Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects Heading into Spring Training

Peter PanacyCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2014

Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects Heading into Spring Training

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    Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts enters 2014 as one of Boston's top prospects.
    Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts enters 2014 as one of Boston's top prospects.Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    With 2014 spring training just around the corner, the Boston Red Sox will aim to defend their World Series crown, relying on a core of players brought together by general manager Ben Cherington.

    While some of their players are well-established veterans, the Red Sox also enjoy a plethora of young and talented prospects waiting to break through at the major league level.

    Some appear poised to earn starting jobs while others are still a year or two away.

    Nonetheless, Boston will enjoy the fact that it has a deep and talented prospect pool coming up from its farm system.  In a way, 2014 will start a proverbial "turning of the page" of sorts, eventually moving away from more expensive veterans towards a reliance on young, home-grown talent.

    It should be an element worth paying attention to in coming years.

    In this slideshow, we will rank the 10 best prospects within the Red Sox organization.  To classify as a prospect—and/or rookie—a player must have accumulated less than 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched or spent at least 45 days on a major league roster per MLB rules and regulations.

    By determining the various factors and talents of each prospect, it is easy to determine that some are on the verge of making a name for themselves at the big league level.

    To determine the prospect ranking, we shall use the following criteria listed below.

     

    Ranking Criteria:

    1. Star Potential—To be considered a top prospect within the organization, the prospect must have an ability to become an impact player at the major league level at some point.  While some are closer to reaching this potential than others, there must be some reason the team is investing time and money to develop his talent.

    2. Statistics—It is impossible to evaluate a player without looking at the various numbers and statistics he has put up in the minors (and in some cases, at the major league level).  We shall evaluate some of the basic statistics (batting average, RBI, etc.) but shall also consider additional stats and accolades from scouts and coaches.

    3. Timetable for Big League Role—Regardless of how talented a prospect may be, it means very little if he is going to be spending significant time at the minor league level.  In order to be considered for this ranking, the prospect must be in the team's future plans in the foreseeable future.

Not Quite Top 10

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    Trey Ball, LHP

    2013 Stats (RK): 0-1 / 7.0 IP / 6.43 ERA / 2.286 WHIP / 0.83 SO-BB Ratio

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (7th) of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Lefty Trey Ball could wind up being one of those pitchers any team would be glad to have on their organization.

    With a fastball that can peak in the mid-90s, along with an effective changeup and curveball, Ball appears to have all the tools that make him a worthy candidate to eventually crack the big league roster.

    His athleticism is perhaps his greatest asset—he already looks like a big league pitcher and at only 19 years old, it is safe to assume his potential is only going to get higher.

    Yet he does not crack the ten best on this list since there is too little of a sample size to evaluate.  That will undoubtedly change in 2014 and perhaps we will have more discussion on Ball one year from now.

    Expect him to be higher on this list in 2015 with a potential to break into the majors in a few years.

     

    Drake Britton, LHP

    2013 Stats (AA-AAA): 7-7 / 102.2 IP / 3.77 ERA / 1.373 WHIP / 2.30 SO-BB Ratio

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 23rd round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Drake Britton is another one of Boston's lefty prospects that could have an impact at the major league level.

    At 24 years old, Britton should be ready to go—yet, as indicated by his linked scouting report, command has been a problem for the young southpaw.  As a result, he has developed a reputation for getting "rattled" on the mound.

    Fortunately, these are elements that can be coached up. 

    It is also worth noting that Britton has cracked into the majors—logging 21.0 innings with the Red Sox in 2013 and posting a 1.333 WHIP.

    If the Red Sox need a serviceable left-hander out the bullpen, Britton appears ready for the task now.

    Yet Britton has little more than late-inning relief potential at this point and lacks the star power required to make the top 10. 

     

    Christian Vazquez, C

    2013 Stats (AA-AAA): .287 BA / 48 RBI / .766 OPS / .989 Fielding Percentage

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Christian Vazquez is a 23-year-old, defensive-minded catcher who has gradually made his way up through the Red Sox's farm system since being drafted in 2008.

    According to his scouting report, defense is his best virtue and he has one of the better arms in the minors.  Yet his abilities with the bat are a concern moving forward.

    Still, there is always room for defensive catchers, featured either in a prominent or backup role.  Look at current Red Sox No. 2 catcher David Ross as a perfect example.

    Vazquez will not crack Boston's Opening Day roster in 2014, especially considering the number of catchers ahead of him on the depth chart.

    When he does, Vazquez will likely be the Red Sox's backup catcher of the future—perhaps behind a player who does make the top 10, Blake Swihart.

No. 10: Anthony Ranaudo, RHP

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    Anthony Ranaudo, RHP

    2013 Stats (AA-AAA): 11-5 / 140.0 IP / 2.96 ERA / 1.136 WHIP / 2.70 SO-BB Ratio

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (39th) of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Similar to Sox prospect Trey Ball, right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo has the look and athleticism of a big league starter.

    At 6'7" and 230 pounds, Ranaudo is perhaps destined for the middle of Boston's rotation within the next couple of years.  Given the fact that he is 24 years old, his developmental days are probably coming to a close.

    Once touted as a top pitching prospect in 2007, Ranaudo suffered a lackluster junior year at LSU which gave Boston an opportunity to grab him late in the first round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    When he is on, Ranaudo has some of the best stuff on the mound—a fastball that can peak in the high-90s along with an outstanding curveball as per his scouting report. 

    The one problem with Ranaudo is that he has lacked consistency at times, which has certainly thwarted his chances of breaking into the majors at an earlier date.

    Still, Boston has to consider its aging pitching rotation.  While No. 1 ace Jon Lester is due a contract extension, others like Jake Peavy, John Lackey and Ryan Dempster are entering the back end of their respective careers.

    This could open up the door for Ranaudo, if not in 2014, then perhaps in coming seasons.

    Ranaudo is excited about the opportunity and stated so via Maureen Mullen of MILB.com:

    Guys I started with last year worked their way up and they're really successful.  So, they kind of paved the way.  If there's an opportunity and I have a chance and I keep taking care of things that I can take care of and keep being successful, hopefully there's an opportunity and hopefully I'll be able to take advantage of it and contribute to the team just like they did.

    As indicated by his statistics, Ranaudo can put up some lofty numbers.  Given the nature of the Red Sox's current rotation, it may not be long before he has a chance to work his way into the rotation. 

    While it is a little too early to determine whether or not he has ace-like material, it is a safe bet to assume he could become a middle-of-the-rotation type of pitcher in the next few years.

No. 9: Matt Barnes, RHP

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    Matt Barnes, RHP

    2013 Stats (AA-AAA): 6-10 / 113.1 IP / 4.13 ERA / 1.438 WHIP / 2.96 SO-BB Ratio

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (19th) of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    While the Red Sox farm system may not necessarily boast a bona fide ace pitching prospect, the one thing they do have is plenty of pitching depth.

    Right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes is one such commodity.

    Barnes has a good fastball that can top out in the high-90s with plenty of downward movement, as per his scouting report.  He also has a reliable curveball and a decent changeup.

    At 23 years old, Barnes is steadily working his way up through the Red Sox's developmental leagues and, like Ranaudo, may be poised to break in as a potential No. 3 or No. 4 starter in Boston's rotation within the next few seasons.

    All of that will depend upon how the Red Sox handle their incumbent starters moving forward.

    While Barnes' numbers are not quite as good as Ranaudo's—listed on the previous slide—he is much closer to being major league ready in comparison.  Unlike Ranaudo, Barnes does not have the reputation of being as inconsistent on the mound.

    As a result, Barnes may crack the 25-man roster before his counterpart.

    Yet the lack of sheer potential keeps Barnes fairly low on this list.  It is hard to fathom him not having a major league impact in the near future, but do not expect him to emerge as a top-tier starter.

    Still, the depth of Boston's pitching prospects cannot be overlooked and Barnes is a big reason why.

No. 8: Allen Webster, RHP

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    Allen Webster, RHP

    2013 Stats (AAA): 8-4 / 105.0 IP / 3.60 ERA / 1.086 WHIP / 2.70 SO-BB Ratio

    How Acquired: Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 2012 per Mike Axsia of MLBTradeRumors.com.

    Scouting Report

    Once heralded as one of the top pitching prospects in the country per MILB.com, right-hander Allen Webster is another example of the Red Sox's emphasis on good pitching depth.

    Webster has arguably the best stuff out of all the developing pitchers at this tier and his arm strength is something that has to be considered in ranking him at No. 8.  His scouting report gives us perfect indication of this.

    Yet the key issues that have haunted Webster over his minor league career have been consistency and command—elements also pointed out by SB Nation's John Sickels.

    Fortunately, command is something that can often be developed and coached up over time, but at 24 years old, how much longer will the Red Sox wait?

    There is however, a very high ceiling for Webster—an aspect that was pointed out by Pawtucket Red Sox manager Gary DiSarcina via Alex Speier of WEEI.com:

    When Webster is right, when Webster is finishing his pitches, he was the most impactful, dominant right-hander that we saw.  One of the best matchups that we saw in the International League was [Pirates prospect and 2011 No. 1 overall pick] Gerritt Cole [sic] versus Allen Webster, and Webster beat him, 3-2 or 3-1—a real tight, low-scoring game.  If Allen can put it together and iron out some delivery issues and just finishing his pitches, he’s dominant with the heavy, heavy sinker.

    DiSarcina goes on to point out that Webster is further along in his development compared to pitchers like Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaduo.

    These comments earn Webster even more points on this list and justify him being ranked ahead of both Barnes and Webster.

    According to his scouting report, Webster is a pitcher likely headed to the back end of the rotation.  It is also plausible that he makes his way to the bullpen.

    While his ceiling may not be as high as some of the other pitchers on this list, there is no overlooking the fact that he has the potential to be effective at the major league level.  Playing a full season at AAA—along with a brief stint at the major league level—also indicates he is just on the cusp.

    As a result, he falls into the eighth spot on this list.

No. 7: Brandon Workman, RHP

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    Brandon Workman, RHP

    2013 Stats (MLB): 6-3 / 41.2 IP / 4.97 ERA / 1.416 WHIP / 3.13 SO-BB Ratio

    2013 Stats (AA-AAA): 8-2 / 101.0 IP / 3.21 ERA / 1.188 WHIP / 3.60 SO-BB Ratio

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Right-handed pitcher Brandon Workman is one of those young pitching prospects that has the benefit of major league experience, yet still classifies as a rookie as he has yet to crest 50 innings pitched.

    As a result, he earns higher grades on this list (among other reasons).

    What is there to like about Workman aside from the aforementioned experience?

    First, he has good fastball velocity and has worked on developing his off-speed pitches per his scouting report.  He also is a tough competitor—an attribute he will need in the AL East.

    One also cannot overlook the solid numbers he posted at the minor league level in 2013.  His strike-out-to-walk ratio and his WHIP are worth noticing.

    Yet the scouting report also indicates that Workman can tire quickly over the course of the game, which causes him to rapidly lose velocity.  His jerky motion also creates some problems.

    As a result, the report tabs him as being a possible end-of-the-rotation starter or perhaps a setup man out of the bullpen.

    This experiment already happened in 2013 after Boston acquired veteran Jake Peavy, although the results left plenty to be desired per Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com.

    But with the importance of depth, along with flexibility, it is impossible to discount what Workman could mean to this team in coming seasons.

    He already has major league experience, showing that Boston is comfortable using him at this level.  If the Red Sox choose to part ways with one of their incumbent starters, Workman would likely be the first to benefit out of the long line of pitching prospects.

    Workman earns points above most of his counterparts having already played a sizable portion at the big league level.  While it is tough to see him becoming an ace, he has shown reliability thus far and gives plenty of depth to the Red Sox pitching staff.

    There is nothing wrong with that.

No. 6: Mookie Betts, 2B

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    Mookie Betts, 2B

    2013 Stats (A-A+): .314 BA / 65 RBI / .923 OPS / .971 Fielding Percentage

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    It is time to move away from Boston's young pitching prospects for a while and focus on some position players, starting off with 21-year-old Mookie Betts.

    To say that Betts impressed scouts in 2013, at both A-league affiliates, is a bit of an understatement.  The one-time contact hitter suddenly found his power—hitting 15 home runs over the course of the year despite having zero in 2011 and 2012.

    Betts elaborated about his recent power surge via Matt Huegel of ESPNBoston.com:

    I didn't know I could do it.  But once you do it a couple times, then you're confident and you just stop worrying about it.  You just let it happen.  That's kind of what happened this year.  You have to just be patient with the process.

    This could be an indication that not only is he getting stronger, but also is developing his swing to have more potential.

    While it is hard to fathom him ever becoming a power hitter, his approach at the plate is something worth paying attention to, as per his scouting report.

    Betts' abilities and impressive 2013 campaign at such a young age provides plenty of reasons for Red Sox fans to be excited about this talented prospect.

    Betts was named the Red Sox’s 2013 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year per Ricky Doyle of NESN.com and was ranked No. 62 on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list for 2014.

    All of these reasons provide ample support behind Betts making the list as Boston's No. 6 prospect. 

    Yet herein lies the problem.

    Incumbent second baseman Dustin Pedroia is signed through 2021, all but assuring he finishes his career with the Red Sox, barring an unforeseen transaction.

    Signs also point to Xander Bogaerts being the Red Sox's shortstop of the future. Needless to say, the middle of Boston's infield looks crowded for quite some time.

    So, where can Betts play defensively when he eventually breaks into the majors?

    There is talk that Betts could wind up in the outfield—a possibility that was discussed by Alex Speier of WEEI.com who wrote:

    After spending all of 2013 at second base, he is likely to be reintroduced to shortstop as well—a position he played in high school and to a limited degree (13 games) in Lowell in 2012, with a longer-term possibility (late 2014 or 2015) that he could also see time in the outfield in order to maximize the number of avenues for his ascent to the majors.

    Betts said he was unaware of any plans to move around the field, but recognized that his versatility could be an asset going forward.

    While he will likely not be in a Red Sox uniform in 2014, or perhaps even 2015, the sky is the limit with this young talent. 

    Boston likes what they have in Betts and rest assured he will be a significant part of their long-term plans.

No. 5: Blake Swihart, C

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    Blake Swihart, C

    2013 Stats (A+): .298 BA / 42 RBI / .794 OPS / .988 Fielding Percentage

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (26th) of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Unlike Mookie Betts, catching prospect Blake Swihart does not have to worry that much about a positional lock-down at the position in Boston.

    More on that shortly.

    As per his scouting report, Swihart has an excellent bat from both sides of the plate—utilizing fluid swings to generate solid bat speed.  While his power numbers are not all that inspiring (combined nine homeruns in 2012 and 2013), the report suggests those numbers could increase as Swihart grows.

    He is only 21 years old after all.

    If the above-listed information was the only criteria in this rating, Swihart would be much further down on this list.

    Yet there are a few factors that need to be discussed.

    The Red Sox know how beneficial it can be to have a catcher that displays leadership, both on and off the field. Remember Jason Varitek? I thought so.

    Swihart is showing all the signs of being that type of player—a facet described further by Matt Huegel of ESPNBoston.com.

    Another factor that propels Swihart up the chain of prospects is the fact the Red Sox may be looking to him as early as 2015.

    Following the departure of Jarrod Saltalamacchia via free agency and the subsequent signing of A.J. Pierzynski, Boston now has three catchers on its roster ahead of Swihart—the others being David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway.

    Lavarnway has never emerged as a top candidate for a starting job with the Red Sox, leaving Pierzynski and Ross to likely handle the bulk of catching duties in 2014.

    With Pierzynski signed to only a one-year deal and Ross possibly entering free agency at the end of 2014, the time for Swihart to make his major league debut may be coming soon.

    Whether or not Swihart makes it to the big leagues in 2015 is almost entirely dependent upon how he performs this season.  If he shows continued maturation and development, it is not entirely unlikely that Red Sox fans see him a couple of seasons from now.

    Even without the power, Swihart could be a cornerstone for Red Sox teams in future years.  Not only does he provide an excellent approach at the plate and solid defensive prowess, but he has the leadership capabilities that teams need.

No. 4: Henry Owens, LHP

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    Henry Owens, LHP

    2013 Stats (A+-AA): 11-6 / 135.0 IP / 2.67 ERA / 1.126 WHIP / 2.49 SO-BB Ratio

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (36th) of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Moving back to pitching prospects one last time, let us take a look at Boston's No. 1 pitching prospect Henry Owens.

    There is a lot to be excited about with this 21-year-old lefty from Southern California. 

    Owens dominated at the AA level in 2013, earning a 1.78 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched.  All of his 2013 statistics across the board also look impressive, lending credence to the thought that Owens could easily develop into a top-two pitcher on the Red Sox major league roster someday.

    According to his scouting report, Owens offers a low-90s fastball with plenty of movement along with an excellent curveball.

    While he is raw and needs to put on some weight in order to withstand the rigors of major league competition, there is little reason to assume that Owens will not be a big league starter in the near future.

    Yet Owens likely will not get the call to break into the majors in 2014.  As mentioned before, prospects like Brandon Workman are further along in their development and should be considered by the Red Sox organization as major league ready.

    Owens still has a few more things to do in order to reach that point, although his ceiling is much higher than that of Workman and potentially those of other prospect pitchers like Matt Barnes, Allen Webster or Anthony Ranaudo.

    Thus, he earns high grades for this list.

    In spite of the developmental needs, one thing that cannot be overlooked is Owens' mental approach to the game.

    “Everyone thinks he’s this goofy, Southern California surfer kid,” Owens' agent Joe Urbon said via Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, using the adjective—“goofy”—chosen by Barnes and Blake Swihart.  “He likes that label.  But he’s as smart as they come when it comes to the mental aspect of the game.”

    That trait will undoubtedly benefit him moving forward.

    With Owens at least a couple of seasons away from a major league role, we turn our attention to Boston's incumbent starters.

    There is Jon Lester who should hopefully receive a contract extension in 2014.  Then there is 35-year-old John Lackey who should be a free agent in 2016.  Jake Peavy and Ryan Dempster will both be free agents after this season.

    Clay Buchholz figures to be around for a while as long as he can remain healthy and Felix Doubront—the youngest out of that group at 26 years old—will likely retain a starting job in the foreseeable future.

    Projecting Boston's rotation in 2016, it is hard to overlook the likelihood of Owens not being a part of it.  That would give him at least two full seasons to continue his development in the minors before being asked to fill a significant role at the major league level.

    Sox fans can hardly wait. 

No. 3: Jackie Bradley Jr., OF

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    Jackie Bradley Jr., OF

    2013 Stats (MLB): .189 BA / 10 RBI / .617 OPS / .983 Fielding Percentage

    2013 Stats (AAA): .275 BA / 35 RBI / .842 OPS / 1.000 Fielding Percentage

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (40th) of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    If 2013 was any indication of what to expect out of Jackie Bradley Jr. this upcoming season, the only concern would be whether or not he is ready to handle a full-time role.

    Yet circumstances have dictated Bradley be ready to take over as the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Sox in 2014.

    Following the loss of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury via free agency to the New York Yankees, the pressure was placed upon Bradley to justify earning a starting job moving forward.

    Granted, the Red Sox then signed veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore to compete with Bradley for the position in spring training, yet most would figure that the job is Bradley's to lose—at least in the long run.

    Sure, Bradley's limited major league campaign in 2013 was nothing to be proud about, but there is plenty to like about this 23-year-old.

    While it will be nearly impossible to replicate Ellsbury's stolen base potential, one thing that Bradley has going for him is an excellent ability to reach base—indicated by his minor league career .404 on-base percentage.

    The rest of his offensive package will, in time, have to develop.  At least he will have the chance to see what he can do at the major league level.

    Defensively speaking, Bradley is a much stronger upgrade than Ellsbury—a quality that was described further by Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com:

    The scouting report, according to coaches, is Bradley has a strong arm and covers a lot of ground in the outfield, though he’ll have to get adjusted to the weird shape of center field in Fenway Park—Ellsbury had it mastered, and that could be one part of his game noticeably missing and possibly underrated throughout his time in Boston.  Defensively, Bradley is unquestionably ready.

    At least the Red Sox will lose nothing there in 2014.

    It is hard to assume that Bradley will take over the leadoff position this upcoming season—a job that will likely go to fellow outfielder Shane Victorino.

    Bradley should hit low in Boston's lineup, which takes some of the pressure off of him to contribute immediately from an offensive standpoint.

    There will be some growing pains for Bradley in his first full season in Boston.  Those are expected.  Yet he still has the potential to be a solid, everyday type of player with the possible ceiling of a perennial star depending on his impact.

    As a result, it is hard to argue with him being placed as the No. 3 prospect in Boston.

No. 2: Garin Cecchini, 3B

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    Garin Cecchini, 3B

    2013 Stats (AA-A+): .322 BA / 61 RBI / .915 OPS / .930 Fielding Percentage

    How Acquired: Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft.

    Scouting Report

    Third base prospect Garin Cecchini could easily fall behind Jackie Bradley Jr. on this list for one simple reason—Bradley appears to have earned the trust of the Red Sox organization to be major league ready.

    Yet the aspect that pushes Cecchini into the No. 2 spot ahead of Bradley (at least in my opinion) is that Cecchini has much more star potential in comparison.

    While Bradley has the abilities to become a solid regular in Boston for future years, Cecchini appears to have all the makings of a future star.

    He has a tremendous bat from the left side of the plate and an uncanny ability to get on base.  His total number of walks in 2013 (94) reminds me a lot of Kevin Youkilis.

    Further adding to his stock of being a future star is his scouting report which reads, "Ceiling of an All-Star caliber third baseman."

    Enough said.

    Now, we have to project where Cecchini fits into Boston's long-term plans.  Currently, all signs point to Xander Bogaerts holding down the shortstop position—pending what happens with Stephen Drew—and Will Middlebrooks starting at third base.

    That is the likely scenario for Opening Day 2014.

    While there is no questioning Bogaerts' future in Boston, there are lingering questions surrounding Middlebrooks.  After an impressive 2012 campaign where Middlebrooks appeared to be the third baseman of the future for the Red Sox, Middlebrooks endured a lengthy slump in his second season.

    In spite of a wrist injury that hampered his season, there is speculation that Middlebrooks may have already played his way out of Boston.

    Pending this development, Cecchini may have to wait another year or so before earning a full-time gig.  If Middlebrooks slumps however, Cecchini's call-up could be much sooner.

    Regardless, it is impossible to overlook the future Cecchini has within the Red Sox organization in future years. 

    He is a bona fide star in the making and should be a cornerstone of Boston's future for years to come.

No. 1: Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS

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    Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS

    2013 Stats (MLB): .250 BA / 5 RBI / .684 OPS / 1.000 Fielding Percentage

    2013 Stats (AA-AAA): .297 BA / 67 RBI / .865 OPS / .950 Fielding Percentage

    How Acquired: Signed by the Boston Red Sox as an international free agent in August 2009.

    Scouting Report

    There may be those who question the previous rankings of prospects and where they fall in regards to Boston's top-10 list.

    Yet the one unquestionable prospect who deserves to be No. 1 is Xander Bogaerts.

    I doubt anyone would question that.

    Fans caught a glimpse of what Bogaerts is capable of after his impressive postseason performance during the Red Sox's run to the 2013 World Series title.  During the playoffs, Bogaerts hit .296 with three doubles in 23 plate appearances.

    According to his scouting report, Bogaerts possesses "elite" bat speed and a smooth swing that has the potential to generate 30-home run power.  At the end of the report, his ceiling is described as MVP-caliber.

    No wonder Boston has high hopes for this player, who is only 21 years old.

    Bogaerts fits the mold of players like Detroit Tigers' Jose Iglesias or Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado—a comparison made by Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.

    Baseball fans have already witnessed the impact Machado has had in his brief career thus far.  Now, they will get to witness another star on the rise.

    As noted on the previous slide concerning Garin Cecchini, Bogaerts' 2014 role will be directly influenced by what transpires with shortstop Stephen Drew.  If for some reason the Red Sox elect to bring Drew back, that would likely mean a platoon role with fellow infielder Will Middlebrooks at third base. 

    Yet Bogaerts, and the Red Sox for that matter, may be better off parting ways with Drew and giving Bogaerts the uncontested job at shortstop.

    After all, it is Bogaerts' quick development and emergence that gave Boston flexibility in determining whether or not Drew should be re-signed.

    At any rate, look for Bogaerts to have a solid season in his first full year with the Red Sox.  Sure, there will be some growing pains, but given Bogaerts abilities and high ceiling, those low points should be minimal.

    There is a lot to be excited about here.

     

    All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.  Contractual information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.  Scouting information provided by SoxProspects.com.

     

    Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Boston Red Sox.  Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.