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FanGraphs unveils top Red Sox prospects list

It’s a fascinating list.

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Triston Casas
Kelly O’Connor

While we are all excited about the end of the lockout and the return of major-league action to spring training and the hot stove, we are still in what is traditionally prospect season. The latest site to unveil their list of top Red Sox prospects is FanGraphs, who always has extensive lists for every team. Their list for Boston this season is particularly interesting, which we’ll get to in a second.

Before that, a bit of an explanation is in order for how FanGraphs compiles their lists. Instead of just doing a top 10 or top 20, or any standard length for each team, they rate players in terms of their Future Value on the 20-80 scouting scale and rank all of the players whose future vales rate as 35+ or above. This doesn’t just expand the number of prospects covered — in this case, the Red Sox have 51 players on the list — but it also puts players into tiers or buckets. One player may be ranked three spots higher than another, for example, but if they’re both rated as 45 Future Value players, you know they’re in the same tier. On the other side of that equation, two players can be back-to-back, but if they’re given different Future Values there’s a decent gap between them.

With that in mind, below I will post the top 10 on this list and give some general thoughts on the rankings as a whole. I highly encourage following the link above to see the full ranking as well as the FanGraphs team’s scouting thoughts for each player as well.

  1. Triston Casas, 1B
  2. Marcelo Mayer, SS
  3. Nick Yorke, 2B
  4. Wilkelman Gonzalez, RHP
  5. Gilberto Jimenez, OF
  6. Miguel Bleis, OF
  7. Connor Seabold, RHP
  8. Brayan Bello, RHP
  9. Ronaldo Hernández, C
  10. Brandon Walter, LHP
  • So, starting at the top there is not much surprise here. It’s always interesting to see how these lists rank Casas versus Mayer, but both of them along with Yorke were given 55 Future Values, reinforcing the relative closeness between these three. It’s a great core to have on the farm, especially with all three being on the dirt as infielders.
  • It’s after that top three that things begin to quickly and wildly differentiate this list from the others that we’ve seen this year. I should note that Duran is apparently ineligible for this list, as he’s not among the 51 players named on this list. But even so, I’ve never seen Gonzalez sniff the top five — he’s never even been in the top 10 in other lists we’ve seen — and even Jimenez getting in there as well. Both players are given 45+ Future Values, while the bottom five on this top 10 are given 45 Future Values. I can’t bring myself to rank Gonzalez this highly as I need to see it over a full season, but I respect the aggression. There’s a ton to be excited about here and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this kind of ranking as the norm by next fall.
  • I think my favorite ranking here is Bleis, who I would probably have closer to the 15 range but similarly to Gonzalez I see where the aggression comes from. What’s holding me back is the lack of experience, and very much not the talent. It’s been a few years since the Red Sox have developed a true top prospect from the international ranks, but Bleis has the skillset to break that streak. An outfielder with big raw power who is also “ultra-athletic,” there’s a ton of potential here to dream on.
  • It’s a bit strange to me to look at Gonzalez, Jimenez, and Bleis in the four, five, six slots, clearly buying in on potential over floor and proximity, only to then see Seabold ranked ahead of Bello. FanGraphs sees Bello as a reliever moving forward, which explains their rankings, but even as a reliever I think there’s a pretty decent chance Bello is more valuable five years from now than Seabold.
Ronaldo Hernández
Kelly O’Connor
  • The bottom of the top 10 is extremely interesting too, with Hernández and Walter. For the former, I was surprised to see no mention of robo umps in their write-up. To me, that’s the only justification for a ranking this high. I like the bat, but he can’t stick as a full-time catcher without robo umps, and I’m not sure the bat is good enough at a corner position to justify a top 10 ranking. For Walter, I can’t really argue with any ranking. On the one hand, he shoved last season and that’s all you can do is pitch well against the competition at the plate. But he was old for those levels relative to other notable prospects. I’d probably go a little lower, but not by much.
  • With all of the surprises in the top 10, that means the next 10 is going to be littered with players we’re used to seeing higher. That includes Jeter Downs, often the number five prospect (with Duran included), at number 11, Bryan Mata at 12, Jay Groome at 13, Blaze Jordan at 16, and Josh Winckowski down at 27. Jordan in particular stands out to me given the youth in the top six. That said, I understand being scared off by the swing and miss, and while he impressed last season it was not in a very big sample.

Below is our consensus top prospect list, updated with this one. As a reminder, we look just at the top 10 for each list and include their rankings in all of the other lists. If a player is not ranked on a particular list, for the purposes of the average we count them as being the top prospect not ranked. For example, if they are not on the Baseball Prospectus top 10, we will count them as the 11th prospect on that list. With Jarren Duran, we’ll just leave FanGraphs out of the calculation for the average ranking.

Red Sox Consensus Prospect Rankings

Prospect Sox Prospects Baseball America Baseball Prospectus Keith Law FanGraphs MLB Pipeline Average Rank
Prospect Sox Prospects Baseball America Baseball Prospectus Keith Law FanGraphs MLB Pipeline Average Rank
Marcelo Mayer 2 1 1 1 2 1 1.3
Triston Casas 1 2 3 3 1 2 2
Nick Yorke 3 3 2 2 3 3 2.7
Jarren Duran 4 4 4 6 - 4 4.4
Brayan Bello 6 5 5 4 8 5 5.5
Jeter Downs 5 6 6 5 11 6 6.5
Bryan Mata 10 8 7 10 12 8 9.2
Blaze Jordan 7 7 10 13 16 7 10.0
Jay Groome 8 10 NR 7 13 12 10.2
Brandon Walter 17 11 NR 8 10 9 11.0
Wilkelman Gonzalez 12 13 NR 17 4 10 11.2
Gilberto Jimenez 9 23 8 12 5 18 12.5
Connor Seabold 11 21 9 19 7 15 13.7
Miguel Bleis 15 20 NR NR 6 17 15.0
Josh Winckowski 13 9 NR NR 27 14 15.8
Matthew Lugo 28 14 NR 9 31 13 17.7
Ronaldo Hernández 23 27 NR 15 9 24 18.2