|Original Published Date: Nov. 13, 2012|
I really like the Boston Red Sox minor league organization. You have an elite talent in Xander Bogaerts who has a chance to be an all-star shortstop or third baseman topping the list and a gold glove shortstop in Jose Iglesias in the 10 slot. The biggest concern is that most of the elite talent is just moving into the upper minors, so there is risk throughout the system.
Jackie Bradley Jr. ranks number two in the organization and has a chance to be the center fielder of the future with elite defensive and hitting skills. Allen Webster and Matt Barnes are the two top pitching prospects in the organization and both have a chance to be mid-rotation starters with a ceiling of a number two. Henry Owens or “Little big unit” has even more upside than Webster and Barnes and is one of the more intriguing prospects in the system.
This is the Boston Red Sox, so expect many of the players on this list to be used as trade barter for a deal down the road. Remember, prospects are there to be promoted to help the big league team and to be used as trade chips to bring in major league talent. Expect both to occur with these ten players.
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|2013 Age: 20||BP: Aruba|
|Ht:6-3 Weight: 175||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2013-14|
Red Sox Nation has been on Xander Bogaerts since he was signed for $410,000 out of Aruba in the year of Trout (2009). He brings an electric bat with plus-plus future raw power while continuing to defy the odds and staying at shortstop.
While generously listed at 175 pounds, Bogaerts is a big boy with a strong aggressive swing. It’s a compact swing with a lot of torque that he generates out of his lower half to hit the ball a long way. While I try to act cool when I’m at games or taking in batting practice, I have uttered the words “WOW” three times this year when watching a game and one of those came watching Xander Bogaerts take batting practice. The physical power and mechanics work well together and the ball just explodes off his bat.
While I like the swing mechanics, Bogaerts is ultra-aggressive at the plate. His 9% walk rate does not tell the true story as he walked once in 92 at-bats after being promoted to Double-A. From all reports, Bogaerts has great make-up and works hard, so I’m hopeful that over time he will learn to make the necessary adjustments and become better disciplined at the plate.
The position that Bogaerts will ultimately play has been aggressively debated for the past two years. He’s actually an average defender at shortstop, but based on his size, it doesn’t seem possible that he will stay there permanently. However, if the Red Sox wanted to move him, the ideal time would have been this fall during the Arizona Fall League. Since that did not happen, you have to assume that the Red Sox continue to believe he’s a shortstop for the foreseeable future.
Fantasy Impact: A shortstop with 30 home run potential, hitting in the middle of the lineup with the Boston Red Sox, could return first round value. While I don’t think he’ll hit for an elite average, I do believe a 270-plus batting average is possible, particularly if he can develop some plate discipline. You should consider Bogaerts a top 30 prospect talent and draft aggressively.
|2013 Age: 23||BP: South Carolina|
|Ht: 5-10 Weight: 180||Bats: Left Throws: Right||ETA: 2013|
There are a lot of people who believe that the Red Sox will let Jacoby Ellsbury walk after the 2013 season and turn the center field duties over to Jackie Bradley Jr. While that’s clearly a risky proposition, it illustrates how good of a baseball prospect Bradley has become.
Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft, Bradley won a NCAA Championship at South Carolina earning the Most Outstanding Player award. He fell to the supplemental round after a down year in his junior year of college and concerns about a wrist injury he suffered late in the year. However, in 2012 he showed why he is an elite prospect based on a plus hit-tool, excellent fielding, with some power and speed.
Bradley has gold-glove caliber defensive skills with great tracking ability and an arm that will be a major advantage in center field. While he’s not a burner, the speed plays great in the field and should also contribute 25-30 stolen bases a year. I clocked him at 4.15 down to first base, which is above average speed but the speed again plays up on the base path due to his ability to read pitcher’s moves and get great jumps.
Bradley’s hitting mechanics and approach is excellent and should equate to a plus hit-tool at the highest level. His stance starts out wide with a lot of bat waggle but as the pitcher starts into his motion, his setup becomes quiet with a very natural load. His swing is compact but he doesn’t use his lower body well and therefore I question how much power he will ultimately have. He does have a nice ability to adjust to pitches and therefore engages in long at-bats. This combined with his plate discipline gives Bradley a good chance to be a perennial .300 hitter at the highest level.
So who is Jackie Bradley? I think he will be a prototypical leadoff batter with great on base skills, some power (10-15) and speed (25-30) who will play at a gold glove level in center field.
Fantasy Impact: Unfortunately, Bradley will be a better baseball player than a fantasy player. His tools are not as loud as Ellsbury but hitting at the top of the lineup with Boston could provide elite counting stats along with a .300 average.
|2013 Age: 20||BP: N. Carolina|
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 185||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2013|
Allen Webster was part of the return in the blockbuster trade that saw the Red Sox move Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While most of the post-trade discussion was about the three all-stars, the Sox got several nice pieces including Allen Webster, who I think is a below-the-radar talent.
Webster has a really good arsenal that starts with a plus sinking fastball that sits 91-94 MPH and moves all over the place. It’s a wicked pitch that has a lot of tailing action that really confuses batters. He also throws both a curve and slider that both flash plus at times and have batters completely flailing. His change-up is also at least an average pitch that keeps left-handed batters honest.
The biggest problem with Webster is his control. He walked 4.20 batters per nine and that’s just not good enough. Usually we can find mechanically problems that are at fault, but the mechanics are clean. Easy arm action, nice follow through, and good posture. As a former shortstop, he’s also athletic – so what gives? It’s the stuff and in particularly, his sinking fastball. It has tremendous movement and stays down in the zone but he can’t consistently throw it for strikes. This is solvable by both repetition and reducing the reliance on the pitch.
Fantasy Impact: While there’s risk with Webster, if he can control his stuff, you could be looking at an elite pitcher that can strikeout a batter an inning and keep the ball in the ballpark. He’ll probably always have an inflated WHIP due to the number of ground balls that will be hit, but his low ERA and strikeouts will more than make up for that.
|2013 Age: 22||BP: Connecticut|
|Ht: 6-4 Weight: 205||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2014|
Matt Barnes was the Red Sox first pick in the 2011 draft and put up an impressive year in 2012. As with Dylan Bundy, the SALLY League was not much of a challenge as Barnes posted video game statistics by striking out 42 batters in 26.2 innings while only walking four. The Carolina League provided a slightly better challenge but Barnes was dominating, particularly in May and June before tiring in July when he posted a 5.09 ERA.
When you see Barnes pitch, you’ll notice the easy delivery and then the score board light up with a 95. He definitely has velocity, but it’s easy velocity and that comes from very good pitching mechanics. His posture is great with nice balance when he finishes his pitches. He pitches with a high three-quarter delivery and when combined with his great posture, he maintains his downward plane and keeps his pitches low in the zone (1.69 G/F). With good pitching mechanics comes control and command and Barnes demonstrates both with a 2.18 BB/9.
From an arsenal standpoint, Barnes has a plus fastball but his curve/slider and change-up are just ok. In fact, because he can locate his fastball so well, I’ve seen innings where 80%+ of his pitches were fastball. That will not play as he moves into the upper minors and believe the Red Sox need to force Barnes to throw more off-speed pitches in game situations. I’ve seen some curve balls that I would grade as above average but the change-up needs work.
Fantasy Impact: Being able to command your fastball is one of the most important aspects of pitching; and Matt Barnes can do that very well. His secondary pitches need work but I’ve seen enough flashes of an above average curve that I’m buying in on Barnes. In a Dynasty League draft, I’m drafting him in the 15-20 range of minor league pitchers.
|2013 Age: 22||BP: Louisiana|
|hHt:6-2 Weight: 200||Bats: Left Throws: Right||ETA: 2015|
Wow, I didn’t realize that Garin Cecchini had 51 stolen bases. You typically see these totals with guys who have at least 70 grade speed, but Cecchini is not in that class. This type of anomaly generally points to base stealing skills, which is helpful but probably means it’s not sustainable as he moves through the minors.
What Cecchini does have is a great hit tool that should profile to at least above average power if not more down the road. He has a great approach as well as leveraged compact swing where he uses his lower half very effectively. I would suspect as he matures and completely recovers from his broken wrist in 2011, some of his 38 doubles will turn into home runs.
Defensively, he’s adequate at third and again, uses his baseball acumen to position himself well so that he can take advantage of his above average arm.
Fantasy Impact: I like Cecchini a lot and believe he has a ceiling of a first division starter/solid regular. You do have to dream on the power a little and also acknowledge that he is more a 10-15 stolen base players and will not be competing for stolen base titles.
|2013 Age: 20||BP: California|
|Ht: 6-6 Weight: 190||Bats: Left Throws: Left||ETA: 2015|
Drafted in the supplemental round of the 2011 draft, left-hander Henry Owens is part immense talent and part project.
For a kid drafted out of high school, he has a deep arsenal with a fastball that sits 90-91 MPH with a nice curve with great shape and depth and then a nasty slider that gets swings and misses from both right and left-handed batter alike. With such a deep arsenal, why did Owens have an ERA of 4.87 and a WHIP of 1.45 in the SALLY League? If you see Owens pitch, you know why – he’s 6-foot-6, 190 pounds with a huge stride to the plate. When your that tall and have a long stride, balance and a consistently release point are problematic.
That said, in looking at his mechanics, it’s actually not as bad as I would have thought. The delivery is pretty easy but the angles that create great deception are causing him to lose his release point and walk 4.16 batters per nine. Candidly, I think he’s going to be ok and the Red Sox just might have something special with Owens. I have him as a three star, but he is right on the cusp of four stars.
Fantasy Impact: Owens should be falling under the radar in most Dynasty Leagues despite playing for the Red Sox. If he is available, I would definitely be investing.
|2013 Age: 22||BP: Florida|
|Ht:6-1 Weight: 195||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2015|
For the past several years, everyone has just assumed that Jose Iglesias would be Boston’s shortstop of the future. After all, he’s an 80 defender and the Red Sox always seem to have enough hitting; but maybe not…
As the first pick in the 2012 draft, the Sox drafted college shortstop Deven Marrero. While he is not Iglesias defensively, he’s also no slouch defensively either and has a chance to hit a lot more than the young Cuban.
Marrero has a chance to have an above average hit tool with a nice compact swing coupled with a good approach at the plate. The swing is fairly “arm-ie” as he doesn’t use his lower half very well, so I don’t expect to see much power. I was surprised at the 24 stolen bases he posted in only 246 at-bats as he’s not a burner. However, he is a smart base runner, so I could see 20 stolen bases in 500 at-bats at the highest level.
So, what do the Red Sox do? Three of your Top 10 prospects are shortstops? If I were to look into my crystal ball five years into the future, I think you will see Bogaerts at 3B and Marrero as SS with Iglesias playing somewhere else. This scenario moves Cecchini to the outfield or out of the organization.
Fantasy Impact: I see Marrero as a top 200 prospect and therefore draftable in a Dynasty League. I see him as a solid regular with an upside of a middle infielder on your fantasy team with a .280 batting average, 20-25 stolen bases, and a handful of home runs.
|2013 Age: 24||BP: Tennessee|
|Ht:6-0 Weight: 190||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2013|
Bryce Brentz has a lot of natural power for a guy who is only 6-foot and 190 pounds. From where does the power come? Great bat speed, getting his arms extended, and swinging very hard.
In a nutshell, that’s Bryce Brentz. He has plus raw power that could translate into 25+ home runs at the highest levels. However, he is going to be very aggressive at the plate which will translate into a lot of strikeouts and few walks. While his batting average was a respectable .290, it was fueled by a .370 BABIP. While he has some speed, if we assume a .310 BABIP, his expected average was .243.
Fantasy Impact: Brentz profiles as a second division power hitting right fielder. Power hitters always have fantasy value but I would view him as a fifth outfielder on my fantasy team.
Brandon Jacobs is another toolsy athlete who has a ton of upside but continues to struggle with his approach and contact ability. I still like him a lot, particularly from a fantasy standpoint and believe his upside is more than Bryce Brentz, but with a lot more risk. He should move to Double-A next year, but I would not be surprised if he stalls at that level as the Red Sox work on his approach and swing mechanics.
If you are a card carrying member of Red Sox Nation, then you are familiar with shortstop wizard Jose Iglesias. I’ve had a chance to see Iglesias take fielding practice several times and it truly is a remarkable site. The actions are so fluid that it seems like he’s floating and at game speed, he has the ability to make the difficult play look easy. The problem is he can’t hit. The approach is ultra-aggressive and as he moved to the upper minors and even in his 68 Major League at-bats in 2012, pitchers just didn’t throw him anything to hit. Yet, he swung and made weak contact. Similar to Dee Gordon, there is also not a lot of physical strength and that is also contributing to his problems at the plate. In the end, I think he profiles as a gold glove shortstop who will hit .230 with little power and a handful of stolen bases. Wait a minute…that sounds a lot like Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, who if I recall, just won a ring.