Boston Red Sox: Stock Up, Stock Down for Team's Top 10 Prospects for Week 3
With the Boston Red Sox off to a hot 12-6 start to the season, their fans may not be paying as much attention to the progress of the team’s prospects as usual. That would be a shame, as they have a fine crop of youngsters who are already seeing their stock start to move early this year.
Boston has a blend of position players and pitching prospects down on the farm. The diversity of talent is exciting for a franchise that suffered through a 93-loss season last year.
Although the Red Sox are dominating with their current roster, it must be reassuring for them to know they have such a deep pool of talent in the minors to dip into if needed.
These young players have started off their seasons in varying fashion, but have plenty of games left to prove their potential.
Click through for a stock update on Boston’s top10 prospects for Week 3 of the 2013 season.
The following players are the top 10 ranked prospects according to Baseball America.
No. 10: Shortstop, Deven Marrero
2013 Stats: 13 G, .286/.386/.429, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 SB, 7 2B, 8 R
Last year’s first-round draft choice is off to a solid start for high Single-A Salem. The 22-year-old right-handed hitter hasn’t hit any home runs, but has contributed in just about every other facet of the game.
Marrero is mashing left-handed pitching, collecting six hits (including five doubles) in 15 at-bats against southpaws.
After stealing 24 bases in 64 games last year, he is off to another hot start on the base paths, having swiped five bags without being caught.
He also had two games with multiple walks last week, demonstrating an impressive patience at the plate.
Athletes' Performance Institute’s Mike Roberts told ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes that Marrero is “the best amateur baseball player on the defensive side I've ever seen in 35 years of coaching.”
The shortstop is living up to that reputation, having yet to commit an error in 2013.
The Red Sox should be pleased with the all-around game Marrero has been playing so far on the young season.
No. 9: Shortstop, Jose Iglesias
2013 Stats: 9 G, .206/.270/.441, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 5 R
When Iglesias was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket this season to make room on the major league roster for Stephen Drew, the hope was that the young shortstop could catch his bat up to his stellar defense.
So far, the results have been mixed.
Iglesias, who had five home runs in four professional seasons entering 2013, popped two out of the yard in his first seven games with Pawtucket. Besides those two homers, he has done little else at the plate, although it has been a small sample size.
In the field, he continues to dazzle on a regular basis, according to the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton.
With Drew hitting less than his weight for Boston, Iglesias may not have to do a lot with his bat to earn him and his glove a return trip back to the majors.
No. 8: Outfielder, Bryce Brentz
2013 Stats: 14 G, .246/.310/.386, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 15 K, 8 R
Having hit a combined .298 with 47 home runs over the past two seasons, it was going to be difficult for Brentz to impress in 2013.
So far he hasn’t.
Playing for Triple-A Pawtucket, the 24-year-old right-handed outfielder is off to a very mediocre start. Most alarming is his mounting strikeout total.
WEEI’s Alex Speier wrote that he is concerned as much about the strikeout totals as he is by the lack of walks (four) from the young outfielder.
Since he isn’t a strong defensive player, Brentz’s value lies primarily in his bat. He needs to heat up at the plate if he has any hope of being summoned to the major leagues in the near future.
No. 7: Third Baseman, Garin Cecchini
2013 Stats: 14 G, .327/.407/.500, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 SB, 4 2B, 7 R
There may be no Red Sox prospect hotter than Cecchini early this season.
The 22-year-old third baseman has gotten out of the gate quickly for high Single-A Salem, doing a little bit of everything. In addition to continuing to flash his speed, he hit his first home run of the season against Lynchburg on April 18.
If there have been any negatives for him this year, one would be the mixed results he has had on the base paths. WEEI’s Alex Speier wrote that it took Cecchini until August 9 (and 39 stolen bases) last year to match the three times he has already been caught stealing this season.
No. 6: Catcher, Blake Swihart
2013 Stats: 11 G, .231/.286/.333, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 2 3B, 4 R
The switch-hitting catcher played sparingly this past week, appearing in just four games. However, he reached base in each of them and appears to be getting settled in at the plate.
Swihart has struck out only seven times in his 39 at-bats, which is an encouraging sign for a young player like the 21-year-old.
Known primarily for his bat, he is holding his own behind the plate on the young season, having nabbed 36 percent of runners attempting to steal.
While doing nothing flashy, it looks like Swihart is right where he needs to be with his development.
No. 5: Starting Pitcher, Henry Owens
2013 Stats: 3 GS, 0-1, 2.40 ERA, 15 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 16 K
The big left-hander continued his strong start to the season, despite taking the loss in his third game of the year.
Pitching for high Single-A Salem, he permitted two runs in five innings against Potomac on April 17, while striking out seven in the losing effort.
After striking out 130 batters in 101.2 innings (23 games) last year, he has picked right up again with big strikeout numbers.
Judging from the five innings he has thrown in each of his three starts, he is operating on a pretty strict pitch count that may limit what he can do this season.
Perhaps the most impressive part about Owens thus far is the microscopic .140 batting average he has permitted to right-handed batters.
Having added bulk and velocity during this past offseason, a major goal this year should be maintaining that and consistently pitching deeper into games.
No. 4: Starting Pitcher, Allen Webster
2013 Stats: 2 GS, 0-0, 0.90 ERA, 10 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 12 K
Even if you put aside Webster’s dominant first two starts for Triple-A Pawtucket, his stock is on the rise simply from having made his major league debut on Sunday.
He pitched the first six innings of a 5-4 Boston loss. He more than held his own, allowing five hits and two earned runs (both off solo home runs) while striking out five and walking just one. Unfortunately, he got a no-decision for his effort.
The promotion was temporary. The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton explained that the Red Sox took advantage of the 26th-man loophole for doubleheaders that allows a player to be called up for the game(s) as long as he is sent back down immediately after.
Webster had already impressed Boston during spring training, so his short-lived promotion is evidence of the high regard the team holds him in and that he may be brought up again the next time the Red Sox need a pitcher.
No. 3: Starting Pitcher, Matt Barnes
2013 Stats: 3 GS, 1-0, 7.71 ERA, 9.1 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 11 K
Barnes got his 2013 season off to a miserable start by allowing seven runs in 3.1 innings over his first two starts.
He was much better last week in his third start, striking out seven over six innings and beating Double-A New Britain for his first win of the year.
WEEI’s Alex Speier reported that the 22-year-old right-hander got 12 swings and misses out of his 75 pitches, and that it was his first game of at least six innings since last June 9.
SoxProspects.com’s Chris Mellen tweeted that Barnes’ pitches have seen improvement but his curveball still needs the most work:
#RedSox RHP Matt Barnes making progress with the CH. Showed depth and deception versus FB. CB has the break, but inconsistent staying on top— Chris Mellen (@ChrisMellen) April 20, 2013
It appears that consistency will be the name of the game moving forward for Barnes.
No. 2: Outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr.
2013 Stats: 2 G, .125/.222/.125, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 SB, 1 BB, 2 K
Bradley may be down, but shouldn’t be counted out.
He was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket last week to make room for David Ortiz’s activation from the disabled list.
Although Bradley hit a blistering .419 in spring training, he couldn’t sustain that success during the regular season. He hit just .097 in 31 major league at-bats, including going hitless in his last 20 plate appearances before being sent down.
The Boston Globe’s Julian Benbow wrote that Bradley saw a lot of fastballs with Boston, which led to him swinging at a lot of first pitches, and may have thrown him off his game.
Red Sox manager John Farrell told The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that the team still holds the young outfielder in the highest regard. “We fully expect and have the utmost confidence he’s going to be a very good everyday player in time.”
The team will now wait and see how long it takes Bradley to make the necessary adjustments to get him back to the majors.
No. 1: Shortstop, Xander Bogaerts
2013 Stats: 15 G, .266/.338/.313 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB, 8 R, 7 BB, 21 K
Bogaerts, the top-ranked prospect in Boston’s system, is starting to play a little better after an icy start to the season.
The 20-year-old shortstop has yet to hit a home run, but has been getting on base at a good clip over the past week, including going 10 for his last 23 with four walks.
WEEI’s Alex Speier pointed out that Bogaerts, who made a combined 68 errors at shortstop in his first three professional seasons, has yet to make a miscue in 2013. His improved defense is a great sign for a player who has endured ongoing questions about whether he can stick at the position.
On the bad side, he continues to strike out at the highest rate of his career, with 21 in just 64 at-bats. That’s an unacceptable rate for a hitter who entered the year with a combined .296 batting average for his career.
Statistics via Milb.com