Back in September, before the fall and winter leagues began, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com prepared a top 20 list for each team's prospects. While the list started out well enough, there were all kinds of problems with it, such as the inclusion of J.C. Linares, Miguel Celestino, and Chris Carpenter, Kolbrin Vitek still at #13 despite his struggles, Anthony Ranaudo coming in at #7... as said, there were lots of issues, detailed at the time of its publication.
This time around, though, with the pre-season top 20s now being released, things seem a bit more like you would expect them to. There are still some players to quibble with in the back-end of the top 20, but that has more to do with how Boston's depth is constructed: there are lots of options for the last few spots, and likely little in the way of wrong answers, given how much of this is built on personal preference.
Let's compare the September list with this new one, to see how significant the changes are.
|September 2012 Top 20||2013 Pre-Season Top 20|
|1||Xander Bogaerts, SS||Xander Bogaerts, SS|
|2||Jackie Bradley, CF||Jackie Bradley, CF|
|3||Matt Barnes, RHP||Matt Barnes, RHP|
|4||Bryce Brentz, RF||Allen Webster, RHP|
|5||Allen Webster, RHP||Henry Owens, LHP|
|6||Ryan Lavarnway, C||Jose Iglesias, SS|
|7||Anthony Ranaudo, RHP||Bryce Brentz, RF|
|8||Brandon Jacobs, LF||Garin Cecchini, 3B|
|9||Blake Swihart, C||Blake Swihart, C|
|10||Garin Cecchini, 3B||Deven Marrero, SS|
|11||Jose Iglesias, SS||Brandon Jacobs, LF|
|12||Deven Marrero, SS||Drake Britton, LHP|
|13||Kolbrin Vitek, 3B||Brandon Workman, RHP|
|14||Drake Britton, LHP||Brian Johnson, LHP|
|15||Brian Johnson, LHP||Keury De La Cruz, OF|
|16||Jose Vinicio, SS||Christian Vazquez, C|
|17||Sean Coyle, 2B||Anthony Ranaudo, RHP|
|18||J.C. Linares, CF||Pat Light, RHP|
|19||Miguel Celestino, RHP||Jose Vinicio, SS|
|20||Chris Carpenter, RHP||Travis Shaw, 1B|
Why such massive changes in such a short span of time? Presumably, Mayo has had more time to study these prospects, talk to front offices, and consider them with the context of big-league ball in September, as well as any fall or winter leagues the players participated in. (And, as is the case with Brentz, even minor-league playoff performance can be taken into account.) This is how Lavarnway drops off the list entirely, and, while Iglesias might have not hit well in his brief time with the Sox last year, between seeing his glove on the big-league stage and seeing where his bat speed and better -- though not quite there approach -- are, maybe there is more hope for him now than there was a few months back.
The lack of Henry Owens and Brandon Workman has been rectified, Ranaudo has been pushed back, and Christian Vazquez was likely given credit for his play in the AFL, where his defense behind the plate was showcased. Keury De La Cruz and Travis Shaw, while long shots, are at home in their current spots on the list given their strong 2012 campaigns. There are still some oddities here -- Iglesias is probably too high, even coming from someone who still likes his chances to succeed -- but for the most part, this is a much more believable list that reflects the events of 2012 much better than September's attempt.
Mayo has scouting reports written up for all 20 players, so there's much more to take in besides just the list of names. Given how the last list looked, though, the existence of a new list in and of itself was an important point.