On Tuesday, ESPN's Keith Law unveiled his organization rankings, in which the Red Sox came fifth. Now, on Wednesday, we get to see things broken down a bit more, as Law has released his top-100 prospects list. The Red Sox are tied for the most prospects with seven, alongside the Houston Astros, but finished lower in the organization rankings because of where those prospects sit.
Xander Bogaerts ranks at second overall -- with Law comping him to Troy Tulowitzki "with a little less arm"* -- and Henry Owens comes in at #42, giving the Sox just two top-50 prospects. It's the Red Sox who dominate the back-end of the top-100, though, with four more selections between #51 and #61, and then one more for good measure down the line. As it's an Insider subscription article, I'm not going to divulge the full reports for these players, but we can still go over some of the more intriguing aspects.
*I could see the bat happening, in the sense Tulo's numbers are a bit better due to Coors Field, and Bogaerts certainly has potential at the plate, but I doubt their defense is even on the same continent: Tulo is really, really good with the glove.
42: Henry Owens, LHP
Owens is a lefty whose future is uncertain. It's believed he has a big-league future, but many analysts project him to be a third starter, some have him as a fourth, and now we have Keith Law suggesting Owens could very well turn out to be a number two. His huge 2013 bumped him from the 101 "just missed" spot on Law's previous list all the way to #42, and Law believes that Owens isn't far off from being ready for the majors.
51: Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Law believes Bradley needs to stop focusing on trying to hit for power, as it leaves him exposed against major-league pitching, and should instead stay "short on the ball" and focus on going "line-to-line". If he does that, Law sees an above-average regular at the plate, with defense that'll make the Fenway Faithful forget all about the departed Jacoby Ellsbury. Whether he does that immediately in 2014 is unknown, but the potential is certainly there.
53: Garin Cecchini, 3B
It's fitting that Cecchini follows Bradley in the rankings, since he's basically copying his career trajectory by posting a massive campaign at High-A followed by a promising, albeit less flashy, showing at Double-A Portland. Law says Cecchini's downside is a "Bill Mueller-type of career," but with the potential to do more thanks to his advanced approach and ability to make consistent, quality contact. The one knock, besides his defense, is that he prefers to use the middle of the field rather than focus on hitting for power, but if it means he's constantly on base, that's not a bad thing.
56: Blake Swihart, C
His defense has improved by leaps and bounds with more experience behind the plate, and while his bat is far from finished, his switch-hitting has seen jumps as well. This is one of the loftier rankings for Swihart out there, but if he's a two-way threat as his potential is currently teasing, there is no reason he shouldn't be ranked this aggressively.
61: Mookie Betts, 2B
Law says Betts has established himself as "one of the best middle infield prospects in the game", and also believes there is potential 20-homer power in those quick wrists. He states that Betts could turn into a plus defender at second, but that there are those who believe he could be average defensively at short if that ends up being the open position -- in a few years, it very well might be, depending on what happens with Bogaerts' growth. Law seems to adore Betts, saying there is All-Star potential for him at the keystone, and that he is more advanced than he should be considering how little pro experience he has. "Untapped potential on both sides of the ball" is what sticks out here, though: Betts might not be done surprising everyone just yet.
89: Matt Barnes, RHP
Law goes out of his way to say that he could be "selling [Barnes] short", because "Guys who miss bats with fastball strikes like this are pretty uncommon." I have to agree with him, though, that Barnes isn't quite at the point where all of his offerings seem to be working for him at the same time. Hopefully, that will be a problem that Triple-A solves, as Barnes could have a difficult time succeeding without some consistency from his secondary stuff. Even with this ranking, Law sees Barnes as a mid-rotation arm with potential for more.