It took awhile to get here because of how they released their top-10 lists this year, but Baseball Prospectus finally got around to unveiling their top Red Sox prospects. BP tends to go a little further than just a top-10, though, as they also unveil some honorable mentions as well as everyone's favorite, a list of the top-10 under-25 players in the organization.
You won't be surprised by their top pick, as it's the same as (almost) that of everyone else: Yoan Moncada. He's followed by Anderson Espinoza -- despite Espinoza's youth and inexperience, even -- who is in turn followed by Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi. You knew it would be this four, even if you didn't know the order.
What's fascinating is that this list differs from their order in BP's top-101 list. That's partially because the overall national list is more of a group effort whereas the individual team lists get a little bit of individualized love in them from the author of said list. In this case, that's BP's prospect head Christopher Crawford, and Crawford loves Espinoza. You knew that already, though, if you followed our conversation with Crawford after the release of the 101.
After those four come the new names. Michael Kopech slots in at number five, which isn't a huge surprise given he ranked 98th on BP's top-101. Then it's Luis Alexander Basabe, who has a good chance of cracking the 2017 top-101 if his development goes the way analysts believe it could. Sam Travis, Boston's second-round pick from 2014 who is already at Double-A Portland despite just turning 22, ranks seventh.
Then it's a pair of players who have already seen big-league time, albeit only a little. Brian Johnson and Deven Marrero still have potential to be stick in the majors -- Johnson was interrupted by injury while Marrero has historically taken some time to adjust to newer, tougher levels. The question is just what role they will be in when they do get there: is Johnson a starter? How good of one? Will he have to relieve instead? And will Marrero ever hit enough to push him into more of a starting role, or is his glove the only reason he'll stay employed?
Last is Austin Rei, who is a newer name to many. The Sox drafted him in the third round of the 2015 draft, and the pick was lauded. John Manuel believed Rei was better than many of the players taken in front of him, and Baseball America ranked him as the 68th-best draft prospect in their pre-draft top-500. Crawford and Co. know this top-10 ranking is a bit of a surprise, but hear them out:
So, this is aggressive. Ignore the fact that the mediocre offense doesn’t make [Rei] look like a top-10 prospect, it's the profile from a premium position that does. He has a chance for an average hit tool, thanks to a compact swing and an advanced understanding of the strike zone. There’s also some raw power in his bat, although the swing is more geared toward contact than to drive the ball out of the park.
Rei is a fascinating prospect, and you'll start to hear more about him if the results start to match the tools and future expectations.
As for the honorable mentions, which BP refers to as players who are still interesting, you've got Nick Longhi, Mauricio Dubon, Trey Ball, Michael Chavis, and Pat Light. Light and Longhi you should be well-versed in at this point, given how often they've been written about in this space as potential future big-league players thanks to their power potential and splitter, respectively. Dubon is still young enough that he could transform into something more than a utility player, but we'll see. Chavis started to see his power come around late in 2015, but the first-round pick from 2014 still has a long way to go -- don't be too pessimistic, though, as he would be the 11th prospect on this list, per his write-up.
Trey Ball is the one who deserves a little more attention given he was picked in 2013 and has been teetering between disaster and disappointment during his time in the pros. It's still too soon to give up, but it won't be that way forever:
The southpaw still has a projectable frame and quality arm strength, but the secondary offerings haven’t made any real progress, with the curveball showing average and the changeup flashing just below that—with an occasional tick up when everything goes right. Add in well-below-average control and command, and you get a guy who is closer to non-prospect than prospect.
Last, you've got the top-10 under-25 list, compiled by current Prospectus author and former author here, Ben Carsley:
1a. Xander Bogaerts
1b. Mookie Betts
3. Yoan Moncada
4. Blake Swihart
5. Eduardo Rodriguez
6. Anderson Espinoza
7. Rafael Devers
8. Andrew Benintendi
9. Jackie Bradley, Jr.
10. Henry Owens
There isn't really much to say about it that we haven't already said elsewhere. Still, it's sure nice to look at, isn't it?
Be sure to check out the full article from Baseball Prospectus, as it's full of information you're going to want to know about far more than just 10 players.