BBalboni's Top Prospects for 2014

Howdy y'all,

I hope everyone enjoys their New Year's celebrations. I wanted to share with you my rankings and grades for the Red Sox system this year. It is an especially impressive system, and I think that all of the first 12 guys are worthy of top 100 consideration. I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors, I have been writing a lot of formal stuff lately and I kind of wanted to get away from that. This might be a little sloppy, but hopefully not too egregious. I would love to generate some discussion on our system to kick of the New Year right. Feel free to compliment, critique, or call me a moron.

1. Xander Bogaerts A

Okay I guess.

2. Henry Ownes B+

Honestly I think he is neck and neck with Andrew Heaney as the best LHP in the minors. The 13.6 K/9 rate after his promotion to Portland his absurd. He gets great plane on fastball and his delivery has a lot of deception, so his fastball should continue to generate a lot of swing and misses. Velocity isn’t elite, but 89-93 is still pretty good for LHP and still has a lot of projection. Think he is comparable, maybe even ahead of where Lester was at this stage of his career. Ultimately think his fastball command will keep him from developing into ace, but if he can repeat his delivery well has a ceiling of a No. 2.

3. Jackie Bradley Jr. B+

You could make an argument he should rank No. 2 on this list, but I prefer Owens’s ceiling slightly. Obviously love the jumps he gets in the OF, but it looked like he was selling out his approach to hit for more power this year. This can be corrected, so not that concerned. See him as hopefully the short and long term solution in CF.

4. Garin Cecchini B

Always have been pretty high on Cecchini. Love his feel for game. Only tool that blows you away his hit tool, which I often feel is underappreciated. But his ability to get the barrel on the ball and ability to control his at bats is really special. I think his skill set is very similar to Colin Moran’s for whatever its worth. Floor is Bill Muellar, which is pretty damn good. I think he will develop more pop too, eventually all of those doubles will start to go over fence (think Youkilis) However, I do not think he is good enough defensively to stay at third.

5. Mookie Betts B

This may be a little aggressive, but I really think Betts has the offensive ability to match anyone in the system not named Bogaerts. That leg kick works for him and I kind of love his swing, and I don’t think the power is an aberration. I think he could hit 15+ homeruns annually and steal 30 bases. He has a really nice approach too. Sounds like he will split time between 2B and SS next year.

6. Allen Webster B

Highest ceiling of any starter in the system IMO. Not really a pitcher though, more of a chucker. The situation he is in right now kind of reminds me of Clay Buchholz in 2008. Not sure which way he is going to go though. If he ends up in the pen, he will be lights-out high-leverage kind of guy.

7. Blake Swihart B

Swihart could rank No.1 in this system a year from now. Jim Callis has comped his skill set to Buster Posey, so that’s always good. From what I heard, sounded like he made tremendous improvements behind the plate this year. His lack of power doesn’t bother me because the developmental curves of catchers are always whacky.

8. Matt Barnes B

Possesses a fastball that has a great combination of life, velocity, and movement. He commands it real well too.

9. Trey Ball B

When the No. 7 overall pick in the draft ranks No. 9 in your organizational rankings, you know you have a damn good system. He is extremely far off so it is hard to rank him higher, but I think his upside it even higher than Owens’. He is already touching 94 and oozes projection, so he could wind up having elite velocity from left side. Both his breaking ball and changeup look like solid secondary offerings. His arm action is pretty sweet too.

10. Christian Vazquez B

Not really sure about the bat, but his defense behind the dish is pretty sexy. Right there in the conversation with C. Betancourt and A. Hedges for best defensive catcher in the game. A lot of people rave about his cannon of an arm and his ability to handle a pitching staff, but what gets me excited is his pitch framing abilities. I think he could be like Jonathan Lucroy or Brian McCann and save 30 runs a year with that skill. That alone, would make him a pretty special player.

11. Brandon Workman B-

I think Workman showed us pretty much what he is during his time in Boston this year. He can be successful in the rotation or in the pen. Not a lot to say about him, just really solid guy to have around.

12. Anthony Ranuado B-

I still don’t know what to make out of Ranuado. Props to him for turning his career around, but I saw one of his starts in Pawtucket and it was just kind of meh. I remember seeing him on the Cape a few summers ago and I loved him, but he just didn’t look like the same guy. I think he will develop into a backend starter, and he would be a guy I would try to shop given our surplus of starting pitching.

13. Manuel Margot B-

Another guy with a ton of upside who is still really far away. He is a quick-twitch athlete and a burner on basepads. Prototypical leadoff kind of tools and should definitely stick in CF. The lower body injury (hamstring I think?) last year kind of sapped some key developmental time.

14. Brian Johnson C+

Brian Johnson doesn’t get a lot of love, and I myself must I was a little disappointed when they took him over some talents with higher ceilings in the 2012 draft, but he should develop in a pretty good No. 5 starter. Features low to mid 90’s fastball with and plus sequencing abilities. Body suggests he could log some serious innings. Glad to see he was okay after that freak line-drive incident.

15. Bryce Brentz C+

Always had a soft spot for Brentz and although this year was a little disappointing, right handed power is still at a premium and Brentz has plenty of it. Pitch recognition needs to improve, but don’t expect him to draw any more walks. As long as he doesn’t shoot himself again, don’t see why he couldn’t develop into Jonny Gomes type player.

16. Jon Denney C+

Early reports about his receiving skills behind the plate have not been promising, but his bat seems pretty legit. I think he will hit for power and contact, albeit at a different position.

17. Deven Marrero C+

I remember falling in love with Marrero’s glove on the Cape back when he played for Cotuit. He will never be much a monster with the bat, but the defense is so good that you could hit him 8th or 9th and he would still be a pretty valuable player. He runs well too and gets tremendous jumps.

18. Teddy Stankiewicz C+

I really liked this pick last year too. Really solid three pitch mix that could help him develop into a mid rotation starter. If that doesn’t pan out he could be a late innings reliever.

19. Jamie Callahan C+

Callahan is my pick to be breakout prospect of the year in 2014. I love the bite on his curve ball and think it could be a major league out pitch. He has a pretty live heater too. With some improvements, he could lead our next wave of pitching prospects.

20. Wendell Rijo C

g Hopefully he doesn't go the way of Jose Vinicio, but he is a pretty interesting guy. Definitely needs to add some strength.

Rafael Devers C

Devers is light-years away, but has middle of the order type potential. Obviously I have never seen him play, but sounds like he can really rake and has a pretty advanced approach. I look forward to when he comes stateside.

22. Myles Smith C

Myles Smith didn’t generate anywhere near enough attention leading up to the draft as he should have. Pretty big sleeper IMO. He is extremely athletic and can run his fastball up to 97. Decent chance he winds up in bullpen though, but Sox should give him every chance to start first.

23. Sean Coyle C

Injuries derailed last season after he got off to such an impressive start. The pop is still plenty good, but he needs to start hitting soon. He is kind of blocked both in the short term (Betts) and long term (Pedroia)

24. Dalier Hinojosa C

He is pretty much a mystery, but looks like he is talented enough to earn a mention. I do like mysteries.

25. Ty Buttrey C

His wicked knuckle curve is one of the nastiest pitches in the organization. He is 6’6" but I don’t think he maximizes his size to the best of his abilities. Again, tons of upside but carries a lot of risk.

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