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Boston Red Sox Top 20 2013 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Jackie Bradley
Jackie Bradley

Here is a review of the Top 20 2013 Boston Red Sox prospect list. Keep in mind that was the PRE-SEASON List. It is NOT a new list. These are the pre-season grades and rankings!

This list was originally published on January 7, 2013 and revised on January 14, 2013.

1) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Grade A:
Remains an elite prospect; .311/.407/.502 in 56 Double-A games, .256/.360/.465 in 36 Triple-A games at age 20.

2) Jackie Bradley, OF, Grade B+: .284/.382/.516 in 52 games for Triple-A Pawtucket, .155/.258/.310 in 23 major league games. Playing the roster yo-yo but I think he will be ready to contribute fully next year.

3) Matt Barnes, RHP, Grade B+: 4.75 ERA with 98/31 K/BB in 78 innings for Double-A Portland, 84 hits. Has had some outstanding games (10 strikeouts in seven shutout innings in his last start for example) but he's had some real stinkers as well, elevating his ERA. I'd look for him sometime next year but he could struggle if rushed too quickly.

4) Garin Cecchini, 3B, Grade B: Borderline B+. I assume this grade may surprise people, but I'm thinking he will start to show more power to go with his OBP skills, speed, and greatly improved defense. I don't always play it safe with the grades.Initially I had him at a B+, but have kicked that down slightly. It isn't that my opinion about Cecchini changed, but rather that there were a couple of guys I had at strong Bs that I felt were slightly better. My original instinct was right and I should have left him with the B+. He's hitting .343/.452/.523 with 19 steals combined between High-A and Double-A.

5) Allen Webster, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. 4.40 ERA with 67/28 K/BB in 59 innings for Pawtucket, 9.57 ERA with 21/14 K/BB in 26 innings in the major leagues. Report hasn't changed much: plenty of stuff, but command remains troublesome.

6) Henry Owens, LHP, Grade B: 2.78 ERA with 116/50 K/BB in 97 innings for High-A Salem, 62 hits. Love the strikeout rate; still needs to lower walks. Reports are still oddly mixed on him; some observers really like him, others are pretty "meh." I tend to optimism with him.

7) Bryce Brentz, OF, Grade B-
: Borderline B: Hitting .272/.321/.487 with 16 homers in Triple-A before going on the disabled list in early July with a knee injury. Not much change here either: power bat with questionable contact skills. Could be a trade rumor guy.

8) Blake Swihart, C, Grade B-: So far, he scouts better than he performs. Defense seems to be coming along, but hitting was disappointing in the Sally League given all the pre-draft hype his bat received, and at age 20 he was old for a 2011 high school draft. He's a solid prospect certainly but I am going to wait and see beyond that. Catchers have weird development curves, though, and New Mexico background also factors in. He still scouts better than he performs; .270/.348/.408, 36% of runners caught in High-A, not bad but not the "future star" stuff you hear about. Has hit nine homers in 170 pro games. Controls the strike zone well, which helps his chances.

9) Brandon Workman, RHP, Grade B-: 3.21 ERA with 108/30 K/BB in 101 innings between Double-A and Triple-A; has a 13/3 K/BB in his first 14 major league innings. Looks like a solid inning-eater type to me; doesn't receive enough attention outside of Red Sox circles.

10) Deven Marrero, SS, Grade B-: Another trade bait possibility. Hitting .263/.342/.344 in High-A, which isn't great, but he's got outstanding skills on the bases (18-for-18 this year, 42-for-48 in his pro career) and is a very good defensive shortstop. It is possible his hitting can improve further.

11) Pat Light, RHP, Grade B-: 8.06 ERA with 24/13 K/BB in 26 innings for Low-A Greenville; was put on the disabled list in May with a hamstring injury.

12) Jose Iglesias, SS, Grade C+: His glove is excellent but his bat is so bad that it may be tough to keep him in the lineup anyway. If they are lucky he can be the Cuban Adam Everett and hold a job with positive WAR even with poor hitting. If they aren't lucky, keep in mind that Rey Ordonez had a great glove but couldn't hold the job anyway. This is baseball. Weird shit happens sometimes. He hit .202/.262/.319 in 33 games for Pawtucket, which is horrendous, then comes up to the majors and hits .343/.391/.428 in 201 at-bats. Yeah, driven by an unsustainable BABIP. I'll be very surprised if he's hitting anything close to this by the time he gets to 600 plate appearances.

13) Brandon Jacobs, OF, Grade C+: Traded to the Chicago White Sox for Matt Thornton; hitting a combined .252/.337/.441 this year with 11 homers between 81 games in High-A and 10 in Double-A. Toolsy outfielder who hasn't lived up to expectations with the bat yet.

14) Drake Britton, LHP, Grade C+: Recently promoted to majors; 3.77 ERA in 103 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 85/37 K/BB, 104 hits. Track record is erratic but he has good stuff and could be a useful power bullpen arm, or possibly a back-end starter.

15) Brian Johnson, LHP, Grade C+: 3.64 ERA with 44/19 K/BB in 42 innings for Greenville in the Low-A Sally League; spent much of the spring on the disabled list but was just reactivated. Strike-throwing fourth starter type when healthy.

16) Keury De La Cruz, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .284/.324/.422 with six homers, 12 steals, 24 walks, 78 strikeouts in 384 at-bats for Salem. Plate discipline will be an issue at higher levels.

17) Ty Buttrey, RHP, Grade C+
: Limited pitch counts at short-season Lowell in the New York-Penn League result in 2.22 ERA, 14/10 K/BB in 28 innings over six starts. Being handled conservatively.

18) Jose Vinicio, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .218/.256/.284 with 18 steals, 12 walks, 78 strikeouts in 296 at-bats for Greenville. Combination of lack of patience, high strikeout rate, and no power makes him ineffective as an offensive player at this stage. Has the tools to be a good defender but is still raw in that area too.

19) Brock Holt, 2B, Grade C+:
.259/.331/.292 in 216 at-bats in Triple-A; .290/.333/.290 in 31 at-bats in the majors. Undone by lack of power at this point. I thought he could be a useful scrappy utility guy with a decent bat, but it isn't happening this year.

20) Cody Kukuk, LHP, Grade C+:
Big 6-4, 200 pound lefty with good stuff, 3.82 ERA with a 76/61 K/BB in 73 innings for Greenville, 43 hits. K/IP and H/IP are very impressive and reflect his potential, but his walk rate is way too high. Upside remains intriguing.

OTHER GRADE C+: Sean Coyle, 2B; Austin Maddox, RHP; Travis Shaw, 1B.

OTHERS: Mike Augliera, RHP; Jamie Callahan, RHP; Chris Carpenter, RHP; Sergio Gomez, RHP; Alex Hassan, OF; Chris Hernandez, LHP; Aaron Kurcz, RHP; Juan Carlos Linares, OF; Tzu-Wei Lin, SS; Manuel Margot, OF; Simon Mercedes, RHP; Francellis Montas, RHP; Miguel Pena, LHP; Noe Ramirez, RHP; Anthony Ranaudo, RHP; Christian Vazquez, C; Alex Wilson, RHP; Steven Wright, RHP.

The big league team is in first place, and there are some young players who are ready to help now or within the next year, even if Jose Iglesias turns back into a pumpkin. Bogaerts and Bradley (at least in Triple-A) have lived up to their press clippings, Workman looks ready now, and there is more behind them, with Garin Cecchini standing out in particular.

Anthony Ranaudo has finally shown what he can do when healthy and his stock has moved back up. Alex Wilson has helped in the bullpen. Mookie Betts is having a breakout season in A-ball. Results from Kukuk and Francellis Montas in Low-A have been spotty, but both have plenty of stuff. The lower levels have a lot of high-ceiling guys that we need to see more from, with the 2013 draft group (Trey Ball, Jon Denney, Teddy Stankiewicz) looking like a great haul, on paper anyway.

There was a lot of C+ in this system pre-season and there still is, though the names beyond the top group will look different when I revise this list after the season is over.