By Jeff Louderback
Featuring a well-stocked farm system with multiple names who are Major League ready or almost prepared for their big league debut, the Red Sox have six minor leaguers who are among the top 100 prospects in baseball, according to MLB.com.
The rankings, which are authored by Jonathan Mayo, include shortstop Xander Bogaerts at No. 20, center fielder Jackie Bradley at No. 32, right-handed starting pitcher Matt Barnes at No. 38, right-handed starting pitcher Allen Webster at No. 71, left-handed starting pitcher Henry Owens at No. 94 and shortstop Jose Iglesias at No. 96.
I frequently write about Minor League Baseball and prospects for BoSox Banter and Baseball News Source, and also write Florida State League prospect profiles for Baseball America. I agree with Mayo on every placement except for Bogaerts, who is a 20-year-old right-handed hitter with a middle of the order bat and defensively proficient enough to remain at shortstop, though he could eventually transition to third base or left field.
For Baseball News Source, I authored a top 10 list for 29 of the 30 Major League teams and also crafted an overall top 10 list. I rated Bogaerts No. 7 overall, and you will likely find him on every outlet’s top 10 list by the All-Star break.
Just as shortstop phenoms Manny Machado in Baltimore and Jurickson Profar with Texas were summoned to the majors last year, Bogaerts could make his big league debut at some point in 2013, though it is more likely that happens in 2014.
Bradley is the heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and though he will likely open the 2013 campaign at Double-A Portland, the supplemental first rounder in 2011 out of the University of South Carolina could see his first taste of the majors at some point this year.
If the 22-year-old Iglesias shows improvement at the plate, he could be the Red Sox shortstop of the future and lead to Bogaerts moving to another position.
Barnes, Webster and Owens are promising starting pitching prospects who could be in Boston’s rotation by 2014. Webster is the closest among the trio to making his Major League debut, which could happen this year.