Monday, July 1, 2013

RSM Red Sox Top 12 Prospects--July

As the major league season has passed the halfway mark, the minor leagues have just over two months to go.  There is much to enjoy currently in Red Sox Nation, not only the varsity with 50 wins by June 30, but a bountiful crop of prospects, several knocking on Boston's door now or very soon.

Before we get to the July rankings, a couple of housekeeping notes.  First three players who were considered for placement on this list in the past have "graduated" as prospects.  They are Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, and Alex Wilson.  Iglesias obviously is in Boston to stay for the foreseeable future and maybe for years to come. With David Ross recently being placed on the 60 day DL this creates a spot in Boston for the next month or two for Lavarnway. And whether or not Alex Wilson stays in Boston's bullpen he should...he has shown he is a big league arm.

Next housekeeping note is the executive decision made by RSM to wait one more month to include any 2013 draftees.  But in August do not be surprised to see Trey Ball and others on the list ( Jon Denney and Teddy Stankiewicz, in particular.)  Also in the next 12 days until this year's signing deadline watch news reports ( and here at RSM) for the name Ryan Boldt.  As mentioned in some of our draft coverage he was a first round type talent who fell to the Sox 22nd round pick due to  injury and his concrete commitment to Univ. of Nebraska.  Apparently, young Mr. Boldt visited Fenway  recently and met with Sox reps. Maybe the concrete Cornhusker commitment is crumbling??  If he signs he is on this list somewhere.

Lastly a couple of format notes, the number behind each player is last month's ranking.  The slash line for hitters is HR/RBI/BA/OBP and for pitchers it is W-L/ERA/WHIP/K-BB

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS- Pawtucket {1}  If there was a ranking higher than number one, Bogaerts would possess it. Since our last report, Xander has been promoted to Pawtucket.  His final 2013 numbers at Portland were 6/35/.311/.407.  Even at age 20 he was dominating AA at the end and needed the challenge of AAA.  In his first weeks at Pawtucket his home run power has stayed and he is slowly raising his other numbers( as he did upon his recall to Portland last August.)  His line so far at AAA is 4/10/.242/.319. Bogaerts will also appear in the  US vs. World minor league all star game, part of the MLB All Star festivities, for the second year in a row. July will be a very pivotal month for Xander, if he can begin to rake AAA as he did in the lower levels he could be in Boston by some time in August.

2. Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF- Pawtucket {2}If the Sox should have an outfield need arise due to injury or otherwise, JBJr. is ready to fill in.  He continues to put up stellar numbers including his calling card high OBP, .395 for the year.  He still appears to be the heir apparent to free agent to be Jacoby Ellsbury.

3. Allen Webster, P- Boston {3} As July 1st rolls around Webster is in the Red Sox rotation replacing the injured Clay Buchholz.  After making two early season spot starts ( one strong and one awful), he now has made starts the last two times through the rotation. Both had their rough spots, a first inning grand slam by Victor Martinez of the Tigers, and helping the Sox lose a five run lead versus the Jays.  But he left the Jays game with a lead and only another long ball surrendered by Andrew Bailey prevented Webster's first MLB win. And versus the Tigers he pitched with exceptional stuff after the first inning getting a very high number of swings and misses.  Webster is due to make another start this week against the Padres at Fenway.

4. Garin Cecchini, 3B- Portland {5} One of four players who have been promoted since June's ranking ( counting Webster's recall to Boston).  Cecchini has come to Hadlock Field and continued to put up the  most outstanding offensive numbers in the system.  His first 33 AB's for Portland has created a line of 0/3/.364/.475.  These BA and OBP numbers almost exactly mirror his Salem stats of .350 and .469. More and more folks are talking about a future Sox infield ( maybe starting in '14) of from first to third  Middlebrooks, Pedey, Iglesias, and Bogaerts.  They may have to make room there somewhere for Garin Cecchini.

5. Anthony Ranaudo. P- Portland {6}There can be only two reasons why Ranaudo is still in Portland. Either because the Sox want him to dominate for a extended period of time in AA after last year's lost season at AA or it is just a roster crunch at AAA.  Ranaudo had a couple of June starts where he gave up some runs and inflated his ERA but for the season his line is still 8-2/2.68/1.05/91-29 ( in 84 IP).
Anthony is the most likely name on this list to be promoted before the August ratings arrive.

6. Bryce Brentz, OF- Pawtucket {4}  Besides Bogaerts, Brentz is still the best power prospect on the horizon.  Brentz had a line in June of 5/12/.247/.302 giving him a year to date line of 15/51/.270/.322.  Not being on the 40 man roster may keep Brentz from a 2013 recall but if he continues to slug at McCoy he should be in the 2014 picture.  Conversely, he may also be the first name on this list to be a trade chip later this month if the Sox swing a deal to bolster their pennant hopes.

7. Henry Owens, P- Salem {7} As Owens continues to pound Carolina League hitters with a June line of 3-1/1.71/1.18/28-15, the only immediate question for Owens is will the Red Sox promote the soon to be 21 year old ( July 21st birthday) to AA or will they keep him at the same level all year as they did in 2012?  So far this year he has struck out 90 batters in 77 innings with an ERA of 2.91.  He seems to be ready for AA, if not now, very soon.

8. Rubby De La Rosa, P- Pawtucket {9} Rubby could the one name on this entire list who could play a big role in the 2013 Red Sox fortunes.   Boston has taken off the harness as De La Rosa recovers from Tommy John surgery, and his June stats are outstanding: 2-0/1.01/0.98/26-10( in 26.2 innings).  De La Rosa could be next in line if Webster falters in Boston. But more and more, day by day you keep hearing whispers that the Sox would like to plant Rubby in the Sox bullpen and soon.  He could even grab the closer's role if it stays in flux.  He certainly has the overpowering stuff to do so.

9. Matt Barnes, P- Portland {8} Although Barnes' numbers continue to be unimpressive at AA ( with the exception of 83 K's in 67 IP), the Sox front office professes to be pleased with his progression.  Barnes is certainly looking at a full year at Hadlock, but his ninth place ranking here has more to do with the names above than any disappointment in Barnes.  But if the Sox go Cliff Lee shopping in July do not be shocked if Matt is part of the deal.

10. Blake Swihart, C- Salem{10}  The young catcher continues to improve week by week and has put up a line of 2/26/.286/.369. If Swihart can continue to get on base at anything close to a .369 rate, he will be a factor in the big leagues by late 2015 or 2016;  Maybe sooner if he moves from catching.

11. Brandon Workman, P- Pawtucket  If any one on this list illustrates how deep this list of prospects is, Brandon is the guy.  He was promoted in June to Pawtucket after putting up a Portland line of 5-1/3.43/1.04/74-17 in 65 innings.  His first 29 innings at AAA showed Workman did not miss a beat after the promotion 3-1/3.41/1.14/29-11.  Workman is another name mentioned frequently as a second half bullpen arm in Boston.

12. Christian Vazquez, C- Portland  {14}  Vazquez has basically taken over the Jose Iglesias mantel.  No the Sox have not moved the catcher to shortstop.  But, Vazquez is an outstanding defensive catcher, compared to Yadier Molina behind the dish.  But at the dish with a bat in his hands is the question.  In June Christian has slumped some, although he recently broke out with 4 hit game.  His line for the year is 4/27/.240/.341.  Something close to these numbers in the bigs would suffice.  I still think Vazquez will be catching in Boston by 2015 at the latest.

The remaining contenders for the Top 12 ( who will be competing with the new draftees in August)

13. Devin Marrero, SS- Salem {13}  2012's top pick is hitting .270 with a .341 OBP
14. Drake Britton, P- Portland {UR} Lefty has rocketed back onto list with  strong June
15. Michael Almanzar, 3B/1B/DH- Portland {19} Cecchini promotion causing more  DH time
16. Travis Shaw, 1B-3B- Portland {UR}  Either Shaw or Almanzar could be dealt
17. Mookie Betts, 2B-Greenville  {20} 2011 5th rounder with a .426 OBP in his 1st year over GCL
18. Ty Buttrey, P - Lowell {UR} 2012 draftee with 16 K's in first 9 1/3 NYP innings.
19. Brian Johnson, P- Grenville {17}  2012 1st rounder has been on DL since June 9th.
20. David Chester, 1B- Greenville {20A} SAL All Star has a line of 12/64/.266/.343

The August rankings could very well see a major shakeup from these.  As mentioned above the 2013 signed draftees will join the fun and of course the July 31 trade deadline could see more than one of these players leave the Red Sox system.  Enjoy these heady days for the Red Sox and for their affiliates.

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