With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
The Red Sox only had two prospects make my top 100, but the team nevertheless boasts a very good minor league system, with probably a dozen or so players in the 101-300 range. The most striking thing about the Red Sox’s system is its balance–there’s someone notable at pretty much every position except first base (and first tends to be the biggest black hole in a lot of organizations). There’s a nice mix of proven upper-minors players that look to be complementary parts and higher-upside, lower-floor guys in the low minors. It’s certainly not the best system in baseball, but it’s made some strides in recent years and is on very firm ground.
Position Player Upside: B+
Position Player Depth: A
Pitching Upside: B
Pitching Depth: B-
System Grade: B
Catcher: Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway came in at #53 on the top 100. That’s possibly overzealous, but he’s certainly a good bet to be a solid asset to the Red Sox starting from day one of the 2012 season. You don’t often find a catcher capable of hitting .295/.390/.612 in the International League, after all. Lavarnway is a Mike Napoli sort of hitter with excellent home run power and plate discipline. While he’s often knocked for his mobility behind the plate, nobody questions his arm strength, as he gunned down 37% of basestealers last year. The rest of his catching game is improving and he could approach average in those aspects. It’s easy to see him as a Napoli-esque player. Grade: B+
First base: Lars Anderson. Formerly considered a top prospect by many (although not me), Anderson just hasn’t ever figured out how to hit the ball over the fence with enough regularity to be a compelling first baseman. He hit .265/.369/.422 in Triple-A last year as a 23-year-old. He’ll take some walks and hit some doubles, and you can’t rule out a power surge at age 24, but since he’s confined to first base, Anderson looks like he’s just going to represent the bad versions of players like Daric Barton, Casey Kotchman, and Lyle Overbay. Grade: C+
Second base: Sean Coyle. Coyle put up a .217 ISO as a 19-year-old second baseman in Low-A. An undersized but deceptively powerful player, he gets compared to Dustin Pedroia a lot. While that’s clearly hyperbole, he could well evolve into a plus offensive second baseman with 15-HR power and some walks and steals. The biggest issue for him now is strikeouts, as he whiffed 110 times in 106 games. Given how small his strike zone is at 5’8″, that’s unacceptable. However, he worked 60 walks, so it’s mainly a result of getting in a lot of two-strike counts. If he can cut the Ks while retaining most of his walking ability, his .247 batting average should rise as he advances. He looks like a potential solid starter at second base. Grade: B
Third base: Garin Cecchini. Cecchini showed off an excellent approach (19/17 K/BB in 32 games) in his pro debut in short-season ball in 2011. A 4th-round pick in 2010, he already boasts doubles power and should start seeing more balls clear the fence as he fills out. He has some defensive refinement to make, and he’s a long way off, but he has the athleticism to develop into a solid defender. If you really want to dream, imagine a more athletic Kevin Youkilis that hits lefty. Grade: B
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts. I can’t emphasize enough how great Bogaerts’ performance in 2011 was. He’s the same age as Bryce Harper, and yet he put up a higher Isolated Power in the same league. He’ll probably need to move to third base or right field in the end, and he could stand to tighten up his approach, but even in right field he could end up pretty close to Mike Stanton. The #18 prospect on my top 100, he could be a truly scary middle-of-the-order force. Grade: A-
Outfielder #1: Brandon Jacobs. Like Bogaerts, Jacobs needs to tighten up his control of the strike zone (123/43 K/BB in 115 games), but boasts considerable power. He’s two years older than Bogaerts (at the same level) and confined mostly to left field, but he brings some basestealing acumen to the table as well. Another guy who projects to be an average starter at his position, but could become more with an additional breakout. Grade: B
Outfielder #2: Jackie Bradley. The 40th pick in the 2011 draft, Bradley entered the season projected to go far higher on many boards. He only got into ten games after being drafted, so he’s unproven in pro ball, but he’s considered a good defensive center fielder with some punch who boasts an excellent approach at the plate. After injuries derailed his final year of college, he’s got to show he’s back in 2009-10 form, but he could be a steal for his draft slot. Grade: B-
Outfielder #3: Alex Hassan. Hassan is a grinder who makes the most out of limited tools and could be in line for a look in 2012 if he keeps excelling. He put up an OBP over .400 in Double-A this year, walking nearly as often as he struck out. A doubles hitter with average athleticism, he’s mostly confined to left field, but he just might have enough offense to become a starter there. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #1: Matt Barnes. Barnes, like Bradley, was considered something of a steal in the 2011 draft, as he fell to 19th. He’s a prototypical big guy with a projectable frame and good mechanics. With a very good curveball and a low-90′s fastball, he’s got the look of a #2-3 starter if his changeup comes around. He could move fairly quickly after making his pro debut in 2012. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #2: Henry Owens. Owens was the 36th pick in 2011. He’s a towering lefthander with a promising 88-93 mph fastball and big curveball, and he could grow into more velocity as he fills out his big frame. He’ll make his pro debut in 2012, and limiting walks and repeating his deceptive delivery will be key. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #3: Felix Doubront. You don’t hear about it a whole lot, but Doubront’s got a really interesting fastball/curve combination. His heater can sneak into the 94-96 range at times, and he sits at 90-93, which is quite good for a lefthander. Furthermore, his fastball has filthy late cutting action on it. He backs it up with a hammer curve in the upper 70s. He’s pitched some in the majors and is as ready as he’ll ever be; he could still be a very intriguing starter, but on the Red Sox, Doubront may end up cast in a Sean Marshall role. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #4: Anthony Ranaudo. There was all sorts of buzz about Ranaudo being a huge steal at 35th overall in 2010, but he came out the next season and didn’t really wow anybody. His statistics were okay, as he made it up to High-A and posted a 4.33 ERA and 3.95 FIP, but scouts didn’t see the stuff that made him so electric in college. He’s still got some projectability, but Ranaudo looks like he’s going to be more Chris Volstad than prime Aaron Harang. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #5: Chris Balcom-Miller. Acquired from the Rockies in 2010, Balcom-Miller has a history of strong peripherals, and he posted a 3.50 FIP in his first trip to Double-A in 2011–only a .387 BABIP, wildly out of line with his previous marks, made him look like he declined. With a strong sinker/changeup mix, he could fit in as a decent third or good fourth starter if he continues to progress; there’s some thinking that his stuff and max-effort mechanics may play better in the bullpen, however. Grade: B-
Relief Pitcher #1: Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa seemed like he’d faded away, but he’s revitalized his status by moving to relief. He put up a 19/3 K/BB in 14 1/3 Triple-A innings in that role, earning his way back to the majors briefly at age 25. He’s going to give up some homers, but his control of a fastball/curve/splitter mix should allow him to succeed in relief. There’s a lot of similarities to Ed Mujica here.
Relief Pitcher #2: Luis Bastardo. Bastardo struck out 64 batters in 44 innings in short-season ball, which counts for something. However, relievers in short-season rarely become interesting MLB relievers, so he’s facing long odds, and his 27 walks don’t help his cause. Still, he’s got a live arm, working at 90-94 mph and flashing an average slider. If he can rein in his control, he could turn into a solid middle guy. Grade: C
Best of the Rest
#1.) Christian Vasquez, C. An impressive young defensive catcher, Vasquez surprised many by finding a power stroke in Low-A this year, hitting .283/.358/.505 as a 20-year-0ld. He’s got a plus arm behind the plate and a good approach at it, and while he’s small and not very projectable, he looks like he could be a better version of Kurt Suzuki. Grade: B
#2.) Blake Swihart, C. Swihart combines with Lavarnway and Vasquez to give the Sox an embarrassment of riches behind the plate. The 26th overall pick in the draft, he’s completely untested, but he could evolve into a solid two-way force in his own right. Grade: B-
#3.) Brandon Workman, RHP. An aptly named guy, Workman is a, well, workmanlike starting pitcher, with a deep arsenal of solid pitches. A supplemental pick in 2010, he doesn’t have a terribly high ceiling, but he could be a nice innings-eater in the Kyle Lohse mold. Grade: B-
#4.) Bryce Brentz, OF. Brentz hit 30 homers, but he also struck out 115 times in as many games while only drawing 40 walks, and he made an abysmal 17 outfield errors. His power is real, and it will probably get him to the major leagues, but Brentz is quite raw for a 23-year-old and has a lot of adjustments left to make. Grade: B-
#5.) Keith Couch, RHP. Couch is a beefy righthander who works downhill and relentlessly pounds the strike zone–he had an absurd 123/19 K/BB in 2011. He pitches off an 88-92 mph fastball and some average-ish secondary stuff, so he’s not going to be a dominant MLB pitcher, but he could carve out a long career as a Carl Pavano sort of pitcher. Grade: C+
#6.) Will Middlebrooks, 3B. Yes, I know this is an unconventional ranking. Middlebrooks is kind of like the anti-Couch–he excites scouts, and he does everything well except control the strike zone. He has power and a good glove at third, but his approach (113/24 K/BB) is so bad that I have trouble seeing him as much more than a Kevin Kouzmanoff sort of player, or Jeff Francoeur with infield actions. Grade: C+
#7.) Jose Iglesias, SS. Iglesias has a tremendous glove at shortstop, but his bat is basically nonexistent at this point. He hit just .235/.285/.269 in Triple-A, with only ten extra-base hits in 101 games. He’s only 22, and his defense will at least give him a bench career, but he needs to show some signs of life offensively if he’s going to be the next Adam Everett. Grade: C+
#8.) Alex Wilson, RHP. Wilson put together a nice year between Double-A and Triple-A (123/44 K/BB), but he’s now 25 years old. Like Kyle Weiland, he could end up as trade bait, as he likely won’t be a big factor in the Red Sox rotation picture. Grade: C+
#9.) Manny Rivera, LHP. An underrated pitcher, Rivera put together a 98/23 K/BB in Low-A at age 21. He’s a changeup artist with an 88-91 mph fastball and an improving breaking ball. An interesting sleeper. Grade: C+
#10.) Brock Huntzinger, RHP. A physical righthander, Huntzinger pounds the zone with a solid fastball, and his slider shows swing-and-miss potential at times. His Double-A K/BB ratio was nearly identical to Wilson’s, and he’s two years younger. However, his crippling weakness is a lack of fastball movement and a tendency to pitch up in the zone, leading to exorbitant flyball and home run rates. If he can figure those out, he could be a mid-rotation starter; if not, he’ll just be a Seth Etherton type. Grade: C
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Red Sox, check out BoSox Injection!
Topics: Alex Hassan, Alex Wilson, Anthony Ranaudo, Blake Swihart, Boston Red Sox, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Workman, Brock Huntzinger, Bryce Brentz, Chris Balcom-Miller, Felix Doubront, Garin Cecchini, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley, Jose Iglesias, Junichi Tazawa, Keith Couch, Lars Anderson, Luis Bastardo, Manny Rivera, Matt Barnes, Ryan Lavarnway, Sean Coyle, Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts