Red Sox shortstop prospect Deven Marrero, at the College World Series - Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Law picks the 10 best that Boston has to offer, giving us understanding of his organizational rankings
For the most part, what has been similar about every prospect analysts' top 10 (or 15, or 20) for the Red Sox has been the first four spots. The order might vary, but it's the same four names, again and again, because of their respective floors, and, more importantly, their ceilings. After that, things get a bit fuzzy, as you start to get into territory where players are far off and haven't grown into their tools yet, or are close but, despite noticeable talent, have serious questions remaining. Because of this, spots five through wherever the various prospect lists happen to end have seen various forms this off-season. Possibly none of them as much as that of Keith Law, who released his list of 10 prospects this week.
If you paid attention to Law's top 100, you already know that Xander Bogaerts (5), Jackie Bradley (40), Allen Webster (63), Matt Barnes (79), and Henry Owens (101) comprise spots one through five. After that, though, things are a mix of expected and weird -- not in a bad way, just in a way that makes Law's list unique:
6 - Deven Marrero, SS: MLB.com has Iglesias this high, but other than that, this is the earliest any of Boston's non-Bogaerts shortstops make an appearance on a prospect list. Law is a known Marrero fan, though, as after the shortstop was selected out of Arizona State, Law said he would place him fourth, "behind the Killer Bs on Salem's roster" among Sox prospects. After acquiring Webster, and Owens' strong second half, it makes sense that Marrero would slide back a bit. It's good, then, to see that Marrero's first stint of professional ball hasn't disappointed someone with high expectations for him.
7 - Blake Swihart, C: Law singles out Swihart as a guy who could make "the leap" this year, in part thanks to his strong season following a dismal April. As we've written here many a time before, patience is required with a catching prospect, and that goes even more so for someone with Swihart's youth who also has to deal with working on two swings, thanks to his being a switch-hitter.
8 - Garin Cecchini, 3B: Law also mentions Cecchini as a potenial "leap" candidate, but picked Swihart over the third baseman as the one to bet on. He doesn't give much info on him here, but, given he's in about the same place many others have him, chances are good Law also sees the same kind of potential power growth combined with contact skills that have scouts excited about Cecchini's future.
9 - Drake Britton, LHP: There are still Britton fans out there, though, given Boston is ranked just #17 in the organizational depth charts by Law, maybe he's just more of a Britton fan than he is of many prospects other analysts prefer more. After a tough 2011 and a rough start to 2012, though, even praise by default is a positive for Britton, who has managed to stick as a starter despite his troubles.
10 - Brian Johnson, LHP: Johnson is the third left-handed starter in Law's top 10, and while he didn't get much of a chance to pitch before taking a liner to the face at last August's Futures at Fenway, Johnson's developed arsenal and high floor make him a worthwhile prospect. Even if he's not expected to be a top-of-the-rotation arm.
Law's sleepers are similar to just about everyone else, with Cody Kukuk and Manny Margot getting the nod. The name that surprises here is Mike Augliera -- not because I have issues with Augliera, but precisely because I do not. Law sees the sinkerballing control artist as having a future in relief, and says he could "move quickly in that role." The Red Sox, as they tend to do, though, might leave him as a starter until he proves he cannot stay there, slowing his rise, but not his development. Augliera, unquestionably, is the most intriguing of the college seniors the Red Sox drafted in 2012, thanks to his exceptional control, and it could keep him in a starter's role for some time as long as he can command within the strike zone consistently.