Every year the Red Sox round up some of their minor leaguers most likely to contribute to that major league team in seasons to come for their rookie development program, aiming to prepare them for the transition from the minors to the big leagues. The 2014 program got underway Monday with a new crop of prospects:
- Matt Barnes, RHP
- Garin Cecchini, 3B
- Dalier Hinojosa, RHP
- Deven Marrero, SS
- Henry Owens, LHP
- Noe Ramirez, RHP
- Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
- Travis Shaw, 1B
- Blake Swihart, C
- Christian Vazquez, C
If you're wondering why projected Opening Day starters Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. aren't on the list, both participated in the 2013 program, and the Sox don't do repeats. The same goes for the top pitching depth--guys like Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, though interestingly enough Brandon Workman never participated.
Many of the players participating should come as no shock. Owens, Barnes, Ranaudo, Cecchini, and Swihart in particular are all likely to be well-represented in top-100 lists, and are all expected to start the year in Double-A or higher. Despite the fact that he's not on quite the same level, Vazquez could be more important than any of them in 2013 given that one of Boston's few weaknesses can be found behind the plate.
As for the rest, Travis Shaw is probably the biggest surprise, and as just about the only first baseman in the system, it's not hard to see why he was included. Dalier Hinojosa, signed for $4 million last year after defecting from Cuba, and Noe Ramirez are blocked by Boston's ridiculous stock of high-level pitching, but could find work out of the bullpen before too long. Furthest off of the lot is Deven Marrero, who has only 72 at bats in Portland and wasn't convincing with the bat at any level in 2013. Still, as their first-round draft pick in 2012, he warrants the consideration.
The 2013 crop may have been unusually quick to produce, with six of the ten players making appearances with the major leagues. It seems unlikely that more than two or three of this year's participants make the jump. But whether it's this year or the next, we'll be seeing these names around Fenway before too long.