It's top-100 prospect season as we wait for spring training to get here, but Baseball Prospectus is ready to do one better than that. BP released their top-101 prospect list on Friday, and it features five Red Sox prospects, a few of them even in lofty spots.
We'll start with the thing you came for -- where those five rank on the list:
7. Yoan Moncada, 2B
35. Rafael Devers, 3B
46. Andrew Benintendi, OF
73. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
98. Michael Kopech, RHP
Seeing those first four is no surprise -- those are far and away the four best prospects in the Boston system. Kopech is a nifty bonus coming in on the back-end of the list, and if he has as productive a 2016 as he did 2015 -- granted, with more innings and fewer suspensions -- he should move further up the list in the future.
Moncada as a top-10 prospect also isn't a shock, but it's welcome. BP's prospect lead, Christopher Crawford, had only good things to say about him to Over the Monster. "We're big fans. He's pretty close to a five tool player, and if you saw him play in the second half you understand why so many think he's going to be a star. His ETA is a little tricky because of the position, but be it in the outfield or second base he should make an impact on Boston at some point in 2017."
There is a legitimate chance that Moncada takes over for one of Jackie Bradley Jr. or Rusney Castillo in 2017 or 2018, depending on which of them fails to meet expectations in 2016 -- which could very well be the final shot as a starter one or both has in Boston. The reason it could be both is because of Benintendi, who also has an aggressive ETA, but given he's ranked number 46 here, it seems BP isn't quite convinced he's that great just yet.
That's a fair assessment, of course: Benintendi has only played in short-season ball and Low-A, and the latter was only for a minute. How he does in High-A in 2016 will say a lot about his realistic ETA and what he could be when he's all grown up.
As for Devers, Crawford sees a legit major-league bat regardless of whether he sticks at base or not. "As one of the few infield prospects with a plus hit and power tool, there's obviously a lot of upside there. Ultimately I think you're looking at a 280/.350/.470 type player, and that might be an underestimate. Even if he moves across the diamond, that's pretty darn good."
Anderson Espinoza's exposure to the pros makes Benintendi's look lengthy in comparison, as the young right-hander signed in 2014 then debuted in the Dominican Summer League at age 17 this past season. Espinzoa made short work of the DSL and Gulf Coast League before earning his way to a late-season debut at Low-A Greenville, where he will likely spend his age-18 campaign.
His future is very bright, and he has the best shot of any of these Sox prospects to make a significant jump in the rankings. Crawford tells us that he's "been on the Anderson Espinoza bandwagon ever since I was sent some video while working on a piece on the international signings in 2014. His feel for pitching is so unique, and even though he's diminutive, the stuff suggests top of the rotation. If he shows the same stuff at the full season level, he'll shoot up into the top 50 -- maybe higher."
MLB ranks Benintendi a top-10 OF prospect
MLB closes out their positional rankings with one of Boston's better prospects.
Keep this in mind if you're concerned about Espinoza "only" ranking at number 73: he's still all of 18, is just now getting into the full-season mix, and still managed to crack not just the top-100, but the top-75. All that hype doesn't need to come at once.
We also got a hint of who the next Red Sox prospect you'll want to pay attention to is, as Crawford pointed out Luis Alexander Basabe, who spent his age-18 campaign with short-season Lowell, as the next potential top-101 guy from the Boston system. "No, the numbers weren't outstanding, but the athleticism is, and the approach is pretty darned advanced for someone so young. There's a ton of upside here, and you just need to see a little less volatility to get into that 101 area."
For a system that, in the past few years, has graduated Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Christian Vazquez, and even Travis Shaw and Jackie Bradley Jr., it's absurd how loaded Boston's farm still is. Throw in that they also traded two other top-50ish prospects from their stores this winter to acquire Craig Kimbrel -- Manuel Margot ranked number 14 while Javier Guerra came in at 56 -- and it's even more ridiculous that they can still sport five top-100 guys, with three of them as top-50s right now.
That's the state of Boston's system, though, and it's a testament to what Theo Epstein left behind, Ben Cherington's hard work at improving the farm during his four-year tenure here, and Dave Dombrowski's timely restraint. As we've discussed before, there are few teams who can compete with Boston's top-10 players under 25, and as the above list shows, they aren't even all at Fenway yet.