With 2014 finally behind us and 2015 just two weeks old, it's time once again for you, the Over The Monster readers, to rank the top 20 players in Boston's farm system. And as we do every year, we'll start by looking back at the previous year's list:
- Xander Bogaerts, SS
- Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
- Garin Cecchini, 3B
- Henry Owens LHP
- Matt Barnes, RHP
- Blake Swihart, C
- Allen Webster, RHP
- Brandon Workman, RHP
- Mookie Betts, 2B
- Trey Ball, LHP
- Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
- Christian Vazquez, C
- Manuel Margot, OF
- Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
- Drake Britton, LHP
- Brian Johnson, LHP
- Bryce Brentz, OF
- Deven Marrero, SS
- Rafael Devers, 3B
- Alex Hassan, OF
No use pretending otherwise: the top names in Boston's farm system did not live up to expectations in 2014. Xander Bogaerts' momentum carried right through to the start of the season, but he entered a tailspin in the middle of the year that he would not recover from in the least until September. Jackie Bradley Jr. proved incapable of hitting major league pitching to the point where not even his otherworldly defense could save his spot in the starting lineup. And while Garin Cecchini showed positive signs late in the year, his batting line of .263/.341/.371 in Pawtucket was by far the worst we've ever seen out of him.
In fact, with the Allen Webster experiment finally called, Brandon Workman's days as a starter likely over, and both Matt Barnes and Trey Ball having struggled for much of the season, the top-10 prospects were, as a whole, quite disappointing, with only a couple meeting or exceeding expectations.
John Farrell reveals (most of) the Red Sox lineup
He won't have to lock anything in for quite a while yet, but John Farrell already has an idea of what the lineup will look like in 2015.
It's not all doom-and-gloom, though, and much of that can be attributed to Mookie Betts. We had him ninth last year, couching against the possibility that he was a one-year wonder. After 2014, those concerns have largely been put to rest. Mookie wasted no time proving he was for real, becoming one of the most highly-regarded prospects in baseball and making the jump to the majors, where he seems to have earned leadoff honors for 2015. Joining him in the starting lineup will be defensive whiz Christian Vazquez, who didn't so much as crack the top-10 headed into 2014. As such, we'll be crossing both of the 2015 list for all the right reasons.
Those two were not the only prospects to excel in 2014, either. That bottom half has its fair share of breakout players. Brian Johnson, Manuel Margot, Rafael Devers, and Deven Marrero all project to come in quite a bit higher this time around. And, of course, a couple of those top-10 players are favorites to take down the top spot this week.
To get some logistical stuff out of the way: we're going to try a return to the poll-based voting since, honestly, it's just that much simpler, and there weren't many instances where an unlisted player even recorded a significant vote total. Nonetheless, if you think someone should have been in consideration for a certain spot, mention it in the comments, and they'll likely find their way onto the next "ballot".
Also, for purposes of this list, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Christian Vazquez, and Brandon Workman will not be considered prospects.
Beyond that, though, hopefully this should run smoothly. Let's get started: