Top 10 Prospects: The Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox
2010 MLB Record: 89-73 (third place, AL East)
Minor League Power Ranking: 11th (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Jose Iglesias, SS
Acquired: 2009 non-drafted free agent (Cuba)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: SS/AA
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Iglesias vaults to the top of the Red Sox prospect rankings after the Adrian Gonzalez trade with San Diego. The Cuban shortstop had a solid first pro season in North America by hitting .285/.315/.357 in 221 at-bats. On the down side, Iglesias clearly has work to do when it comes to his aggressiveness at the plate. He posted a walk rate of just 3.4 BB%, while his strikeout rate sat at 22.2 K%. I’d like to see him be a little more balanced at the plate; after watching Iglesias in the Arizona Fall League, he does get out on his front foot a little too often against off-speed pitches. The 21-year-old’s value is tied heavily to his glove. He’s a slick fielder who could probably play defense in the Majors right now. He has quick hands and feet, good range as well as a strong arm. Because he struggled after the regular season during the AFL (.265 wOBA), Iglesias could head back to double-A to begin the 2011 season.

2. Drake Britton, LHP
Acquired: 2007 23rd round (Texas HS)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: The Sox originally swayed Britton away from a Texas A&M scholarship with a $700,000 paycheck in 2007. Unfortunately, he hurt his elbow in ’08 and missed most of ’09 after Tommy John surgery. Britton pitched a career high 78.2 innings in ’10 and opened a lot of eyes but durability is still a big question mark. The southpaw has a plus fastball – both in terms of velocity (91-94 mph) and sink (50 GB%). His secondary pitches – a curveball and changeup – also have a lot of potential. Britton missed a lot of bats in ’10 with a strikeout rate of 9.72 K/9 and he also showed improve control with a walk rate sitting at 2.63 BB/9. He uses a three-quarter arm slot and takes a long stride. Britton shows pretty good balance on the mound. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter and should move up to high-A in 2011 where he’ll look to break the 100-inning mark for the first time.

3. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
Acquired: 2010 supplemental 1st round (Louisiana State U)
Pro Experience: None
2010 MiLB Level: None
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Ranaudo was considered a first round talent entering the 2010 college season. Unfortunately, a stress fracture in his elbow sidelined him for a significant period of time and he then posted disappointing numbers. Undeterred, the club took a flyer on him with a supplemental first round pick and followed him in the Cape Cod League. Ranaudo dominated the summer league against top college talent and ended up with a paycheck of more than $2 million. He didn’t pitch during the regular season after signing. He has a strong repertoire with a 90-95 mph fastball, a solid breaking ball and a good changeup. Ranaudo has a good pitcher’s frame and takes a long stride on the mound. He does tend to fall forward in front of the rubber during his delivery at times and needs to stay tall. His delivery was smoother than I had expected given his checkered injury history. Ranaudo has the ceiling of a No. 1 or 2 starter if his history of elbow problems are behind him.

4. Josh Reddick, OF
Acquired: 2006 17th round (Georgia JC)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: With the surprise acquisition of Carl Crawford, the Sox’s outfield has become even less inviting to Reddick, who could now be trade bait with Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald, and Ryan Kalish ahead of him. He will likely face his third taste of triple-A in 2011 but he has yet to truly prove himself at that level of play. In ’10, he hit a respectable .266/.301/.466 in 451 at-bats, while flashing good power (.200 ISO rate). He hit well in the second half of the season, so the club will no doubt hope that is a sign of things to come. Reddick posted a walk rate of just 5.2 BB% but he maintained a solid strikeout rate (16.2 K%) considering his power output. When he stays quiet and tall in his stance, his swing looks good. At times, though, it seems like he struggles to get his hands moving. Defensively, he’s solid and can play all three outfield spots but his strong arm makes him an attractive asset in right field. At worst, he should develop into a solid fourth outfielder on a contending team.

5. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
Acquired: 2006 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Just 20, Pimentel posted a 3.82 FIP in 128.2 high-A innings in 2010. He showed solid control with a walk rate of just 2.94 K/9 and missed a respectable number of bats (7.13 K/9). Pimentel’s repertoire includes a low-to-mid 90s fastball, excellent changeup and improving breaking ball. Since signing, he’s added about 50 pounds and projects as a durable, innings-eater with the ceiling of a No. 3 starter. I am a little concerned about his conditioning and he’s going to have to watch his weight – he’s getting thick around the middle. Pimentel’s arm slot does vary and more advanced hitters are going to pick up on that. He should open 2011 in double-A.

6. Felix Doubront, LHP
Acquired: 2004 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 5 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Doubront has a slightly lower ceiling than Pimentel, but the southpaw could be the first pitcher called upon by the Sox if an injury strikes the starting rotation. He appeared in 12 big leagues games in 2010 and he could open the season in the bullpen. Doubront produced solid numbers in both double-A and triple-A in ’10 and he has little left to prove in the minors. His control is average and he strikes out a fair number of batters (8.27 K/9 in AAA). He produces solid ground-ball numbers. Doubront’s repertoire includes a low-90s fastball, cutter, changeup and curveball. It’s easy to see from his delivery that he could be a dominating LOOGY; his delivery has solid deception to it. Doubront has a fairly easily delivery but he takes a pretty short stride and lands on a pretty stiff front leg.

7. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B
Acquired: 2010 1st round (Ball State U)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: A-/A
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: A two-way player in college, Vitek could really take off now that he’s focusing on hitting full time. He doesn’t have one outstanding tool but he’s a solid all-around hitter who projects to hit for a solid average with 15-20 homers – there is still room for him to fill out and add muscle – and even 10-15 steals. He’s played a number of different positions on the diamond and spent the majority of his time at third base during his pro debut. But he’s probably best suited for the outfield, though he lacks consistent range for center field and the power for a corner spot. He was helped by a .357 BABIP in his debut in short-season ball and managed a line of .270/.360/.422 with an ISO rate of .152. Vitek showed good patience with a walk rate of 10.9 BB% but he struck out at a high rate (29.9 K%). Watching him at the plate, I’m not a huge fan of his hand placement or his load.

8. Lars Anderson, 1B
Acquired: 2006 18th round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Anderson has experienced a lot of ups and downs over the past few seasons. His main competition for the position of first baseman of the future in Boston was helped by the trade of Anthony Rizzo, but veteran first sacker Adrian Gonzalez made his way to the Red Sox in the swap. Luckily for Anderson, Gonzalez has yet to sign a long-term contract to remain with the organization. The youngster, who’s still just 23, made his MLB debut in 2010 after a so-so season in triple-A where he hit .262/.340/.428 in 409 at-bats. One big question about Anderson right now is his lack of power over the past two seasons. His ISO rate was just .112 in ’09 and .166 in ’10. I like the placement of his hands in his stance, as well as his level shoulders. What Anderson could do, though, is keep his eye on the ball through to the catcher’s mitt; he pulls off on the ball at times, which leads to some of his contact issues.

9. Oscar Tejeda, 2B
Acquired: 2006 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0

Notes: Boston has a habit of developing solid middle infield prospects and Tejeda, 21, is another intriguing prospect. The second baseman produced a solid triple-A slash line in 2010 at .305/.342/.453 in 508 at-bats. He doubled his ISO rate from .076 in ’09 to .148. Watching him hit, I’d like to see him quiet his hands a little more. Along with his surprising pop, Tejeda also stole 17 bases in 24 tries but he doesn’t have great speed. He’s mainly a bat-first prospect right now and is still adjusting to life at the keystone after struggling with his range at shortstop. At worst, he should develop into a solid utility or platoon player.

10. Ryan Lavarnway, C
Acquired: 2008 6th round (Yale University)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: I know I’m going to catch a little slack for ranking Lavarnway on the Top 10 list, but I believe in his bat. You could easily argue for other prospects in this slot, such as Brandon Workman, Garin Cecchini or Will Middlebrooks (The 10-15 rated prospects are all close). The 23-year-old prospect had his second straight solid offensive season in 2010. He followed up his ISO rate of .255 in ’09 with another .200+ ISO last season. He also produced a triple-slash line of .285/.395/.494 in 158 double-A at-bats after posting a similar line in 304 single-A at-bats. Lavarnway swings and misses a lot (26.6 K% in AA), but it’s a trade-off for his power output and he helps to offset it with solid walk rates (13.7 BB% in AA). Unfortunately, a number of questions remain in terms of his defensive abilities. He doesn’t move well behind the plate and his throwing is inconsistent. Lavarnway is a Top 10 prospect as a catcher, but be moves down significantly if he ends up as a first baseman on a second-tier club.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect and rookie analysis. He also operates AstrosBall.com and can be reached via email at: marchulet@astrosball.com, or follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

56 Responses to “Top 10 Prospects: The Boston Red Sox”

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  1. Mike D says:

    You’re missing peak WAR

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  2. Matt says:

    How many changeups does ranaudo have?

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  3. grandbranyan says:

    This is the 11th best farm system in MLB?

    #1 All glove maybe bat SS.
    #2/3 High upside injured arms with 0 AA IP
    #4 4th OF (how appropriate)
    #5/6 MOR starters/bullpen guys
    #7 Tweener aided by high BABIP
    #8 Lars Anderson
    #9 Utility IF
    #10 Boom/Bust C

    Seems closer to Milwaukee than KC to me.

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    • Big Jgke says:

      But these are the mighty prospects of the grittiest city in baseball. Mark Wahlberg approves of their ranking. Those fans have been through too much to be ranked any lower.

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    • Derek says:

      Last time I checked farm systems have more then 10 prospects in them.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CampBrice says:

      The strength of the system is the plethora of C+/B- type prospects – alluded to in the article in the Lavarnway section. Boston does not have the top level talent (A/B+) but has a ton of C+ level guys who are young and could move up quickly. Being set at the ML level allows the team to be able to wait on their prospects to develop

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    • alskor says:

      Funny you mention Milwaukee.

      Mark has already done them & just looking at Peak WAR 2-3 Brewers prospects MIGHT slip onto this top 10 if you combined them. That should probably indicate to you which is the stronger farm system.

      That’s not even broaching the subject of Boston’s depth. If we made a combined top 50 list of the two system, I dare say it would probably be >75% Boston prospects.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/top-10-prospects-the-milwaukee-brewers/

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    • I love how Kolbrin Vitek who has played all of 68 games in the low minors after being drafted last year is a “tweener aided by high BABIP”.

      Honestly, you could come up with a similar pessimistic reduction of a list for each team if you wanted. I don’t see the point.

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  4. Marc Hulet says:

    Yeah, adding the peak WAR is the last thing I do with the article and my 6-month-old daughter woke up last night and needed tending to… when I came back, it slipped my mind and went into scheduling. It’s updated now, and the Ranaudo flub is corrected, as well.

    When the series started out, I think Boston was around a Top 5 club (out of 30) but the trade with San Diego cleared out much of the talent that had them rated that high… They remain 11th overall because I am still impressed with the depth that the system has despite the lack of high-level impact talent… the ranking is not just based on the Top 10 prospects.

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    • bcp33bosox says:

      Wow, though 11th had me thinking, yeah not too shabby…5th to 11th is a pretty big drop (though Casey and Rizzo were certainly top 10 and Fuentes top 15ish as well).

      I am so excited about Gonzo though, so hopefully his shoulder will be fine, news of his contract extension will be released soon after opening day, and he puts up some monster MVP-type numbers at Fenway…Oh and a world series or two during his time in Beantown would be pretty good too.

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  5. bcp33bosox says:

    Not saying they should be in the top 10, but they are a few top 20ish guys I am really excited to see more of…Che-Hsuan Lin, Junichi Tazawa (rehabbing from TJS), and Luis Exposito.

    Also here is hoping to Ryan Westmoreland making it back to playing and reclaiming top 10 prospect status… RSN wishes him all the best!

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    • blackoutyears says:

      “a few top 20ish guys I am really excited to see more of”

      Don’t forget Xander Boegerts, Cecchini, and Workman. Marc is absolutely right when he says that the org ranking s/b discussed as a function of overall depth.

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      • bcp33bosox says:

        I am familiar with Cecchini and Workman (Marc also mentions them), but I hadn’t read much on Boegerts, so thanks for the HU. I just read about him on soxprospect.com and checked out his fg player page. Pretty small sample size, but he sounds/looks like a pretty exciting projection prospect and is only 18. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the move from the DSL.

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  6. Paul says:

    I have a lot of trouble interpreting the prospect lists. I imagine that Estimated Peak WAR is upside, and that certainty * upside is the ranking. But then I have to derive how much certainty each prospect has. Is there a way to give the players a ranking relative to other players?

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  7. Burt Lavallo, friend to all says:

    Is Ryan Kalish really not a top 10 prospect? Or is he considered a major leaguer now?

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  8. Pedro says:

    Ryan Lavarnway played at A+ and AA in 2010, and not AA and AAA, as described in the article…..

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  9. Not Paul says:

    Hey Marc, I like Lavarnway at 10, but you are mistaken that he played at AA and AAA. I was shocked reading that, because it was actually A+ and a month at AA. Presumably he’ll start the season at AA, which for an advanced bat doesn’t make a lot of difference. I’m sure you put him there based on true levels since the profile is correct, but wanted to point out the errors in the note.

    Also, he played full time in the AFL and the offensive profile held up.

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  10. BWOzar says:

    Perhaps I have a dirty mind but the last sentence of the Vitek write-up made me laugh out loud.

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Brock says:

    Where did you have Kelly, Rizzo, and Fuentes on this list before they were moved?

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    • I’m not sure if Marc would agree with this or not, but the consensus I’ve gleaned from other similar lists is that Kelly was first and Rizzo was either second or third, depending on how high you are on Iglesias’ offensive potential (i.e. is he just a glove or is he a more complete player). I don’t think I’ve seen Fuentes makes the top 10.

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  12. Jim says:

    “Seems closer to Milwaukee than KC to me.”

    That could be because you’re a retard.

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    • grandbranyan says:

      How is Mark Rogers any different than Britton/Ranaudo except he’s actually had success at AA and above?

      You can have all the C+ talents you want as that kind of depth is easy and cheap to acquire at the MLB level, the true mark of a farm system to me is top end talent and all the top end talent in this system either has huge question marks or hasn’t even made it out of A ball or in some cases both.

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      • Diaz says:

        A few things come to mind:
        First- Boston’s best prospects are primarily guys playing in leagues that they are young for. As a result a lot of their stats look underwhelming when compared to others.
        Second- Not that I disagree with you that the preference is to develop top-flight talent, I feel that you are really undervaluing a teams ability to produce good but not great talent. Iglesias is almost a lock to at least an average short-shop solely on the merits or his glove. In this scenario he produces an average of 2 WAR for his 5 cost controlled years, which would be worth 50 million dollars according to fangraphs estimates. If one of Ranudo or Britton become a decent 2 or 3 starter, the sox then get savings of much more.
        Third- Most of the “C+ or B-” guys are at stages in their development where they can make huge leaps, and it so happens that the Sox have about 30 guys who fit that description. One would assume that many of these guys will fall off, but a few will make strides and raise up the rankings. If we just say the sox have a 10% success rate with these kids next year that would be 3 solid B – A Ranked players. You will notice that alot of high ceiling guys we drafted over the last 2 years are still teenagers.
        Fourth- The Red Sox Roster is more or less set for the next 2 years. The fact that we do not have any prospects knocking on the door right this instant is not a big deal. I feel that a part of system ranking has to consider how well the system is meeting the big clubs needs. And with the young core and the recent addition of Gonzalez, I would say the system has been doing just dandy.

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  13. Sam says:

    As a Sox fan, this list gives me lots of comfort after some worries with the A-Gon trade. It stung, to see all three of those guys hit the Padres top ten, but looking at this list, as well as hearing all the other names mentioned that would round out the top 20, help me really realize that while we don’t have any superstars in the making, there are a lot of solid players still in the system. I’m hoping to try and nab a ticket to the Futures game this year; it should be a fantastic day. :)

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    • S.M. Jenkins says:

      For Adrian Gonzalez, all 3 players ceded by the Sox are ultimately replaceable. Don’t fret – expect Boston to flex it’s considerable financial muscle in the upcoming Draft & nab a player or two falling due to financial demands.

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      • Sam says:

        Oh yeah, that’s my point. This post is a great reminder as to how strong, or at least how deep, Boston’s system still is. And with the plethora of picks they’ve got this year, that’ll continue to be true.

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  14. S.M. Jenkins says:

    This isn’t the 11th best system in baseball by any means. Agree on Jose Iglesias at the top, but a lot of the Anthony Ranuado-Drake Britton types are projection choices. Lars Anderson probably shouldn’t be in the Top 15 anymore, right?

    Personal Top Ten

    1) Iglesias
    2) Ranaudo
    3) Stolmy Pimentel
    4) Drake Britton
    5 Kolbrin Vitek
    6) Chris Balcolm-Miller (could rise)
    7) Josh Reddick (limited upside though)
    8) Brandon Workman
    9) Oscar Tejada (potential riser)
    10) Will Middlebrooks (could go either way)

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    • Diaz says:

      Ehh I love Balcolm-Miller’s peripherals, but he has always been old for the leagues that he has pitched in and I get the sense that he relies too much on deceiving non-advanced hitting to make up for his under whelming stuff, which will ultimately end with him stalling once he gets to the high minors.

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    • Sam says:

      The reason its ranked so high is less because of the top ten, but because of Boston’s top 25 or so. It’s a very deep system with a lot of decent prospects, but very few standouts.

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    • No way Balcolm-Miller is ranked higher than Workman. He’s not going to be a back of the pen guy and he’s not a starter, as was stated above he has pitched at levels against younger competition, so very little upside.

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  15. Mr Punch says:

    The Gonzalez trade cost a lot, of course, but the farm system would still be very strong had it not been for Westmoreland’s condition and Tazawa’s injury. The farm system is there to provide trade bait, in large measure – three of the six position players in the top 10 (and probably four) have close to zero chance of ever playing substantial roles for the Sox even at/near the top of their upside. Reddick, despite his poor first half in ’10, could be a pretty good player for somebody, though.

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  16. Ben Hall says:

    Oscar Tejeda: “The second baseman produced a solid triple-A slash line in 2010 at .305/.342/.453 in 508 at-bats.” That was actually a triple slash line at high A.

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  17. CubsFan says:

    Rookie qualifications = less than 130 at bats, 50 innings or 30 relief appearances in the bigs

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  18. Padresfan says:

    Why is San Diego lower than Boston after taking Bostons

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  19. Padresfan says:

    How come Boston is rated higher than SD after losing there best second and fourth best prospects to them?

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  20. Sam Spade says:

    I always thought Iglesias’s best song was his duet with Willie Nelson – To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.

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  21. Rhino says:

    #s 6 and 9 – Felix and Oscar, lol – that’s funny.

    The odd couple (of Red Sox prospects).

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  22. will says:

    what happened to bowden and gibson

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  23. Mike says:

    @ Diaz:

    “Fourth- The Red Sox Roster is more or less set for the next 2 years. The fact that we do not have any prospects knocking on the door right this instant is not a big deal. I feel that a part of system ranking has to consider how well the system is meeting the big clubs needs.”

    Exactly. The fetishization of organizational prospect ranking lists – while fun and understandable – for the most part totally ignores how the big league club’s needs are addressed by their prospects. Boston’s farm aligns well with the Red Sox’s relatively young (~peak years) core signed for the next 3-4 years, and the apparent policy of aggressive advancement seems to jibe well with preparing prospects for the pressure-cooker of competitive AL East ball. Now all they need to do is figure out how to graft Lavarnway’s bat onto FedEx’s defense…

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  24. Anthony says:

    seems to me that you can rate how strong a farm system is all you want. It’s fun, but I was wondering if you should add how well the system fits the team. For example, the Rays need to have a lot of top tier talent because, well, they need it to cycle through to their ML team every year. The Sox/Yanks can afford to not have a lot of top tier prospects, and instead have a boatload of C+/B- guys with possible upside because they have the money to trade 3-5 100K/year minor league players for a 100M dollar contract ML player. Mid market teams need minor league guys that can fill holes and be cheap (like the Cardinals need but won’t get because LaRussa can’t manage young players).

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  25. Joe R says:

    Iglesias is now in the majors.

    Someone gag me. I can’t imagine a more glaring example of failing up than Iglesias getting to the majors before June right now. I think almost anyone could go .253/.278/.253 at Pawtucket, if you blindfolded them and told them to wildly flail.

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  26. John Zizis says:

    “say it again….”

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