Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 20

Ben CarsleyContributor IAugust 25, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 20

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    We're seeing plenty of changes to the Boston Red Sox's top-10 prospects list in one of the final weeks of the MiLB season.

    Allen Webster has officially graduated from this list, exceeding eligibility thanks to his MLB innings pitched mark. Deven Marrero has fallen of the list, thanks to an abysmal offensive stint in Triple-A. And a new man sits atop the list, thanks to a high-profile signing you may have heard about once or twice this week.

    There could be even more change in the coming weeks, as Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts are nearing the rookie eligibility thresholds, too. But for now, we see only two new names on the top 10, as the Sox continue to boast one of baseball's deepest systems.

     

    Players who have exceeded 130 PA or 50 innings pitched in the majors are not eligible for these rankings. All stats as of Aug. 23.

Red Sox Prospects Hot/Not Sheet

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Hot: Michael Chavis, SS, GCL Red Sox

    The No. 26 pick in the 2014 draft, Chavis' professional career isn't off to a sparkling start, but he's taking steps in the right direction as of late. Chavis' overall line in rookie ball is still just .235/.316/.370 in 133 PA, but he's hitting .390/.446/.593 in August, and hit .333/.364/.619 last week. Chavis is years away, of course, but paring him with Rafael Devers gives the Sox quite the one-two punch of hitters in the very low minors. He'd be a top-10 name in many other systems.

     

    Not: Deven Marrero, SS, Triple-A Pawtucket

    Marrero had occupied the final spot on this list since the midseason update, but he finds himself just missing the cut once again after a brutal introduction to Triple-A. The shortstop is hitting just .215/.265/.291 in 172 PA in Pawtucket, and has hit just .129/.184/.214 in August. Marrero has never been known for his bat, but his promising Double-A campaign leant some credence to the idea that he could be a starter at the next level. He'll need to take a giant step forward at the plate next year if he wants that to be the case, though.

10. Matt Barnes, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 7 K, 3 BB, 2 H, 0 HR

     

    Just a few weeks ago, Barnes was performing so poorly that he dropped off this list despite possessing more upside than some of the names above him. Indeed, with other names like Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa and Henry Owens all leapfrogging him on the depth chart, it looked like Barnes might be headed toward a transition to the bullpen at some point in 2015.

    But over his last six starts, Barnes has been absolutely dominant, allowing just seven earned runs, holding opponents to a .150/.230/.203 line and posting a 1.63 ERA across 38.2 innings pitched. This is the breakout we've been waiting to see from the 24-year-old, as he looks to cement himself as part of the Red Sox's rotations of the future.

    Barnes still has a lot of damage to undo in terms of getting his season stats to look good, but this is a very encouraging stretch from one of Boston's most appealing arms.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 21 G, 20 GS, 3.89 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.34 WHIP, 7 HR

     

    Stock: Up

9. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 K, 1 BB, 7 H, 0 HR

     

    Ranaudo lacks the pure stuff of many of the other starters in Boston's systems, but he just keeps producing, whether the Red Sox have him in the majors or in Triple-A. The right-hander notched another quality start in Pawtucket this week, shutting out Lehigh Valley through six innings for his 16th minor league win of the year.

    Despite Ranaudo's modest upside, his consistency may start to look like a more pleasing option than the upsides of Allen Webster or Brandon Workman, who are taking away starts from Ranaudo in the majors. Even if Ranaudo doesn't dominate, he has the best shot of keeping the Red Sox in games out of that trio right now.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 23 GS, 131.2 IP, 2.46 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.19 WHIP, 7 HR
    MLB: 2 GS, 12 IP, 4.50 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.42 WHIP, 2 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

8. Manuel Margot, OF, High-A Salem

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    29 PA, .333/.393/.500, 8 H, 3 K, 2 BB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB

     

    It's always a good sign when a player doesn't miss a beat when promoted midseason. It's even better when that player actually improves his performance at the higher level, and that's what we've seen so far out of Margot in Salem.

    The 19-year-old outfielder reached base 11 times in 29 plate appearances last week, mashing his second High-A homer and notching his first two High-A steals to boot. He's putting all of his tools on display, and showcasing why he could be ranked on many top-100 prospect lists this offseason.

    Margot is still a few seasons away from the majors, to be sure, but his combination of upside and floor is quite appealing. You can argue that he should rank even higher here.

     

    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: 38 PA, .333/.378/.545, 9.7 K%, 3.2 BB%, 2 HR, 1 2B, 9 RBI, 2 SB

     

    Stock: Up

7. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 5 H

     

    Simply put, Rodriguez has been outstanding since the Red Sox acquired him from the Orioles at the trade deadline. The left-hander has allowed just two earned runs in 24.1 innings across four starts in Portland, good for a 0.74 ERA.

    Rodriguez's turnaround is somewhat remarkable, as the Venezuelan had been struggling at Double-A in Bowie with the O's. He's making it clear why he was rated as the No. 65 prospect by Baseball America, the No. 68 prospect by MLB.com and the No. 61 prospect by Baseball Prospectus before the season began.

     

    2014 Stats

    20 GS, 107.0 IP, 3.87 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.34 WHIP, 6 HR

     

    Stock: Up

6. Garin Cecchini, 3B/OF, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    17 PA, .333/.529/.538, 2 K, 5 BB, 4 H, 3 2B, 2 RBI

     

    Garin Cecchini's three-month nightmare slump seems to be officially over. For the third week in a row, the 23-year-old has torn the cover off the ball in Pawtucket, notching singles, doubles and walks at a clip more representative of his dominant 2012 campaign.

    Because Cecchini's June and July were so awful, his season stat line still looks fairly unimpressive. But Cecchini is hitting .308/.392/.508 in August, finally showing some of the power we've been waiting to see while dramatically improving his strikeout and walk rates.

    Given Will Middlebrooks' struggles and Brock Holt's regression, Cecchini is a relevant option for 2015 playing time at the next level once more.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 423 PA, .253/.332/.362, 20.8 K%, 9.5 BB%, 18 2B, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 11 SB
    MLB: 2 PA, .500/.500/1,000, 1K, 1 2B, 1 RBI

     

    Stock: Up

5. Christian Vazquez, C, Boston Red Sox

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    14 PA, .231/.286/.231, 1 K, 1 BB, 3 H

     

    The good news is Vazquez is striking out less in recent weeks, dropping his rate to below 15 percent. The bad news is he's still not hitting, and after notching a few doubles early in his MLB career he's been largely devoid of power as of late.

    You don't have to watch Vazquez receive or throw for very long to understand why the Red Sox will have a long leash with him at the plate. Vazquez has already made picking off batters a habit, as Jon Shestakofsky, Red Sox manager of media relations and baseball information, pointed out Sunday on Twitter: 

    Christian Vazquez has 3 pickoffs in 30 games at catcher this season, the most by a Red Sox backstop since Rich Gedman has 5 in 1985.

    — Jon Shestakofsky (@Shesta_Sox) August 24, 2014

    Still, it would be nice to see Vazquez do something offensively in the last few weeks of the season, as he looks to solidify himself as the team's starter for 2015. 

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 270 PA, .279/.336/.385, 19.3 K%, 7.8 BB%, 3 HR, 17 2B, 20 RBI
    MLB: 105 PA, .231/.291/.286, 14.3 K%, 8.6 BB%, 0 HR, 5 2B, 12 RBI

     

    Stock: Neutral

4. Henry Owens, LHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 8.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 1 HR

     

    Owens enjoyed what was by far his best start in Triple-A last week, holding Lehigh Valley to just six baserunners over eight innings while striking out six. Owens hasn't been quite as dominating in Pawtucket as he was in Portland to this point, but he's still missing plenty of bats and has done a good job limiting free passes so far, too.

    Baseball Prospectus' Al Skorupa saw Owens' start last week, and had good things to say about the lanky lefty's off-speed and breaking pitches:

    Henry Owens was on his game last night. 89-92 t93. CH ++ and CB continues to improve. Toyed with guys.

    — Al Skorupa (@alskor) August 22, 2014

    The Sox have seen Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster all struggle in the rotation as of late. While Owens likely won't see any MLB starts this year, he's positioning himself well for 2015. He won't replace Jon Lester, but he's better than the other pitching prospects we've seen as of late.

     

    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: 4 GS, 25.2 IP, 3.51 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.05 WHIP, 3 HR

     

    Stock: Up

3. Blake Swihart, C, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    15 PA, .143/.200/.143, 3 K, 1 BB, 2 H

     

    Swihart saw limited playing time last week, collecting just 15 plate appearances in four games, and the results weren't pretty. The switch-hitting catcher reached base just three times, tanking his Triple-A average and OBP, thanks to the small sample sizes in play right now.

    It's possible that Swihart is finally slowing down, as the rigors of catching for a full season can take its toll on backstops toward the end of the season. It's also entirely possible he just had a few bad games. If he went 10 for his next 20, no one would be surprised.

     

    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: 53 PA, .255/.283/.392, 24.5 K%, 3.8 BB%, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

2. Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    23 PA, .211/.348/.316, 4 K, 4 BB, 4 H, 2 2B, 0 RBI, 1 SB

     

    In last week's prospect breakdown, I spoke about how incredible it was that the Sox were unable to find MLB playing time for Betts despite his impressive Triple-A performance. Two days later, we learned that Betts would get the nod over Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, as the Sox have seen enough of the latter's offensive struggles for the time being.

    Betts hasn't shown off his plus hit tool yet, but he's reaching base at a high clip, flashing speed on the bases and looks better in center field than he did earlier in the season, too. Betts oozes confidence on the field, and he has the potential to add yet another player who sees a lot of pitchers per plate appearance to Boston's lineup.

    That being said, his future with the club is once again somewhat muddled thanks to the addition of Rusney Castillo. If the Sox do make Betts available this offseason, you can bet he'll have no shortage of suitors.

     

    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, .233/.303/.350, 13.4 K%, 7.5 BB%, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

1. Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    N/A

    On Saturday, the Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year contract beginning in 2014, making him the center fielder of the immediate and long-term future. The highest-profile Cuban signing since Jose Abreu, Castillo has also netted the largest contract for a Cuban player coming to America, according to reports from WEEI.com's Alex Speier, among others.

    Castillo hit .319/.383/.516 in 1,265 PA over five seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional, mostly playing center field and right field. Once viewed as a high-average, speed-first player, Castillo added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame and now looks like a player poised to hit for some power, too.

    According to Maureen Mullen of Boston.com, Castillo will open the season getting some experience in the minors. But if the Sox can get his visa and other work legalities squared away, he should see the majors at some point this year.

    Either way, expect to see Castillo batting leadoff and manning center field for the Red Sox on Opening Day 2015. His combination of upside and proximity to the majors lets him rank first here, even though he's not really a prospect in spirit.

     

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Stock: Up