OMAHA, NE: Jackie Bradley, Jr. , formerly of the South Carolina Gamecocks, celebrates with the Championshop trophy after defeating the UCLA Bruins in game 2 of the men's NCAA College Baseball World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. The Gamecocks defeated the Bruins 2-1 in eleven innings to win the National Championship. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Back in February, the Red Sox had zero prospects in the top 50 of Baseball America's 2012 top 100 list. Their first prospect was the now-graduated Will Middlebrooks, at #51, while Xander Bogaerts slotted in at #58, and Blake Swihart at #72. That gave them three in the top 100 -- basically average -- but all three came in the bottom half, meaning the overall talent was expected to be lower than some other teams with the same number.
Things have changed since then, though, and dramatically. Baseball America released an updated look at the top 50, and this time, there are three Red Sox farmhands in the mix, rather than zero, and that's after Middlebrooks made his way to the majors and lost both his prospect and rookie status in the process. While you need a Baseball America subscription for more detailed looks at the top 50, the list itself is available to non-subscribers.
As for the Sox that made it:
13: Matt Barnes, RHP, High-A Salem
31: Xander Bogaerts, SS, High-A Salem
32: Jackie Bradley, CF, Double-A Portland
Barnes was selected at #19 in the 2011 draft, but it's clear at this point, given his quick jump to High-A and overall 2.44 ERA and over 11 strikeouts per nine, that he would go much earlier in a do-over. He's scuffled a bit in his last two starts at High-A, but still owns a 3.48 ERA and nearly 10 punch outs per nine at the level. A little struggling in the minors is a good thing for player development, anyway.
Bogaerts is listed at short here, but he's unlikely to stick there. His performance in Salem -- especially as of late -- is making a convincing argument that his bat will still thrive even with a shift to a corner, be it in the infield or outfield. Remember, he's all of 19 -- there's time for him to grow into even the most optimistic of dreams laid out for him.
Jackie Bradley, now healthy, has been dominant in the minors, and hasn't slowed down upon arriving in Double-A. If things keep up -- and it's too early to tell if they will -- he might find himself in Triple-A next season, just two years removed from his selection in the draft. Like Barnes, Bradley fell well beyond where he would be selected, if the 2011 draft were able to give it another shot today.