Over the last couple of months, we’ve been heavily inundated with top prospect lists. They’ve come from every corner of the internet, and with games getting started it’s just about done. At this point, we all have a pretty good feel for the Red Sox system. We have our own opinions, but we recognize the tiers and which players are legitimate and which are not. There’s not a ton that can surprise us any more. With that being said, as MLB Pipeline is releasing all of their top-30 lists for teams across the league, let’s look at some interesting rankings from their Red Sox list.
Brian Johnson ranks 12
As far as I can tell, this is as low as we’ve seen Brian Johnson on a prospect list. He’s been exclusively in other list’s top tens, and was number six on our list. On the one hand, it’s easy to see where MLB Pipeline is coming from. Johnson was never the sexiest prospect and always relied more on a high floor than a high ceiling. The rough season he had last year — personal issues or no — put a big dent into his value. On the other hand, he’s still extremely close to making a major-league impact and we saw in flashes last year that the talent is still there. In a muddled Red Sox farm system, I think this ranking will look pretty stupid in a couple of years, even with Johnson never really reaching top-of-the-rotation heights.
Lorenzo Cedrola ranks 16
This is the highest I’ve seen Cedrola ranked, and it’s an exciting ranking for such a young player. Entering his age-19 season, Cedrola is coming up on his third season with the organization and spent the first two in the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League, respectively. Prior to that, he signed for just $35,000 out of Venezuela in the same signing period that netted Boston Yoan Moncada. The outfielder immediately impressed, putting up an .835 OPS in the DSL before posting a .743 OPS in his stateside debut. He’s an athletic player whose speed shows on the basepaths and in the field. If he can continue to develop his bat, he should rocket up lists. This is an aggressive ranking, but it could look smart if he continues to hit as he moves up the ladder.
Travis Lakins ranks 8
Every year, there is one prospect that every evaluator disagrees about. This year, Lakins is that guy. This isn’t the highest we’ve seen the pitcher ranked — Keith Law had him all the way up at number five — but he’s also been down at the bottom of the top 20 in other lists like Sox Prospects’ and Christopher Crawford’s. The split results in what often results in these kind of splits for pitchers: Whether or not he can stay in the rotation. Whereas some believe he will eventually have to be shifted to the bullpen, MLB Pipeline opines that he has the athleticism and arm action to stick in the rotation long term. If he does, placing him in the top ten will make sense. If not, well, everyone misses once in awhile.
Trey Ball ranks 29
Well, we knew his stock had fallen. Ball is one of the most infamous top-ten picks in recent memory, and will go down as one of the worst Red Sox draft picks in quite some time. Despite all of that, he still ranks in the top-20 for most lists. MLB Pipeline took his fallen stock to the next level by barely placing him in the top-30. To be honest, I like the ranking. I know the system is thin right now, and the players who are above him certainly have their own flaws. However, the only reason Ball is ranked so highly on other lists is because of his name. You obviously can’t totally throw out the skills that enticed the Red Sox to draft him so early, but he’s shown nothing as a pro to justify being on any list. I don’t think we’ll be laughing at MLB Pipeline for this ranking.
Bottom of the top-20 is reliever heavy
You don’t really see a lot of relievers on prospect lists, since there is so much volatility at the position even at the major-league level. That’s not the case for the Red Sox, who have a handful of relievers around the number 20 spot. Between 14 and 21, they have: Jake Cosart, Chandler Shepherd, Ben Taylor, Kyle Martin and Luis Ysla. Most of those guys are close to the majors, which helps vault them on the list. Even if their overall production as a major-league may not be valuable enough to be considered a top prospect, they have a good chance of having some impact and that is worth something. Then, there’s Cosart. He recently converted to the bullpen, and looked like a new man in his new role. He has the best chance in this group for a high-leverage role in the future. In the end, though, having so many relievers listed here speaks to how thin the system gets as you move down.