Boston Red Sox: Stock Up, Stock Down for Team's Top 10 Prospects for Week 4
As the season heats up, it’s important to keep close tabs on the stock of Boston’s top prospects.
Despite a major league payroll of over $140 million, the team’s farm system is loaded with tremendous prospects who are vying to become big parts of the team’s future.
With intriguing position players and pitchers in the minors, the array of talent is exciting for a team that endured a 93-loss season last year.
That being said, it’s time to check out whose stock is up, and whose stock is down in Boston's minor league system.
Click through for a stock update on the Red Sox’s top 10 prospects for Week 4 of the 2013 season.
The following players are the top-10 ranked prospects according to Baseball America.
No. 10: Shortstop, Deven Marrero
2013 Stats: 14 G, .294/.400/.451, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 SB, 8 2B, 9 R, 9 BB
Deven Marrero’s impressive start to the 2013 season took an unfortunate detour last week.
WEEI’s Alex Speier reported that Boston’s 2012 first-round draft pick left last Monday’s Salem Red Sox game after going 1-for-2 with yet another double because of a hamstring injury. He was subsequently placed on the seven-day disabled list.
The Roanoke Times’ Aaron McFarling reported that the injury occurred when Marrero was running out a ground ball.
There has been no indication that this is a serious injury, so hopefully, the shortstop will be back on the field before long.
No. 9: Shortstop, Jose Iglesias
2013 Stats: 15 G, .228/.267/.368, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, 9 R
Jose Iglesias’ defense is so good at shortstop that his glove has often been compared to such greats as Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
The Red Sox already know about Iglesias’ defense, but haven’t been able to find a permanent spot for him in the majors for him because of his inability to hit.
He has hit just .202 in 41 major league games over parts of three seasons. The hope is that he will develop his bat to acceptable levels, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Despite a couple of early home runs for Triple-A Pawtucket, he remains a low-average singles hitter, who doesn’t take a lot of walks. It’s not that he has been terrible, but he hasn’t made any visible strides forward.
There are still plenty of games left, but Iglesias needs to start stepping up fast to maintain his prospect status.
No. 8: Outfielder, Bryce Brentz
2013 Stats: 21 G, .268/.341/.476, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 12 R, 8 BB, 19 K
The Red Sox's minor league outfield depth may be the thinnest they have at any position, with Bryce Brentz representing their most highly regarded prospect from that group.
Although he started his season slowly, Brentz has heated up lately.
WEEI’s Alex Speier noted that the 24-year-old has started seeing his strikeout numbers decline a bit while his walk totals have been on the rise.
Interestingly, the right-handed Brentz has struggled against left-handed pitching so far this season. He has collected just four hits in 19 at-bats against southpaws. If he can pick up that pace, he could see a major takeoff with his overall numbers.
No. 7: Third Baseman, Garin Cecchini
2013 Stats: 20 G, .373/.466/.640, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 8 SB, 6 2B, 4 3B, 17 R, 13 BB
No Red Sox prospect is hotter right now than Garin Cecchini.
As WEEI’s Alex Speier wrote, the 2010 fourth-round draft choice “continued his absurdly good run” last week.
In addition to keeping his batting average up and banging out plenty of extra-base hits, he has also been taking a lot of walks. At one point, he went seven consecutive games where he drew at least one free pass.
He also had an eight-game stretch where he reached base at least twice.
After going hitless in his first seven at-bats of the season, Cecchini has batted a blistering .412. It will be interesting to see where he finishes by the end of the season.
No. 6: Catcher, Blake Swihart
2013 Stats: 16 G, .250/.323/.375, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB, 3 3B, 6 R
It’s looking like 2013 may not be a breakout year for Blake Swihart, Boston’s highest-ranked catching prospect.
The switch-hitter has been mediocre for high Single-A Salem, and has not stood out in any meaningful way so far.
He doesn’t have any home runs yet, but does have four extra-base hits, including three triples. His bat has always been his primary tool, so it is encouraging to see the way he has been spraying the ball.
Swihart is still developing defensively and the Red Sox are doing what they can to facilitate that process. The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham reported that special assistant Jason Varitek was dispatched to Salem last week to work with the youngster.
A prospect like Swihart needs game action and time to continue to grow. While he isn’t currently standing out, he’s doing exactly what is needed to continue his ascent through Boston’s farm system.
No. 5: Starting Pitcher, Henry Owens
2013 Stats: 4 GS, 1-1, 1.71 ERA, 21 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 22 K
Left-hander Henry Owens may be Boston’s fastest-rising pitching prospect.
The southpaw earned his first win of the season for high Single-A Salem on April 23, pitching six shutout innings and striking out six.
He has been effective in each of his starts, which is an encouraging sign for the 20-year-old.
A staff report by Baseball America indicates that scouts believe Owens has taken a major step forward in 2013. This is even more impressive considering that he won 12 games and struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings last year in his first season as a professional.
Owens is becoming a must-watch prospect every time he takes the mound and could be a lot higher on this list at this time next year.
No. 4: Starting Pitcher, Allen Webster
2013 Stats: 3 GS, 0-0, 3.21 ERA, 14 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 17 K
Brought up to Boston to pitch in the majors for one day, right-hander Allen Webster showed why he is such a highly regarded prospect.
Starting the second game of an April 21 doubleheader, he submitted six strong innings (five hits, two earned runs, five strikeouts) in a no-decision against the Kansas City Royals.
Returned to Triple-A Pawtucket the following day, the 23-year-old unfortunately wasn’t able to follow up on his impressive major league debut in his next minor league start.
Pitching against Columbus on April 27, he lasted only four innings, in part because of a disastrous 40-pitch first inning. The start should be considered a blip, as he was able to rebound and finish his outing impressively.
Although Webster’s stock is temporarily down, it shouldn’t be for long. NESN’s Ricky Doyle wrote that with Alfredo Aceves’ recent demotion to the minors, Webster appears to be Boston’s top option if it needs another starter this season.
No. 3: Starting Pitcher, Matt Barnes
2013 Stats: 4 GS, 1-1, 9.00 ERA, 14 IP, 24 H, 14 ER, 6 BB, 17 K
After bombing in his first two starts of the year, Matt Barnes pitched more to his top-prospect status by throwing a gem in his third game. Unfortunately, it didn’t serve as a catalyst to turn his season around.
He was trounced by the Double-A Trenton Thunder on April 26 when they ripped him for 11 hits and six runs in 4.2 innings.
While Barnes' ERA suggests he is having an awful season, a closer look at his other numbers suggests he is suffering at least in part because of bad luck.
His 17/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio is fine, as is the one home run he has allowed. His 1.44 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio is a positive jump from last year’s mark of 1.14.
According to WEEI’s Alex Speier, in his last game, Barnes “showed plenty of arm strength (sitting at 92 mph, up to 95) with good action on his curveball and changeup, but struggled to command the secondary offerings.”
It seems to be an issue of mechanics. If Barnes can ride out this cold streak, his ballooning numbers should settle down as the season goes on.
No. 2: Outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr.
2013 Stats: 8 G, .226/.333/.258, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 5 BB, 10 K
After collecting just three hits in 31 at-bats with the Red Sox to start the season, Jackie Bradley Jr. was sent to Triple-A Pawtucket for a little more seasoning.
While he hasn’t broken out yet, he is doing much better and providing signs of encouragement.
The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson reported that the 22-year-old outfielder is working on closing his stance to get back to the form that saw him hit a combined .315 last season in the minors.
MacPherson also wrote that if Boston starting right fielder Shane Victorino, who is ailing with a back injury, has to go on the disabled list, Bradley would be the likely choice to replace him.
No. 1: Shortstop, Xander Bogaerts
2013 Stats: 19 G, .301/.370/.410 0 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 12 R, 3 3B, 9 BB, 24 K
He is still striking out at a very high rate, but Xander Bogaerts has seen his stock soar recently because of his hot play.
The 20-year-old has a .429/.500/.643 split over his past 10 games.
A staff report by Baseball America gushed, “The strikeouts are a touch high and the over-the-fence power isn’t showing up in games yet, but give it time. By the all-star break you’re going to be wondering when Boston will promote him to Triple-A.”
The right-handed hitting Bogaerts had 60 extra-base hits, including 20 home runs, last season. His power outage so far is more likely due to unseasonably cold April temperatures on the East Coast than a decline in his skills.
If he can continue building off his hot stretch, he could put himself in position for a September call-up later this year and perhaps be in the running for the 2014 starting shortstop position in Boston.
Statistics via Milb.com