Acquired: 2010 draft (36th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: AAA

He hasn’t shown it in his professional numbers to date – in terms of massive home run numbers – but Brentz possesses impressive raw power and could be Boston’s right-fielder of the (near) future. A scout I spoke with said, “Bryce has an extremely fast barrel and is capable of getting to his power anywhere in the zone.” Like most power hitters, though, the former supplemental first round pick strikes out a lot but his aggressive nature also leads to modest walk rates. The scout I spoke with said Brentz was always a competitive player. “This is an area where his competitiveness maybe working against him. He – like a lot of young players – has to learn to control his effort level and that it is OK to take a walk sometimes.”

Brentz is a decent hitter who is not a dead pull hitter but he still struggles with breaking balls. His batting averages in the minors have been buoyed by high – and likely unsustainable – BABIP rates; when he reaches the majors expect his average to be more in the .250-.270 range.

He’s not a great runner and his speed is slightly below average so his range in the outfield will be a tick below average. His plus arm strength makes up for any inadequacies in the field. As one scout put it, “He was able to throw 94 off the mound (as an amateur). Whenever he threw from the outfield it was a very playable arm, capable of fitting a right-field profile. (The) strongest amateur arm I ever saw was Jeff Franceour but Bryce was second.”

A former two-way player in college, Brentz was a little behind the eight ball when he entered pro ball but has now had to opportunity to focus on full-time hitting for the past three seasons. He’ll likely open 2013 at triple-A Pawtucket but could reach the majors at some point during the second half of the season.

Additional Notes

When Bryce Brentz posts a BABIP of .370+, prospect followers get excited and forget he strikes out more than 25% of the time. Having seen Brentz in 2011, I saw him as more of a second division starter who may struggle to break through in Boston where success is expected immediately. I’m a bit more confident in his abilities now that his numbers have maintained at the upper levels. (Mike Newman)

 

#13 Brandon Jacobs (OF)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 487 110 30 13 39 128 17 .252 .322 .410 .330

Opening Day Age: 22
2012 Level: A+
Acquired: 2009 draft (10th round)
Projected 2013 Level: AA

Jacobs appeared at No. 10 on my Red Sox Top 15 prospect list last year but a disappointing season in high-A ball dragged him down to the No. 13 slot this year. Despite his obvious struggles and step backward in 2012 he still managed to provide league-average offense. A contact I spoke with felt the prospect’s season was not that bad. “He was coming off a good year (in 2011)… He was in a less friendly hitting environment… and he maybe tried to do too much,” he said. “It was a learning experience for him… Has some work to do on his mechanics.”

I watched Jacobs play earlier this year and noted that he holds his hands very high and has a noisy load. He looked like he was swinging around the ball instead of keeping his hands inside the ball with a short swing path. When he’s going well, the former prep star shows impressive raw power and base running aptitude. His strikeout rates will probably always keep him from hitting for a high average but he could be a 20-15 (home runs-steals) player at the big league level, although he’s not a pure base stealer by any means. Jacobs has played both left and center field in pro ball but the talent evaluator I spoke with felt his best position would probably be left field because of his modest arm strength and solid range.

He should move up to double-A in 2013 at the age of 22. If he can continue to tighten up his pitch recognition and approach at the plate, Jacobs could be a solid big league contributor as early as mid-2014.

Additional Notes

Entering 2012, Jacobs was ranked in every major top-100 and deservedly so. With reports of a hamate injury slowing him down for much of the season, he might deserve a mulligan. However, prospect lists simply don’t work that way, so Jacobs takes a big hit. A rebound in 2013 has him back in the top five. Being that Jacobs made such huge strides in 2011, I wouldn’t bet against him. (Mike Newman)

 

#14 Anthony Ranaudo (P)


Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
22 9 9 37.2 41 4 6.45 6.45 6.69 5.54

Opening Day Age: 23
2012 Level: AA
Acquired: 2010 draft (39th overall)
Projected 2013 Level: AA/AAA

Not only is Ranaudo one of the most enigmatic prospects in the Red Sox system, he might be one of the biggest head-scratchers in professional baseball. He looked like a sure-fire first round draft pick after his sophomore season of college before suffering a stress fracture in his elbow. Boston still took him with the 39th selection of the 2010 draft and handed him more than $2.5 million based on past performances and scouting reports.

A contact I spoke with said,”We had a good process on Anthony’s medical history and we knew there was risk involved in regards to his elbow, but were confident with a conservative approach to his developmental path he would get healthy and on track… The elbow has been sound but the pulled groin coming out of spring training really set him back.” Ranaudo made only six starts in 2012, all at the double-A level. The good news, though, is that he’s pitching in the Puerto Rico winter league and reportedly flashed very good stuff in his debut.

Ranaudo is a monster of a man, standing 6’7” and weighing about 230 lbs so he should be able to provide a good number of innings if his elbow and shoulder hold up. If not, though, perhaps a future as a high leverage reliever. Both his fastball and curveball have the chance to be plus pitches while a scout I spoke with suggested a future grade of 55 (slightly above average) on his changeup.

People familiar with Ranaudo believe he’ll overcome all the adversity he’s faced to this point in his pitching career. The contact I spoke with said, “If you talk with anyone with the Red Sox Anthony is one of those unique young men who has plus-plus make-up. He has faced a lot of adversity thus far but it hasn’t changed his approach or commitment level. Hopefully he will have a great off season and be heathy coming into 2013.” If he can stay on the mound and continue to show the stuff he’s flashed this winter, Ranaudo could reach triple-A in 2013 and possibly the majors in 2014.

Additional Notes

In 2011, contacts kept telling me the same thing in regards to Ranaudo. He profiles as a durable, mid-rotation starter, but why the two-plus million dollar signing bonus? After a 2012 which saw Ranaudo post a 6.45 BB/9 in Double-A, those contacts were proven correct for the moment. (Mike Newman)

 

#15 Mookie Betts (2B)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 292 67 8 0 32 30 20 .267 .352 .307 .322

Opening Day Age: 20
2012 Level: A-
Acquired: 2011 draft (5th round)
Projected 2013 Level: A

The 15th slot on the list came down to a few names and I eventually settled on Betts, who narrowly edged out 2012 draftee and right-handed prep hurler Ty Buttrey. The diminutive second baseman spend 2012 playing at the age of 19 against much older competition in the New York Penn League. He understands his game, and his limitations, and focuses on controlling the strike zone, getting on base and using his legs. He’s working to become a steady defender at second base.

In 2012, Betts walked more than he struck out – and impressive feat for his age and experience level – and also stole 20 bases in 24 attempts. A talent evaluator I spoke with assessed the prospect: “He has a very advanced feel for the zone and always seems to be in control of his at-bats. He has good speed, instincts, and athleticism.” At 5’9” with a slender frame, he needs to get stronger so he’s not over-matched at higher levels. His month-by-month splits suggest that he wore down as the season progressed despite playing in short-season ball.

The contact I spoke with about Betts agreed that the prospect has work to do. “As with all high school players, he needs to get stronger and continue to get at-bats… He just needs to keep playing baseball and developing in the field and at the plate.” The Tennessee native should move up to full season A-ball in 2013 for the first time in his career and should move fairly methodically through the system.

His overally package of tools is probably not a threat to incumbent second baseman Dustin Pedroia and the infield glut of prospects – which is a great ‘problem’ for Boston to have – could push the youngster to a utlity role if he can diversify his defensive abilities and isn’t used as future trade bait.

Additional Notes

Betts is an athletic second baseman with gap power and strong contact skills. Unfortunately, his arm will keep him out of the shortstop picture which hurts his value. I like Betts as a sleeper, but would probably have Vinicio ranked here instead. He’s younger, just as athletic and profiles as a true shortstop. (Mike Newman)




Print This Post



Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


42 Responses to “Boston Red Sox Top 15 Prospects (2012-13)”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Tom says:

    You’ve got Marrero listed as SS/DH, but he’s a “steady defender” and a “solid all around shortstop.” Is the DH tag just because competition in the organization might necessitate a position change, or are there concerns about his defense?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BigNachos says:

      I think the DH tag is there because he played half of his games as DH–probably splitting time with another shortstop?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Clifford says:

      Competition at SS within the Red Sox Organization? Huh? There’s more competition at DH(Papi/Brentz/Lavarnway/Sands/Gomez) than there is at SS. Outside of Bogaerts, im not sure theres another even C+ level SS prospect in their system. While Iglesias is an elite defensive player, I think he could struggle to hit .220. When that terrible average comes with absolutely no power, that’s hard to stomach from any position, especially in the AL.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jonathan says:

        Brentz is an OF, not a DH. He’s considered roughly average in RF, not really a DH projection.

        Sands isn’t a DH either, he’s considered a 1B/corner OF.

        Lavarnway’s a maybe. Depends on whether he can improve at catching.

        Gomez isn’t a prospect and may not even retain his 40 man roster spot.

        Comparatively, they have Bogaerts, Marrero, Vinicio and Iglesias at SS in their system’s top 20 prospects. There’re actually very few high projection batting prospects in the Sox system that may not play the field (Lavarnway, maybe Brandon Jacobs as he’s already struggling defensively as a LF), so not really a lot of depth at DH. In all likelihood, they’ll go with the typical rotating DH model employed around most of the AL once Ortiz retires. This also discounts the far, far outside chance of De Jesus at SS.

        Despite the revolving door at the MLB level, the Sox actually have quite a few potential options at SS in their system.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • brian says:

        If Bogaerts can stick at short there is no competition, outside of Profar and Machado there isn’t a more talented bat at the position.

        But if he can’t they absolutely have tons of competition. Iglesias, Vinicio, Marrero, and Lin are all likely to stick at short and have a realistic shot at being starting shortstops. It’s doubtful they ALL will because of the nature of prospects, but what other organization contains five shortstop prospects with realistic MLB futures? I’m pretty sure you’re just talking about the 2013 shortstop competition, but check the article, we’re talking about prospects here.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jack says:

        With all the talk about the SS you are all forgetting that Ciriaco is still pretty good and a better hitter than Iglesias

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jim in NC says:

        Wow, the claim that there is no other C+ SS in the Boston system is a pretty extreme view. Most would rate Iglesias, Vinicio, and Marrero that high or higher, and Tzu-Wei Lin from Taiwan and Dominican Raymel Flores had nice debuts.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • sklandog says:

        There’s no question that Papi is the DH. Having a glut of offensively productive prospects who are already at the bad end of the defensive spectrum (Lavarnway doesn’t fit this description if he sticks at C, obviously) doesn’t make it a competition. It’s like having a drawer full of screwdrivers, only one of which is in good condition and not broken or mangled. Or something like that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Nick V says:

    Wow, that’s pretty low for Brentz. I’d disagree that his immense power hasn’t shown itself as a pro. He hit 30 home runs in 115 games in 2011 (~a HR every 15 ABs) and killed it this year in the AAA playoffs.

    There are definitely questions about his being able to hit well enough to make use of that power in the bigs, but I’m surprised to see a guy you think will make the big leagues next year so low on the list.

    Also, where would Sands and Rubby be here, if they qualified?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Clifford says:

      He was also playing A-Ball at age 22 in 2011. Not exactly what I would consider young for that level. Can you say Jorge Vazquez?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick V says:

        No, but his power showed, which was my point. Also, it was his first full year of pro ball, and the majority of it was spent in A+. So, not young but not crazy old either.

        Not sure what Jorge Vazquez has to do with anything, he was never a prospect…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ben says:

        Another angle on this: If he were 22 coming out of college and went straight to A-ball and hit 30 homers in 115 games, how would people feel about him?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Marc Hulet says:

      Rubby would probably be between Bradley and Webster… at No. 2 if it sounded like he was a sure-fire starter going forward.

      Not sure about Sands, off the top of my head, but it would be fairly low on the list.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • sklandog says:

      Nick – It’s likely that the author is using the ol’ talent evaluator practice of weighting heavily tools and defensive position in the rankings.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. B N says:

    As a Red Sox fan who hasn’t been tracking the farm very much this year, I can’t say I find this list encouraging. I know that by definition, prospect lists tend to focus on upside- looking for the spark of talent that might bring a guy to the majors for good. You don’t see a lot of prospect lists that say: “This guy projects to have a couple of spotty years with part-time play, then go out of the majors for good.” Adjusting for that, I’m seeing:

    Bogaerts – Moves to 3B, which may or may not be a blocked position at that point and hits fairly well (2-4 WAR)
    Barnes – Ceiling of #2 = #4 starter, generally
    Webster – Good, but gets tired and loses command as a starter? Sounds like future setup man.
    Bradley – Tore up A but numbers took a dip in AA? Sounds like another year or two in the farm unless the club gets desperate. At least he sounds like a starter, maybe.
    Owens/Swihart/Morrero – Scratch tickets who may contribute at the MLB level?
    Iglesias – Value slipping every year, because he still can’t hit. While the favorite comp might be Caesar Izturis, that means he’s borderline to stick in the league.
    Brandon Jacobs – Possibly a league-average OF if his prior success was real? Or a platoon guy?

    So one above-average IF, one average/below-average starter, a quality reliever, a backup SS, and… a bunch of scratch tickets. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like the Red Sox have done great work with a consistently poor draft position. However, given that they’ve been trading players for prospects lately and they have quite a few holes to address, I would have hoped to see a bit more to rely on. It’s also bad to have no MLB-ready help at 1B when you have a hole at the position and the FA market doesn’t offer much (e.g. Sox are looking into LaRoche).

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jonathan says:

      “As a Red Sox fan who hasn’t been tracking the farm very much this year, I can’t say I find this list encouraging.”

      That’s a personal issue. You summarized the massive flaw in your analysis right there. If you don’t follow the system at all, how can you form anything approaching a valid opinion based on little blurbs? Every prospect has caveats. All told, post-Mathis trade, the Sox probably have the second best farm system in their division.

      “Bogaerts – Moves to 3B, which may or may not be a blocked position at that point and hits fairly well (2-4 WAR)”

      Fairly well is an understatement. He’s considered one of the best hitting prospects in the minors (Not just the Sox system). The article also notes that a lot of scouts have come around and think he may stick at SS. Even if he doesn’t, Middlebrooks isn’t blocking him. Either WMB gets traded or Bogaerts gets worked into a corner OF spot.

      “Barnes – Ceiling of #2 = #4 starter, generally”

      Or a #2 or a #3. Welcome to projection.

      “Bradley – Tore up A but numbers took a dip in AA? Sounds like another year or two in the farm unless the club gets desperate. At least he sounds like a starter, maybe.”

      Maybe you should look up the stats. Yeah, he took a dip from high A, where he destroyed pitching to the tune of a 1.006 OPS. He “dipped” to an .809 OPS. He moved from college grad to high minors in less than a year, that’s aggressive promotion and impressive production. The only reason he even stuck at high A as long as he did was to let him play in that league’s All Star Game.

      “Owens/Swihart/Morrero – Scratch tickets who may contribute at the MLB level?”

      This is the case of pretty much all but maybe two or three given prospects in the entire game at any given time.

      +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        Wow, talk about breaking out the hatorade. I have previously followed the Red Sox prospects, just not over the last year and change. Clearly, we all must follow your lofty standards to have a “valid opinion.” You also seem to assume that after reading the article, I just rush out and comment, rather than reading some additional analysis on these guys.

        Also, thank you for trying to make my opinions into strawmen by presenting irrelevent arguments. Responses here:

        Bogaerts – I am well aware he his a top hitting prospect. Go take the average of top 5 hitting prospect WAR and I would expect an average close to 3 and a StdDev of 1 during their productive years. Obviously, that’s a useful piece. However, he may be blocked. As you said, he could move from 3B to OF… with a -10 run positional adjustment. That is a full win. Is a 1 WAR difference insignificant now? Having too many prospects at a position leads to losing value in trades or losing value in positional adjustments. Obviously, if Middlebrooks flames out this is irrelevant, but that would also be bad.

        Barnes – “Welcome to projection.” Indeed. We should always project optimistically, like Congressional budgeting. Why project the mean or the median? Crazy talk! The average 6-year total for a top-50 pitching prospect is around 5.5, so a bit under 2 WAR per year (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18485). While Barnes may be a #2 or #3 guy, the mean quality for a top pitching prospect seems to be (optimistically) a #4 starter. Does no one else find it weird that if prospect lists were even close to central, we’d have an extra ten #2 starters every year?

        Bradley – The guy legitimately sounds interesting, but a couple years off. Unreasonable?

        Scratch tickets – “This is the case of pretty much all but maybe two or three given prospects in the entire game at any given time.” Actually, given improved prospect analysis, I would say this is not true. Just in this very thread, we’ve noted two guys on a single club who are likely to provide positive production at the MLB level. Assuming each club has one or two such guys, we’d have 30-60 near-sure producers at the MLB level. Maybe not high-impact, but regulars. These guys are obviously not evenly distributed during any given year. There have been other years when the Red Sox farm was stronger, others where it was much weaker.

        My opinion basically boils down to:
        1. I remember times when the Red Sox had very strong farm, with more impact talent.
        2. The Red Sox now have what I’d think of as an average farm group, but with reasonable depth.
        3. Unfortunately, their strongest pieces do not match their positions of need.

        Are any of these really unreasonable or worthy of hatorade?

        -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • KyleL says:

        The problem I see is that you’re looking at it like everything you’re saying only applies to the Red Sox prospects. If you say that Bogaerts is a top hitting prospect, but the average WAR for a top hitting prospect is 3 WAR, the same has to be said of ALL of the top hitting prospects, and if Barnes being a top pitching prospect means he’s (“optimistically”) a #4, the same has to be said of ALL of the top pitching prospects. So, what you should really be doing is looking at how their system compares to all the other systems, and regardless of what qualifiers you put on their projections they look really good comparatively (assuming you put the same qualifiers on everyone and not just the Red Sox’s prospects).

        And anyway, looking at averages and trying to apply it to prospects’ futures is an exercise in futility. It’s like saying “well, right fielder’s average 3 WAR so we should expect this right fielder to put up 3 WAR.” It just doesn’t really work that way; people have projections for these guys for a reason.

        Also, Bradley is expected to be in AAA early next year, and could very legitimately be in the majors by the end of the season. So yeah, saying he’s a couple years away is kind of unreasonable.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • sklandog says:

      I believe it’s prudent to be bullish on prospects, but your post has me considering putting an end to myself. Lighten up. You may be guilty of reversing the norm and cherry-picking negative views. Simultaneously depressing and refreshing.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        I don’t know. I just feel like when you look at the actual average performance of top prospects it is very… sobering. To be fair, the Red Sox farm is in better shape than many (particularly among teams who have played well over the last 5 years). If you count Rubby de la Rosa, there’s probably three potential impact guys lying around.

        Additionally, if Bogaerts sticks at SS? That’s solid gold, right there. That would fill a hole of need with ++ talent, potentially for a few years. However, everyone seems to suspect that probably won’t happen (and in my experience, when everyone’s worried a prospect will need to change positions… he almost always does). But nobody in the system will make the Sox compete this year, from what I can see. 2014 also seems a bit up in the air, depending.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Chief Keef says:

          Captain Hindsight coming to laugh at everything you said in the past. Man, you had some terrible comments.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Michael Scarn says:

    Jose Iglesias had 0.3 WAR despite a wRC+ of 4 (!!!). If he can hit .240/.300/.310 he’d have like a 5 WAR season.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MyrEn says:

      If nothing else, I love having bench players who are strong in the field and on the basebaths….

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Greg says:

      Small sample size.

      If a guy was called up for a couple of series and had a really good week at the plate, would you assume that’s the baseline for his offensive ability?

      Iglesias had a 0.3 UZR this year due to his high UZR. Given that three years of UZR is supposed to be about as meaningful as one year of offensive metrics and that Iglesias played 193.2 innings in the field this year (~21.5 9-inning games worth), that would mean his UZR this year is about as meaningful as 7 games of offensive data. Trying to project anything from it is laughable.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • brian says:

        Agreed with the small sample, but Iglesias is widely regarded as the best defensive shortstop in the past decade. I think Keith Law referred to watching him take infield as baseball porn. So yeah, using UZR samples over a few weeks is dumb, but if he hit .240/.300 he’d be a very valuable cost controlled shortstop…so what are we talking about?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Michael Scarn says:

        Obviously I’m not expecting him to put up a UZR/150 of >100, but as certainly as that will regress, his offense will regress to the mean from a wRC+ of 4. The point is that his fielding is so excellent that if he’s merely a very bad hitter, instead of a truly atrocious one, then he’ll still be a very valuable player. Whether or not he can make the hitting leap from truly miserable to very bad is very much in question, though.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Patrick says:

        I tend to put more emphasis on age with respect to level than others, so I don’t think we really know whether Iglesias will hit or not. What a 20 year old doesn’t do at AA or a 21 year old doesn’t do at AAA are essentially meaningless. In the case of Iglesias, I think we lack data that he can hit more than have data that he can’t.

        My gut feeling, looking at all the numbers, is that he will EVENTUALLY put up OPS’s of .700 to .750, which, combined with his glove, will make him a 3.5 to 4 WAR player for a long time. But I don’t think he is going to do anything like that in 2013 or 2014.

        Along with Will Middlebrooks, who is recovering from a broken wrist and may not see his power return immediately, the Red Sox have two interesting players that will test their patience and that of infamously impatient fans.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tom says:

        Patrick – you think he will be a league average hitter?

        MLB average last year (all positions) was a .724 OPS
        Average at SS was .685 OPS

        For a guy who walks at an ~5%-7% clip, that projection seems rather optimistic as I don’t think he has the power and with a walk rate in that range (maybe he gets it to 7-8%?) he will not be a high OBP guy.either

        I wouldn’t say there is no chance – but a .700-.750 OPS seems rather optimistic and when you are projecting him in this range you are projecting him as an above average MLB SS from a hitting perspective.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Clifford says:

        i would really like to know where you saw someone say that Iglesias is the best defensive SS of the last decade

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Synovia says:

      ” .240/.300/.310 ”

      Thats about .100 OPS points higher than his MLEs suggest he’ll hit.

      He hit .266/.318/.306 in AAA this year.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. KyleL says:

    My only real question is why it suggests Bradley is either their future CF or LF depending on Ellsbury, why wouldn’t he be their RF if Ellsbury sticks around? His plus arm and above average range would be completely wasted in Fenway’s tiny LF, and RF in Fenway really takes someone capable of playing CF to really cover well.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • brian says:

      If Ellsbury stays in Boston long term he’d be moved to LF, Bradley is a better defender and I don’t think it’s close.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Marc Hulet says:

        Managers do funny things for veterans at times, though

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jonathan says:

        What Marc said. I do agree that LF is not the place for Bradley, though. If Ellsbury is retained, Bradley will end up in RF, where his strong arm will actually be useful.

        Even with Ellsbury being the probable inferior defender, he likely won’t be displaced for a rookie. It may not be the smart baseball move, but it’s the common practice.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. ODawg says:

    This list looks a lot better than the last few years, if I remember correctly. Good to see for a Sox fan.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. BullChip says:

    I am encouraged after reading this, especially when you consider that the only piece received from LA included was Webster. I have read other opinions on Rubby and Sands that are equally encouraging. Maybe toughing out the ’13 campaign has some merit, as some have suggested.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. dormroomgm says:

    Where did you get your info that the Mets’ first round draft pick, Gavin Cecchini, got $800,000 less than Marrero? Cecchini actually got more than Marrero, from what I can tell. You may have been looking at Garin Cecchini’s signing bonus with the Red Sox…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. These are promising statistics, I hope it helps out the team this season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. coby76 says:

    Your pick on Betts turns out to be great. He was totally under the radar last season and you may be the only expert paying attention on his potential even though his stat line was mediocre and his size is very small. Good job.

    Vote -1 Vote +1