Over the past several years, the Red Sox have built one of the strongest farm systems in baseball through smart scouting and international signings.
The Red Sox have always been well-known for developing strong talent in the minor leagues. Star players like Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon, among many others, have come out of Boston’s system in the past decade. However, the current crop of talent in the minor leagues just might be the best yet.
Two of the most impressive names in the system, Anthony Ranaudo and Xander Bogaerts, have been given the honor of competing in the 2013 Futures Game.
Let’s have a look at just how talented these future stars are.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
2013 Stats: 8-2, 91.0 IP, 2.67 ERA, 1.044 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 (16 GS, Portland)
Anthony Ranaudo’s time in pro ball has been anything but easy. In his first full season, Ranaudo’s work was adequate, but not nearly at the level expected from the former first-round pick. His 2012 season was no better, as he was often injured, and ineffective when he was on the mound.
These days, things are a lot different. As evidenced by his above stat line, Ranaudo has finally unlocked his potential with an epic breakout season.
Ranaudo has always had dominant stuff. He features a low- to mid-90s fastball with decent movement and heavy sink. Ranaudo also relies on a plus curveball that is the best in the Red Sox system. He also features a changeup that has some potential, but lacks deception and fade.
Ranaudo’s physical stature is also a huge part of his game. His 6’7” frame gives him a very effective downward plane with his heater. He posts strong ground-ball splits as a result. His mound presence is off the charts, but he needs to work on mixing pitches more effectively.
His biggest setback in the past has been his weak fastball command. However, he has vastly improved in this area in 2013, leading to spectacular results.
When Ranaudo was drafted, his brilliant curveball and solid fastball gave him the potential to become a staff ace. However, his changeup has not developed as hoped. While he may never lead Boston’s staff some day, his brilliant results this year suggest that he will easily become an outstanding midrotation starter.
Needless to say, he is a very worthy member of the U.S. team in the Futures Game.
2013 Stats: .297/.393/.487, 28 XBH (12 HR), 70/49 K/BB, (83 G, Portland/Pawtucket)
Xander Bogaerts is by far the leader of Boston’s minor league system. Bleacher Report's Mike Rosenbaum rightly ranks the young shortstop third among the top prospects in all of baseball.
Bogaerts has always been an exciting prospect for his outstanding power. His plus-plus bat speed gives him elite raw power to all fields. He should post at least 30 home runs per season as a big leaguer, especially in Fenway Park.
Since being signed by the Red Sox, Bogaerts has shown off not only his power, but also his pure hitting ability. While he is still a little impatient at the plate, he has come a long way from his free-swinging days in the Dominican Summer League.
Now in Triple-A, Bogaerts has developed a very solid above-average hit tool which should give him the ability to sustain a batting average around .300 as a big leaguer. Furthermore, his improved plate discipline has significantly improved his on-base numbers. He’s truly developed into a complete hitter.
On defense, Bogaerts is an adequate shortstop. He has the good arm and soft hands for the position, but his range and athleticism are not well-suited for the position, especially as he continues to add strength.
It would make the most sense to move Bogaerts to a position where his range will be less of an issue and his above-average defensive tools will be maximized. Either third base or left field would be the best options to reach this goal.
What’s most exciting about Bogaerts is just how quickly he has moved up the organizational ladder. The 20-year-old is tearing up Triple-A pitching, but he still can’t even legally drink alcohol. His work so far has been unbelievable.
Bogaerts is truly a star in the making. In his prime, he should be an All-Star and serious MVP candidate. Look for the stud shortstop to make his big league debut in September, or sooner.