Bullpen Banter On The Top Red Sox Prospects

U.S. Futures All-Star Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox throws the ball to first base during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It's that time of year. Various outlets are coming out with their top 100 prospect lists, giving fans of each team something to debate. We talked about the four Red Sox farmhands on Jonathan Mayo and MLB.com's top 100, but today we'll turn our attention to Bullpen Banter and their as-of-yet incomplete top 100.

Why now? Because there is just one Red Sox player left to be unveiled, and the identity of that player isn't a secret (just where he ranks is). It's also much different from MLB.com's top 100, which featured Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway, Bryce Brentz, and Xander Bogaerts.

93 - Blake Swihart: Swihart was drafted by the Red Sox in last year's June amateur entry draft, selected 26th overall. He's a switch-hitting catcher who is expected to contribute offensively; whether or not that is at catcher is a different story, as he might end up playing elsewhere. His bat profiles to fit there as well, though, and while we don't know if he will stick behind the plate, he certainly has the arm strength to do so.

67 - Matt Barnes: Barnes was picked seven spots ahead of Swihart in the 2011 draft. The righty has a lot of potential, and the Bullpen Banter staff sees him as being as good as a #2 starter, or at least a dependable innings eater. In a related story, Anthony Ranaudo does not show up on Bullpen Banter's top 100, meaning Barnes is the lone pitcher in the entire system to be ranked this high.

65 - Garrin Cecchini: (Note to self: Buchholz has two Hs, Cecchini has two Cs.) Steve Fiorindo calls Cecchini "the most well-rounded of the bunch", referring to Boston's depth at third that includes the aforementioned Middlebrooks and Bogaerts. His glove is supposed to be useful, and he is expected to combine patience and power to be a total package player. He's young yet, of course, so none of this is a given, but there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful about this 2010 fourth rounder.

60 - Will Middlebrooks: Middlebrooks is likely a year out from the majors, assuming he puts it together in Triple-A this year. Kevin Youkilis' contract is up after 2012, though he does have an option for 2013 that the Red Sox could pick up, so Middlebrooks being ready or not might factor into that eventual decision. Between his glove and a swing that should fit Fenway, he's one to be excited about.

The still-unranked prospect? Xander Bogaerts. Which I believe makes Bullpen Banter his biggest supporters.

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