The regular season may be just two weeks away, but apparently it's never too late for more top prospects lists! Arriving late to the party is Jim Callis of MLB.com (formerly of Baseball America), presenting his top-20 list for the year.
Xander Bogaerts is on top. This is not surprising. But the rest of the list has a few interesting placements, so we'll focus in on those that seem to break from the general consensus.
2. Henry Owens
Xander Bogaerts has, without fail, been everyone's top prospect in Boston's system. Typically, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been next in line, but here Callis goes with Henry Owens. This should perhaps come as no surprise--MLB.com ranked Owens #30 and Bradley #33 on their top-100 list. As such, this seems to be more of a high ranking for Owens than a low one for Bradley, so no complaints there.
5. Blake Swihart || 6. Garin Cecchini
Cecchini and Swihart aren't too far out of their usual places. So why highlight them here? Because Swihart was ranked #61 in the top-100 list and Cecchini #57. It's possible this switch came about due to Cecchini's underwhelming spring training performance, but more likely this is a sign Callis wasn't quite in agreement on the rankings with Jonathan Mayo, who compiled the top-100 with him.
11. Manuel Margot
Callis paints a pretty ideal picture of Margot as a future leadoff man, hitting all the important points: speed, contact ability, and patience at the plate. While Margot's numbers from 2013 don't leap out at you, Callis actually cites his year as a positive, too, noting that he "more than held his own as the youngest regular in the short-season New York-Penn League last year."
Jackie Bradley Jr. is taking over for Jacoby Ellsbury in 2014, but in terms of actually imitating the departing center fielder's style, Margot might be the closer approximation.
13. Rafael Devers
Devers may only be 17, but his power has Callis' eye, coming in at a scouting grade of 60. Callis notes that Devers' size and defenive definciencies might well move him off of third base as he approaches the major leagues, but the Red Sox don't exactly have a glut of big first base/left field type bats as is. If Devers can live up to this ranking--aggressive for someone as young and inexperienced as he is--the Red Sox won't mind if his glove is imperfect.
16. Wendell Rijo
One of the names that's been sneaking into the final spots on some top-20 lists, Rijo is solidly "in" with Callis. A good hit tool, strong defensive instincts, and the possibility to hit double digit homers all sounds good. The big problem for Rijo, though, at least when it comes to making it in Boston, is simply finding a spot on the team. Callis notes that his arm strength will keep him away from the right side of the diamond, and second base is all locked up by Dustin Pedroia. If Rijo has a future in Major League Baseball, it may not come with the Red Sox.