The Boston Red Sox are coming into 2014 with one of the deepest minor league systems at least towards the top. Putting this list together was particularly tricky because I’ve only seen a few of these guys in person but there’s a lot of info out there on the Baby Sox. I went back and forth over the top eight players on the list in terms of in what order they should appear. There’s clearly a consensus #1 and #2 prospect in the Red Sox system but after that, I think that any of five or six players could show up in just about any order and it wouldn’t be too outrageous.
Big thanks go out to my colleague at Jays Journal, Justin Jay, who is a New Englander that has seen several of the Boston Red Sox prospects and helped out with some of our blurbs.
The Red Sox minor league affiliates:
Triple-A: Pawtucket Red Sox (International League)
Double-A: Portland Sea Dogs (Eastern League)
High-A: Salem Red Sox (Carolina League)
Class-A: Greenville Drive (South Atlantic League)
Short-Season A: Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League)
Complex-Rookie: GCL Red Sox (Gulf Coast League)
Teddy Stankiewicz – RHP
Date of Birth: November 25, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’4”/200 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of 2013 draft
Analysis: Stankiewicz got a taste of pro ball after being drafted in the second round this past season. Despite it being a small sample size, the 19 year old showed poise and control in Lowell, with an ERA just over 2 and WHIP below 1. He has shown early that he has good command for his low to mid-90s fastball, which should be more consistently in the mid-90s as he fills out his 6’4″ frame. The team would like to see more development of his secondary pitches. His change-up seems to be his second best offering, but the Red Sox mostly emphasized fastball location to the young pitcher. Expect his K/9 to go up this season, but at the cost of a higher WHIP as he continues to develop his slider and curveball in Greenville.
2014 Prognosis: Since the sample size was small, Stankiewicz will most likely continue another year at A ball, most likely in Greenville. With some success, he may end up Salem before the end of 2014. He’ll have some time to develop with guys like Barnes, Owens, and Ranaudo in front of him.
Deven Marrero – SS
Date of Birth: August 25, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’1”/195 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (24th overall) of the 2012 draft
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Analysis: Despite being drafted quite high in 2012, Marrero is profiling more as a utility player than an everyday big-leaguer. His offensive numbers in Salem were underwhelming but he definitely shows that he can get on base. If Marrero can improve his batting average numbers along with his OBP and hit for a little more gap power, his glove will be able to take him a lot further.
2014 Prognosis: The Double-A Portland Sea Dogs are calling Marrero for 2014.
Christian Vazquez – C
Date of Birth: August 21, 1990
Height/Weight: 5’9”/195 lbs
Acquired: 9th round of 2008 draft
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Analysis: There are several things that go against Christian Vazquez when evaluators look at him. He’s short. He’s slow. He doesn’t project to have much power. But then you see him play and he displays the skills that have allowed him to reach Triple-A. Vazquez is probably the best defensive catcher the Red Sox have in their system and it’s easy to see. I saw Vazquez play a couple of games in the Eastern League last year and he made scouts’ jaws drop when he threw to second base. I mean seasoned, veteran scouts. His pop time is easily the fastest I’ve ever seen and I saw him do it more than once so it was no fluke. Vazquez is also extremely patient at the plate and show outstanding contact ability, walking more than he struck out last season and getting on base at a .376 rate.
2014 Prognosis: Vazquez is close. He’s on the Sox’s 40-man roster and could be a callup this season if injuries take their toll. He’s likely to start the season in Triple-A Pawtucket to refine his skills and bide his time.
Brian Johnson – LHP
Date of Birth: December 7, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’3”/225 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (31st overall) of the 2012 draft
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Analysis: Johnson was a two-way star at the University of Florida but has really started to settle into a full-time pitcher’s role. With one strikeout per inning in the Sally League, Johnson is taking strides with a four-pitch mix with decent velocity and solid control. Scouts project him to be a back-of-the-rotation starter who will rely on movement, deception and control more than pure stuff but the upside is that Johnson is showing that he knows what to do with his pitches.
2014 Prognosis: It’s tough to say exactly where Johnson will start in 2014. He’s almost 23 (Happy Birthday on December 7!) and with his physically mature body and approach, could be thrown directly into Double-A. If the Sox don’t want to rush him, he’ll return to Salem to start 2014.
Bryce Brentz – OF
Date of Birth: December 30, 1988
Height/Weight: 6’/190 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (36th overall) of the 2010 draft
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Analysis: There’s no doubt Brentz carries a big stick. Despite missing the last half of the season with a torn meniscus, he managed to hit 17 HRs, showing an ISO of .212, which is impressive. The problem that plagues Brentz is not so much a hole in his swing as 86 Ks in 349 ABs might suggest, as much as the long swing that he has. The quick wrists make up for it a bit, but he could be exposed by better pitching in the majors. Defensively, while he does have a big arm, his 8 errors in 123 chances is concerning.
2014 Prognosis: There’s little doubt that Brentz starts out the year in AAA Pawtucket. Jackie Bradley will get first dibs on trying to make Boston’s OF after the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury. Red Sox coach Jon Farrell has stated he would like to play Bradley in CF and Shane Victorino in RF. RF is undoubtedly projected to be the position for Brentz to play due to his arm, but with Victorino in the way, the errors and his lack of range, that may be unlikely. Brentz may get a call up due to injury, but several things would need to improve.