Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
Bradley Ankrom dives into the deep pool of Red Sox prospects, and comes out with his top 15
We already have our Community Prospect Rankings here at Over the Monster, as well as the views of various experts from around the baseball community. What we have not had, however, is our own prospect list, but friend of the site Bradley Ankrom has put that together for us to co-exist with the above. We hope it's yet another reference point for you to learn from as the Community Rankings move into the tougher prospects to quantify.
Marc Normandin asked me to put together my list of the Red Sox's top prospects, and what you see below is my best effort at that. I didn't find a lot of room for risk-taking, as the top four prospects in the organization are clearly defined and you can make arguments for numbers 2-4 in any order.
There were several strong candidates for the last spot on the list -- Drake Britton, Pat Light, and Jose Vinicio were all in consideration -- but I opted to go with Christian Vazquez after hearing some strong reports on his work in the Arizona Fall League.
The obvious sleeper candidate is outfielder Manny Margot, but I really like Blake Swihart's chances of taking a major step forward this year. He's already on most radars, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him emerge as the minors' best catching prospect after Travis d'Arnaud graduates. Among scouts I've talked to, no non-Bogaerts hitting prospect in the organization has received more praise and generated as much excitement as Swihart.
#1 - Xander Bogaerts, ss (20): Bogaerts reached Double A as a 19-year old in his second full season. There are scouts who believe he'll be able to stick at shortstop for at least a few seasons before moving to an infield or outfield corner.
#2 - Matt Barnes, rhp (23): There are sound cases for either Barnes or Bradley in the number two spot, but I decided to go with Barnes because of his potential to become a solid number-two starter in Boston.
#3 - Jackie Bradley, cf (23): Great timing for the Red Sox to have their center fielder of the future knocking on the door in Jacoby Ellsbury's walk year. Bradley doesn't have Ellsbury's speed, but his instincts should enable him to swipe 20-plus bases annually.
#4 - Allen Webster, rhp (23): Command will determine whether Webster winds up in the front or back half of the rotation. He certainly has the raw ability to pitch in the top half, with a mid-90s fastball and quality off-speed offerings.
#5 - Blake Swihart, c (21): While the numbers Swihart posted in his full-season debut weren't terribly impressive, there's a lot to like here. Plus athleticism, quick hands, and solid pitch recognition skills fuel optimism in Swihart's future, and he could break out with some adjustments to his swing.
#6 - Garin Cecchini, 3b (22): Despite gaudy stolen base totals, Cecchini is, at best, an average runner. His baseball instincts and strong work ethic allow him to maximize his tools on both sides of the ball.
#7 - Bryce Brentz, rf (24): Brentz owns the two chief tools you look for in a right fielder: plus power and a plus throwing arm. Inconsistency at the plate means that he's most likely a bottom-third hitter, however.
#8 - Henry Owens, lhp (20): Tall and lanky, Owens experiences the predictable difficulties in repeating his delivery. When he's on, he owns a low-90s fastball that touches 95 miles per hour and feel for a potentially above-average curveball and changeup.
#9 - Jose Iglesias, ss (23): Long regarded as the minors' best defensive shortstop, Iglesias should hit enough to play every day out of the nine-hole in the lineup. He has the potential to be better than that with the bat, and the Red Sox will face an interesting decision when Bogaerts is ready for Boston at the end of the year.
#10 - Brian Johnson, lhp (22): The Red Sox went for probability over upside with the last pick of the first round in last June's Rule 4 draft. He should move quickly, though his upside is that of a fringe third starter in a big league rotation.
#11 - Deven Marrero, ss (22)
#12 - Brandon Workman, rhp (24)
#13 - Ty Buttrey, rhp (20)
#14 - Manny Margot, cf (18)
#15 - Christian Vazquez, c (22)
Bradley Ankrom is a former writer for Baseball Prospectus and current baseball analyst for Bloomberg Sports. He sometimes writes about prospects and the draft at his personal blog, twentyeighty, and at other places on and off of the internet.