This years rankings for the Red Sox 2012 top prospects are rolling in. There has been some discrepancies among the top 5 and I was curious to look over them and how they can help the team. I am looking at minorleagueball.com, baseballamerica.com (care of Peter Abraham) and SoxPropects.com. (Sox Prospects was last changed on September 9th)
Each list seems to agree that Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts belong in the top five, but even these two rank differently in each list. Bogaerts was ranked first overall by John Sickels and given a B+ grade. The good news is he was very close to a A- and that might even happen when his book goes to press. This was a ringing endorsement, but Baseball America moves him to second behind Middlebrooks. He then falls to number four* according to Sox Prospects.
*Something to keep in mind is Minor League Ball and Baseball America did not rank Ryan Kalish, but Sox Prospects still has him at number two. This would make Bogaerts rank third if he was removed.
Bogaerts is a potential power hitting short stop with the potential to be shifted to third base. He needs plenty of seasoning with only 296 PA in A ball, but with 16 home runs in that time the power is evident already.
While Sickels thinks very highly of Bogaerts it looks like the others would prefer Middlebrooks value. He sits at third according to Minor League Ball, but first in the other two lists. He has power and looks like a prototypical third baseman. The one concern has to be his walk rate and contact level. At Double-A he walked less than six percent of the time and struck out 24 percent. I would like to see him get a full season of time at Triple-A, but would like to see some plate discipline develop.
This is where the lists get tricky. If you ignore Kalish on Sox Prospects you could say Ryan Lavarnway appears at number four on the Minor League Ball list and number five on the Sox Prospects lists. For a team desperately needing catching talent this is a good development and his B grade from John Sickels is a good sign. His glove is continuing to get better scouting comments, but still sounds rough around the edges. The power and overall hitting is just too good to keep far from Boston this season.
One more repeat is Anthony Ranaudo who ranks third according to Baseball America and fourth at Sox Prospects. I have some concern with Ranaudo and so does Sickels who dropped him to tenth this season with a B- grade. I think based on what he did last season and what was written it seems like being cautious with him in the top five is warranted. He threw 81 innings in high A ball, but with an ERA of 4.33 and a FIP of 3.95 he has something to prove to be in the top five.
Now we enter the last five players to only be listed in the top five by one of the lists. The one who stands out is Matt Barnes who came in at number two according to Minor League Ball. His grade of B+ is also very solid as well. We haven’t seen him face anything yet since college, but he’s projected as a “rotation anchor” and has very good stuff. While he isn’t forgotten by the other lists they just seem a bit more cautious.
After trading Casey Kelly last year and watching their pitching prospects struggle the Red Sox needed to add some solid talent to the starting pitching prospects. Barnes fits that mold and unlike Kelly will hopefully be a long term member of the Red Sox orginization.
The last player listed on any list above number five is Blake Swihart according to Baseball America he sits at number three. As a catcher he has joined a team suddenly full of catching talent and that seems to have made him variable by list. He is a high school draft choice making him a long term prospect and has an interesting skill set being a switch hitter, but interesting Baseball America found him to be better than Lavarnway, which no other list did.
The fifth spot is different on each list with Garin Cecchini, Bryce Brentz and Jose Iglesias filling those spots. I found Iglesias the most questionable on this list as his bat is just so disappointing he could quickly get forgotten by Red Sox fans if that continues this year. Brentz is listed as a high strikeout/ high power right fielder. Could be an interesting player, but plate discipline could be a concern.
The last one is Cecchini who is someone that could be very exciting as we see him develop. As a third baseman his plate discipline was spectacular at low A ball and is considered someone superior to Middlebrooks in that regard. If he continues to develop and his power grows he would be a possible B+ prospect according to Sickels. With Kevin Youkilis option coming up after 2012 the Red Sox have a few young options and could have a crowd at third base very soon.
While the Red Sox have started to restock the minor leagues they have a lot of young talent which has led to a large variability in scouting opinions of their talent. I don’t think this is a bad thing — as long as they don’t disappoint here in 2012.
Which prospect do you expect the most from this season in their progression?