Had 2013 been a normal year for the farm system, one where the known prospects made typical strides and the Sox added a few players via the draft, that would have been just fine. With Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and a plethora of arms all bunching up at the top of the system, the system would have looked plenty strong. Some systems need a big surprise or a trade to liven things up. Not so with the Red Sox.
But because the story of the 2013 Red Sox is an obscene case of the rich getting richer, Mookie Betts went ahead and added another layer by being the big surprise.
Drafted in the fifth round back in 2011, the 5'9" middle infielder was of course compared to Dustin Pedroia (size, it seems, is everything) but was largely forgotten after producing a .658 OPS in short-season Lowell. A bad year in rookie ball can be overlooked, particularly when it comes with an OBP north of .350. But with Barnes, Swihart, Owens and Bradley stealing the thunder from that particular draft, Betts just couldn't grab any attention.
How do you fix that? Well, the first step is to play on a truly miserable Greenville Drive team. Any real prospect would have stood out in that environment. At first, Betts didn't even manage that, hitting .157 in April. He did a bit better in May, though. And by "a bit better" I mean hit .356/.472/.663. The eyes were drawn by the six-homer explosion, then stayed for the walk rate that had always been there. And when a mid-season promotion to Salem actually saw Betts improve to .341/.414/.551 in 211 plate appearances, there was no looking away.
Frankly, independent of the context of level and age, Mookie Betts may have had the best season of any prospect in the farm system. He stole 38 bases in 42 attempts. He hit 15 homers where no such power was expected. He drew 81 walks while striking out just 57 times. And he did all this at a relatively premium defensive position.
To truly establish himself as a top, top prospect Betts will have to repeat this performance in 2014. Even if he falls off, though, with that power surge proving a fluke, so long as he manages to keep making contact and produces some doubles, he'll have the making of a fine MLB regular. Good defense, plate discipline, and speed tend to go well together. He's a dangerous combination of having a pretty high floor and ridiculous upward mobility, and it says a lot about Boston's system that he's coming in at #9.
- Xander Bogaerts, SS
- Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
- Garin Cecchini, 3B
- Henry Owens, LHP
- Matt Barnes, RHP
- Blake Swihart, C
- Allen Webster, RHP
- Brandon Workman, RHP
- Mookie Betts, 2B
Let's finish off the top-10.By now you all know how this works: I'll name candidates in the comments below, and you rec the comment of the player you want to vote for. For those unfamiliar with how to go about that, just click "actions" underneath the comment and then "rec." Nice and easy, though you do have to be a member to join in.
On the off chance I forget or otherwise leave someone out, you are free to start your own voting thread for that player. I'll even give it a rec of my own to make up for your vote.
As for rules, please stick to just the one vote. That's about it.