Summer is here and the end of June is coming, meaning mid-season prospect lists are popping up all over. The latest comes from Bullpen Banter, who released their updated top-75 prospect list on Monday. Four Red Sox prospects made the cut this time around, and that's an improvement for them -- they had four in the top-100 and three in the top-75 back in March -- despite the fact that Jackie Bradley's Jr.'s service time means he is no longer eligible by their rules. No worries, as someone else with a breakout campaign at High-A Salem took his place on the list.
#4: Xander Bogaerts, SS (Previous: 20)
Bogaerts returned to Double-A and the Eastern League to begin 2013, after finishing his previous campaign there with 97 power-filled plate appearances. He took some time to warm up this time around, but once he did, there was no stopping him: Bogaerts ended up hitting .311/.407/.502 as the Eastern League's youngest player before earning a promotion to Triple-A, where he is now the youngest in the International League.
He's already hit three homers there, and while there is obvious work to be done, as there is for any 20-year-old at the minors' highest level, it's hard not to be excited about him. Bullpen Banter agrees, pushing him up 16 slots due to the work of the last three months.
#35: Matt Barnes, RHP (Previous: 33)
Barnes saw his stock fall ever so slightly, likely due to his troubles at Double-A this year. He's actually pitched fantastically when he's on, and there are obvious great spots just like there are problem areas. It's good to see that Bullpen Banter hasn't lost faith despite a 5.03 ERA in his first season in the high minors. With any luck, that ERA will fall as he learns to use his secondary stuff more effectively and more consistently against more advanced hitters, and the ranking will remain justified.
#41: Garin Cecchini, 3B (Previous: N/A)
Cecchini essentially takes over for Bradley as the third-highest Red Sox prospect on the list, and did so in a similar fashion: by destroying the Carolina League. Cecchini finished off his time in Salem with a line of .350/.469/.547, as the only player in the Carolina League with an OPS north of 1000, and now finds himself in Double-A Portland after the High-A all-star game, same as Bradley one year ago.
Whether he's able to find the same success against Eastern League pitching is something we'll have to wait and see for, but he's improved his power, flashed that patience of his, and showed off his contact skills in spades this year: it's the breakout campaign many have been waiting for from a prospect that merited more attention.
#75: Trey Ball, LHP (Previous: N/A)
Ball was Boston's first pick in the 2013 draft, and the #7 pick overall. He hasn't thrown a pitch as a professional yet, but will spend time in the Gulf Coast League this summer, given he's all of 18 years old and not quite ready for even the New York-Penn environment. He'll be there soon enough, though, or maybe they'll go all Henry Owens with him and just skip him to Low-A Greenville. He certainly has the talent, and for a teenager, is actually pretty polished considering he was forced to learn a change-up in high school to make up for the curveball his father didn't want him to overthrow.
For what it's worth, this is very consistent -- in terms of within the Red Sox personal hierarchy -- with where many other prospect analysts felt Ball ranked. They have him in that mid-range of the top-10, and here he is, #4 on the Sox on a list that doesn't include Jackie Bradley Jr.
It's worth remembering these are just the rankings that Bullpen Banter's team of scouts and writers came to as a group -- certain analysts might have liked a few of these prospects more or less. That information will come out later this week, though: for now, enjoy this look at the ever-improving Red Sox farm.
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