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Red Sox top-10 prospects list unveiled by Baseball America

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With Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts both in the bigs, it's time to name a new number one prospect in the system.

Elsa

Expect reshuffling in the 2015 Red Sox prospect rankings. Xander Bogaerts is no longer in his familiar spot atop the list, and Mookie Betts, who briefly took it over for him mid-season, has also been removed after playing over 50 games with with Boston to close out 2014. Plus, some of the young talent -- like, younger than Bogaerts and Betts, even -- has begun its push through the organization, so new(ish) names are going to appear.

That brings us to Baseball America's top-10, released this week, which features not only a new number one, but some much-needed context for the youngest of the bunch. As it's a subscription piece, you'll have to head over to Baseball America for all of the details, but since they give away the actual top-10 sans scouting reports for free:

  1. Blake Swihart, C
  2. Henry Owens, LHP
  3. Rusney Castillo, OF
  4. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
  5. Brian Johnson, LHP
  6. Rafael Devers, 3B
  7. Manuel Margot, CF
  8. Matt Barnes, RHP
  9. Deven Marrero, SS
  10. Garin Cecchini, 3B

Let's talk highlights, shall we? Blake Swihart is the best prospect in the Red Sox system, and as much as we all love Henry Owens, it isn't close. Owens might -- might! -- be a number two starter, but Swihart's chances of being a perennial All-Star behind the plate are higher. He's a great defensive catcher, has improved his game-calling significantly since he was drafted, has a cannon for an arm, and is a switch-hitter who can hurt pitchers from either side of the plate. He has some holes he still needs to close on the offensive side of things, but he's become better at something like controlled aggression at the plate -- that might be who he is, but if he refines it to compensate for the quality of big-league pitching, he's going to be fine.

Rusney
Rusney Castillo has already shown up in Boston. (Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

That being said, I'm still a huge Owens fan, and I like his ceiling more than plenty. I'm not sure who will be the better pitcher between he and Eduardo Rodriguez, though, especially after the Sox tinkered with Rodriguez just enough to make his fastball that much more consistent and effect. Figuring out what Rusney Castillo might be is going to keep us all busy this winter: Baseball America says he has all the pieces to be average, with upside well beyond that modest designation.

I like Brian Johnson more than anyone -- even the people who also like him think I'm overboard with it. I think there's mid-rotation potential here, though: yes, he lacks an obviously defined out pitch, but all of his offerings work, and he can put them wherever he wants to. He'll be a command-first guy, and scouts sometimes ignore those types in favor of ones with a little more apparent potential. Don't sleep on his potential, even if it comes with plenty of risk.

Seeing Devers and Margot here, and not because of all the promotions the Sox have made in recent years but because of their own promise, warms the ole optimistic heart. Devers batted .322/.404/.506 as a 17-year-old in two leagues where the average position players are 18 and 20 and managed OPS of 671 and 677. Margot made it to High-A Salem by the end of the summer, and the 19-year-old posted a 924 OPS in his 16 games there. There is still a whole lot of growing and work left for these two, but the early returns are tantalizing.

I could flip any of these last three around and it would feel right. Barnes still has loads of potential, and has a better chance of being a rotation piece than the Workman/Ranaudo/Webster trio from 2014, but he needs to deliver on his promise soon: he'll be 25 in 2015. Marrero was awful offensively at Triple-A Pawtucket, but you knew that was going to happen: he didn't figure out Double-A until his first full season at the level, and his glove has been pushing him through the system before his bat is ready for promotion for some time now. Cecchini could realistically be ready for the majors at some point in 2015, maybe even early, but a strong finish to his 2014 isn't enough reason to push him ahead of players with much loftier ceilings like Devers and Margot.