Minors : : General
Tuesday, January 07, 2014

BP Top Prospects: Boston Red Sox

Jason Parks        
Photo: Perfect Game

Listed below are the top 5 prospects in the Boston Red Sox organization as ranked by Jason Parks and Baseball Prospectus. To view the full feature, please visit this link.

Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Red Sox list

The Top Ten

  1. SS Xander Bogaerts
  2. CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.
  3. 3B Garin Cecchini
  4. RHP Matt Barnes
  5. LHP Henry Owens
  6. Blake Swihart
  7. RHP Allen Webster
  8. 2B Mookie Betts
  9. Christian Vazquez
  10. LHP Trey Ball


1. Xander Bogaerts

Position: SS
DOB: 10/01/1992
Height/Weight: 6’3” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Aruba
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #12 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .250/.320/.364 at major-league level (18 games), .284/.369/.453 at Triple-A Pawtucket (60 games), .311/.407/.502 at Double-A Portland (56 games)
The Tools: 6+ potential hit; 6+ potential power; 6 arm; 5 glove

What Happened in 2013: Bogaerts crushed in two upper-level stops before arriving at the major-league level, where the (now) 21-year-old made his presence felt in the regular season before blossoming under the bright lights of the postseason.

Strengths: Great hands and coordination; easy, fluid swing; shows bat speed and bat control; projects to hit for both a high average and game power; advanced approach; instincts enhance profile at short; arm is plus.

Weaknesses: Defensive profile at short is average; actions can get stiff; range isn’t ideal because of fringe run, but plays up because of instincts and good first step; over-the-fence pop still immature.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star level player

Realistic Role: 6; first-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Bogaerts is ready, willing and able to be one of the next great middle infielders in the fantasy realm. Even without the ability to add much value on the bases (he’s 17-for-33 on the basepaths in his minor-league career), he can provide Troy Tulowitzki-type value everywhere else. A potential .300 hitter with 25-plus homers and potentially huge RBI totals is a special player, and makes Bogaerts the top fantasy prospect in baseball.

The Year Ahead: Bogaerts has the type of profile to develop into a star, a middle of-the-diamond defender with a high-upside bat capable of producing a high average and game power. The makeup is insane, and any setback or failure on the field won’t derail or dissuade his progression toward his ultimate goal. Adjustments will be necessary after the book on Bogaerts is passed around, but his feel for the game and speed of adaptation will allow him to thrive at the highest level despite his inexperience and age.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

2. Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Position: CF
DOB: 04/19/1990
Height/Weight: 5’10” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, University of South Carolina, (Columbia, SC)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #27 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .189/.280/.337 at major-league level (37 games), .275/.374/.469 (80 games)
The Tools: 6+ glove; 6 arm; 5+ potential hit

What Happened in 2013: After a strong spring, Bradley unexpectedly made the Red Sox out of camp, but struggled with the stick against major-league arms and failed to establish himself as a permanent fixture on the 25-man roster.

Strengths: Plus-plus instincts in the field; plus arm, with carry and accuracy; glove is a 7; range plays up because of good reads/routes; quick path to the ball; easy swing that produces hard contact; advanced approach; tracks well; big makeup.

Weaknesses: Lacks an impact bat; hit tool more solid-avg than plus; struggles against good arm-side stuff; power will play well below average; speed is average at best.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Bradley is a cookie-cutter example of someone who is far more interesting in real life than fantasy. At his best, he could be a top-of-the-order hitter who gets on base at a very good clip and scores a bunch of runs without providing much value in the other three categories. From a fantasy viewpoint, that sounds an awful lot like Denard Span. He gets a bump up in on-base percentage leagues.

The Year Ahead: Bradley isn’t a flashy player, and he’s not going to show pole-to-pole range, flash game-changing speed on base, or force pitchers to work around him at the plate. But he’s going to get the job done at a premium position, and with an advanced approach and a good swing, he’s going to prove to be a tough out, even if he’s a down-the-lineup bat. This is an instinctual player of the highest order, and once he finds his rhythm at the plate, you can chisel his name on the lineup card for the next decade.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

3. Garin Cecchini

Position: 3B
DOB: 04/20/1992
Height/Weight: 6’2” 200 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 4
th round, 2010 draft, Alfred M. Barbe HS (Lake Charles, LA)
Previous Ranking: #6 (Org)
2013 Stats: .296/.420/.404 at Double-A Portland (66 games), .350/.469/.574 at High-A Salem (63 games)
The Tools: 6+ hit; 5 potential power; 6 arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2013: After a strong full-season debut in 2012, Cecchini took a big step forward in 2013, crushing the Carolina League before earning a promotion to Double-A, where the bat continued to impress.

Strengths: Excellent hand/eye coordination; natural bat-to-ball skills; hit tool could end up well above average; line-drive stroke; advanced approach; arm is plus; glove could play to average; good makeup/instincts.

Weaknesses: Game power yet to arrive; struggles to create backspin on the ball; can struggle against quality secondary stuff; fringe run; lacks above-average defensive profile at third.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; 66 games at Double-A level; mature offensive skill-set.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Thankfully, Cecchini’s 2013 was more representative of his potential for fantasy than his career up to that point. His 63 stolen bases in only 150 games during his first two seasons were a hint of something that was never to come, but the average/on-base skill driven value his most recent stat line hinted at is a more realistic outcome. Cecchini is not an impact fantasy player, and that will be only further cemented if he has to move to the outfield.

The Year Ahead: Polarizing prospect in scouting circles, as some see an impact bat at third base--a future .300 hitter with 20-plus home run pop—while others see a solid-average type—good average and on-base skills, but limited game power and a better fit for an outfield corner. A disappointing season from the incumbent Middlebrooks opens the door for Cecchini to force the issue with a strong spring and early run through Triple-A. But there are still questions about the 21-year-old’s profile, and until the game power starts to show its face, the questions about the offensive upside will persist.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

4. Matt Barnes

Position: RHP
DOB: 06/17/1990
Height/Weight: 6’4” 205 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1
st round, 2011 draft, University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), #38 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 0.00 ERA (5.1 IP, 3 H, 7 K, 2 BB) at Triple-A Pawtucket, 4.33 ERA (108 IP, 112 H, 135 K, 46 BB)
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 5+ potential CB; 5 CH

What Happened in 2013: In his Double-A debut, Barnes was solid but not special, showing off the big boy fastball and missing barrels, but failed to take the secondary stuff to the next developmental level.

Strengths: Excellent size; power arm strength; fastball is meaty offering; routinely works 93-96; touches higher when needed; arm-side life; curveball flashes knockout potential; mid-upper 70s with two-plane break and occasional late snap; shows some feel for fading changeup; projects as average offering.

Weaknesses: Below-average command; delivery can get out of whack; struggles to stay over and finish his pitches; fastball can flatten out; curveball can break too early and get big and visible; changeup lacks plus projection and isn’t a weapon.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; 24 starts at Double-A level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The shine has certainly come of Barnes’ star, but he still remains a very solid investment—especially in deeper leagues. The strikeouts (and wins, in turn) should be there, but pitching in the AL East could make his ratios less than stellar.

The Year Ahead: Barnes has more potential than he often shows; the young righty can get by with his superior fastball against inferior bats, but the secondary stuff only teases and rarely tantalizes. If he can bring it together—which several sources think will happen in 2014—Barnes has middle-of-the-rotation potential, with a plus-plus fastball that he can use to set up hitters for the plus curveball. The command needs work, and the curveball needs to find more consistency, but the ingredients are there for major-league success.

Major league ETA: 2014

5. Henry Owens

Position: LHP
DOB: 07/21/1992
Height/Weight: 6’6” 205 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1
st round, 2011 draft, Edison HS (Huntington Beach, CA)
Previous Ranking: #7 (Org)
2013 Stats: 1.78 ERA (30.1 IP, 18 H, 46 K, 15 BB), 2.92 ERA (104.2 IP, 66 H, 123 K, 53 BB)
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 5+ potential CB; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In his 20 starts in High-A, Owens started to live up to his first-round talent and the prospect world took note, but it wasn’t until his impressive six-start run in Double-A that the status really exploded.

Strengths: Long, lanky body; projectable; easy delivery; fastball is solid-average and can show more; works 89-92; touches 94+; good late life (arm-side); changeup is best secondary offering; good arm speed deception and action; curveball with plus shape; can flash above-average potential; good feel for pitching.

Weaknesses: Fastball can play down; pedestrian at times; needs to add strength to frame; command is below average; curveball can get too big and lack bite; changeup can get soft.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited experience in upper-minors.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: For my money, Owens is the arm you want in dynasty formats over the similarly ranked Barnes and Webster—though it’s admittedly close all around. His 11.4 career K/9 rate certainly shows his ability to miss bats, but he gives some of that potential value back in WHIP by walking too many batters—not too dissimilar from C.J. Wilson (if it all works).

The Year Ahead: Owens is going to pitch in the major leagues for a long time, but I don’t see a high-impact starter; rather, I see a back-end type capable of logging innings and keeping hitters off balance with a solid three-pitch mix. But the curveball that misses bats in the minors will struggle to do the same against major-league hitters, especially if the fastball command continues to play below average and doesn’t get the bats moving. But with added strength, more consistent fastball velocity, and more refined command, Owens could find his way to the middle of a major-league rotation.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

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