Boston Red Sox

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 14

Ben CarsleyContributor IJuly 7, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 14

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Boston Red Sox added even more talent to their loaded farm system this week, landing two of the top international prospects on the market in right-handers Anderson Espinoza and Christopher Acosta.

    Neither Espinoza nor Acosta will crack this ranking quite yet, but that speaks to the impressive depth the Sox have built throughout the minor leagues in the past few years. Players such as Deven Marrero, Rafael Devers and Brian Johnson have yet to crack the list, and they'd be no-doubt top-10 prospects for many other organizations.

    As the trade deadline looms and the Red Sox figure to be sellers, we should see some movement on this list soon, as many prospects will ascend to the majors and lose their eligibility. For now, though, this organization is about as crowded as it gets when it comes to minor league talent.

     

    Players who have exceeded 130 PA or 50 innings pitched in the majors are not eligible for these rankings. All stats as of July 5, 2014.

Red Sox Prospects Hot/Not Sheet

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Hot: Deven Marrero, SS, Triple-A Pawtucket

    Marrero was promoted to Triple-A last week after a solid stint in Portland that ultimately saw him hit .291/.371/.433 in 307 PA. I maintain that such a performance overstates Marrero's offensive upside, but the defensively gifted ASU alumnus is now just a stone's throw away from the majors. Marrero profiles more as a down-the-order starter now, whereas I had him pegged as a utility infielder when the season began. If you think he should be on this list over Trey Ball, you'll get no argument from me.

     

    Hot: Rafael Devers, 3B, GCL Red Sox

    The Red Sox's biggest international signing from a year ago, Devers tore apart the Dominican Summer League to the tune of a .337/.445/.538 line in 128 PA. Boston has promoted its power-hitting third baseman to the Gulf Coast League, where he's off to a hot start through two games. Devers is still eons away, but it's great to see him acclimate to pro ball so well.

     

    Not: Jamie Callahan, RHP, Single-A Greenville

    It's been a rough year for the Greenville rotation, and Callahan is no exception. The right-hander had a rough June, notching a 6.66 ERA in 24.1 inning, striking out just 14 and walking seven. Callahan pitched quite well in Low-A last season, and struggling in full-season ball as a 19-year-old isn't a death sentence. That being said, it would be good to see Callahan make some progress before the 2014 season is over.

10. Trey Ball, LHP, Single-A Greenville

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 3 K, 0 BB, 0 HR

    Ball had his best start of the season last week, and boy was it needed. The left-hander had allowed 16 earned runs over his past 18.1 innings in his previous four starts and had an ERA over 7.00 heading into the week. He threw 47 of his 73 pitches for strikes and waked no one for just the second time this year.

    While Ball's start represents a step in the right direction, we need to see him string together a series of successful outings before we say his stock is on the rise. One potentially discouraging sign from his last start: Ball induced just three swinging strikes despite his five whiffs.

     

    2014 Stats

    12 GS, 48.1 IP, 6.52 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.84 WHIP, 5 HR

     

    Stock: Down

9. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 13 IP, 5 ER, 11 K, 3 BB, 10 H, 1 HR

    It was an up-and-down week for Ranaudo, who was dominant on June 30 against Durham but suffered his worst outing since April on Saturday against Syracuse. Still, Ranaudo has been so dominant as of late that his six-inning, five-run performance on July 5 only saw his season ERA jump to 2.66, and Ranaudo struck out six batters in that outing.

    What's most promising about Ranaudo's season is his improved command, as the right-hander hasn't walked more than four batters in any outing and hasn't walked more than two batters since June 1. I maintain that his upside is that of a back-end starter, but he's more likely to reach that ceiling now than I thought he was at the beginning of the year.

    Ranaudo was named to the International League All-Star Game this week, and his development is a major success for the Red Sox organization.

     

    2014 Stats

    18 GS, 101.2 IP, 2.66 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.17 WHIP, 5 HR

     

    Stock: Up

8. Manuel Margot, OF, Single-A Greenville

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    30 PA, .222/.276/.370, 2 K, 2 BB, 6 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 SB

    Margot has long been praised for his above-average bat speed. Now, we're starting to see that ability translate into more power too, as Margot added a homer and a double to his total last week, upping his season slugging percentage to .416. That's a number that might not turn your head at first, but when you consider that Margot is 19 and in Single-A, it becomes more impressive.

    Margot's calling card is his potential plus-plus defense in center field, so it's a terrific sign that he's garnering attention for his approach, power and speed this year too. He could be in line for a promotion to High-A Salem in short order, though even if he rides out the year in Greenville, he should be considered a borderline top-100 prospect.

     

    2014 Stats

    297 PA, .266/.331/.416, 11.4 K%, 8.8 BB%, 7 HR, 13 2B, 29 RBI, 28 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

     

7. Matt Barnes, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 2 K, 3 BB, 6 H, 1 HR

    Dropping Barnes two spots here is a fairly significant move, and it might seem like an overreaction to just one bad start. But as Alex Speier of WEEI.com pointed out earlier this week, Barnes' latest bump in the road represents the continuation of a downward trend we've seen since the midway point of the 2012 season.

    When Barnes was drafted in 2011, many had him pegged as a fast-moving mid-rotation starter. Three seasons later, Barnes is likely still just eighth or ninth on the organizational depth chart for starters, and many players who were drafted or acquired after him have passed him along the way.

    Really, you could rank Barnes anywhere from fifth to ninth here, and you wouldn't get an argument from me. I'll slot him behind fellow starter Allen Webster because of the latter's performance this year but ahead of Ranaudo because of Barnes' higher upside.

     

    2014 Stats

    13 G, 12 GS, 65.0 IP, 4.85 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.48 WHIP, 6 HR

     

    Stock: Down

6. Christian Vazquez, C, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    17 PA, .357/.471/.429, 5 K, 3 BB, 5 H, 1 2B, 0 RBI

    Every week A.J. Pierzynski struggles, Vazquez gets a week closer to making his MLB debut. That's really where the Red Sox should be in terms of evaluating when Vazquez should see regular time in Boston, as the Puerto Rican doesn't have much left to prove in Triple-A. Vazquez continued his offensive resurgence this week, reaching base eight times in just 17 plate appearances.

    Named to the World Roster for the Futures Game and to the International League All-Star squad, Vazquez is garnering plenty of attention for his strong season. Pierzynski was signed to provide the Red Sox with offense from behind the plate but has struggled badly this season, and there's no question that Vazquez is the superior defender.

    Catchers generally take longer to develop than other position players do, so playing it safe and leaving Vazquez in Triple-A this year would be an understandable move. That being said, it would be fun to see Vazquez challenged in the majors, and it could help the Sox determine whether he's ready for a permanent roster spot in 2015.

     

    2014 Stats

    262 PA, .278/.335/.388, 19.8 K%, 7.6 BB%, 3 HR, 17 2B, 19 RBI

     

    Stock: Up

5. Allen Webster, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 2 H, 1 HR

    Webster was outpitched by Rochester ace and fellow top prospect Alex Meyer in a showdown last week, but he pitched well nonetheless. Webster allowed just four baserunners in 5.1 innings but did give up his eighth homer of the year, suggesting that the long ball may still be an issue for him in Fenway Park in the future.

    On the one hand, Webster has yet to really dominate consistently at any point in Triple-A this season. On the other, he's stabilized his performances and doesn't quite appear to be the boom-or-bust starter many saw last year. He may be more of a No. 4 starter than the No. 2 starter his stuff suggests he could become, but Webster could probably be a valuable major leaguer right now.

     

    2014 Stats

    18 GS, 104.0 IP, 2.86 ERA, 7.5 K/8, 3.3 BB/9, 1.21 WHIP, 8 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

4. Henry Owens, LHP, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 7 H, 0 HR

    Owens had a fairly pedestrian start by his standards last week, lasting just 5.2 innings and allowing seven hits to the Trenton Thunder. Still, Owens' "down week" has his season ERA up to just 2.30, and his command is significantly better this year than it was in 2013.

    In most other organizations, Owens would be in Triple-A by now. Still, the left-hander isn't letting his success go to his head, as he told The Boston Globe's Julian Benbow last week:

    I try my hardest to stay humble. Sometimes it’s tough with guys coming to interview me and telling you how you’re doing compared to last year and what people expect you to do this year and how you’re exceeding expectations, but I think the main focus in my head is there’s still development here in the minor leagues.

    If the Red Sox deal a starter or two at the deadline, expect Owens to find himself in Pawtucket in short order.

     

    2014 Stats

    16 GS, 97.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.08 WHIP, 5 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

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

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    21 PA, .263/.333/.316, 5 K, 2 BB, 5 H, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB

    It was another so-so week for Cecchini, whose dominant April seems a distant memory after sputtering through May and June. The 23-year-old was able to swipe another base and hit another double last week, but he's still striking out too much and hitting for minimal power.

    Cecchini is hitting just .224/.298/.259 against left-handed pitching this year, and while he's never profiled as someone with major platoon splits, that's a concerning trend nonetheless.

    With Will Middlebrooks nearing a return from the DL and Brock Holt still performing in the majors, Cecchini has likely missed his chance to contribute meaningfully to the Red Sox this year. That being said, I'm sticking to my ranking here, as I see Cecchini as an above-average MLB hitter.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 294 PA, .256/.333/.332, 21.4 K%, 9.5 BB%, 9 2B, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 9 SB
    MLB: 2 PA, .500/.500/1,000, 1K, 1 2B, 1 RBI

     

    Stock: Neutral

2. Blake Swihart, C, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    21 PA, .389/.476/.500, 5 K, 3 BB, 7 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI

    It was more of the same from Swihart last week, and that's meant to be a compliment. The switch-hitter reached base nine times and added two more doubles to his total, bringing his season slugging percentage up to .481. It's hard to ask for much more of Swihart this season.

    One of the more interesting stats from Swihart's breakout 2014 campaign comes in the form of his nearly indistinguishable platoon splits. The 22-year-old is hitting .298/.357/.452 against left-handers and .300/.343/.530 against southpaws, a rare quality for a switch-hitter. He's on pace for an MLB debut in 2015.

     

    2014 Stats

    293 PA, .299/.352/.481, 14.3 K%, 7.8 BB%, 16 2B, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 4 SB

     

    Stock: Up

1. Mookie Betts, OF/2B, Boston Red Sox

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    20 PA, .211/.250/.368, 2 K, 1 BB, 4 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI

    Betts' first week in the majors was a turbulent one, as the outfielder experienced plenty of firsts both good and bad. Betts has his first major league hit, walk and homer under his belt, but he was also caught stealing and had his first defensive miscue. We've already seen signs of Betts' impressive bat speed and bat-to-ball ability, but fans are hopefully starting to understand that he's not a savior.

    While Betts should see plenty of playing time moving forward, he doesn't quite have an everyday job. Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes, Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts seem to all be battling for regular time at all three outfield spots and third base.

    With Middlebrooks ready to come off the DL shortly, Betts could end up back in the minors in relatively short order if the other outfielders on the roster start hitting.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 253 PA, .335/.443/.551, 7.9 K%, 13.8 BB%, 18 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 22 SB
    Triple-A: 106 PA, .322/.425/.444, 12.3 K%, 15.1 BB%, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 7 SB
    MLB: 20 PA, .211/.250/.368, 10.0 K%, 5.0 BB%, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

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