A look at Red Sox prospect rankings from three sites

By Jeff Louderback

In 2007 and 2008 – when the Red Sox won a World Series title and reached Game Seven of the American League Championship Series respectively – they did so with contributions from numerous players developed in their farm system.

Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen on the mound and Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and even Jed Lowrie (in 2008) served valuable roles.

The next stage of promising prospects has arrived. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is crafting a roster that includes returning core players (like Pedroia, Ellsbury and Ortiz joining 2012 rookie Will Middlebrooks) and complementary pieces (Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara) as Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland are stocked with names who will help the Major League club over the next few seasons.

The myriad of baseball writers who closely cover the minor leagues agree that Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley and Matt Barnes represent Boston’s elite prospects.

The 20-year-old Bogaerts is considered one of the best prospects in the game, and he is the type of player who can make a swift impact on the Red Sox as Mike Trout did on the Angels and Bryce Harper did with the Nationals. What position he plays long term in the majors remains to be seen. Most scouts believe he will outgrow shortstop and be better suited for third base or left field. The Sox are loaded with other shortstop prospects, including 22-year-old Jose Iglesias, Deven Marrero and Jose Vinicio.

The 22-year-old Bradley is a left-handed hitter who is a superb defensive center fielder, thus the reason the Red Sox will feel comfortable with letting Jacoby Ellsbury enter free agency after the 2013 campaign, if they don’t trade him beforehand.

The 22-year-old Barnes projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the majors. He leads a group of intriguing starting pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system that includes right-handers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, and left-hander Henry Owens (who might end up the best of the bunch).

In this column, I have included rankings of the top 10 Red Sox prospects by Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and SoxProspects.com. All sites appropriately agree that Bogaerts, Barnes, Bradley, Webster, Garin Cecchini, Bryce Brentz, Iglesias, Blake Swihart and Owens are among the top 10 in the organization.

SoxProspects.com views the hard-throwing De La Rosa, a 23-year-old right-hander that the Red Sox acquired from the Dodgers last summer, as a prospect whereas the other two sites do not include him since he has 14 appearances in the majors. Regardless of his status, De La Rosa projects as a top of the rotation starter or a closer in the big leagues, and he is a name Red Sox fans will get to know in 2013.

Baseball Prospectus lists Brian Johnson, Boston’s first round pick out of the University of Florida last summer, as the club’s No. 10 prospect. The 22-year-old left-hander logged 5.2 scoreless innings at short-season Lowell before taking a line drive off his face, ending his season. He is expected to ready for spring training and represents an arm that can ascend the farm system in two to three years.The 2013 season will serve as his first test since he will likely be assigned to Greenville in the South Atlantic League.

Interestingly, MLB.com still has Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Jacobs in the top 10. The 23-year-old Ranaudo was Boston’s first round pick in 2010 out of LSU. He was projected as a potential No.2 starter in the majors, but he endured an injury-plagued 2012 season. Ranaudo has a high ceiling like Barnes, and 2013 will prove instrumental in his development as he will likely begin the campaign at Portland.

The 22-year-old Jacobs is regarded as an average defensive left fielder, but he has substantial power potential, as his 2011 season of 17 home runs, 80 RBI, .505 slugging percentage, .881 OPS and .303 average at Greenville demonstrated. He was slowed by injuries last season at advanced Single-A Salem, where he had 13 home runs, 61 RBI, a .252 average and a .732 OPS. Jacobs will continued to be challenged as SoxProspects.com projects that he will be assigned to Double-A Portland in 2013.

Here are the Red Sox prospect rankings according to the three aforementioned sites:

Baseball Prospectus

  1. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  2. Jackie Bradley, CF
  3. Matt Barnes, RHP
  4. Allen Webster, RHP
  5. Blake Swihart, C
  6. Garin Cecchini, 3B
  7. Henry Owens, LHP
  8. Bryce Brentz, RF
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS
  10. Brian Johnson, LHP

MLB.com

  1. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  2. Matt Barnes, RHP
  3. Jackie Bradley, CF
  4. Bryce Brentz, RF
  5. Allen Webster, RHP
  6. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP
  7. Brandon Jacobs, OF
  8. Blake Swihart, C
  9. Garin Cecchini, 3B
  10. Jose Iglesias, SS

SoxProspects.com

  1. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  2. MattĀ  Barnes, RHP
  3. Jackie Bradley, CF
  4. Allen Webster, RHP
  5. Rubby De La Rosa, RHP
  6. Bryce Brentz, RF
  7. Garin Cecchini, 3B
  8. Blake Swihart, C
  9. Henry Owens, LHP
  10. Jose Iglesias, SS

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    Last updated: 05/07/2013