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Yoan Moncada ranks third, Red Sox place five prospects in Baseball America's top-100

Baseball America loves Boston's big four prospects.

Kelly O'Connor

The Red Sox placed five prospects in Baseball America's top-100. On it's own, that would be a reasonable feat. After all, the average team should expect to have three (and a third) prospects represented.

But five-in-one-hundred is underselling the Red Sox by quite a bit. Michael Kopech comes in at number 89, which is a nice nod based in no small part on his 70-grade fastball. But the other four? Not just in the top-100, or the top-50, but the top-20! With Yoan Moncada leading the pack at #3 overall.

It is, of course, the group you'd expect. After Moncada comes Andrew Benintendi at #15, with Rafael Devers and Anderson Espinoza one next to the other at #18 and #19 respectively. The folks at BA don't have any more detailed writeups just yet for their rankings, but they do provide scouting grades--on the typical 20-80 scale based on future projections--and there's some tidbits to be gleaned there.

For instance, Anderson Espinoza? His fastball gets a straight 80 grade. Given that he's reportedly hit triple digits with the thing as a 17-year-old, that's not the biggest surprise ever, but it's certainly nice to see. Particularly given that it's one of just six 80-grades on the list, fastball or otherwise. And if we've heard that his arsenal is unusually well-developed for someone his age, well, 60 grades on both the curveball and changeup only serve to drive that home.

Oh, he's also the only under-18 player on the list. That will only last for another month, at which point he'll be the youngest of six players under 19. Not bad .

Moving onto the position players, Rafael Devers' scouting grades don't actually look brilliant on paper. His Hit, Power, and Arm tools all grade out at 60, which is certainly good, but throw in a 20 for speed and a 40 for fielding and it just doesn't look as impressive as some of those around him.

But whether that 40 in fielding reflects the same improvements other outfits saw from Devers defensively or not, the infielder is very much a specialized prospect. He exists to hit baseballs, and hit them hard. Only 60 in power? Turns out there's only five players with a higher mark on the list. There's just less of it in the game these days, and the scouting scale hasn't necessarily adjusted to reflect that. And when it comes to putting that and a contact bat together? Fewer than 10 other players manage a 60 in both categories. And if the arm isn't nearly as important a grade as those other two, if it lets Devers hang out at third base rather than first--even if he's just reasonable there--that's a big deal for a bat of his caliber.

Not on the list of 60/60 players: Andrew Benintendi. Instead he pulls down a 70 on the hit tool, tied with Corey Seager, Byron Buxton, and Austin Meadows for the lead in that category. Not bad company. The rest of Benintendi's tools all come in at 50-55, reflecting his Jack-of-all-Trades nature, though in this case, he might be called a master of one.

And then, up at #3, we have Yoan Moncada, who's just quite good at everything. His worst grades are 55s for power and arm. His best a 65 for speed. There's a tendency to focus in on Moncada's bat. In part because that's what it's easy to get some feel for from afar thanks to his results, and in part because offense is naturally more exciting. But it's a good reminder that what makes Moncada quite so excellent a prospect isn't just that he's dangerous at the plate, but that he's dangerous at the plate while looking capable of playing any position outside of catcher reasonably well. Ultimately with Pedroia and Bogaerts still locked in at short and second for the time being, Moncada might just end up making Devers' ability to man the hot corner a luxury rather than a necessity.

At the end of the day, the reality is that these prospect lists and grades and all that good stuff don't actually change anything. Boston's big four are not better or worse off for having appeared here. If they're destined to bust (knock on wood, salt over shoulder, etc.) then they would do so with or without Baseball America's endorsement. That these guys are higher on Espinoza than others simply means that the range of opinions on him trends higher, not the range of outcomes.

But baseball isn't always about the here-and-now, or reality for that matter. Particularly for those who get really invested in their team, it grows beyond the confines of single-season records and becomes a long game. One that plays out as much in dreams as it does on the diamond. There was plenty of good fodder for those dreams before Baseball America's list, but damn if this isn't the best. Four in the top-20? That's a pleasant dream indeed.