2013 Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Starting Fresh

Christian Petersen

The Red Sox had a terrible year in the major leagues, but a strong year in the minors. Now it's time to construct the new top prospects list that reflects the improvement shown by the farm system in 2012.

It was a transformative season for the Boston Red Sox. In the big leagues, this meant a massive loss of talent and a terrible year that saw the Sox fall to the bottom of the division. In the minors, it meant the continued rise of a system that, two years ago, was clearly on the fringes of the league.

All you need for proof of that is a quick look at the list of top prospects as voted on by Over The Monster readers headed into 2012:

1. Ryan Lavarnway, C/DH

2. Will Middlebrooks, 3B

3. Xander Bogaerts, SS

4. Ryan Kalish, OF

5. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP

6. Jose Iglesias, SS

7. Matt Barnes, RHP

8. Garin Cecchini, SS

9. Brandon Jacobs, OF

10. Bryce Brentz, OF

11. Blake Swihart, C

12. Sean Coyle, 2B

13. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF

14. Felix Doubront, LHP

15. Brandon Workman, RHP

16. Henry Owens, LHP

17. Alex Wilson, RHP

18. Drake Britton, LHP

18. Junichi Tazawa, RHP

20. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B

Oh, sure, the names are all there. Xander Bogaerts even makes it into the top-3. But Barnes at seven? Bradley at 13? After the incredible performances we saw out of those two, they'll be well on the rise this year. The same can likely be said of Garin Cecchini and Bryce Brentz, who took notable steps forward in their development, as well as a number of other newcomers and breakouts who should see themselves on the list for the first time.

Some of those spots will be open for the taking for the good reason: graduating prospects. Our no. 2 prospect from last year, Will Middlebrooks, is set to start the year at third base, where we can only hope for a repeat of his exciting rookie performance. Junichi Tazawa looked like one of the best bullpen arms in the American League in his return to action last year. And if Felix Doubront's season was a roller coaster ride, it showed enough promise that he, too, is part of the initial plan for the 2013 roster.

Others, however, will be vulnerable because their seasons did not go well. While there's only one name on the list who has arguably fallen off the prospect map entirely--Kolbrin Vitek, who came in at number 20 last year--there were plenty of disappointments. Top prospect Ryan Lavarnway couldn't follow up his impressive offensive debut, and looked completely lost at the plate in his time in the majors. Ryan Kalish was equally poor in the majors as he once again struggled with injury. Anthony Ranaudo joined him on the disabled list, and the well-hyped Blake Swihart fell a little flat in his introduction to professional ball.

Still, if there have been casualties, the farm system has had, on the whole, a revitalizing year. The "blue chip" prospect has returned to Boston for the first time since the days of Westmoreland and Kelly, and the depth continues to flow from the likes of Manuel Margot in the DSL to Chris Hernandez up in Pawtucket.

When we wrapped up last year's list, we were not oblivious to this possibility. Red Sox fans seemed to be happy with the results of the 2011 draft, and if we weren't exactly on top of the world, there was the feeling that the system was moving in the right direction. This season, with all its highs, wasn't what we expected, but it was what we hoped for. Starting early next week, we--or, rather, you OTM readers--will start putting together the list that reflects the realization of those hopes. It should be the most fun we've had doing one of these in a while.

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