With the minor-league season over, and only instructionals in Florida ongoing, now's the time for updated prospect rankings to start to appear. Sox Prospects, a website whose name explains exactly what it is they cover over there, has released their end-of-season rankings for Boston. The rankings go 30 deep, but, for the sake of comparison, we'll just go 20. That's because Sox Prospects also lists their previous rankings, one through 20, from the start of the minor-league season.
In short? A whole lot has changed between April and September:
|Sox Prospects Rankings: April 5||Sox Prospects Rankings: September 27|
|1||Will Middlebrooks – 3B||Xander Bogaerts – SS|
|2||Anthony Ranaudo – RHP||Matt Barnes – RHP|
|3||Xander Bogaerts – SS||Jackie Bradley – CF|
|4||Jose Iglesias – SS||Allen Webster – RHP|
|5||Ryan Lavarnway – C||Bryce Brentz – RF|
|6||Ryan Kalish – OF||Garin Cecchini – 3B|
|7||Matt Barnes – RHP||Blake Swihart – C|
|8||Bryce Brentz – RF||Henry Owens – LHP|
|9||Brandon Jacobs – LF||Jose Iglesias – SS|
|10||Blake Swihart – C||Drake Britton – LHP|
|11||Sean Coyle – 2B||Brandon Workman – RHP|
|12||Garin Cecchini – 3B||Deven Marrero – SS|
|13||Felix Doubront – LHP||Brian Johnson – RHP|
|14||Alex Wilson – RHP||Alex Wilson – RHP|
|15||Drake Britton – LHP||Anthony Ranaudo – RHP|
|16||Kolbrin Vitek – 3B||Keury De La Cruz – OF|
|17||Stolmy Pimentel – RHP||Brandon Jacobs – LF|
|18||Oscar Tejeda – UT||Jose Vinicio – SS|
|19||Jackie Bradley – CF||Stolmy Pimentel – RHP|
|20||Henry Owens – LHP||Pat Light – RHP|
Middlebrooks, Kalish, Lavarnway, and Doubront all have moved off from prospect status thanks to their playing time in the majors, so their removal from the list isn't due to poor performance, as it was for someone like Vitek. Oscar Tejeda was designated for assignment and claimed elsewhere. Otherwise, it was performance-based, either due to others coming in, or the failures of those who were already on the list.
Allen Webster came back as the major prospect in the Adrian Gonzalez trade with the Dodgers, and slots in as the highest-ranking pitcher in the system besides Matt Barnes, who had a fantastic first year in the pros that began in Low-A and finished with a Futures Game appearance and a High-A stint.
Keury De La Cruz was not in the top 20 previously, but thanks to an excellent campaign at Low-A Greenville, where the 20-year-old outfielder showed loads of power and hit for average, he's all of a sudden someone to watch. Not quite top 10 material yet -- it will take a repeat or more to accomplish that -- but this is a start.
Bryce Brentz has obvious holes in his game, but there's a lot of talent there. It's encouraging to see Sox Prospects believes he's made enough progress to move up in the system, despite the strong performances of others (and the addition of Webster). He'll be in Pawtucket in 2013, giving us an even better idea of his ETA.
Deven Marrero, Brian Johnson, and Pat Light were Boston's first-round draft selections from this summer, and it's good to see all three included in the new top 20. Pitchers like Henry Owens were able to move up in the rankings significantly despite the new additions, thanks to a strong first year (from a scouting perspective) in the pros, and Brandon Workman not only entered the top 20, but just missed the top 10, thanks to a season that saw him in both High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.
Anthony Ranaudo is the most significant drop, as he pitched much more like the future reliever that some scouts saw in him, rather than the starting pitcher Boston hoped to get. It's hard to complain too much, though: the strategy that led the Sox to select Ranaudo is also what brought them players like Jackie Bradley.
Alex Wilson stayed static in his ranking despite all of the movement around him, and a role switch to reliever. He's likely to be added to the 40-man roster this off-season, and should also receive another invite to spring training. The difference this time around is that he might actually make the squad as part of the bullpen.
There are some quibbles with this list, but they're minor ones. For example, Drake Britton has a lot of potential, but I'm not convinced he's a better pitching prospect than Workman. There's a higher ceiling, but also a lower floor for the lefty. That's just a personal preference, though, in how to evaluate prospects and their future value. This top 20 conforms with my own thinking much more than, say, the MLB.com prospect rankings from earlier in the month.