Jul 282013
Top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts

Top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts

It seemed like the Red Sox were set for a long rebuild when they traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers last July on their way to their worst season since 1965.  Instead, they spent big on a couple free agents, and they’ve found themselves back in first place for most of the season.  So far, they’ve had the best offense in the league, so their potential interest in Phillies would mostly be on the pitching side.  Could they add Cliff Lee to their top of their rotation or reunite with Jonathan Papelbon?

Elite Tier

SS Xander Bogaerts (21): Bogaerts is now a consensus top five prospect in the game and could be untouchable, but it takes a big name to get discussions for a pitcher like Lee going.  Once a lock to move off shortstop, he has improved his conditioning and could now be an average defender there.  That would make him a potential MVP candidate with how good his bat is.  He has impressive bat-to-ball ability to make consistent hard contact, and he could hit for plus power as he continues to get stronger.  As he’s gotten older, his plate approach has improved a lot, and he has all the ingredients to be a middle of the order hitter in the majors very soon.

Great Tier

CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (24): Bradley wasn’t very good in a brief major league stint early in the season, but with the extra minor league seasoning he’s gotten since, he should be ready to go next time he’s up.  Fans hoping for middle of the order power should look elsewhere, but all of his other tools are average or better.  He profiles as a true leadoff hitter that will hit for a high average and draw plenty of walks to get on base any way he can.  He has Gold Glove potential in center field, and overall he brings a lot to the table.

3B Garin Cecchini (23): Cecchini has always been a personal favorite of mine, and his breakout performance in 2013 has gotten him much more national attention.  He’s not a super athlete and doesn’t have tremendous power potential either, but he’s a great pure hitter with on-base ability.  He fits the classic number two hitter profile extremely well and should be an annual .300 hitter with high on base percentages, and his baserunning instincts are second to none.  With his line drive stroke, he might never hit more than 20 home runs, but his great hitting skills and decent defense plus his intangibles make him a really nice prospect.

Very Good Tier

RHP Anthony Ranaudo (24): For the first time in years, Ranaudo is healthy and dominating, showing why he could’ve been a top five pick in the draft three seasons ago.  He’s huge, has a bulldog mentality on the mound and has the stuff to back it up.  His fastball is in the 92-95 MPH range, and his power curveball has plus-plus potential.  His changeup is good enough to give him a third option as a starter.  If he can stay healthy, he can be a number two or three starter, but with various elbow, shoulder and groin ailments throughout with his career, that has been a challenge.

RHP Allen Webster (24): Acquired in that big trade with the Dodgers last year, Webster briefly reached the majors this season but struggled.  For a pitcher who has been in the upper minors for a couple years now, he’s still pretty raw since he doesn’t have much experience pitching as a former position player.  He has potential for three plus pitches, led by his mid-90’s fastball that has touched triple digits in relief.  His changeup is his second best pitch, and his slider still needs some work.  A team has to be patient with him, but the payoff could be huge if his command can be improved.

RHP Matt Barnes (24): Barnes, a former first round pick, has had two good months and two bad months so far this year, averaging out to a pretty mediocre season in Double-A.  He’s primarily a fastball pitcher, sitting in the low to mid-90’s with nice movement, and he commands it really well.  He’s not just a one-pitch pitcher though, and his curveball and changeup both flash above average potential.  His more likely career outcome is a number four starter, but he could be as good as a number two.

LHP Henry Owens (21): Owens doesn’t have the potential some of these other arms here, but he has the chance to be solid and provide durable innings as a number four starter.  His size allows his 90-92 MPH fastball to play up a bit, and his changeup gives him potential for a second plus pitch.  His curveball also has above average potential, but he has to develop that more and improve the command of all three pitches.  He has walked too many batters in both of his professional seasons so far, but that can improve, and the stuff is certainly good enough.

Good to Average Tier

2B Mookie Betts (21): Betts is very small, but he’s been a breakout player in his first year of full-season ball.  He’s fast, can hit and knows the strike zone as well as anyone.

LHP Brian Johnson (23): If not for head and shoulder injuries, Johnson could be knocking on the door of the majors right now.  His stuff is just okay, but he’s mechanically sound, throws strikes and knows how to pitch.

SS Jose Vinicio (20): Vinicio was a huge signing from the Dominican Republic four years ago, but his bat still hasn’t caught up to his great glove.

CF Manuel Margot (19): Margot is very raw in his first season playing in the United States, but he’s fast and plays a good center field.

RHP Brandon Workman (25): The Phillies could already have Workman had they not been so cheap in the 2007 draft, but now he’s a potentially expendable Red Sox arm.  He’s starting for them, but with a high-effort delivery and fastball-heavy arsenal, he’s probably best suited for late inning relief.

SS Deven Marrero (23): Marrero is one of the better defensive shortstops in the minors, but his bat may never play at higher levels.

OF Keury De La Cruz (22): De La Cruz doesn’t have great tools, but in the past he’s shown he can really hit.  Teams will have to hope his power comes back out of the Carolina League.

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Scott Grauer writes for PSC and Bus Leagues Baseball – check him out!