Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 16

Ben Carsley@BenCarsleyContributor IJuly 21, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 16

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Boston Red Sox are coming off a sweep of the Kansas City Royals, and they suddenly find themselves in a slightly more interesting position when it comes to a potential playoff berth.

    The odds are still incredibly long, yes, but Boston is now 7.5 games out and will face the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays over the next 10 games. The Red Sox can make up ground and convince Ben Cherington and Co. that they should be buyers, not sellers, at the deadline.

    That makes the next 10 games pivotal for the farm system as well, as many prospects will see their immediate futures determined by the major league club's performance. Should the Sox fail to impress in the coming days, you can expect major leaguers to be traded away in order to make room for younger players.

    Should Boston succeed, however, it's possible we'll see a prospect or two dealt in order to bolster the roster for an improbable postseason run.

     

    Players who have exceeded 130 PA or 50 innings pitched in the majors are not eligible for these rankings. All stats as of July 19, 2014.

Red Sox Prospects Hot/Not Sheet

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    Kelly O'Connor, sittingstill.net

    Hot: Rafael Devers, 3B, Gulf Coast League

    It's hard to have a more impressive start to your professional career than what Devers has done so far. After thrashing the Dominican Summer League for 28 games, Devers has moved up to the Gulf Coast League and gotten even better. The left-handed power bat is hitting .400/.455/.700 through 44 plate appearances and already has seven XBH in just 11 games. He's years and years away, but the natural talent here is exciting.

     

    Hot: Sam Travis, 1B, Single-A Lowell

    Boston's third selection in the most recent draft, Travis is off to a great start in Lowell, where he's hitting .296/.331/.400 in 122 plate appearances. Travis is a polished college bat, so he shouldn't be struggling with this conservative assignment, but hitting three homers and driving in 20 runs in his first 28 games is a good start. I'd expect him to ride out the season in Lowell and start 2015 in Salem.

     

    Not: Drake Britton, LHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

    When Britton transitioned seamlessly from the Triple-A rotation to the MLB bullpen last season, he looked to be on the precipice of a long career as a left-handed reliever at the highest level. Instead, the 25-year-old has struggled mightily in Pawtucket this year, and he's not showing signs of improvement. Britton owns a 6.43 ERA over his past five appearances and a 5.31 ERA overall, and he has likely played his way out of major league consideration for the time being.

10. Deven Marrero, SS, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    17 PA, .438/.471/.563, 2 K, 1 BB, 7 H, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 1 SB

    We're at just 58 plate appearances for Marrero in Triple-A, so it's way too early to draw any sort of real conclusion from his performance thus far. That being said, Marrero's season-long offensive performance is starting to make people view him as a legitimate starter rather than just a utility infielder.

    Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal gave us sneak peek at the type of defensive expertise Marrero already demonstrates:

    Deven Marrero learns fast: With the setting sun in his first baseman's eyes, he threw a perfect bounce pass to first base on a ground ball.

    — Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) July 17, 2014

    Marrero is a legitimate plus defender with good speed, so his future as a major leaguer was all but assured even before his bat really came to life. However, if Marrero proves he can reach base at a .320-plus clip in the majors, the Sox could be happy to keep Xander Bogaerts at third base long term and let Marrero bat ninth.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 307 PA, .291/.371/.433, 18.6 K%, 11.1 BB%, 5 HR, 19 2B, 39 RBI, 12 SB
    Triple-A: 58 PA, .315/.351/.389., 22.0 K%, 4.9 BB%, 0 HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 SB

     

    Stock: Up

9. Manuel Margot, OF, Single-A Greenville

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    6 PA, .500/.500/.500, 0 K, 0 BB, 3 H, 2 RBI, 1 SB

    We haven't learned much more about Margot over the past week, thanks to his limited schedule. That being said, the 19-year-old continues to impress, hitting for power and stealing bases at an impressive clip. He remains at No. 9 here, but a reasonable argument could be made for him ranking two or three spots higher.

    Depending on how you feel about Margot's hit tool, you could classify him as one of the rare true five-tool prospects in the game. I think we need to see more from him in terms of hitting for average before we give him that designation, but the fact that such potential exists at all is cause for excitement.

     

    2014 Stats

    327 PA, .265/.331/.418, 11.3 K%, 8.9 BB%, 8 HR, 15 2B, 34 RBI, 30 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

8. Matt Barnes, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    N/A

    The 2014 season can't end soon enough for Barnes. After getting hit hard in his last start on July 12, Barnes now owns an ERA north of 5.00 and a WHIP nearing 1.60, and he is barely averaging five innings per start.

    As WEEI.com's Alex Speier points out, Barnes' recent rough outing means he's failed to make it to the sixth inning in 10 of his last 14 starts.

    I maintain that Barnes should be allowed to remain a starter for the rest of this season and most of next year too. But given the wealth of starting talent around him and his own struggles, it's becoming more and more appealing to consider moving him to the bullpen.

     

    2014 Stats

    15 G, 14 GS, 74.2 IP, 5.06 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.59 WHIP, 6 HR

     

    Stock: Down

7. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    N/A

    Like Barnes, Ranaudo hasn't made a start over the past seven days, so we have no new information to analyze here. Unlike Barnes, Ranaudo's 2014 season has gone better than just about anyone could have expected, and the LSU product now finds himself ranked ahead his counterpart from UConn.

    If the Red Sox do indeed deal Jake Peavy, Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman will be the immediate beneficiaries. Ranaudo is possibly next in line after them, though, so there's certainly a non-zero chance he sees the majors this year. He profiles as a back-end starter for a first-division team.

     

    2014 Stats

    19 GS, 106.2 IP, 2.62 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.18 WHIP, 5 HR

     

    Stock: Up

6. Christian Vazquez, C, Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    8 PA, .333/.375/.500, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 H, 1 2B, 2 RBI

    Vazquez has impressed in limited major league duty this year. His plus-plus defensive profile behind the plate is obvious, and while the sample size is incredibly small, he has already contributed offensively too. That's really all the Red Sox need from him this year as he learns the nuances of calling a game at the MLB level.

    With David Ross suddenly showing some signs of life at the plate, the Red Sox may be able to get something close to league-average production from their catchers for the rest of 2014. That would represent a major improvement over what they saw during the season's first three months, and Vazquez could be a big part of the reason why.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 270 PA, .279/.336/.385, 19.3 K%, 7.8 BB%, 3 HR, 17 2B, 20 RBI
    MLB: 15 PA, .385/.400/.615, 6.7 K%, 6.7 BB%, 0 HR, 3 2B, 5 RBI

     

    Stock: Up

5. Allen Webster, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    1 G, 4 IP, 4 ER, 4 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 0 HR

    Webster made an appearance in relief last week, and it didn't go well. The right-hander was touched up for four earned runs in four innings, and while he walked just one and struck out four, he also gave up six hits. Webster isn't transitioning into a relief role full time, so there's not a lot we can extract from this outing, but it's hardly reassuring.

    You can certainly make the argument that Webster should be behind Ranaudo on this list, but I'm still going to place my preference with the quality of Webster's stuff over Ranaudo's consistency. Webster could get a shot in the majors in the second half of the season, though he could also be trade bait at the deadline.

     

    2014 Stats

    20 G, 19 GS, 115.0 IP, 3.05 ERA, 7.6 K/8, 3.4 BB/9, 1.25 WHIP, 9 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

4. Henry Owens, LHP, Double-A Portland

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, 9 H, 0 HR

    Owens had an uncharacteristic start Saturday against New Hampshire, walking just one batter but allowing nine hits over 6.1 innings. He was able to limit the Fisher Cats to just two earned runs in the process, and while Owens should be in Triple-A at this point, he's taking his current situation in stride.

    Here's what Owens told WEEI.com's Alex Speier after the game:

    You can always do something every single day to get a little bit better. I literally will have a hard time sleeping at night if I feel like I took a step back — if I had a rough outing, or if I had a rough side I’ll talk to [pitching coach Bob Kipper] or whoever caught me after to figure out what I can do better next time.

    Owens turns 22 on Monday, owns the most wins of any pitcher in the minor leagues and has clearly taken some steps forward when it comes to command. He's one of the better left-handed pitching prospects in the game, and he could be ready for Fenway next year.

     

    2014 Stats

    18 GS, 112 IP, 2.25 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.06 WHIP, 5 HR

     

    Stock: Up

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

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    4 PA, .250/.250/.500, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 H, 1 2B, 0 RBI, 0 SB 

    Cecchini's Triple-A struggles have continued in recent weeks, and it's fair to be concerned about the left-handed hitter. Were Cecchini simply failing to hit for power or a terrific average but still reaching base at a high rate, I wouldn't be terribly worried. But a 22.0 percent strikeout rate and an OBP down to .328 are poor signs indeed.

    I might be the last man on earth who prefers Cecchini to Owens, and when you scout the stat lines, my stubbornness looks foolish. But Cecchini is still just 23, meaning he could struggle in Pawtucket all year and still be on track developmentally. I still believe he's an important part of the Red Sox's future.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 314 PA, .253/.328/.331, 22.0 K%, 9.2 BB%, 11 2B, 3 HR, 32 RBI, 10 SB
    MLB: 2 PA, .500/.500/1,000, 1K, 1 2B, 1 RBI

     

    Stock: Down

2. Blake Swihart, C, Double-A Portland

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    17 PA, .313/.294/.750, 3 K, 0 BB, 5 H, 2 HR, 1 2B, 6 RBI

    Even Swihart's biggest fans have to be somewhat pleasantly surprised at the power he's shown in Double-A this year. After posting just a .130 slugging percentage a year ago, Swihart boasts a .194 mark now, notching 33 XBH in 328 plate appearances. He's rounding into form as a very strong offensive catcher.

    With Vazquez now in the majors, it would not at all be surprising to see Swihart promoted to Triple-A in short order. While catchers develop more slowly than other position prospects, Swihart doesn't have much left to prove in Portland. He's on track for a 2015 MLB debut.

     

    2014 Stats

    328 PA, .294/.348/.488, 16.2 K%, 7.6 BB%, 19 2B, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 4 SB

     

    Stock: Up

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

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    1 PA, .000/.000/.000

    Betts was sent back down to Triple-A this week to make room for Shane Victorino, and it's a move that's probably best for all sides. Betts showed flashes of what will make him a special player during his time in the majors, but he also looked raw in the outfield and wasn't quite able to play every day. In Pawtucket, he can work on refining his defense and can be assured of a spot in the lineup every game.

    With Victorino returned, Jackie Bradley Jr. hitting much better after an adjustment at the plate and Daniel Nava looking more like his old self, the Sox simply ran out of room in the outfield, and that's an issue that could prevent Betts from seeing a full season next year too.

    Still, he's very close to forcing his way to regular playing time in Boston, and subtle refinement of his game should see him accomplish that goal in short order.

     

    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: 37 PA, .235/.278/.382, 13.5 K%, 2.7 BB%, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral