The thing that sticks out the most about Bullpen Banter's top 15 prospects list for the Red Sox, in a word, is upside. The back-end of the list is just drowning in it, but even with decisions made for the middle of the rankings, you can see where upside ruled the day. Now, Bullpen Banter's top 100 isn't out yet, so it's hard to see where these Sox prospects rank among the league as a whole, but this list deserves a look if for no other reason than it's giving you a completely different one than what you're used to at this stage. (And not in the traumatizing way that MLB.com's September list did, either.)
Rather than simply list the 15 as is, we'll pick out the notable items with quotes, thoughts, and the like.
- Al Skorupa thinks Xander Bogaerts should be able to stick at shortstop in the majors without any trouble. As he puts it:
While he is no waterbug, Ozzie Smith (or Jose Iglesias) style defender, I thought Bogaerts was a better shortstop than many prospects who have been advertised as strong bets to stay at the position. He's a very good athlete with good positioning, jumps and actions. He also possesses a strong and accurate arm and can make all the throws on the run to the hole side. What he is NOT is a fast twitch athlete. His actions are a little on the deliberate side for a major league shortstop. If you showed up at a big league ballpark and Bogaerts was playing short that day he would not at all look out of place and might even make a couple nice plays. Maybe when he nears the age of 30 his body might slow down and he'll fit better somewhere else.
- Garin Cecchini ranks fifth, and that's the upside in the middle of the list alluded to above. Cecchini hasn't yet played like someone who should rank ahead of the potential talent of Henry Owens or Blake Swihart due to his position versus theirs, but if you believe he has power coming to him, combined with his contact skills, he could be a serious prospect recognized much more nationally in the near future. Remember, Will Middlebrooks wasn't a finished product in his early years, either, and a lot of people see Cecchini as having plenty of growth left in an already appealing bat.
- Brian Johnson comes in ahead of Deven Marrero at the nine spot. As Ben Buchanan mentioned earlier on Monday, when Johnson ranked #13 in Over the Monster's community prospect rankings, he's something of the forgotten man despite what is a very likely major-league arm. Johnson stands out even more on Bullpen Banter's list, given how much upside is emphasized, as Johnson's more of a floor than a ceiling guy. That gives you an indication of the kind of floor he's considered to have by some, though.
- Jose Vinicio ranks directly behind Marrero, and ahead of Jose Iglesias, who is nowhere to be found in the top 15. He's described as the opposite of Xander Bogaerts, as Vinicio "stands out for his defensive tools at short stop while the offensive tools merely show promise." If you can bump possibly the best defensive shortstop in the game out of your top 15, and still include three shortstops on the list, that team is probably doing pretty okay at the position. That's a huge shift from the Red Sox of the last decade, but there's a reason they started to work on that.
- Pat Light, who gets even less love than Johnson given he's possibly a reliever, shows up at #14 on Bullpen Banter's list. Skorupa actually thinks Light can stick as a starter and has more impact potential than he gets credit for, but points out that his stuff -- including an excellent heater -- would be a great fit for the bullpen. Based on his ranking combined with the word impact, you have to think things still lean heavily on the reliever side for him at this point in his development. Granted, he's had all of a couple of months at short-season Lowell to make his point, so that's not unexpected.