Baseball Prospectus loves the Red Sox farm system, but prospects aren't everything involved with youth, you know. Non-prospects who have recently graduated to the majors are not to be forgotten about when evaluating the state of youth in a big-league franchise, and with that, Prospectus released their 25-and-under rankings for all 30 teams.
The Red Sox are in a more than respectable 11th of 30. It's nowhere near as high as their farm rankings, which saw them sitting fourth in the game thanks to their upper-level minor-league teams overflowing with prospects, but it's still a quality place to be considering how much of Boston's current squad is made up of players past (or well past) their age-25 campaigns: Dustin Pedroia is 30, David Ortiz is 38, Shane Victorino is 33, Mike Napoli is 32, Daniel Nava is 31, Jon Lester is 30, Clay Buchholz is 29, John Lackey is 35 -- these are all quality players still enjoying some of the best years of their careers, but youth is no longer necessarily on their side as it is for the kids Prospectus is considering.
That's not a bad thing, though. You want those 25-and-under players to grow up to be the next Pedroia, the next Lester, and so on, and if things work out right, Boston will have the new and old around at the same time, even. Sitting 11th in something future oriented when much of the World Series-winning squad remains in place is amazing, especially when guys like Pedroia, Lester, and Buchholz aren't actually old at all, and should be around for a while to varying degrees.
The top-10 list itself isn't new, but in case you've forgotten or missed it the first time (all ages are seasonal for 2014, meaning that's their age as of July 1, 2014):
- Xander Bogaerts (21)
- Jackie Bradley Jr. (24)
- Will Middlebrooks (25)
- Garin Cecchini (23)
- Matt Barnes (24)
- Henry Owens (21)
- Blake Swihart (22)
- Allen Webster (24)
- Rubby De La Rosa (25)
- Mookie Betts (21)
It's worth pointing out that Brandon Workman is also heading in to his age-25 campaign, Felix Doubront will be 26, Drake Britton is 25, and the list doesn't include 24-year-old Anthony Ranaudo or Christian Vazquez, two prospects at Triple-A who could very well have quality big-league futures, and soon.
Speaking of big-league futures happening soon, Baseball Prospectus' R.J. Anderson also did something Sox-related recently, ranking teams in order of their prospects' proximity to the majors. He came up with a point system to figure it all out -- you can read about it at Prospectus -- and the results favored the Sox, who finished first with 70 percent of their top 10 playing in Double-A or higher, and three of those in the majors. There's more to a farm than proximity, of course, but having prospects at the ready for a team who is planning on contending is wonderful. Especially when two of those prospects are Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., both of whom could have starting jobs in the majors on Opening Day.