Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top-10 Prospects After Week 10

Ben CarsleyContributor IJune 9, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top-10 Prospects After Week 10

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    USA TODAY Sports

    There's a new name atop the Boston Red Sox's top-10 prospects lists, and it has nothing to do with last week's draft.

    To be sure, the Red Sox added some very talented players to their system last week. Infielder Michael Chavis and right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech won't make an appearance on this list just yet, and first baseman Sam Travis is a bit too far off as well.

    But after weeks and weeks of staying strong and maintaining that Garin Cecchini is the best prospect in the team's system, I have relented, and Mookie Betts now reigns supreme. I still love Cecchini, but Betts is younger, at the same level as Cecchini and plays a premium defensive position. I had to make the switch.

    Regardless of how you order the Red Sox's top prospects, they've had a pretty good week as a whole, providing some stark contrast to the major league team's struggles.

     

    Players who have exceeded 130 PA or 50 innings pitched in the majors are not eligible for these rankings. All stats as of June 7, 2014.

Red Sox Prospects Hot/Not Sheet

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    Kelly O'Connor, sittingstill.net

    Hot

    Rafael Devers, 3B, DSL Red Sox

    One of the highest profile international signings the Red Sox have made in recent years, Devers is destroying the ball in the early days of his professional career. He's had just 34 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League, but the third baseman is hitting .481/.559/.852, showcasing his plus-plus power potential. Devers is still four-plus seasons away from reaching The Show, but if you're looking for the next prospect in the system with star potential, he's your guy.

     

    Brian Johnson, LHP, Double-A Portland

    Since being promoted to Double-A in May, Johnson has been lights-out. The left-hander is 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA, striking out 20.9 percent of the batters he's faced while exhibiting above-average command. Johnson doesn't have a high ceiling, but he's always been viewed as a safe prospect. Now that he's healthy, we're seeing why. He could be MLB-ready at some point next season, and he has the upside of a No. 4 starter.

     

    Not

    Pat Light, RHP, High-A Salem

    Quite frankly, Light's been a disappointment since the Red Sox drafted him 37th overall in 2012. That trend is continuing this season, as Light has a 5.23 ERA in High-A as a 23-year-old starter. Scouts have long suspected that Light might need to move to the bullpen, and that's a decision the Red Sox may want to make in short order.

10. Manuel Margot, OF, Single-A Greenville

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    Kelly O'Connor, sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    16 PA, 143/.200/.143, 2 K, 1 BB, 2 H, 0 2B, 0 RBI, 2 SB

     

    Overview 

    It was a rough week for Margot, who recorded just two hits and reached base just three times in 16 plate appearances. The 19-year-old is still having an encouraging season in terms of approach and success on the bases, but his hit and power tools haven't impressed quite as much, though given his age and level there's no real cause for concern.

    Margot faces some stiff competition for the final spot on this list from the likes of Deven Marrero and the newly drafted Chavis. But he still gets the nod here thanks to his upside as a first-division starter and his floor as a backup center fielder, though it would be good to see his bat truly come to life in the second half of the season.

     

    2014 Stats

    203 PA, .253/.320/.368, 13.3 K%, 8.9 BB%, 4 HR, 9 2B, 19 RBI, 19 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

9. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 12.0 IP, 3 ER, 11 K, 4 BB, 7 H, 0 HR

     

    Overview

    Ranaudo had one acceptable and one phenomenal start last week, lowering his ERA, WHIP and walk rate in the process. While he was merely OK in a five-inning stint against Norfolk, he was dominant in a start against Durham on Friday, throwing seven shutout innings without allowing a single walk.

    Ranaudo had yet to demonstrate that type of command at any point this season, and Josh Norris of Baseball America noted just how excellent he was:

    Pawtucket RHP Anthony Ranaudo was excellent last night at Durham. Check out his outing here and subscribe: https://t.co/UxiL21wq8r #RedSox

    — Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 7, 2014

    While Ranaudo's ERA looks promising, his stat line continues to suggest a brighter MLB future for him than do his scouting reports. Ranaudo still can't display the command he showed this week with regularity, and he gets hit hard when he leaves the ball up in the zone. He's clearly behind Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa on the Red Sox's depth chart, and he's probably even behind Allen Webster, too, so he may be most useful as trade bait this summer.

     

    2014 Stats

    13 GS, 71.0 IP, 2.79 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 1.30 WHIP, 3 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

8. Trey Ball, LHP, Single-A Greenville

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 4 H, 0 HR

     

    Overview

    This is the type of start we've all been waiting for from Ball. Mired in the midst of a very disappointing first full professional season, Ball finally had a breakthrough this week, throwing five innings of shutout ball against Lexington on Tuesday. While he notched just three strikeouts, Ball only walked one and allowed just four hits, lowering his ERA from 8.55 to 6.85 on the season.

    While Ball's start this week was a terrific sign, we shouldn't view this as a true turnaround unless the left-hander can string together a few successful outings in a row. Still, after three disastrous starts in his previous four tries, it's nice to see Ball pull himself out of his downward spiral.

     

    2014 Stats

    7 GS, 25.0 IP, 6.84 ERA, 5.8 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 2.00 WHIP, 2 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

7. Christian Vazquez, C, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    30 PA, .310/.333/.517, 3 K, 0 BB, 9 H, 1 HR, 3 2B, 5 RBI

     

    Overview

    One week after pulling himself out of an offensive rut, Vazquez had another terrific series of games at the plate over the past seven days. Not only did Vazquez once again reach base in at least a third of his plate appearances, but he also finally found some power in his bat, notching four extra-base hits and his first home run of the season. Other than taking a few more walks, it's hard to ask for anything more.

    As WEEI.com's Alex Speier noted, Vazquez went a whopping 73 games and 276 at-bats between homers, so it's not like the catcher's power problems are behind him. That being said, he's slugged .462 over his last 54 plate appearances, lending more credence to the idea that Vazquez might be able to hit enough to start in the majors during the prime of his career.

    If the Red Sox continue their slide, it wouldn't be surprising to see A.J. Pierzynski or David Ross dealt and Vazquez in Boston at some point this summer.

     

    2014 Stats

    191 PA, .271/.316/.367, 17.3 K%, 5.8 BB%, 1 HR, 14 2B, 15 RBI

     

    Stock: Up

6. Allen Webster, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, 7 H, 1 HR

     

    Overview

    Reading Webster's stat line is always an interesting exercise. On the one hand, his start this week was promising in that he allowed just one earned run, generated 11 swinging strikes and lasted six innings. On the other hand, he walked three, allowed seven hits and generated just seven ground balls. Quite frankly, he's lucky that Durham didn't dole out more damage against him on Wednesday.

    With Workman and De La Rosa in the Boston rotation and Matt Barnes and Henry Owens right behind Webster, it's difficult to see where the right-hander's future in Boston truly lies. You can never have too much starting pitching, so there's no real need to trade Webster or move him to the bullpen. But at some point, he needs to be challenged in the majors once again.

     

    2014 Stats

    13 GS, 73.2 IP, 2.81 ERA, 6.6 K/8, 3.5 BB/9, 1.29 WHIP, 4 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

5. Matt Barnes, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Kelly O'Connor, sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 15 IP, 4 ER, 9 K, 0 BB, 15 H, 0 HR

     

    Overview

    It was a good week for Red Sox pitching prospects, and Barnes was no exception, as the 23-year-old allowed just four earned runs over 15 innings across two starts, lowering his ERA by nearly a complete run in the process.

    Barnes needs to start missing more bats—he struck out just nine and gave up one hit per inning—but he did generate 15 swinging strikes last week, and more importantly he didn't walk a single batter.

    While Workman and De La Rosa are in the rotation right now and Webster and Ranaudo have better stats, it's Barnes who has the highest upside as a workhorse No. 3 starter at the MLB level. He's still an enormously important part of Boston's future, even if his prospect star has lost a little shine, so weeks like this are great to see.

     

    2014 Stats

    9 GS, 48.0 IP, 4.69 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.40 WHIP, 4 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

4. Blake Swihart, C, Double-A Portland

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    27 PA, .296/.296/.519, 3 K, 0 BB, 8 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI

     

    Overview

    Another week, another monster performance at the plate for Swihart, who's having perhaps the best season of any Red Sox prospect not named Mookie Betts. The switch-hitter collected another three extra-base hits last week, including his sixth home run. And while he didn't walk at all, he also only struck out three times.

    What he's doing is incredibly impressive for a 22-year-old switch-hitting catcher in Double-A, a notion backed up by Norris:

    Blake Swihart: 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI. Oh, and he's caught 52 percent of runners stealing this year. #RedSox

    — Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 4, 2014

    Defensively, it's more difficult to ascertain what progress Swihart has made this season, but all signs point to him being slightly above average behind the plate at the MLB level. He's likely to make many midseason top-50 prospect lists, and he's certainly one of the best catching prospects in the game at this point. Expect him to see Fenway at some point in 2015.

     

    2014 Stats

    200 PA, .293/.325/.476, 13.9 K%, 5.2 BB%, 11 2B, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB

     

    Stock: Up

3. Henry Owens, LHP, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 K, 2 BB, 2 H, 0 HR

     

    Overview

    Henry Owens has not allowed a run in any of his last three starts, and he's allowed just one over his last five. That's a period spanning 30 innings, and it's helped to solidify Owens' place as one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in baseball.

    Owens' walk rate and WHIP are falling to acceptable levels, and he's still striking out more than a batter per inning in Double-A as a 21-year-old. He's been very impressive, and he's showing no signs of slowing down, as noted by Speier:

    Henry Owens' last 6 starts: 4-1, 0.72 ERA, .097 BAA. How long till Feats of Mookie are joined by Feets of Henry? http://t.co/beGGn9vPFK

    — Alex Speier (@alexspeier) June 5, 2014

    Despite his dominant numbers, Owens doesn't profile as an ace at the major league level. He lacks the command of someone like a Cliff Lee—a pitcher he's often erroneously compared to—and he doesn't have the outstanding stuff of a pitcher like Jon Lester or Madison Bumgarner. But what Owens does have is a rare combination of size, stuff and deception, and it should allow him to pitch in the middle or near the front of Boston's rotation for a long time.

    I expect Owens to finish the year in Pawtucket, one way or another, and I expect him to make his major league debut at some point next year.

     

    2014 Stats

    12 GS, 72.1 IP, 2.24 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.04 WHIP, 3 HR

     

    Stock: Up

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

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    Triple-A: 21 PA, .190/.190/.238, 4 K, 0 BB, 4 H, 3 RBI
    MLB: 2 PA, .500/.500/1,000, 1K, 1 2B, 1 RBI

     

    Overview

    Cecchini had a tough week readjusting to life in Triple-A, notching just four hits without a single walk in 21 plate appearances. Such a line is uncharacteristic of the season Cecchini is having, though with his poor performance this week his season average is down to .260. Still, defense and power remain the main concerns when it comes to Cecchini's profile at the next level.

    With Stephen Drew now on the major league roster and Will Middlebrooks supposed to be back with the team at some point this year, it's tough to envision a scenario in which Cecchini sees much more MLB playing time in 2014. That being said, a strong finish in Pawtucket would position him well for substantial playing time in Boston next season. He's still an excellent prospect, even if he no longer ranks No. 1 here.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 218 PA, .260/.344/.318, 21.6 K%, 10.6 BB%, 7 2B, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 6 SB
    MLB: 2 PA, .500/.500/1,000, 1K, 1 2B, 1 RBI

     

    Stock: Neutral

1. Mookie Betts, OF/2B, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    Double-A: 5 PA, 0 H, 1 K, 1 BB
    Triple-A: 24 PA, .286/.375/.429, 2 K, 3 BB, 6 H, 0 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB

     

    Overview

    At long last, Mookie Betts sits atop these weekly rankings in the wake of a well-deserved promotion to Triple-A. Betts walked more often than he struck out in Double-A this season, getting on base at a .443 clip, hitting for power and stealing 22 bases. He showed literally no weakness to his game, and the Red Sox needed to push him to Pawtucket in order to challenge him.

    Betts will continue to bounce between second base and center field in Triple-A, though one would assume he'll skew more heavily toward seeing time in the outfield since that’s where Boston has a need at the major league level. He still profiles as more of an above-average regular than a true star, but few prospects have done more to improve their status this season.

    Betts began the year ranked No. 8 on this list, and while I noted that he could be a fast-mover early in the season, I never imagined he would perform this weel. He's poised to see significant MLB time next year, and it's not out of the question that he reaches Boston in 2014.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 253 PA, .335/.443/.551, 7.9 K%, 13.8 BB%, 18 2B, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 22 SB
    Triple-A: 24 PA, .286/.375/.429, 8.3 K%, 12.5 BB%, 0 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI

     

    Stock: Up