Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects for 2014

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterJanuary 4, 2014

Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects for 2014

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    Xander Bogaerts headlines a collection of future major-league players.
    Xander Bogaerts headlines a collection of future major-league players.Gail Oskin/Getty Images

    In 2012, Boston’s dismal season and last-place finish in the American League East obscured the enormous progress made by their top prospects down on the farm.

    Last season, though, everything clicked for the organization from top to bottom.

    After acquiring John Farrell to replace Bobby Valentine as the team’s manager and adding a few key players to complement their already strong core of veterans, the Red Sox opened the season on a tear and never looked back. The club went on to win the AL East with 97 wins before ultimately defeating the St. Louis Cardinals to claim its third World Series title in the last decade.

    Many of the prospects that took a step forward in 2012 played a role in the team’s overwhelming success last season, as the Red Sox received contributions from top-ranked prospects such as infielder Xander Bogaerts, outfielder Jackie Bradley and right-handers Allen Webster and Brandon Workman. Amazingly, all four players have rookie eligibility for the 2014 season.

    In addition to housing high-ceiling players such as Bogaerts and left-hander Henry Owens, Boston has projectable depth—guys that will be major leaguers—at most positions. All of their top position prospects possess a unique feel for hitting and an advanced approach, and they should continue to move up the ladder quickly as a result. The organization also has a cast of power arms waiting patiently in the high minors for crack at the major leagues.

    Their overall depth ultimately allowed the organization to gamble on upside last June in the First-Year Player Draft, when it selected prep prospect Trey Ball, a 6’6” left-handed pitcher, in the first round. They also signed highly touted Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers during the international signing period.

    Here’s a look at the Boston Red Sox’s top-10 prospects for the 2014 season.

10. Trey Ball, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 06/27/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 185 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (New Castle HS, Ind.)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Tremendous athlete; height and delivery give big downhill plane to fastball; very long limbs that get great extension on delivery, though tends to cut off arm after release; plenty of room to fill out frame, adding velocity to pitches and power; stands tall over the rubber and generates very good arm speed; needs to use lower half more to relieve some pressure on shoulder, but not a huge concern. 

    Flashes plus velocity in 92-93 mph range, but will sit 89-91; velocity will improve as he develops physically; could sit mid-90s at maturity; not a ton of movement on the pitch presently, though that should change as he learns to finish delivery; command is inconsistent at present but will get better with age. 

    Above-average curveball that lacks consistent release point; excellent shape and depth; sits in upper-70s with late break; potential weapon when he learns to command it; still learning to throw changeup; will need to use pitch more as a professional; features late fade in the zone that already induces weak contact; good velo separation relative to fastball; works in 76-80 mph range right now and should gain a few ticks in the future; good arm speed and natural deception should make it at least an average offering. 

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 or 3 starter

     

    Risk: Extreme

9. Matt Barnes, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 06/17/1990 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 205 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (Connecticut)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    6’4”, 205-pound right-hander has a tall, durable frame; built for innings; clean, repeatable mechanics that result in effortless velocity; high three-quarter arm slot creates good downhill plane; works from third-base side of the rubber; slight wrap at the end of his arm stroke.

    Best pitch is his fastball, which sits around 94-96 mph; holds velocity deep into starts; commands the pitch to both sides of the plate; uses it to dominate inferior hitters; curveball has a nice shape with two-plane break and decent bite; lacks consistency; command of the pitch needs significant refinement; easy to recognize out of his hand; flashes above-average potential; throws changeup too firmly in the mid- to upper-80s; lacks feel for the pitch; average potential.

     

    Ceiling: No. 3 or 4 starter; late-inning reliever

     

    Risk: Medium

8. Brandon Workman, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 08/13/1988 (Age: 25)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 235 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2010 (Texas)

    ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Big 6’5”, 235-pound right-hander was developed as a starter until he was called up to the major leagues as a reliever; projectable on both fronts; durable frame but delivery requires considerable effort; demonstrates solid pitchability and a feel for his full arsenal.

    Workman’s fastball works comfortably in the low-90s and tops out at 94 mph; mixes in more four-seamers as a reliever; misses at the top of the zone when he tries to overthrow; also throws a cutter which registers a few ticks slower and effectively keeps opposing hitters off balance.

    The 25-year-old’s curveball is his best secondary offering; average offering has a good shape and late downer action that misses bats; changeup used sparingly out of the pen; will be vital to his success if he moves into the starting rotation; overall valuable arm given his versatility and solid command profile.

     

    Ceiling: No. 4 or 5 starter/late-inning reliever

     

    Risk: Medium

7. Mookie Betts, 2B

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 10/07/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 5’9”, 156 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Fifth round, 2011 (John Overton HS, Tenn.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Plus athlete despite diminutive 5’9”, 156-pound build; outstanding feel for the game; showcases plus speed on both sides of the ball; right-handed hitter with plus bat speed; short and quick to the ball; loose hands; preternatural bat-to-ball ability with barrel control; development of over-the-fence power, in addition to his present gap power, has his stock on the rise in a big way; approach is geared towards entire field, but he’s not afraid to turn on the ball; plate discipline is among the best in the minor leagues; highly advanced pitch recognition.

    Solid defender at second base who will continue to improve; smooth, athletic actions; not particularly flashy, but makes all the plays; quick feet and good first step result in range that’s above average; quick transfer and release; footwork around the bag can be rushed; has athleticism to handle any position on the field; average arm strength.

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular

     

    Risk: High

6. Allen Webster, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 02/10/1990 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: 18th round, 2008 by Dodgers (McMichael HS, N.C.)

    ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)

     

    2013 Stats 

     

    Scouting Report

    6’3” right-hander employs easy and repeatable delivery; was a shortstop in high school but moved to the mound upon turning pro; fresh arm relative to most pitchers his age; works from three-quarters arm slot and repeats it well; excellent drive from his back side; good balance; will pull off with front side and jerk head at times.

    Fastball is most effective in 91-96 mph range with sink and some arm-side life, and he’ll occasionally scrape 97 mph in shorter bursts; average command; heavy sinking action when located down in the zone; generates considerable amount of ground-ball outs; features a mid- to upper-80s slider with plus potential; tight spin and late break; highly effective offering when down; changeup improved significantly this past season; outstanding arm speed with huge deception; registers in low-80s with late sink-and-fade.

     

    Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter; setup man/closer

    Risk: Medium

5. Garin Cecchini, 3B

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 04/20/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2010 (Alfred M. Barbe HS, La.)

    ETA: Late 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    The 6’2” left-handed hitter has a projectable frame and should continue to add strength as he fills out; above-average bat speed and superb bat-to-ball ability gives him the potential for an above-average-to-plus hit tool at maturity.

    Compact swing yields consistent, hard contact; gets extension after deep point of contact; allows him to drive the ball from line to line; present gap power could evolve into more usable in-game power in big leagues; plate discipline and pitch recognition are highly advanced and polished; possesses slightly above-average speed and he’s an instinctual and adept base stealer; isn’t afraid to earn the extra base on a knock.

    Background of a middle infielder in high school; shifted to third base upon turning pro and has adjusted quickly to new position; has giving hands and solid defensive actions; lacks a quick first step but good instincts give him average range; solid body control; strong, accurate arm; could probably handle a corner-outfield position if the Red Sox want his bat in the lineup.

     

    Ceiling: Average major-league regular

     

    Risk: Medium

4. Blake Swihart, C

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    Position: C

    DOB: 04/03/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (V Sue Cleveland HS, N.M.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Switch-hitter with similar and consistent swing from both sides of the plate; demonstrates potential for above-average hit tool from both sides of the plate with line-drive swing; present bat speed to handle velocity; has raw power and can tag a baseball but lack of lift in swing impedes over-the-fence pop; drives the ball to both gaps; aggressive approach that plays thanks to bat-to-ball skills; average runner with good instincts.

    Athletic and agile behind the plate with quietly strong 6’1”, 180-pound frame; room to add considerable strength as he develops without getting bulky; stays low; receiving skills improved significantly this season; average blocker who will continue to improve quickly given work ethic; good, consistent footwork; advanced catch-and-throw skills with a quick release; plus arm strength with accuracy; aggressive thrower.

     

    Projection: Average major-league regular

     

    Risk: Medium

3. Jackie Bradley, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 04/19/1990 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 5’10”, 195

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (South Carolina)

    ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Left-handed hitter flashes potential for an above-average-to-plus hit tool; compact bat path; uses whole field; present feel for the strike zone; mature approach and secondary skills; falls into slumps when he pulls off the ball; natural stroke is back up the middle and the other way; pitch recognition against breaking balls needs refinement; above-average speed plays up due to excellent instincts.

    Profiles as a legitimate big league center fielder; gets excellent reads; has a quick first step; above-average range in all directions, especially laterally; plus arm strength is an underrated asset at the position; could suffice at a corner spot if necessary; bat is better suited for center field.

     

    Ceiling: Average major-league regular

     

    Risk: Medium

2. Henry Owens, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 07/21/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 205

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (Edison HS, Calif.)

    ETA: Late 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Highly projectable 6’6” left-hander; Owens repeats his mechanics despite long, lanky frame; stride toward the plate is shorter than expected; stays on line with the plate; creates natural deception; consistent high-three-quarters arm slot; works on a downhill plane.

    Fastball typically sits at 88-92 mph and can be difficult for hitters to pick up out of his hand; features sink when working down in the zone; lacks significant movement; sometimes loses feel for arm angle; changeup is best secondary pitch and projects as a plus offering; thrown in upper-70s with late sink-and-fade to the arm side; curveball flashes average potential and he’s adept at adding and subtracting when necessary; would like to see him use it to back-foot right-handed hitters more often; good shape when on.

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 or 3 starter

     

    Risk: Medium

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B

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    Position: SS/3B

    DOB: 10/01/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: August 2009 (Aruba)

    ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    At 6’3”, 185 pounds, Bogaerts is a right-handed hitter with one hell of a bat; employs an upright stance; has eliminated some of the height to his leg lift during load; still gets all of his weight to backside and then through the ball; aggressive swing results in loud contact to all fields, but doesn’t sell out for power; possesses plus bat speed with plus raw power to every field; backspin carry; lift to stroke and flight of ball; extension after contact; can turn around good velocity.

    Hit tool has developed quickly with adjustment to approach and improved pitch recognition; legitimate plus, maybe plus-plus, potential; cut down on strikeouts this year and is using the entire field consistently; still prone to chase good breaking balls off the plate; approach will continue to improve against advanced pitching.

    Will continue to play shortstop until he’s forced to move from position; obviously already more than qualified to handle third base in the major leagues; solid hands; plus arm strength; accuracy has improved over last year; demonstrates excellent overall athleticism despite large frame; slightly above-average speed with similar range; could lose a step as he matures.

     

    Ceiling: Regular All-Star

     

    Risk: Medium