Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Boston Red Sox's Farm System

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterNovember 28, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Boston Red Sox's Farm System

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    Headed into the 2012 season, I was highly skeptical of the Red Sox’s farm system given their lack of projectable impact prospects beyond Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts.

    Therefore, it came as a huge surprise, at least to me, that nearly all of the team’s top prospects exceeded expectations throughout the season, and, in turn, propelled their farm system towards a top-15 overall ranking.

    At the same time, it's important to remember that most of their position prospects are still at least a year away from reaching the major leagues, though some may crack the lineup by the end of the 2013 season. Their pitching prospects are even farther away, though, and shouldn’t be expected to contribute until the 2014 season at the earliest.

    Here’s a look at the Boston Red Sox’s top 10 prospects.

10. SS Deven Marrero

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 8/25/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 194

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Arizona State)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats: .268/.358/.374, 45 R, 19 XBH, 24 SB, 48/34 K/BB (64 G, Short-Season Lowell)

    Scouting Notes: Marrero isn't flashy and lacks a true plus tool, but his overall game is well-rounded and impressive; has a chance to be an above-average defensive shortstop with smooth, natural actions, excellent instincts and a slightly above-average arm; plays the position with creativity and gets a good first step.

    6’1” right-handed hitter’s experience is obvious, especially in his ability to manipulate counts in his favor; has an upper-body swing with solid hand-eye coordination that yields average pop to the gaps, though he’ll probably always have below-average power; hit tool could be above-average with some fine-tuning to his swing; intuitive baserunner who’s able to read pitchers and pick his spots, though his speed is only slightly above-average; has the upside of an everyday middle infielder due to all-around package.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Salem

9. OF Brandon Jacobs

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/8/1990 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 225

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 10th round, 2009 (Parkview HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats: .252/.322/.410, 43 XBH (13 HR), 17 SB, 128 K/39 BB (114 G, High-A Salem)

    Scouting Notes: Premium athlete at 6’1”, 225 pounds with high-risk/high-reward upside; tools are obvious, but baseball skills continue to disappoint; is yet to graduate from A-ball after four minor-league seasons; doesn’t have explosive speed but moves well once he hits full stride; arm strength is fringy and lends to his projection as a big-league left fielder; instincts and jumps have improved since turning pro, but there’s still room to improve.

    Regressed at the plate after an encouraging 2011 campaign; plus bat speed use of strong lower half yields above-average raw power; excessive strikeout totals will always impede the development of his hit tool; swing can get too long when he tries to force contact; ball naturally jumps off his bat; capable of stealing an easy 15-20 bases per season but needs to become a smarter base stealer.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Portland

8. C Blake Swihart

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    Position: C

    DOB: 4/3/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 175

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (V Sue Cleveland HS, N.M.)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats: .262/.307/.395, 28 XBH (7 HR), 68/26 K/BB (92 G, Low-A Greenville)

    Scouting Notes: Athletic and agile behind the plate with quietly strong 6’1”, 175-pound frame; has room to add considerable strength as he develops without getting bulky; is raw defensively due to lack of experience, but noticeably improved over the course of his first full season; average blocker at the moment but should improve quickly; will need to do better job streamlining throws, though catch-and-throw skills may ultimately grade as above-average.

    Impressive switch hitter considering his age and lack of professional experience; demonstrates potential for above-average hit tool from both sides of the plate due to level, line-drive swing; lacks present power, but like most young hitters, that should emerge as he gets stronger; cheats himself at the plate due to hyper-aggressive approach from both sides; needs to improve pitch recognition and look for pitches to drive early in the count.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Salem

7. OF Bryce Brentz

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/30/1988 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Middle Tennessee State)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats: .296/.355/.478, 48 XBH (17 HR), 130/40 K/BB (122 G, Double-A Portland); .118/.167/.118 (5 G, Triple-A Pawtucket)

    Scouting Notes: At 6’0”, 190, Brentz involves minimal physical projection; possesses fringy speed but isn’t a base-clogger; prototypical right fielder with solid-average range and an accurate, plus arm; not afraid to show it off, which has also resulted in too many throwing errors.

    Physically strong right-handed hitter with plus bat speed; leveraged swing can be too much of an upper-cut at times, and he’ll need to continue to shorten his bat path; lift generated after contact gives him easy plus power, especially to pull side; has a tendency to exaggerate load which causes his bat to drag through the zone; hit tool is suspect due to swing-and-miss propensity; strikeouts will always be part of his game; biggest challenge moving forward will be recognition of and ability to lay off breaking balls out of the zone.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Pawtucket

6. 3B Garin Cecchini

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 4/20/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010 (Alfred M. Barbe HS, La.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats: .305/.394/.433, 84 R, 46 XBH (38 2B), 51 SB, 90/61 K/BB (118 G, Low-A Greeville)

    Scouting Notes: Background of a middle infielder in high school; shifted to third base upon turning pro and has adjusted quickly to new position; has giving hands and solid defensive actions; can be a bit choppy and boxy at times, but good instincts give him slightly above-average range; plus arm is best defensive tool and will allow him to stick at the position; still learning intricacies at the hot corner and will need to continue to make adjustments.

    6’3” left-handed hitter has projectable frame and should continue to add strength as he fills out; love his swing: plus bat speed and bat-to-ball ability gives him the potential for an above-average hit tool; compact swing yields consistent, hard contact; gets extension after contact which allows him to drive the ball from line-to-line; present gap power could evolve into solid-average power in big leagues; plate discipline is advanced given his lack of experience, but he’ll need to improve his pitch recognition, especially with breaking balls; possesses slightly above-average speed but is an instinctual and adept base stealer.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Salem

5. LHP Henry Owens

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 7/21/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 190

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Edison HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats: 12-5, 101.2 IP, 4.87 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 11.5 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (23 GS, Low-A Greenville)

    Scouting Notes: 6’6” left-hander projects through the roof, but it may take him a while to get anywhere close to his high ceiling; despite long, lanky frame, Owens repeats his mechanics better than any stats suggests; has huge stride towards the plate that aids his overall deception and, in turn, makes his entire arsenal play up; really like his arm angle and ability to deliver on a downward plane.

    Strikeout artist with an impressive three-pitch mix; fastball typically sits at 88-92 mph and can be difficult for hitters to pick up out of his hand; will occasionally flirt with 94-95 mph; breaking ball flashes above-average potential and he’s adept to adding and subtracting when necessary; would like to see him use it to back-foot right-handed hitters with more consistency; changeup is best secondary pitch and projects as a legitimate plus offering; command of overall arsenal is shaky at the moment, but his athleticism and mechanics suggest it will improve as he develops.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Salem

4. RHP Allen Webster

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 2/10/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 18th round, 2008 [Dodgers] (McMichael HS, N.C.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats: 6-8, 121.2 IP, 3.55 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (27 G; 22 GS Double-A Chattanooga [Dodgers]); 9 IP, 8.00 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 (2 GS, Double-A Portland [Red Sox])

    Scouting Notes: 6’3” right-hander employs easy and repeatable delivery; was a shortstop in high school, but moved to the mound upon turning pro; untaxed and fresh arm relative to most pitchers his age; headlined prospect package acquired from Dodgers in late-season trade/salary-dump; ceiling of a Nos. 2-3 starter and could conceivably reach big leagues by end of 2013 season.

    Fastball is most effective in 91-95 mph range with sink and some arm-side life, and he’ll occasionally scrape 96-97 mph; pitch generates considerable amount of groundball outs; features both a curveball and slider which has excellent depth and shape when thrown from a consistent release point out in front; changeup was improved this past season as he threw the pitch with more deceptive arm speed; pitch registers in low-80s with late fading action.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Portland

3. RHP Matt Barnes

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 6/17/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Connecticut)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats: 2-0, 26.2 IP, 0.34 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 4.0 H/9, 14.2 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 (5 GS, Low-A Greenville); 5-5, 93 IP, 3.58 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (20 GS, High-A Salem)

    Scouting Notes: 6’4”, 200-pound right-hander has a tall, durable frame built for innings; clean, repeatable mechanics that results in effortless velocity; high three-quarter arm slot creates good downward plane on all his pitches; pounds lower half of strike zone to generate groundball outs; consistently finishes his pitches which enables above-average command of entire arsenal.

    Barnes’ best pitch is his plus fastball which sits around 95 mph, and he holds the velocity well into his starts; his command of the pitch is excellent and has been key to early success in minors; almost relies on the pitch too much, throwing it exclusively at times; curveball has excellent shape and late, downer bite, but his command of the pitch needs refinement; flashes above-average potential when thrown with consistency; development of changeup will be crucial towards overall development.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Portland

2. OF Jackie Bradley

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 4/19/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 5’10”, 180

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (South Carolina)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats: .359/.480/.526, 53 R, 31 XBH (26 2B), 16 SB, 40/52 K/BB (67 G, High-A Salem); .271/.373/.437, 24 XBH (6 HR), 8 SB, 49/35 K/BB (61 G, Double-A Portland)

    Scouting Notes: Advanced college player who opened full-season debut at High-A Salem; left-handed hitter flashes potential for an above-average-to-plus hit tool thanks to compact bat path and willingness to use the whole field; best offensive attribute is his excellent feel for the strike zone; advanced plate discipline makes him viable top-of-the-order hitter.

    Should be able to stick in center field; gets excellent reads and has a quick first step; above-average range in all directions, especially laterally; arm strength is slightly above-average and ideal for center field, but would suffice at a corner spot if necessary; bat is better suited for center field, as well; will likely open the year at Double-A but combination of hit tool, plate discipline and above-average defense could have him in the big leagues ahead of schedule.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Portland

1. SS Xander Bogaerts

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 10/1/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 175

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Aug., 2009 (Aruba)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats: .302/.378/.505, 45 XBH (15 HR), 85/43 K/BB (104 G, High-A Salem); .326/.351/.598, 15 XBH (5 HR), 21/1 K/BB (23 G, Double-A Portland)

    Scouting Notes: At 6’3”, 175 pounds, Bogaerts is physically mature and should add more strength as he fills out; right-handed hitter has upright stance; big leg lift load gets all of his weight to backside and then through the ball; vicious swing results in loud contact to all fields; possesses plus bat with plus raw power to all fields; hit tool has developed better than expected despite aggressive, free-swinging approach; has posted oddly low line-drive rates through minor-league career; will have to cut down on strikeouts and chase less breaking balls; highly impressive considering age vs. level.

    Will continue to be developed as a shortstop until he’s forced to move from position; probably more of a future as a third baseman or corner outfielder; possesses solid hands and above-arm strength; lacks quick feet and explosiveness but still demonstrates excellent overall athleticism; wouldn’t surprise me if he reaches the big leagues by Sept.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Portland

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