Here are the pre-season (yeah, we know the season has begun) RSM rankings of the top up and comers in the Red Sox system. Around the first of each month, we will re-evaluate and re-rank if needed.
1.Xander Bogaerts-- A close choice at the top, but since we are MAINEiacs, we will go with the Maine connection. Xander signed with Boston, right after starring for Aruba in the Senior League World Series, here in Bangor. He has been described as the most exciting offensive player in the Sox system since Hanley Ramirez. A shortstop for now, he is projected to be a 3B or OFer when he fills out. Last year at age 18, he hit 16 HR in the SAL, a very young age for that league. This year he is assigned to Salem only one step below the AA Sea Dogs. Could he reach Portland this year??
2. Will Middlebrooks-- Ranked #1 on many prospect lists for Boston. He came to life at AA last year, hitting 18-80-.302 for the Sea Dogs. He struggled in a brief 56AB cameo in AAA, but it was designed to get him off to a fast AAA statrt in 2012. He is the heir apparent to Kevin Youkilis, not out of the question that could happen before 2012 is over, almost certainly in 2013.
3. Anthony Ranaudo-- Top pitcher on the list, a 2010 draftee, was ranked as high as #2 in that draft, but junior year arm issues, dropped him to the 30's where the Sox grabbed him. He split his first pro season between Greenville and Salem. A guy with at least the stuff of a 2 or 3 SP, could be a number one type guy. He will join the Sea Dogs in April.
4. Ryan Lavarnway--The story is he has a great bat already, 34 HR's last year including 2 with Boston, but can he be an everyday MLB catcher defensively? The organization feels he has made great strides, he is much more valuable behind the dish, but if need be would make a solid DH/1B type.
5. Jose Iglesias--Opposite story of Lavarnway, already draws Ozzie Smith/Omar Vizquel defensive comps, but can he hit? He has only played 171 minor league games. If he cannot hit, he is Rey Ordonez..is that good enough? If he can hit .275 with a little pop, he is an All-Star.
6. Matt Barnes--Pretty much the same story as Ranaudo, just drafted one year later. UConn star expected to go as high as #6 last year, he fell and Sox took him at around 21. Throws maybe even a tick harder than Ranaudo...he starts this year at Greenville, likely to mimic Ranaudo's path of splitting year one there and at Salem. With just a little luck these two gusys are part of the Sox rotation from 2014/2015 on for a number of years.
7. Ryan Kalish--Somewhat based on the 2010 performance in Boston, expected to be off the prospects list by now and patrolling RF at Fenway. Injuries wasted all of 2011, and he is still out until May or so. If he gets healthy and shakes the rust, he could help this year in Boston.
8. Bryce Brentz-- After a parade of lefty hitting OFers, the Sox may have a righty power hitter on the way. Brentz, a first round pick in 2010 as a college player, hit 30 HRs last year in Class A, in 2012 will start the year in Portland. With a strong season, he could do as Middlebrooks did and get a late year Pawsox audition, setting him up for AAA in 2013, and then to Boston. He also has a plus throwing arm, making him able to stay in RF.
9. Blake Swihart--A young catcher drafted last year out of a New Mexico high school, was considered unsignable due to a commitment to play at UTexas. He was also considered perhaps among the top 2 or 3 high school hitters in that draft. He is considered such a great hitter, it was expected he may be moved from catcher just so he can get to the bigs sooner. Kinda like Bryce Harper, but not THAT kind of prospect.
10. Brandon Jacobs--Another power hitting righty. Was drafted out of high school and considered a raw baseball project due to his HS football background. He is a step or two behind Brentz, and not considered much of a defensive OFer, but a guy to watch.
11. Sean Coyle--Another guy the Sox grabbed because he had signed with UNC to play college ball. At around 5'8" he still hit 14 HRs last season at lower class A at age 19. He is often compared to Dustin Pedroia. 'nuff ced.
12. Alex Wilson--A pitcher who could help Boston this year, perhaps in the pen although he is a starter at Pawtucket. Last year between AA and AAA was 10-4 with an ERA in the mid-3's
Garin Cecchini, Kolbrin Vitek, Jackie Bradley, Henry Owens, Junichi Tazawa, and Alex Hassan are others knocking on the door of the top 12.