Somewhere along the line a few years back, I decided that just writing about Fantasy baseball and just writing about the minor leagues wasn’t niche enough: I needed to write about both at the same time.
It was that lucrative and wildly successful decision that led me to write for RotoExperts, where I serve as their in-house Fantasy baseball prospect expert. I recently posted by Top 150 Fantasy prospects list on the site, as well as my write-ups of the Top 10 Fantasy prospects for every team.
Why, for reasons other than shameless self-promotion, is this relevant to Fire Brand, you ask? Because the Red Sox have a good farm system, and so I’d like to give a Red Sox-based community the chance to evaluate my evaluating.
Please keep in mind that these are Fantasy baseball rankings, meaning that defense is irrelevant other than positional eligibility and upside matters even more than it does in standard prospect rankings. That being said, my Red Sox list would look fairly similar were it based on total MLB contribution, with one noticeable exception in Jose Iglesias failing to make the cut here.
First, a gander at my Top 10 Fantasy prospects list for your Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox
|1. Xander Bogaerts, SS||With most now believing that Bogaerts can at least begin his MLB career at SS, he becomes one of the best Fantasy prospects in the game. His power is very real, and the only area of his game that needs improvement is his approach.||HR, RBI, AVG, OBP, R||2014|
|2. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF||Bradley is a much better MLB prospect than a Fantasy one but he’ll get on base, score plenty of runs and steal 15 bases a year as well. He’s not a future star but he’ll do enough to be a good No. 3/4 OF in OBP leagues. Just don’t expect much power.||OBP, AVG, R, SB||2013|
|3. Matt Barnes, RHSP||Considered by many to be a steal when he fell to No. 19 in the 2011 draft, Barnes has done nothing to change that sentiment so far, dominating A-ball in his first professional stint. He’s not a future ace, but there’s legit No. 3 Fantasy SP upside here.||K, W, ERA, WHIP||2014|
|4. Allen Webster, RHSP||Webster is becoming somewhat overlooked in a system with good depth up top, but his pure stuff is arguably as good as Barnes’ and he’s even closer to the majors. I think he’ll hold up as a solid No. 3 SP, but he could be a dominant RP otherwise.||K, W, ERA, WHIP, SV||2013|
|5. Blake Swihart, C||I often caution against expecting catching prospects to move quickly, and Swihart is a great example of why. His upside as a switch-hitter with 15-homer pop remains intact, but his 2012 campaign showed that he’s still quite a ways away from MLB.||AVG, OBP, HR, RBI||2016|
|6. Henry Owens, LHSP||Those projecting Owens to be an ace need to take off the rose-colored glasses, but being tall and left-handed can mask a lot of other deficiencies in a pitching prospect. Owens needs to improve his command and off-speed stuff but has No. 3 upside.||K, W, ERA||2016|
|7. Garin Cecchini, 3B||The first thing you’ll notice about Cecchini’s 2012 season is his 51 steals, but he’s an average runner who relies on instincts, not speed. The rest of his game is coming along, and his plus hit/power combo is good, though he may not be a 3B for long.||AVG, OBP, HR, R, RBI||2015|
|8. Bryce Brentz, OF||Brentz definitely has a future in the majors, but I’m not sure it’s as an everyday player. He possesses plus power and plus raw arm strength, but his approach might hold back the former from playing to its potential. He’s nearly ready, though.||HR, RBI, AVG||2013|
|9. Deven Marrero, SS||Marrero saw his draft stock take a big hit after a mediocre 2012 season at ASU, but the Red Sox still believe he can hit and no one doubts his ability to stick at SS. The upside here is only as a Fantasy MI, but with double-digit HR/SB potential.||SB, R, HR, AVG||2015|
|10. Brian Johnson, LHSP||A prototypical polished college lefty, there’s not much mystery with Johnson, who profiles as a quick-to-the-majors No. 4 MLB starter in the Joe Saunders mold. It’s not a sexy profile, but it’s one that’s likely to see Johnson stick around for a while.||ERA, W, K, WHIP||2015|
|Also Considered: Brandon Jacobs (OF), Brandon Workman (RHSP), Drake Britton (LHRP)|
The first seven players on this list made my Top 150 Fantasy prospects list, and I gave a little added detail on each in that piece. If you want a little help in making picks as good as mine, you can always use a baseball lineup optimizer like this. Here are their rankings, as well as a bit of commentary.
3) Xander Bogaerts (SS, BOS)
Players who hit in the middle of the order and play in the middle of the diamond are the rarest commodities in the game, and Bogaerts is poised to become one.
52) Jackie Bradley Jr., (OF, BOS)
Bradley’s floor is huge in OBP leagues, but don’t sleep on his potential to contribute in runs, steals, and average in standard formats as well.
59) Matt Barnes (RHSP, BOS)
Barnes has a higher upside than a few of the pitchers listed above him, but I’ve seen enough concerns around how he tired at the end of 2012 to dock him here.
68) Allen Webster (RHSP, BOS)
Webster is another pitcher who could outperform his ranking with ease, but I’m not entirely sold he avoids a move to the bullpen, where he’d be dominant.
119) Blake Swihart (C, BOS)
Swihart is a good reminder that patience is a virtue when it comes to C prospects, and while his 2012 stats look pedestrian the scouting reports remain strong.
130) Henry Owens (LHSP, BOS)
It’s time to readjust your expectations if you think Ownes is a future ace, but being a tall lefty can mask a lot of other deficiencies and Owens still has some projection left.
132) Garin Cecchini (3B, BOS)
Cecchini’s plus hit tool, developing power and baserunning savvy would have him higher on this ranking but he’s almost a lock to move off 3B if he stays in this org.
Bogaertz ranked as a Tier 1 prospect (joining Oscar Taveras, Jurickson Profar, Dylan Bundy and Wil Myers) while Bradley, Barnes and Webster all sit in my Tier 5. Swihart, Owens and Cecchini all finished in my penultimate tier, Tier 8.
Brentz made my Honorable Mentions list, as he finished at 153 on my rough cut and was one of the final omissions. I’ve gone on record several times as saying I’m not a huge Brentz believer, although I do think he’ll provide some major league value. As I
mentioned above this is pretty similar to how I’d rank these players on a standard list, but it’s not an exact replica. I went back and forth between Owens and Cecchini several times when making this list, and that’s reflected by their one-player separation.
On a standard list I’d have Bradley at least a dozen slots higher thanks to his profile as a defender, but I’d likely have Swihart lower and I’m not sure Cecchini would make the list at all.
After running through this exercise, I believe the way the farm systems rank is pretty cut and dry with my preference running as Tampa, Boston, New York, Baltimore and Toronto, in that order.
So what do you think? Do these rankings make sense to you from a Fantasy perspective? Is there anyone I’m overrating or a player you feel I’m overlooking? Let me know in the comments below and I can guarantee a response.