In preparation for the release of their top-100 prospects list, MLB.com is unveiling position-by-position rankings for the next week-plus. The prospect team that makes up MLB's analysis is different this year, too, so even if the setup is the same, the results should be a bit different: Jim Callis, formerly of Baseball America, joined Jonathan Mayo to help create these rankings.
The coverage begins with shortstop, where Boston's own Xander Bogaerts ranks first:
During his brief time in the big leagues, Bogaerts showed the kind of special player he can be. He uses his smooth, balanced swing to make hard contact and drive the ball to all fields. He has big raw power and already knows how to use it in games. Bogaerts saw time at both shortstop and third base in Boston and he is capable of playing either position. Some scouts feel he will outgrow shortstop, but there's nothing in his game that prevents him from playing there now. He has good range, soft hands and a strong arm.
Bogaerts comes in ahead of some impressive names like Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Addison Russell, and while he could outgrow the position, as stated by MLB's prospect team, at age 21 that's not a concern for either Bogaerts or the Red Sox. It might not even be a concern in the future for Boston, either, considering they've tried to stock their farm system with a legitimate shortstop prospect at every level: all they'll need down the line is for one of them to pan out. While that's no guarantee, it's also not something to be worried about yet.
This is a jump in the rankings for Bogaerts, as this time last winter he was listed fourth among shortstop prospects. While we don't know where he compares to last year's top selection, Jurickson Profar -- the Rangers' shortstop graduated to the majors and is switching off of the position thanks to the presence of Elvis Andrus anyway -- Bogaerts did skip ahead of Lindor and Correa, who were last year's No. 2 and 3, respectively. That'll happen when you bat .311/.407/.502 at Double-A, .284/.369/.453 in your first taste of Triple-A, and then hold your own in the majors both in the regular season and the playoffs. Remember, too, that Bogaerts did all of this as the youngest player in both Double- and Triple-A, and as the third-youngest player in the majors, behind only the aforementioned Profar and some dude named Bryce Harper.
Bogaerts is likely to be Boston's starting shortstop in 2014, unless the Sox go out and re-sign Stephen Drew between now and then, likely pushing Bogaerts to third. While he might not show off his full potential immediately, no one should be surprised if he continues as he's gone to this point, soaking in a new level of competition for a month or so before exploding, never to turn back.