Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 19

Ben CarsleyContributor IAugust 18, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 19

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    As the Boston Red Sox continue to play out the 2014 season, there's ample opportunity for playing time among prospects and young players. Rookies comprise a third of the starting lineup and two-fifths of the rotation, and many other youngsters are champing at the bit in Triple-A, waiting for their next shot at MLB glory.

    But because the Red Sox decided to reload with MLB talent rather than rebuild with prospects at the deadline, there's not room for everyone on the current MLB roster. That makes each prospect's or post-prospect's performance key, as hitters are a few bad games away from riding the bench and starters are one poor start away from being skipped in the rotation.

    To that end, let's take stock of how Boston's best remaining prospects have performed over the past week as we look to see who will get a shot in Fenway next.

Red Sox Prospects Hot/Not Sheet

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Hot: Matt Barnes, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

    Just a few weeks ago, 2014 looked to be a lost season for Barnes. After a particularly rough start on July 12, the right-hander owned a 5.06 ERA through 74.2 innings. Passed on the depth chart by players such as Anthony Ranaudo, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, it looked like Barnes might be headed to the bullpen in fairly short order.

    Since then, however, Barnes has done his best to redeem his season. The UConn product has posted a 1.95 ERA through five starts and 32.1 IP, notching 25 strikeouts to just 10 walks during that time. He still has a long way to go to wash away the first few months of the season, but Barnes is back on the right path.

     

    Hot: Keury De La Cruz, OF, Double-A Portland

    De La Cruz lacks the upside of many other bats in the Red Sox system, and, as a result, he doesn't receive much attention nationally. But the 22-year-old outfielder is having a strong year in Portland, hitting .303/.330/.438 through 221 PA. He's been especially good as of late, hitting .388/.456/.633 in August.

    De La Cruz will need to hit for more power if he wants to profile as a player with a significant role on a first-division team, but he's hit well throughout the minors and should reach Triple-A next year. He's unheralded, but he could see the majors at some point in the next two seasons.

     

    Not: Drake Britton, LHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

    A season ago, Britton seemed poised for a long career in the majors as a left-handed middle reliever. The Red Sox began the year with Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow and Chris Capuano in the bullpen, so Britton wasn't needed, but he figured to see time at some point.

    Unfortunately, Britton has been downright terrible for the PawSox in 2014. The lefty has a 6.98 ERA through 49 innings and has been especially bad as of late, allowing 12 earned runs in 5.2 IP in August. He's played himself out of a roster spot for now, and Boston can't count on him for much in 2015, given his performance.

10. Deven Marrero, SS, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    28 PA, .160/.250/.320, 5 K, 2 BB, 4 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI

    Marrero hit his first Triple-A home run last week, driving in two runs and notching three additional hits. Unfortunately, his overall struggles at the plate have continued, and Marrero's line in Pawtucket is a measly .235/.281/.324.

    We've known for a long time that Marrero's calling card is his defense, and his floor remains that of a utility infielder for a first-division team. It was starting to look like he could be more than that earlier in the season, though, making his performance in Pawtucket fairly disappointing.

     

    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: 148 PA, .235/.281/.324., 16.9 K%, 5.4 BB%, 1 HR, 9 2B, 18 RBI, 2 SB

     

    Stock: Down

9. Manuel Margot, OF, High-A Salem

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    Low-A: 27 PA, .400/.444/.760, 3 K, 2 BB, 10 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB
    High-A: 9 PA, .333/.333/.667, 2 K, 0 BB, 3 H, 1 HR, 4 RBI

    As Over The Monster's Joon Lee reported last week, Margot has been promoted to High-A Salem after 99 tremendously successful games in Greenville. Margot won't see his 20th birthday until next month, but he managed to hit .286/.355/.449 in Greenville, mashing 10 homers and swiping 39 bases along the way.

    With a probable MLB ETA of late 2016 or early 2017, there's a solid argument to be made for Margot ranking higher on this list. He profiles more as an above-average player than a true star, but his speed, power, defense and emerging bat make him an exciting prospect.

     

    2014 Stats

    Low-A: 413 PA, .286/.355/.449, 11.9 K%, 9.0 BB%, 10 HR, 20 2B, 45 RBI, 39 SB
    High-A: 9 PA, .333/.33/667, 22.2 K%, 0.0 BB%, 1 HR, 0 2B, 4 RBI, 0 SB

     

    Stock: Up

8. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    MLB: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 1 K, 1 BB, 8 H, 2 HR

    Ranaudo is 2-0 in the majors in two starts. In that regard, it's a bit unfair that he was sent back to Triple-A after his most recent outing against the Reds. Ranaudo was hit hard in that start, however, and so the strange yo-yo act the Sox are playing with Ranaudo and Brandon Workman continues.

    2014 has been a wildly successful season for Ranaudo, who began the year as something of an afterthought in the Red Sox system and is now fifth or sixth in line for starts at the MLB level. His upside is quite modest, but he's shown impressive poise in the majors, while his more talented counterpart Allen Webster has crumbled.

    Ranaudo and Workman may very well see their futures evaluated on a start-by-start basis, but both should be in contention for a back-end spot in the rotation next year.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 22 GS, 125.2 IP, 2.58 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.19 WHIP, 7 HR
    MLB: 2 GS, 12 IP, 4.50 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.42 WHIP, 2 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

7. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 0 BB, 8 H, 1 HR

    Rodriguez was having a so-so year in the Orioles system, stumbling to a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts with the Bowie Baysox. Rodriguez is just 21 and undergoing his first real stint in Double-A, so there was no real cause for alarm, but the left-hander needed to get his walk and homer rates under control.

    However, in three starts with the PawSox, Rodriguez has been brilliant. The lefty owns a 1.04 ERA and 11.9 K/9 through his first 17.1 innings in Boston's organization, showcasing his upside as a No. 3 starter. It's a tremendously small sample, of course, but an encouraging one.

     

    2014 Stats

    19 GS, 100.0 IP, 4.14 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.36 WHIP, 6 HR

     

    Stock: Up

6. Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 K, 3 BB, 5 H, 0 HR

    It has been an up-and-down second stint in the majors for Webster. On one hand, the right-hander has two quality starts and three wins in four tries, and he seems to have solidified his grasp on the fourth spot in the Red Sox rotation for now. On the other hand, he's still walking a ton of batters, and his strikeout rate is rather paltry too.

    When Webster is on, he has some of the best pure stuff of any of Boston's pitching prospects. His command and composure on the mound leave plenty to be desired, though, and 2014 will go a long way toward answering whether his long-term future comes in the rotation or in the bullpen.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 21 G, 20 GS, 122.0 IP, 3.10 ERA, 7.4 K/8, 3.2 BB/9, 1.24 WHIP, 9 HR
    MLB: 4 GS, 20.2 IP, 4.79 ERA, 4.4 K/9, 7.0 BB/9, 1.45 WHIP, 1 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

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

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    32 PA, .414/.452/.655, 5 K, 2 BB, 12 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB

    It's only a 13-game, 58-PA sample, but Cecchini has been on fire in the month of August. He's hitting .302/.351/.491 with six XBH and a steal this month, and the power he's starting to show is a promising sign. He's finally starting to make the adjustments we've been waiting for since May.

    We're still at the point where this could be a statistical variation, so we can't list Cecchini's stock as "up" just yet. But if he can finish the year on a high note, it will go a long way toward increasing any potential MLB playing time he'll see in 2015.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 406 PA, .250/.323/.354, 20.9 K%, 8.7 BB%, 15 2B, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB
    MLB: 2 PA, .500/.500/1,000, 1K, 1 2B, 1 RBI

     

    Stock: Neutral

4. Christian Vazquez, C, Boston Red Sox

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    23 PA, .158/.190/.158, 5 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 1 RBI

    It was a down week at the plate for Vazquez, who tallied just three singles in 23 PA to bring his season line down to .231/.292/.295. But while Vazquez's bat has left a bit to be desired to this point, his pitch framing, throwing and receiving skills have all been excellent, giving Boston its best defensive catcher in some time.

    With Blake Swihart skyrocketing through the system behind him, Vazquez has somewhat of a small window to cement himself as at least a semi-regular starter in Boston. His defense is so good, though, that even if he plays Robin to Swihart's Batman, Vazquez should play substantially more than your average MLB backup catcher.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 270 PA, .279/.336/.385, 19.3 K%, 7.8 BB%, 3 HR, 17 2B, 20 RBI
    MLB: 91 PA, .231/.292/.295, 15.4 K%, 8.8 BB%, 0 HR, 5 2B, 12 RBI

     

    Stock: Neutral

3. Henry Owens, LHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 11.0 IP, 8 ER, 12 K, 2 BB, 14 H, 2 HR

    Owens was so dominant at Double-A this year that it's a bit jarring to see an ERA beginning with "4" next to his name. The lanky left-hander hasn't found Pawtucket quite as easy as he found Portland, and he had two relatively rough starts in Triple-A this week.

    Owens' strikeout and walk rates have actually increased in his limited Triple-A sample, but he's been hit around a bit and has given up two homers since his sparkling Pawtucket debut. There's nothing to worry about, of course, but it would be nice to see Owens avoid hard contact in his next few starts, even if that comes at the expense of a few strikeouts.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 20 GS, 121 IP, 2.60 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.12 WHIP, 6 HR
    Triple-A: 3 GS, 17.2 IP, 4.08 ERA, 10.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.19 WHIP, 2 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

2. Blake Swihart, C, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    27 PA, .346/.370/.500, 8 K, 1 BB, 9 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 SB

    So far, so good for Swihart as he gets his first taste of Triple-A pitching. The switch-hitter is striking out more and walking less than he did in Portland, but he's still hitting for average and power, driving in runs, and logging plenty of extra-base hits.

    Swihart will likely struggle at some point as the physical rigors of catching take their toll on his body. Plus, he's now a 22-year-old in Triple-A, so some regression is to be expected. There's a good argument to be made that he's Boston's best prospect now, though, and he could see the majors in the second half of next season.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 380 PA, .300/.353/.487, 17.1 K%, 7.6 BB%, 23 2B, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 7 SB
    Triple-A: 38 PA, .297/.316/.486, 26.3 K%, 2.3 BB%, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB

     

    Stock: Up

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

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    39 PA, .314/.385/.400, 6 K, 4 BB, 11 H, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 SB

    It's pretty incredible that, in the midst of a semi-rebuild, the Red Sox can't find playing time for Betts at the MLB level. The 21-year-old continues to destroy Triple-A pitching, reaching base at a high clip, hitting for some power and stealing plenty of bases. Yet he finds himself blocked in Boston.

    With Jackie Bradley Jr. proving utterly incapable of hitting MLB pitching, there's likely to be ample opportunity for Betts in Boston next year if he's not traded. He may not be the shiny new toy he was in May and June, but don't lose sight of what a good prospect Betts is. He's as likely as anyone to serve as the leadoff man of the future in Boston.

     

    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: 206 PA, .328/.413/.489, 12.6 K%, 14.6 BB%, 12 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 11 SB
    MLB: 44 PA, .244/.279/.366, 11.4 K%, 2.3 BB%, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral