H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY
MLB.com finishes up their positional rankings, including two more Sox prospects in the process
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has finished ranking each position's top 10 prospects, and that means two more Red Sox have received those honors. Last week, it was revealed that a pair of 20 year olds -- left-handed pitcher Henry Owens and switch-hitting catcher Blake Swihart -- were ranked among their positions' best. Now, with shortstop and an outfielders' list out of the way as well, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, respectively, have been given similar accolades.
Bogaerts is the top prospect in the system, recognized as such both by consensus and MLB.com. While it's been assumed he'll grow out of the shortstop position, Mayo hints strongly that this might not be as much of a foregone conclusion as it's believed to be, and puts him fourth among all prospects at the position:
At one point, most believed Bogaerts would outgrow shortstop. He has the bat to profile at third base or right field, but he's been proving that he might have the tools to stick at shortstop for the long term.
That reads very past tense with a dash of future optimism thrown in. It's not the majority opinion yet, but there are those who believe he can play shortstop in the majors, especially if his bat continues to develop. It's hard to tell now, though, given his youth and his limited experience in the upper minors. He'll start the 2013 season at Double-A, where he finished the previous campaign, and if things go well should finish up the year at least at Triple-A Pawtucket. Let's keep the optimism somewhat in check, though: expecting every year to have the same huge steps forward as the previous season is one way to be easily disappointed. (Though, that's not the same as saying it won't or can't happen.)
As for Bradley, he ranks eighth in the combined outfield list, and fifth among the center fielders (Billy Hamilton moved to the position in the Arizona Fall League, and therefore qualifies in the outfield and in center rather than at short, his previous position). There are no surprises here from Mayo's scouting report: Bradley has "tremendous" discipline and patience, is lauded for his baserunning instincts, and "is an outstanding defensive center fielder with a plus arm" easily expected to stick in center for those two very important reasons.
Bradley is about as much of an heir apparent as baseball allows, in line to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in 2014. He too will likely begin the season at Double-A, though, given he has already amassed 271 plate appearances and 61 games there, should he have an incredible spring, there could be room for him in Triple-A now that Ryan Kalish is expected to be out due to yet another shoulder surgery.