In case you missed it earlier today, Jonathan Mayo of released his top 100 prospect list.  Whether you’re a prospect geek or not, you should check out the list–even if it’s only to see who the potential stars of tomorrow will be.  Here’s a breakdown of where the Red Sox prospects fell on his list.

Will Middlebrooks (#56) – Overall, Mayo gives Middlebrooks a positive, fair review.  He tells us what we already know (good power, above average defensively, impatient at the plate), but doesn’t provide us with any new insight.  If Middlebrooks can become a little more disciplined at the plate and continue to develop his raw power, there’s a good chance he’ll eventually be an All-Star.  By the same token, he could become Dallas MacPherson with a good glove if his development stalls.  He’s going to start the season in AAA Pawtucket, and hopefully won’t arrive in Boston until it’s time for September call-ups.  (I say “hopefully” because if he’s being called up, it means Kevin Youkilis is injured.)  Another full season hitting against tougher near-MLB quality pitching should go a long way towards readying him for MLB action in 2013.

Bryce Brentz (#64) – After experiencing a brutal 2010 campaign (.198/.259/340) with the Lowell Spinners to start his professional baseball career, Brentz bounced back in a big way in 2011; hitting 30 home runs and 25 doubles between Greenville and Salem.  With his power readily apparent, Brentz also exhibits decent range and a very strong arm in right field.  The biggest mark against him is his below average plate discipline (105/40 K/BB last season).  Luckily, he’s starting the season in AA Portland, so he’ll be given ample opportunity to work on it in 2012.  Like Callis, Mayo thinks Brentz could be ready to play at Fenway “in the not-too-distant future.”  If he can put together another strong season, while improving his plate discipline; he could leap past Ryan Kalish on the outfield depth chart.  It’s not unreasonable (but probably a little optimistic) to think he could be the Red Sox’s 2013 starting right fielder.

Xander Bogaerts (#76) – At 18, Bogaerts put together the kind of season most scouts and front offices dream about.  For low-A Greenville, he hit .260/.324/.509 with 16 home runs and 14 doubles in 296 plate appearances.  Boegarts has the potential to be a middle of the order bat, and has a “very high offensive ceiling.”  He’s long, lean, and athletic, and has a ton of raw power.  Like a lot of Red Sox prospects, he needs to work on his plate discipline.  At 19, he has quite a bit of time to develop that skill.  Not surprisingly, Mayo thinks Bogaerts will outgrow shortstop, and will eventually need to be move to another position like third base.  Considering his age and ceiling, he’s one of the few players in the Red Sox system that could develop into a megaprospect if everything breaks just right. 

Ryan Lavarnway (#93) – Number 93?  Really?  Yes, really–and it’s likely for the same reason Baseball America ranked him number nine amongst Red Sox prospects this year.  No one has ever questioned Lavarnway’s ability to mash.  He has excellent power, good plate discipline, works counts, and draws walks.  His defense behind the plate is another story entirely.  As Mayo mentions, Lavarnway has worked hard to develop behind the plate, and “looks like an every day big league catcher in the making.”  Although he’s become “acceptable defensively” that may not be enough to sway a Red Sox front office that covets defense at that position.  With Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach on the roster, Lavarnway will likely (barring injury) be the odd man out come Opening Day.  His ability to develop defensively in AAA this year will go a long way toward determining his future in Boston.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone the Red Sox don’t have any megaprospects on Mayo’s list.*  As Baseball America’s Jim Callis expressed in my interview with him a couple of months ago, the Red Sox have “enviable depth,” and have “a lot of young players with high ceilings at lower levels.”  Recent draftees like Blake Swihart, Matt Barnes, and/or Garrin Cecchini are raw but projectable prospects that could become upper-echelon prospects if they develop in the manner everyone hopes/expects them to develop.  Bogaerts, whom Callis called “the Red Sox’s best Latin American prospect since Hanley Ramirez,” is another player that could really breakout in 2012.  While prospects are about as volatile as any “stock” in baseball, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about the Red Sox farm system–even if we don’t have any “can’t miss” guys just yet.
* It should be noted that Anthony Rizzo and Casey Kelly placed 37th and 50th respectively on Mayo’s list.
Other prospect references: