Boston Red Sox Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
Boston Red Sox Top 20 for 2011
1) Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Grade B: Could rise a notch or two if he proves fully healthy in pro ball.
2) Drake Britton, LHP, Grade B: Could also rise a notch or two if he handles increased workload well.
3) Jose Iglesias, SS, Grade B: Won't have much fantasy value, but in real baseball he will hold a job for a long time due to his glove and line drive hitting.
4) Josh Reddick, OF, Grade B-: Power potential remains, but plate discipline is a big issue.
5) Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, Grade B-: Projects as a solid number three starter for me.
6) Garin Cecchini, 3B, Grade B-: Grade could/should rise once we get some pro data to make sure he's as good as the scouting reports.
7) Oscar Tejeda, 2B, Grade B-: I think the breakout is real.
8) Brandon Workman, RHP, Grade B-: Future workhorse starter.
9) Ryan Lavarnway, C, Grade B-: The power is legit, defense not great but not awful if he hits enough.
10) Kolbrin Vitek, 3B, Grade B-: Defense needs a lot of work, but I think the bat will be fine.
11) Chris Balcom-Miller, RHP, Grade B-: One of the best-kept secrets in the minor leagues and my pick for a big breakout in '11.
12) Felix Doubront, LHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-, a useful lefty arm that can start or relieve.
13) Michael Bowden, RHP, Grade C+: Another flexible pitcher who can start or relieve and is ready now.
14) Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Grade C+: Glove is very strong, offense is gradually improving but plate discipline will be tested in Double-A.
15) Yamaico Navarro, INF, Grade C+: Looks like he can be a fine backup infielder to me right now with a chance to still develop beyond that.
16) Luis Exposito, C, Grade C+: Should reach the majors later this year. No outstanding attributes, but a catcher with some power will stick around awhile.
17) Lars Anderson, 1B, Grade C+: Blocked now, will go back to Pawtucket, see if he can get hot enough to interest someone in a trade. Disappointing, but could still develop into useful platoon bat.
18) Kyle Weiland, RHP, Grade C+: Strike-throwing inning-eater type.
19) Sean Coyle, 2B, Grade C+: Interesting high school bat from '10 class.
20) Henry Ramos, OF, Grade C+: Another sleeper prospect, '10 draft pick from Puerto Rico looked great in rookie ball.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Xander Bogaerts, SS; Bryce Brentz, OF; Keury De La Cruz, OF; Tim Federowicz, C; Alex Hassan, OF; Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF; Chris Hernandez, LHP; Pete Hissey, OF; Brandon Jacobs, OF; Che-Hsuan Lin, OF; Juan Carlos Linares, OF; Kendrick Perkins, OF; Mathew Price, RHP; Jason Rice, RHP; Manuel Rivera, LHP; Pete Ruiz, RHP; Kendal Volz, RHP; Alex Wilson, RHP; Madison Younginer, RHP.
The Adrian Gonzalez trade ripped the top off this system, leaving no current B+ or A- prospects, although both Ranaudo and Britton can get to that level in 2011 if all goes well. Iglesias will be a regular due to his glove eventually, although if you are looking in pure fantasy terms his value won't be that great. Reddick looks destined to become trade bait to me unless a rash of injuries hits in spring training. It wouldn't surprise me to see the same thing happen to Lavarnway, although he is a favorite of Red Sox fans. Cecchini, Workman, Vitek, and Balcom-Miller are all B- types with a good chance to raise their grades.
All told, the system has thinned out but there is raw material percolating that could make it look much better a year from now. The Sox have shown they will invest loads of money in the farm system, and I don't doubt their ability to recharge quickly.