Boston Red Sox

Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Red Sox Prospects After Week 4

Ben CarsleyContributor IApril 28, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 10 Red Sox Prospects After Week 4

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    USA TODAY Sports

    We're seeing plenty of changes among the Boston Red Sox's top prospects report this week, as Boston's two best prospects headed into the year—Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.—are no longer eligible for this list.

    That means a new No. 1 prospect adorns this weekly report, and it gives us additional room for two former first-round arms at the back end of our rankings, too. While the sample sizes are still small as the season is quite young, we've seen enough out of some players to shake up the rankings a bit, highlighted by the ascension of Mookie Betts.

    Without further ado, let's see how the Red Sox system stacks up now that its two most prominent names have graduated to the majors.

    Players who have exceeded 130 PA or 50 innings pitched in the majors are not eligible for these rankings.

Red Sox Prospects Hot/Not Sheet

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Hot: Deven Marrero, SS, Double-A Portland

    While Marrero has universally impressed scouts with his defense, he's been a bit of a disappointment from an offensive perspective since being drafted with Boston's first pick in the 2012 draft. The 23-year-old is putting together a nice start to the season in Double-A, though, hitting .302/.351/.396 with three steals in 57 PA as of Saturday. He profiles as a second-division starter or an excellent utility infielder, though that could change if he continues to hit at this pace.

     

    Hot: Cody Kukuk, LHP, Low-A Greenville

    Kukuk has been on diehard prospect-followers' radars for a while now, and the interest in him appears to finally be paying off. As Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes, Kukuk earned 11 swings and misses in his most recent start and now has a 1.88 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 12 walks in 24 innings. A promotion to High-A Salem could be in the near future.

     

    Not: Jamie Callahan, RHP, Low-A Greenville

    The Greenville rotation is stacked with interesting arms, but it's been a rough start to 2014 for Callahan, who has a 5.29 ERA and 6.9 BB/9 through his first four starts and 17 innings pitched. Callahan is just 19, so his struggles aren’t worrisome, but he'll need to regain some semblance of command if he hopes to reach Salem this season.

10. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 3 IP, 2 ER, 4 K, 4 BB, 0 HR

     

    Ranaudo makes his 2014 debut on this list amidst a disappointing start to the season. The tall right-hander is demonstrating the ability to miss bats with 25 strikeouts in 23 innings but is also giving up hard contact and allowing too many free passes. He's yet to make it past the sixth inning in any of his five starts.

    While Ranaudo resurrected his prospect career in 2013, we shouldn't confuse his comeback for that of an unmitigated success story. It's reasonable for the Red Sox to keep Ranaudo in the rotation now, but there are many who feel he'd be better off in the bullpen, and that's an especially likely destination for him if he stays in this organization. He could be bumped off of this list in a few weeks.

     

    2014 Stats

    5 GS, 23.2 IP, 4.56 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 2 HR

     

    Stock: Down

9. Trey Ball, LHP, Low-A Greenville

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    Michael Dwyer

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 5 IP, 3 ER, 2 K, 1 BB, 0 HR

     

    The seventh overall pick in the 2013 draft, Ball was assigned to Low-A Greenville this week and embarked on his first full professional season on Sunday. A very raw, very talented pitcher, expect Ball's ascent through the minors to be slow and steady as he learns the nuances of pitching and devotes his full attention to the mound for the first time.

    While Ball has No. 2 starter upside, the early going could be rough for him as he refines his arsenal and works on repeating his delivery. This is not a player we should expect to see in the majors until 2018 at the earliest, but his athleticism lends itself to excitement nonetheless.

     

    2014 Stats

    1 GS, 5 IP, 5.40 ERA, 3.6 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 0 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

8. Brandon Workman, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Gene J. Puskar

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 11 IP, 7 ER, 11 K, 2 BB, 2 HR

     

    It was a rough week for Workman, who suffered a pair of poor outings at the hands of Buffalo and Lehigh Valley, posting a 5.73 ERA. Workman has run into consistent trouble in three total starts since his demotion to Triple-A, and he might be sliding down the Red Sox's starting depth chart in favor of Rubby De La Rosa.

    There's nothing much to worry about yet, as Workman is getting stretched out as a starter once more after functioning in a bullpen role in the majors. Still, it would be nice to see Workman post the same strong numbers in Triple-A as he did in the majors, and such a performance would expedite his return to Boston.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 3 GS, 14.1 IP, 6.28 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 2 HR
    MLB: 0 GS, 6.1 IP, 1.42 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

7. Christian Vazquez, C, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Steven Senne

    Last Week's Stats

    20 PA, .278/.350/.444, 2 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 3 2B, 1 RBI

     

    It was another good week for Vazquez, who continues to show promise at the plate while bolstering his sterling defensive reputation. Vazquez could begin what would be a long career as a major league backup catcher based on the strength of his defense alone, but if he proves to be even a semi-competent offensive force, he could start for a long while, too.

    Vazquez still doesn't project to hit as well in the majors as he's been hitting in Pawtucket, but this is a very positive sign for his development nonetheless. Given the ages of A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross, it would not at all be surprising to see Vazquez in Boston at some point this season—especially if he keeps hitting like this.

     

    2014 Stats

    71 PA, .281/.329/.422, 11 K, 5 BB, 0 HR, 9 2B, 7 RBI

     

    Stock: Up

6. Blake Swihart, C, Double-A Portland

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    21 PA, .333/.333/.444 3 K, 0 BB, 1 2B, 0 HR, 4 RBI

     

    It was another good week for Swihart, who's acclimated to Double-A quite well through a limited sample size of just 65 plate appearances thus far. While the switch-hitting catcher hit just one double last week, his .547 slugging percentage for the season is a promising sign, as Swihart is beginning to grow into the type of pop that should let him become a well-rounded, above-average catcher at the MLB level.

    As I've written here before, catching prospects take longer than most prospects to develop, as they must deal with the nuances of calling a game, pitch framing and controlling the opposition on the base paths on top of learning to hit. That means we likely won't see Swihart this season, but he's on pace for a 2015 MLB debut.

     

    2014 Stats

    65 PA, .344/.354/.547, 10 K, 1 BB, 2 HR, 5 BB, 12 RBI

     

    Stock: Neutral

5. Allen Webster, RHP, Tripe-A Pawtucket

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 1 BB, 0 HR

     

    Webster enjoyed what was by far his best outing of the year this past week, scattering five hits across 6.1 innings en route to a no-decision against Rochester. While only allowing one earned run is, of course, a positive step, it's perhaps even more encouraging to note that Webster struck out five and walked just one, as the right-hander has continued to struggle with command this season.

    Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa have seemingly passed Webster on Boston's starting pitcher depth chart, meaning it's important for the 24-year-old to string together a streak of successful starts if he wants to see the majors again this year. If he keeps the ball on the ground and doesn't give out free passes, he can still be a mid-rotation starter.

     

    2014 Stats

    5 GS, 26.1 IP, 3.08 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 2 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

4. Matt Barnes, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Willis Glassgow

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 5 IP, 1 ER, 2 K, 2 BB, 0 HR

     

    Barnes finally made his 2014 debut this week after battling through shoulder soreness this spring and beginning the season in extended spring training. The results were good but not great for the UConn product, as Barnes allowed six hits and two walks but limited the damage to just one run as he earned his first win.

    Henry Owens is the consensus best pitching prospect in the organization, but Barnes' upside is close to that of Owens, and the Red Sox could look to him as a mid-rotation starter as soon as next year. We can't draw any conclusions from one start, but I'll list Barnes' stock as "up" here since he's back healthy on the mound and adding depth to an excellent Triple-A rotation.

     

    2014 Stats

    1 GS, 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 3.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0 HR

     

    Stock: Up

3. Mookie Betts, 2B, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    29 PA, .346/.379/.538, 0 K, 2 BB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 SB

     

    Throughout these weekly breakdowns, I've preached patience as a virtue when it comes to prospect evaluation and have tried not to let early season performances dictate my long-term view of Boston's prospects. But at a certain point this exercise loses its value if I become too conservative when it comes to changing rankings, and Betts has simply been too good to list behind the prospects I've already discussed.

    Scouting stats is a dangerous exercise, but it's an incredibly promising sign that Betts is hitting for power, as it tells us more about his ultimate profile than his unsustainable .418 batting average. It's hard to imagine a better start to the season for any prospect, and as such, Betts now finds himself ranking as the third-best prospect in the organization. There's plenty of reason for excitement here. 

     

    2014 Stats

    88 PA, .418/.455/.658, 7 K, 7 BB, 8 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 8 SB

     

    Stock: Up

2. Henry Owens, LHP, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 11 IP, 8 ER, 7 K, 7 BB, 1 HR

     

    Owens' 2014 season is a perfect example of why you shouldn't get too high or too low when dealing with small sample sizes. Owens opened the season with two dominant starts, refusing to give up a run in his first 12 innings pitched. Since then, Owens has had one good start and two clunkers, including a disastrous start on Sunday night.

    Just as Owens' dominant start to the 2014 season didn't change his projection as a No. 3 starter, neither does this bump in the road. If anything, hopefully this serves as a small reality check for those who think Owens is going to serve as the Red Sox's ace of the future—that's not his profile, and it's not going to be regardless of his Double-A performance.

     

    2014 Stats

    5 GS, 28.2 IP, 3.82 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 3 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

1. Garin Cecchini, 3B, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    17 PA, .455/.588/.545, 4 K 5 BB, 0 HR, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 1 SB

     

    Rarely do we get to see a statistical line that so closely mirrors what scouting reports tell us we should expect from a player. Through the early days of the season, Garin Cecchini has continued to reach base at an elite rate, yet he has failed to hit for any substantial power. It's a perfect microcosm of Cecchini's career to this point, and it explains why many still don't consider Cecchini to be an elite prospect.

    Cecchini celebrated his 23rd birthday earlier in the month, and he's at the point where he should be driving the ball with more consistency, even if he's hitting for doubles power and not leaving the yard. That being said, if Cecchini is someone who can get on base at a .375 clip in the majors, his lack of pop will be easily forgiven. He's on track for an MLB debut this year.

     

    2014 Stats

    82 PA, .329/.415/.414, 15 K, 10 BB, 1 HR, 3 2B, 13 RBI, 2 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

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