The many, many prospect rankings are in, and Beyond the Box Score has compiled them all (well, almost--Keith Law misses out due to the paywall) to bring us their consensus 2014 prospect rankings.
The methodology is simple enough: the higher a prospect ranks on any given list, the more points they get. The more points they have, the higher they rank on the consensus list. That also allows them to give each farm system a point total, providing a rough organizational rankings, at least when it comes to top-tier talent.
So how do the Red Sox stack up? Quite well, predictably enough.
2. Xander Bogaerts
This is one most of us could have guessed without even looking. While Bogaerts' ranking may have fluctuated some with the fantasy-focused lists, the usual prospectors (the ones we'll be focusing on for obvious reasons) had him pegged solidly at no. 2, with only one dissenting voice in MLB Prospect Guide (where he took first, swapping with the phenomenal Byron Buxton). Unfortunately it seems we will never be able to say that Xander Bogaerts is baseball's top prospect, but major league success will wipe that away in a hurry.
40. Jackie Bradley Jr.
Top-50 isn't bad, but it looks worse when taken in the context of 2013. While this was a very nice year for Boston's farm system, Bradley starts the trend of high-level Sox prospects who have lost position either because of their own failures or by virtue of being leap-frogged by others. It's a short drop in Bradley's case--from 34 to 40--but it's hard not to wonder if he's being punished for the struggles he had early in the season when, in all honesty, he probably shouldn't have seen the majors until late in the year. Given his strong performance in his first exposure to Triple-A, it's hard to really justify dropping him for his season otherwise.
48. Henry Owens
Where the high-level prospects were trending down, the lower-level prospects did quite a bit of climbing. Owens rocketed 77 spots over his 2013 ranking, jumping from no. 125 all the way into the top-50. Those evaluators who snuck him onto their lists after Owens debuted in 2012 with a 4.87 ERA in Single-A Greenville will feel well validated now that an incredible 2013 season split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland has him looking like Boston's best combination of ceiling and proximity on the mound.
54. Garin Cecchini
Cecchini actually followed right behind Owens in last year's rankings as well, coming in at no. 133. Apparently the decrease in stolen bases is easily ignored when combined with an OBP of .443. Maybe the biggest plus in Cecchini's favor, however, is that he stayed healthy, avoiding both general and fluke injuries all year long.
66. Blake Swihart
Not one to be left behind, Swihart completes the trio of rising stars, going from no. 140 in 2013 to no. 66 in 2014. As with Owens, prospect watchers had to trust their pre-draft view of Swihart after the first-round catcher produced just a .702 OPS in 2012. And, as with Owens, they were rewarded, with a much better performance in 2013. The jump from .702 to .794 looks pretty big, but it's only when you break it down to .262/.307/.395 and .298/.366/.428 that the real night-and-day nature of Swihart's two years shine through. He's well down in those fantasy rankings, obviously, but the Sox won't mind waiting for their catcher of the future to work his way through Portland and Pawtucket.
Photo Credit: Mark A. Rebilis
84. Mookie Betts
Here's where we start to get really polarized. Betts managed to rank as high as no. 39 on one list (Prospect Digest) while missing out on four lists entirely (granted, one of those only went to 75). It's not hard to understand why there are such differing opinions here given that Betts is an extreme breakout case, going from a fifth-round pick who did nothing in 2012 to looking like a future All-Star in Greenville and Salem. When you mix them all together, Betts ends up comfortably top-100, though it's worth noting that he manages that even with the exclusion of one of his biggest supporters in Keith Law.
89. Matt Barnes
Jackie Bradley Jr. fell six spots, Matt Barnes fell 51. It's a huge drop from the third of the artists formerly known as The Three Bs, Unlike Betts, Barnes doesn't have anyone particularly high on him, meriting only one placement as high as 50. That's what comes from a poor performance in Double-A Portland, even if it comes with 135 strikeouts in 108 innings. Still, Barnes is set to start the season in Pawtucket, where he'll have ample opportunity to prove himself before getting the call to the majors.
94. Allen Webster
Where Bradley was perhaps punished unfairly for an overly aggressive promotion, Webster earned his 27-spot drop. Simply put: he was awful in the majors. He showed us how good his stuff was, but also reinforced how untenable it is without greater control and consistency. This was his first year in Pawtucket, so it's not like 2013 was do-or-die for Webster. But after 2013 he's lost the benefit of the doubt, since it's clear he can't survive without taking a real step forward.
107. Trey Ball
Austin Meadows, Dominic Smith, D.J. Peterson, Reese McGuire, Braden Shipley, J.P. Crawford, and Hunter Harvey--all first-round picks taken after Trey Ball and ranked higher. The Red Sox will hope Ball makes that list quite a bit shorter with a big 2014.
127. Anthony Ranaudo
Anthony Ranaudo sneaks his way back onto the list after a year's absence. It's hard to earn trust back after injury ruined his 2012 season, and given how close Ranaudo is to the majors now, he may not get the chance to do so before he loses prospect status entirely. As with every ranking, though, it hardly matters in the face of actual major league success.
All-told, the Red Sox trail only the Rangers in total number of prospects on the list (11 vs. 10), and the Cubs in terms of overall points (8110 vs. 7868). That's compared to a league average of five prospects and 3788 points, to put this all in context. This could be one heck of a year for the Red Sox in the minors.