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Yoan Moncada improves already strong Red Sox farm system

Depending on who you ask, the Red Sox might have just signed their best prospect.

Blake Swihart was the clear top Red Sox prospect until Boston signed Moncada.
Blake Swihart was the clear top Red Sox prospect until Boston signed Moncada.
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The Red Sox came into this offseason with one of the strongest farm systems in the game. Yes, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are no longer prospects, and not everyone considers August acquisition Rusney Castillo one, but there was still plenty to love both in the upper and lower minors even without that trio involved. Now, that strong farm system is even stronger, as the Red Sox have signed Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada.

Moncada is highly thought of by scouts and prospect analysts, to the point many believe he would be the first-overall pick in the 2015 draft were he only eligible for that distinction. Jim Callis of stated that Moncada would rank somewhere between the 10th and 15th best prospects in the game. Baseball America's Ben Badler sees Moncada as a top-20 prospect with a chance to crack into the top 10. Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel agrees, saying Moncada is somewhere between the fifth- and 12th-best in the minors. Rankings like this only mean so much, especially since Moncada hasn't even played professionally under the MLB umbrella before, but it's clear everyone thinks highly of his chances and potential.

For comparison's sake, the only other Red Sox prospect with that kind of love is catcher Blake Swihart, who is the top catching prospect in the game for many. Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America both ranked Swihart at 17th overall, while Fangraphs had him ninth and Keith Law 10th. Moncada might not be better than Swihart or even fairly considered as such until he faces some competition here, but the fact things look this close already is an encouraging sign for those willing to get excited about the opportunities prospects bring.

Law had ranked the Red Sox as the fifth-best farm system in the game, while Prospectus had them sixth. It's unclear if Moncada pushes them any further up the list, but if not, they are a much stronger five/six than they were before signing one of the game's top prospects. The Red Sox had seven top-100 prospects by Baseball America's reckoning before they signed Moncada -- now they have a league-leading eight. They might not have the best prospects or the most potentially high-impact ones, but Moncada is at least a close fit for that type, and they had enviable depth even before signing him.

It's unclear where Moncada will start -- he could go to Double-A Portland with his talent but the Sox might want to keep him from the cold Maine spring to begin his pro career -- or what his position will be, but what is known is that the Sox signed a major talent, and their whole farm system looks better for it. It cost them $30 million as well as that much in penalties, but the Sox have the money, and were only happy to use it on the kind of prospect they normally cannot draft.