All the voting is done, and with Wendell Rijo taking the final spot, the 2015 Over The Monster top 20 prospects list is finished
- Blake Swihart, C
- Yoan Moncada, IF
- Henry Owens, LHP
- Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
- Rafael Devers, 3B
- Manuel Margot, OF
- Brian Johnson, LHP
- Garin Cecchini, 3B
- Matt Barnes, RHP
- Deven Marrero, SS
- Michael Chavis, SS
- Trey Ball, LHP
- Sean Coyle, 2B
- Michael Kopech, RHP
- Edwin Escobar, LHP
- Sam Travis, 1B
- Steven Wright, RHP
- Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
- Travis Shaw, 1B
- Wendell Rijo, 2B
It says a lot about the system as a whole that Wendell Rijo slots in this far down. That's to say nothing of the players that missed out like Nick Longhi, Carlos Asuaje, and the pair of pitchers the Red Sox were willing to give up their 2015 IFA class for well before Yoan Moncada was even on the market.
Granted, fans of any given team can have trouble seeing the prospects objectively, but these are not the sort of players that are supposed to be, essentially, afterthoughts. Rijo is a 19-year-old second baseman (if not an amazing defensive one) with wheels who has shown the ability to consistently reach base in full-season baseball. With a solid few months in Salem, he could find himself in Portland before he even turns 20, which is just a ridiculous pace for a guy who has largely flown under the radar.
There's no guarantee there, of course. Some portion of the walks a player draws in Single-A could just as well have been drawn by a cardboard cutout, and it will be on Rijo to prove that he's capable of actually working them against pitchers who can find the zone with some regularity. He's also got to show that he's actually capable of consistently putting up the surprisingly decent power numbers we saw out of him last year.
Still, #20 isn't where you're supposed to have a player who could be among the youngest in Double-A before 2015 is out. It speaks to the depth of the system.
Often that sort of depth would come at the cost of the top-end. That was never exactly the case for the Red Sox, who certainly have had strong representation in top-100 lists, with Blake Swihart hanging out in the top-20. But it's really hard to overstate how big of a deal the arrival of Yoan Moncada was to bolstering that top-end, quickly doubling Boston's stock of top-tier prospects. What was once probably the biggest knock on the system is now arguably another strength.
Red Sox, Porcello have not talked extension
And Porcello doesn't expect that the two sides will talk, either.
Are we in a better place than we were last year? It's debatable. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are not coming off particularly good years, but without the benefit of hindsight (and frankly, nobody's close to giving up on Xander just yet) it's really tough to beat that combination up top. Owens was still Owens, Cecchini had yet to go through his difficult 2014, and while Mookie Betts only comes in at 9, he was coming off the ridiculous 2013 campaign that signaled his arrival.
Amusingly, though, it's Rafael Devers coming in at #19 which actually helps show how the depth has ticked upwards even with the Red Sox trading away a bunch of pitchers and graduating position players. After all, the Devers of 2014--Anderson Espinoza and Chris Acosta--didn't even make the cut this time around.
Still, it's hard to really make up for losing the consensus #2 prospect in all of baseball, so if I had to choose a side, I'd have to err on the system taking the smallest of steps back. But that was bound to happen. The fact that it's even up for debate after seeing so many names go out one way or another is awfully impressive in its own right. And it's worth noting that clearly not everyone agrees with my take.
The Red Sox, as a whole, have been very up-and-down these past few years. But the one constant through all the good and bad has been the farm system. They emptied it heading into 2011 with the trade for Adrian Gonzalez, but it's been on a steady climb up, and seems to have established itself as one of the best in the game. With most of the top players still likely to be prospect eligible after the season (barring unfortunate circumstances with the major league team's rotation and catchers), that should prove much the same next year as well.