Baseball Prospectus' 2015 organizational rankings are out, and the Red Sox have placed sixth overall.
It's a drop of two spots from their 2014 ranking, but given that both Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts have graduated from prospect status since then, falling from fourth to sixth isn't exactly an indictment of the direction the system is headed.
Baseball Prospectus calls Pawtucket the team to see, and it's a hard choice to argue with. Between the system's top prospect in Blake Swihart and its top arms in Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez, the Sox have plenty of talent on the verge of reaching the majors. Other than Rodriguez, though, not much that's going on at the top level is new to the system.
Instead, it's talents like Rafael Devers and Manuel Margot (two of Boston's five prospects in Baseball Prospectus' top 101) breaking out at the lower levels that have made up for the loss of players like Bogaerts and Betts to the big league team. Beyond those two, the lower levels of the minors are mostly filled with players who need to prove they're worth watching, which means the Red Sox could be looking at a bigger dropoff in terms of rankings in years to come if they don't find ways to restock soon.
For now, though, the Red Sox are in fine position. And that's more than can be said about their opposition. The Toronto Blue Jays (10th) are the only other A.L. East team to so much as breach the top 20, with New York, Baltimore, and far-fallen Tampa Bay all bunching up from 21st to 24th.
Baseball Prospectus does note that "the Red Sox lack the impressive high-ceiling talent of some of the teams ranked ahead of them," making up for it with system depth. That's not exactly an ideal situation for a team like Boston, which has shown a reluctance to bid on the best of the best in free agency. Not every team needs top-tier individual talent to compete for a World Series, but it certainly helps. The Red Sox haven't shown the willingness to meet the markets for top-tier free agents of late, making their ability to produce one great player arguably more important than their ability to produce two good ones.
Still, it's a small quibble in the face of a strong ranking. The Red Sox are in a good place in the majors and minors alike.