There has been some disagreement over how strong the Boston Red Sox' farm system is at the moment, but, for the most part, it's been haggling over a few spots. Baseball America's Jim Callis rated Boston's collection of prospects fifth, while John Sickels put them in the top 10 by sliding them in the nine spot. A difference like that could all come down to feelings on one or two players. Keith Law of ESPN, however, dropped the Red Sox back below the midpoint with his organizational rankings, putting them at 17:
A lot went right on the farm for Boston this year, with Xander Bogaerts looking like he can stay at shortstop, Jackie Bradley Jr. lighting everyone up with his plate discipline and Matt Barnes and Henry Owens posting very strong full-season debuts. The system's real shortage is in big league ready talent, with right-hander Allen Webster probably the closest.
Law at least gives his reasoning here, in that he dislikes the lack of talent that's ready for the majors. His thoughts on Bryce Brentz, by the way, should be noted by his absence in this quote, as he's in Triple-A Pawtucket, but is considered further from the majors than Allen Webster by Law, despite never having pitched at the minor's highest level.
While this looks a bit depressing now if you were hoping the universe would come to a clear, positive decision on Boston's future, consider this. Law has stated a preference for proximity, but he's also been known to talk up high-ceiling prospects at the lower levels. The Red Sox didn't draft anyone like that in 2012 besides Ty Buttrey, as their trio of first-round selections are more about floor than ceiling. While that has value, not every analyst considers that the kind of value that catapults a team up the organizational rankings, especially since many teams have that kind of mid-level depth in their system. Whereas the difference between Callis and Sickels could be a player or two, the difference between those two and Law could be more about method and valuation in general.
Plus, you can add Law to the list of people who are starting to come around on the idea of Xander Bogaerts as a big-league shortstop. Of course, there were plenty who were starting to think Ryan Lavarnway could be a major-league catcher, too, so let's give that at least another year before we crown him the position's future.