Red Sox place nine prospects on MLB.com's top 100

Lisa Blumenfeld

With nine prospects on the list, the Red Sox have top representation on MLB.com's top 100.

The Red Sox have nine prospects on Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo's top 100 list for MLB.com, including Xander Bogaerts at #2 overall.

Boston's nine prospects are the most of any club, topping the Astros and Cubs with seven each. Using a points-based ranking system (the top prospect earning 100 points, #2 earning 99, etc.) the Red Sox' farm system comes in with 436 points, second only to Houston at 439 and a full 43 points ahead of Chicago.

After Bogaerts at #2, the next prospect to rank for the Red Sox is left-handed pitcher Henry Owens at #30. Jackie Bradley Jr. comes in three spots later, with Allen Webster the last of Boston's representation in the top-50 at #46. Garin Cecchini, Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, Matt Barnes, and Trey Ball round the Red Sox contingent in the second half of the list.

With the spotlight on the farm system in a relatively quiet offseason for the World Championship Red Sox, these names are fairly well known by now. The grades and summaries provided by Callis and Mayo largely hit the expected points. To pull out some of the more interesting bits...

30. Henry Owens

Owens throws his fastball in the low-90s and it plays up thanks to his deceptive delivery and long arms. His changeup gives him a second plus pitch and his slow curveball flashes the potential to be a third above-average offering, though it remains inconsistent.

Henry Owens' curveball and changeup are an interesting case, with different scouting reports claiming each one to be the more promising pitch. Count Callis and Mayo in the changeup camp, it seems. This is probably best explained by the last sentence: consistency. No one scout sees that much of any given player, so one could see an inconsistent curveball only while it's working while another might get a more representative look at it's on-and-off nature.  At the worst, though, that means Owens has a curveball which can be a plus pitch if he harnesses it.

46. Allen Webster

Webster might have the best stuff of any Red Sox prospect. His fastball sits in the mid 90s with heavy sinking action. His changeup is his best offspeed pitch, and his slider is also an above-average offering. His biggest problem is his command, especially of his two-seamer. He becomes susceptible to the long ball when his command of that pitch suffers.

Sometimes I just think we need to be reminded of that first sentence. Plenty of fans remember how awful he was in the majors, but it seems not enough attention is given to just how good he looked at times, too. One out of every eight pitches Webster threw drew a swinging strike. That's a rate bested just barely by only one man amongst qualified pitchers: Yu Darvish.

Obviously, Webster has big issues to work out. But if he manages it, he probably has the highest ceiling of any arm in the system.

61. Blake Swihart

The Red Sox were initially attracted to Swihart because of his abilities at the plate, and they believed he would develop into a good defender. He has done just that, with his defense progressing even faster than expected.

Swihart threw out 42 percent of would-be basestealers in 2013, leading the Carolina League. He has improved his game management and uses his athleticism well behind the plate.

Honestly I'm having a bit of a negative flashback to all the positive reports of Ryan Lavarnway's progress here, but Swihart gets a scouting grade of 50 (average) for his fielding and, honestly, that might be one of the more skeptical reviews of Swihart's defense we've seen thus far.

62. Mookie Betts

Betts began his professional career as a shortstop, but has shifted to second base where his arm profiles better. He has soft hands and good range and should develop into a solid defender.

Betts' position is becoming the subject of some focus with Dustin Pedroia locked into a long-term contract. Even the outfield has been brought up of late, with Betts having played center field back in high school. Of course, the Red Sox have had some weak-armed outfielders before. Given that Betts' arm doesn't profile well at short, that's a deficiency that would have to be taken into consideration if the Sox eventually tab him even further from home.

96. Trey Ball

Despite his height, Ball's athleticism gives him a chance to learn how to repeat his delivery well enough to have solid command. Though he is further away than most of the Red Sox top pitching prospects, his ceiling might be the highest of all of them.

Remember what I said earlier about Webster? Well, maybe not...

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