Kansas City, MO, USA; USA pitcher Matt Barnes (26) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
Baseball Prospectus released their updated top 50 prospects list in an e-book titled "The Call Up", a mid-season addition to their off-season annual. The e-book contains detailed looks at the prospects in the top 50, but not to worry if you're just interested in seeing names and who ranks where, as Kevin Goldstein published the list version on the website earlier this week.
A pair of Red Sox make the top 50, and it might not be the two that you think.
28 - Jackie Bradley, CF: Bradley has been Boston's most exciting prospect this season, as he began the year at High-A Salem and crushed it before moving on to Double-A Portland. One year removed from the draft, Bradley looks poised to strike at Triple-A pitching in 2013, and has become a likely alternative to a Jacoby Ellsbury extension should he keep it up.
33 - Matt Barnes, SP: Barnes has slowed down a bit after his promotion to High-A, but that's to be expected. It's easier to dominate Low-A if you're a hurler with a plus fastball, and Barnes absolutely has a plus fastball, one that's seen added velocity as game go on, Justin Verlander style. That's not to say he's Verlander, but he might as well be when facing Low-A opposition. He's been great at High-A, too, just not quite as much, but that doesn't mean Double-A Portland isn't in his 2013 sights.
There's an obvious omission here, but it has to do with where a top 50 list ends. (That's after 50, just so we're clear.) Xander Bogaerts, considered by many to be Boston's most impressive prospect, ranked #51 according to Goldstein, just missing the cutoff. I spoke with Goldstein about Bogaerts a bit, and there were a few items he wanted to get across to understand the ranking.
This list is a month old already -- such is the world of publishing books. Bogaerts was in the midst of his massive June when this was put together, and while his first two months were solid, they weren't otherworldly, either. Goldstein isn't just concerned that Bogaerts won't stick at short -- as is the common worry with Bogaerts -- but also believes he might not be a third baseman. Now, this is a particular I'm not quite as concerned about, as if he's not a third baseman, then he's a corner outfielder, and the offensive differences between third and left or right are much smaller than you might believe at first blush. Third basemen are six percent better than average by OPS+ in 2012, while left and right are both 10 percent better. In 2011, left fielders were only two percent better than average, in 2010, 11 percent, 2009, eight percent. Main point: these numbers bounce around a bit too much for me to get too worked up over whether a 19-year-old's bat is going to fit at an infield or outfield corner in four or five years. That's not to say it isn't a valid point, it's just not as big of a consideration as the switch from short to, well, anywhere else is.
The last point, and I'm with Goldstein on this particular, is that he wants to see Bogaerts have more than just one huge month before anointing him as Boston's top prospect. Bogaerts was an easy top choice heading into 2012, as there wasn't any real competition for the spot, but with the arrival of Bradley and Barnes, things are a bit different in that regard. Plus, Bogaerts is so young, and the art of ranking prospects so iffy even for those who are exceptional at it, that it doesn't mean a whole lot at this stage. As Goldstein himself said, just because he's not in the top 50 doesn't mean it's an insult to Bogaerts or his ability.
What do you think? Is Bogaerts worth more or less to you than Bradley and/or Barnes?