While the major league club rebounded spectacularly in 2013, the Red Sox minor league system also had a banner year. Strong seasons from the top prospects, some breakout performances from off the radar players, and the highest Sox draft pick since 1993 were the highlights of a stellar 2013 minor league campaign.

Going into 2014, the Red Sox have developed stud prospects at the three most difficult positions to acquire talent: shortstop, center field and catcher. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. should start this season in Boston, while Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez wait in the wings at catcher.

The future at shorstop. Photo by Kelly O'Connor

The future at shorstop. Photo by Kelly O’Connor

Bogaerts is the gem of the system, a prospect with a ceiling that few can match. Since he ended the season starting for the major league club in the World Series, it’s easy to forget that he began 2013 in Double A.  He comes into 2014 a consensus top five prospect in the game, something no Sox prospect has achieved since Clay Buchholz was fourth on Baseball America’s list in 2008.

Bogaerts is also the prospect most likely to show up on my Instagram feed for man crush Monday.  #mcm (or is it #tmi ?)

After solid seasons in 2012, Henry Owens and Garin Cecchini were even more impressive in 2013. Both ended the season in Double A, and as top 5 players in the system. Owens still needs to refine his command and control, and hopes to add some fastball velocity as he matures. Cecchini’s ultimate role will depend on whether he can add more power to go along with his excellent on base skills.

Anthony Ranaudo and Mookie Betts were the out of nowhere success stories in 2013. Ranaudo had the draft pedigree of being a high pick, but after a disastrous 2012 few thought he was likely to turn in a topflight season. He proved the doubters wrong in 2013, dominating at Double A Portland right out of the gate, and finishing the year in Triple A on the cusp of the majors.

Betts was truly a surprise, as he showed little offensive promise in his professional debut at Lowell in 2012. After a slow start in Greenville in April, he tore through the rest of season, earning promotion to High A Salem and helping them win the league championship. He finished the year with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, holding his own against some advanced competition. Betts could help Red Sox fans erase the bad memories associated with the name Mookie.

The majority of the top ten prospects are at the Double A level or above, but the system still has strong pitching depth in the lower minors. Pawtucket has a full rotation of pitching prospects waiting for a shot in the majors, but the teams in the lower minors are also stacked with arms. The last two Red Sox amateur drafts have been pitching-heavy, with first round pick Trey Ball only one of the promising young arms to enter the system.

That same depth doesn’t exist for position prospects, but there were several promising debuts for players on the short season teams in 2013. The one to watch in 2014 is Manuel Margot, a 5 tool talent who could start 2014 in Low A Greenville.

The Red Sox success in the majors was mirrored by the minor league system in 2013. This success should see the system ranked among the top five teams in baseball when organizational rankings come out. The system looks ready to contribute a ton of talent to the major league team in the near future.

Categories: 2013 Boston Red Sox 2013 MLB Draft Anthony Ranaudo Blake Swihart Clay Buchholz Garin Cecchini Henry Owens Jackie Bradley Mookie Betts Trey Ball Xander Bogaerts

I've been a Red Sox fan since before birth, as my mom was watching the '75 World Series while pregnant with me. 1986 was a major life trauma, but I have always been a fan who believed that "next year" was the year. That faith was finally rewarded in 2004, and again in 2007, coincidentally the last 2 years that I have seen games in Fenway Park. I now follow the Sox from Texas, and love that I will see them in person in Houston this season. Follow Josh on Twitter here

8 Responses to “Red Sox 2013 Minor League System Review” Subscribe

  1. Gerry January 24, 2014 at 5:11 PM #

    To your point, the MLB.com top 100 Prospect list just came out, with the Sox having NINE of the 100 ranked. Bogaerts at #2, Owens @30, Bradley @33, Webster @46 in the top 50, then Cecchini, Swihart, Betts, Barnes, and Trey Ball @96.
    Not counted were delaRosa, Workman, Britton nd Margot, Devers and others have not yet made their mark
    What an amazing system.
    Makes the value of having 3 high picks this year even more valuable, and the ability to trade from genuine surplus for lower prospects to maintain systemic depth.

  2. Josh Cookson January 24, 2014 at 5:59 PM #

    @Gerry The depth for this season is pretty incredible. Webster, Barnes, Ranaudo, De La Rosa at Triple A plus the position guys like Lavarnway, Hassan, Brentz, Holt.

  3. DaveP1960 January 25, 2014 at 12:32 AM #

    Hi Josh,

    As your article shows…Great time to be a Sox fan!!  Payroll flexibility in 2015 with nearly 100 MILLION coming off the books…and the 2nd ranked Farm system in all of baseball…should keep us smiling for years to come!  However, I hate to bring up old news…I realize the Sox have great depth at almost all positions (especially pitching)…but, what about SS?  Even if Xander is what we all believe…we must remember that Pedi only played 139 games in his Rookie Of the Year season!  Look at http://www.soxprospects.com!  Vinicio and Marrero are at least a couple of years away…do we risk playing Herrera or Holt if Xander struggles or heaven forbid gets hurt? Do you think there is still a chance Ben will pull a rabbit (Drew) out of his hat?…or is that extra draft pick going to over rule the luxury of depth that won us a Championship last year?  Thanks, DP.

  4. Josh Cookson January 25, 2014 at 4:09 PM #

    DaveP1960  I wrote back in December that I’m all for a move to bring Drew back (http://firebrandal.com/2013/12/14/case-stephen-drew/). Herrera and Holt are more temporary replacements than starters, and as you mentioned Marrero probably needs more time. I’ve also read in a few places that they may try Mookie Betts at shorstop, but again that doesn’t help for this season. Re-signing Drew gives them depth at both SS and 3B, and I think that’s valuable to have.

  5. Gerry January 26, 2014 at 4:39 AM #

    It’s tough to put timelines on prospects, much less use a crystal ball to determine their impact at Fenway. But, this farm system seems poised to deliver major league players not just in 2014 (Xander, JBJ, Hassan, Workman, Webster, Britton) but also in 2015 with Ranaudo, Owens, Vasquez, Brentz, Betts, and so on right through Swihart, Johnson, Light, Ball, Margot, Devers. This lineup, rotation and bullpen, even with the flexibility of $80-100M coming off the books for 2015-16, should be largely home grown, xcellent, stacked and deep for a decade.

  6. Gerry January 26, 2014 at 5:07 AM #

    I am still conflicted over Dirt Drew. Yes he would add depth which may be needed. But only if he is on another one year deal. On a 2-3 year deal he likely blocks Xander, our best prospect in ages, from his natural position permanantly. He also ruins any real chance of a finally healthy WMB from reclaiming the status he owned pre-injuries as #1 in 2012, and deprives the Sox of a 30HR bat at a time when Papi, Gomes and Nap near the end of their time in Boston. Cecchini will neither hit 30HR nor defend as well as WMB. Regardless, a 2-3 year contract with Drew also blocks Cecchini, and Marrero, maybe Betts. Not optimal. On a one year deal, which also deprives the mfy of a good SS, while serving as depth and mentor tor for JBJ and WMB, heck yes. He is worth a QO redux. Otherwise, short stints by Brandon Snyder at 3B, and Jon Herrera at SS, plus another high pick and slot money seem a better option.

  7. DaveP1960 January 26, 2014 at 9:47 PM #

    @Gerry Two year contract…and trade him at the July 31 trade deadline if Will and Xander are playing well…someone will be in need of a shortstop by mid year…

  8. RobertJCostaJr January 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM #

    DaveP1960 Agree. The thing that’s holding up Drew right now is the compensatory 1st round pick, IMO. Take that off the table (as it would be at the trade deadline), and Boston will find its share of suitors.
    Personally, I like Drew. Obviously his glove was terrific all throughout the regular and postseasons and I believe his bat is significantly better than what we saw last season. His entire season was messed up from the start; from the concussion that caused him to miss almost all of spring training, going forward. He didn’t begin getting acclimated at the plate until near mid-season.