The folks over at FanGraphs have released their review of the Red Sox' farm system and, frankly, it's frighteningly in-depth. We're talking all the way from Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts in post-prospect territory to Carlos Asuaje in 31st place and better than a dozen also-rans.
It's the sort of thing that really needs to be seen to be appreciated, but let's hit on some of the more interesting notes.
Mookie Betts over Xander Bogaerts
Before we even get into the minors, Kiley McDaniel drops a pretty interesting take on the talent in the majors. Xander has long been the superstar-in-waiting, while Mookie has exploded onto the scene these past couple years, rising from obscurity to, apparently, the top of the heap when it comes to young talent in the organization.
This is probably equal parts Betts proving himself in 2014 and Bogaerts falling completely to pieces in the middle of the season. Betts, after all, entered the season with plenty doubting he was anything more than a one-hit wonder, his 2013 season having come more or less out of nowhere. But after he rose all the way from Double-A to produce better than 200 high-quality plate appearances for the Red Sox, there's little question that he's for real.
Xander, meanwhile, has certainly not helped his stock with a .660 OPS on the year, but we shouldn't forget that for a long time he was producing even more proof than Betts. Even forgetting the 2013 postseason, Xander hit .304/.395/.464 in his first 238 plate appearances of 2014, easily trumping Betts' .291/.368/.444 over 213 PA. He also hit to an .824 OPS over the last 25 games of the season, suggesting he might be ready to put those midseason struggles behind him.
Still, it's hard to fault McDaniel for this pick. Both players have big-time upside, but Mookie is coming off the stronger overall season, and where Xander's defense is in question, there's no doubting Mookie's abilities in the infield or, at this point, the outfield.
Eduardo Rodriguez #2
Blake Swihart at no. 1 is nearly a consensus these days, but this is quite the high mark for Eduardo Rodriguez, who has been subsisting on a diet of helium since the Orioles sent him to Boston for Andrew Miller at the deadline.
With Baltimore, Rodriguez was a reasonably high-upside arm who was struggling to put it all together in a farm system that has generally excelled at turning starters into relievers. In 37 innings after making the move to the Red Sox, however, Rodriguez allowed all of four runs on 30 hits and eight walks, striking out 39 batters in the process. He's not held in universally high regard, but those evaluators who are positive on Rodriguez are very positive, with McDaniel projecting a #3 starter role for him down the line.
Oddly, that's also what McDaniel predicts for Henry Owens, who he ranks third despite being viewed as less of a risk than Rodriguez. But the upshot is that it's a pretty close pick between two very good arms.
The first two surprises were pretty easy to understand, but this one is a bit out there for me. Accepting that we're ranking Castillo as a prospect, it's pretty hard to put him below any of the players without any major league experience.
Don't get me wrong, it's not about Castillo's 40 major league plate appearances, nice though they were. He's probably not quite the .333/.400/.528 monster that we saw in those 10 games. But we've seen some real power from him, and McDaniel adds that the out-of-game pop he's showing has moved away from the flashy sort that only really plays out in batting practice towards something more realistically reproduced against major league pitching.
The divide seems to be that McDaniel is lower than most on the basic components of Castillo's game, but at least for me it's hard to imagine he's not going to be at least a productive regular, and it's easy to dream on the upside. I just can't imagine putting him below anyone still in the minors.
Garin Cecchini low-risk?
Last year, having Garin Cecchini (ranked no. 7 by McDaniel) graded as a low-risk prospect wouldn't seem all that surprising. Up until this season, Cecchini has done little but reach base. There was always the vague possibility that he might do so for some power down the line, but generally the discipline and contact has been enough to prospect-watchers reasonably high on Cecchini's future.
After hitting .263/.341/.371 in Pawtucket this year, however, Cecchini's bat seems that much less of a sure thing, and his glove isn't his best quality. Still, McDaniels believes in the hit tool, giving it a future grade of 60 (on the traditional scouting scale of 80) to go with a present mark of 30. Cecchini, for his part, at least backed that up with a strong finish, hitting .333/.413/.500 in better than 100 August plate appearances to bring up what had been a very poor season to that point.
Little return for Jake Peavy
You shouldn't expect to get much in return for an unproductive fifth starter, but McDaniel doesn't think much at all of Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. That doesn't leave him so far off from the pack, but it's still a more negative evaluation than they've received elsewhere.
There's probably a couple dozen other tidbits worth mentioning, but if we went into all of them, Rafael Devers would be in the majors before all was said and done. To make a long story short, the Red Sox still have an awfully deep system, with more players projected as future major league players than the other organizations and comparable-or-better top end. Not bad for not including Mookie.