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Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 21

Ben CarsleyContributor IJune 26, 2016

Stock Up, Stock Down for Boston Red Sox's Top 10 Prospects After Week 21

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Major league rosters are about to expand, and the Boston Red Sox have no shortage of interesting prospects to promote in the coming days.

    The Red Sox's youth movement is already well underway, of course. Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Christian Vazquez play almost every day. Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo are all fighting for playing time in the rotation. And Alex Wilson, Heath Hembree and others are seeing time in the bullpen, too.

    But there are many more prospects in the upper minors who could see semi-regular time in the majors during September as minor league seasons come to an end. Given that the Red Sox have nothing to play for in 2014, the chance to evaluate younger players is hugely important and could have a significant impact on the team's offseason moves.

    With that in mind, let's take a look at Boston's top 10 prospects and note which players could see time in Fenway this month.

    Players who have exceeded 130 PA or 50 innings pitched in the majors are not eligible for these rankings. All stats as of August 30, 2014.

10. Matt Barnes, RHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 14.1 IP, 7 ER, 14 K, 2 BB, 11 H, 1 HR

     

    Barnes had a strange week for the Paw Sox. On the one hand, he gave up seven earned runs in just 14.1 innings across two starts, raising his season ERA back near the 4.00 mark for the year. On the other hand, he struck out nearly a batter per inning, walked just two and limited the opposition to 11 hits.

    While this last week wasn't especially promising in its own right, Barnes has still managed to completely turn around his 2014 season as of late. Just a few months back it looked like he may be headed to the bullpen, but the right-hander has once again shown the promise that made him a first-round pick in 2011.

    While Barnes isn't likely to see any starts in the majors this September, it wouldn't be shocking to see him get a few MLB appearances as a reliever. Even if he doesn't get the call to Boston, though, he's played himself back into contention for 2015 starts.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 23 G, 22 GS, 127.2 IP, 3.95 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.29 WHIP, 8 HR

     

    Stock: Up

9. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Low-A Greenville

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    Triple-A: 1 GS, 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 7 H, 2 HR
    MLB: 1 GS, 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, 5 H, 1 HR

     

    Ranaudo was sent to Low-A Greenville after his last start against the Rays, in which he pitched the very definition of a quality start, throwing six innings while allowing three earned runs. Greenville's season ends on Monday, though, so this was just some handy roster maneuvering by the Sox, and Ranaudo should be back with the big league club on Tuesday.

    The tall right-hander has been nothing if not consistent so far in the majors, throwing six innings in each of his three starts and allowing two, four and three runs in those starts, respectively. These performances represent Ranaudo's talent level pretty well, as he lacks upside but can log innings at the back end of a rotation.

    Expect Ranaudo to see a few more starts before the season is over, with an eye toward serving as Boston's sixth starter in 2015.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 24 GS, 138 IP, 2.61 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.20 WHIP, 9 HR
    MLB: 3 GS, 18 IP, 4.50 ERA, 3.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.40 WHIP, 4 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

8. Manuel Margot, OF, High-A Salem

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    18 PA, .375/.389/.625, 6 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 4 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB

     

    Margot has picked up in Salem right where he left off in Greenville, hitting for average, showing off some power and swiping the occasional base to boot. The 19-year-old is putting up quite the impressive triple-slash line in High-A right now, and while the sample is small and he'll end up back in Salem to start 2015, this is encouraging nonetheless.

    If we're looking for something to nitpick, Margot needs to work on his efficiency on the basepaths. Yes, he's stolen 42 bases this year, but he's also been thrown out 15 times, which is unacceptable. If he expects to be given the green light at the MLB level someday, he'll need to pick and choose his spots better.

    Still, 2014 has been a wildly successful year for Margot, and there's a strong case to be made for ranking him higher than he's listed 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: 51 PA, .333/.360/.556, 9.8 K%, 3.9 BB%, 2 HR, 4 2B, 12 RBI, 3 SB

     

    Stock: Up

7. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Double-A Portland

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 13.0 IP, 2 ER, 11 K, 2 BB, 12 H

     

    Rodriguez has made six starts for the Sea Dogs now, and he's been absolutely dazzling since coming over from Baltimore in the Andrew Miller trade. Rodriguez owns a 0.96 ERA with a 9.4 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9 in Portland, and he's quickly making up for some of his struggles in Bowie.

    The 21-year-old southpaw has plenty of starters in front of him in the Red Sox system, but he has among the highest upsides of any of Boston's litany of young starters. The Sox could decide to start him in Triple-A next year, and it's not crazy to think he could see MLB playing time in 2015 if Boston loses some starting depth this offseason.

     

    2014 Stats

    22 GS, 120.0 IP, 3.60 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.30 WHIP, 6 HR

     

    Stock: Up

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    30 PA, .423/.500/.538, 8 K, 4 BB, 11 H, 3 2B, 6 RBI

     

    It wasn't so long ago that many were clamoring for Cecchini to fall off of this list altogether. The 23-year-old endured a brutal three-month stretch in which it looked like he was unable to hit Triple-A pitching, and additional questions about his power and position rose to the surface, too.

    But in August, Cecchini has shown the type of promising bat the Red Sox could've used at the hot corner all season. Cecchini has hit .341/.423/.516 this month over a span of 105 plate appearances, and while he's still not showing a ton of over-the-fence power, he's hit 10 doubles this month.

    Cecchini now finds himself as a versatile left-handed hitter who can play third base or left field at a time when the Red Sox have a right-handed-dominant lineup. He should see time in the majors this September, and he should factor into the equation for MLB playing time at some point in 2015.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 453 PA, .264/.343/.373, 21.2 K%, 9.7 BB%, 21 2B, 7 HR, 56 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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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    18 PA, .133/.235/.133, 3 K, 2 BB, 2 H

     

    This is likely to be Vazquez's last week on this list, as he's just three PA away from exceeding prospect eligibility. His stock is certainly up compared to where it was when the year began, but his recent offensive ineptitude had seen his value take a hit.

    Vazquez was often billed as a glove-only catcher in the minors, but respectable offensive performances in Portland and Pawtucket gave rise to the hope that he could hit well enough to become an MLB starter. He very well may still someday, but what we're seeing from Vazquez at the plate right now is as ugly as what we're seeing from him behind the plate is beautiful.

    The Red Sox are likely to acquire a veteran backstop on a short-term deal to caddy for Vazquez to open next season. But with Blake Swihart already reaching Triple-A, Vazquez probably doesn't have a ton of time left to prove he should be Boston's long-term starter.

     

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A: 270 PA, .279/.336/.385, 19.3 K%, 7.8 BB%, 3 HR, 17 2B, 20 RBI
    MLB: 127 PA, .218/.282/.264, 15.0 K%, 8.7 BB%, 0 HR, 5 2B, 13 RBI

     

    Stock: Down

4. Henry Owens, LHP, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, 12.1 IP, 7 ER, 17 K, 6 BB, 11 H, 1 HR

     

    Owens is finding Triple-A to be a bit more difficult to solve than Double-A. The left-hander has now given up 17 earned runs in 38 innings pitched in Pawtucket, and for the first time in the last season-and-a-half, he's not dominating.

    What's strange is that Owens' strikeout rate and walk rate are both better in Triple-A than they were in Double-A, yet he's seeing worse results. That could partially be the work of small sample sizes, or it could tell us that when hitters are making contact off of Owens, they're hitting the ball hard.

    The lanky lefty has still done much to improve his stock as a prospect this season, and it would not be surprising to see Owens make an MLB appearance in 2015. But for now, let Owens' struggles serve as a reminder that even the most talented prospects will hit roadblocks from time to time.

     

    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: 6 GS, 38 IP, 4.03 ERA, 10.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.16 WHIP, 4 HR

     

    Stock: Neutral

3. Blake Swihart, C, Triple-A Pawtucket

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    Kelly O'Connor, www.sittingstill.net

    Last Week's Stats

    15 PA, .267/.267/.333, 4 H, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 2B

     

    The Red Sox have begun to play Swihart somewhat sparingly in Pawtucket, as the 22-year-old switch-hitter is likely battling the physical rigors that come with catching a complete season. For the second week in a row, Swihart has seen just 15 PA as he exceeds his previous high for playing time in a season.

    Swihart has had a tremendously successful 2014 season, but, like Owens, has found Triple-A a more daunting challenge than Double-A. He's already hit for a little power and is putting up a competitive average, but Swihart is striking out more and walking less than he was in Portland, which is never a good sign.

    Of course, 68 PA is a small sample, so there's no cause for concern. But it's likely that Swihart will need several hundred at-bats in Triple-A next year, and he's poised to make a more significant MLB impact in 2016 than in 2015.

     

    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: 68 PA, .258/.279/.379, 20.6 K%, 2.9 BB%, 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB

     

    Stock: Neutral

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    26 PA, .286/.423/.571, 3 K, 5 BB, 6 H, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB

     

    Betts had his best week in the majors last week, showcasing his unique blend of patience, power and speed. The 21-year-old hit his first MLB grand slam, added a second homer to boot and stole two bases, all while reaching base 11 times in 26 PA.

    With the signing of Rusney Castillo, it may very well be that the Red Sox are planning on moving Betts for a pitcher this offseason. But given how he's performed lately, it's hard not to dream of an outfield with him, Castillo and Yoenis Cespedes all healthy and clicking at the same time.

    For now, all Betts can do is continue to play well, either proving he belongs in Boston long term or raising his trade value in the process.

     

    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, .259/.344/.424, 12.4 K%, 10.3 BB%, 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 SB

     

    Stock: Up

1. Rusney Castillo, OF, GCL Red Sox

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Last Week's Stats

    N/A

     

    The stats don't "count" here, since they came on Sunday, but Castillo made his first professional stateside appearance in a game last week, going 1-for-2 with a caught stealing on Sunday in the Gulf Coast League. It was Castillo's first taste of game action in nearly two years, as the 27-year-old tries to get himself back in the swing of things and ready for MLB playing time.

    According to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, Castillo felt good after the game and said he didn't experience much rust despite his long layoff.

    “I’ve done this for a long time. It’s like riding a bike,” Castillo told Bradford through translator Laz Gutierrez. “I felt good and I was happy I was back out there today.”

    It's unclear exactly what the Sox have planned for Castillo this season, but one would expect him to remain in the minors until the conclusion of each league's season, then reach the majors near the middle of the month.

     

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Stock: Neutral

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