Thanks in large part to an extremely strong draft in 2011, the Sox have a strong base of prospects that could be making their way to the majors over the next couple of seasons.
My Top 10
1. Xander Bogaerts SS/3B
2. Matt Barnes SP
3. Jackie Bradley Jr. OF
4. Allen Webster SP
5. Henry Owens SP
6. Blake Swihart C
7. Garin Cecchini 3B
8. Bryce Brentz OF
9. Jose Iglesias SS
10. Devin Marrero SS
Xander Bogaerts SS/3B
Age by 4/1/2013: 20
Notes: Bogaerts has made enough progress defensively that scouts are believing that there is a chance he can play adequate defense at shortstop at the big league level. No matter if he ends up as a big league shortstop or thirdbaseman, he should provide plenty of offensive value.
With my own eyes (video): He stands tall in his stance, shifts his weight back slightly, but does come forward to a balanced position as he brings the bat through the zone. Stays tall throughout swing.
Upside: Offensive minded shortstop capable of hitting .300 with above average on base skills and 20-plus home run power.
Downside: He ends up at third, but still hits enough to have above average big league value.
Fantasy potential: Higher is he remains at short, but he'll have plenty of value even at third.
Matt Barnes SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 22
Notes: Excellent 92-95 mph fastball with both tail and sink. He improved his changeup last season, but still needs to work on his offspeed stuff. Command is already solid with room for improvement.
With my own eyes (video): Lanky frame with a fluid, simple motion. As stated above, his fastball has advanced movement.
Upside: #2 starter that logs innings and doesn't hurt his team by allowing too many base on balls.
Downside: He has to rely too heavily on his fastball and can't fool big league hitters. #4-5 starter.
Fantasy potential: Middle-of-the-road starter that doesn't get a ton of strikeouts, but doesn't hurt your WHIP.
Jackie Bradley Jr. SP
Age by 4/1 2013: 22
Notes: I always felt like Bradley was underrated on draft day and was a steal for the Sox as the 40th overall pick. Before suffering an injury that hindered his senior year stats, he had shown the defense, on base skills and moderate power potential of a top 20 pick.
With my own eyes (live): excellent balance and quick hands allow the ball to jump off of his bat. Plenty of gap power, but potential for a 20-home runs season here or there. He moves extremely well in the field and would provide plus defensive value in the big leagues right now.
Upside: First division centerfielder that has above average OBPs and double digit home run and stolen base numbers.
Downside: Still a plus defender, but more of a bottom of the order bat.
Fantasy potential: Higher in OBP leagues, but should be on a mixed league roster with potential to hit .280-.290 with some power and speed.
MLB Regular Potential
Allen Webster SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 23
Notes: Like Barnes, Webster has a plus fastball and shows potential to improve his breaking stuff. Unlike Barnes, Webster struggles with control.
With my own eyes (live): Consistent mid-90s fastball that has plenty of sink and generates ground balls. Curve has a sharp break and he can throw the pitch with velocity. His mechanics are clean and repeatable, giving him a better than average chance to improve his control problems.
Upside: Maybe a #2 starter if everything comes together, but I see more of a #3 starter.
Downside: His control continues to be a hindrance, making him a back-end guy or bullpen arm.
Fantasy potential: There's a small chance that he is more than a late-round pick, but more likely he'll be a starter that works his way onto rosters via the waiver wire.
Henry Owens SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 20
Notes: Another product of Boston's excellent 2011 draft class, Owens is an extremely tall and projectable lefty that could end up with three plus pitches (fastball, curve and change)
With my own eyes (video): Owens doesn't need to give full effort to throw hard and could add some velocity as he grows. He does throw across his body a bit, which is a concern considering he has already shown control issues.
Upside: #2 starter, but he's very far away from getting there.
Downside: Control issues continue to hold back his potential. There is certainly a scenario in which he becomes a LOOGY, but that would be absolute worst-case.
Fantasy potential: If you're a keeper league owner that likes to take a risk on projetable lefties, go for it.
Blake Swihart C
Age by 4/1/2013: 21
Notes: Swihart is still very raw at this point in terms of his plate discipline and defensive ability. In a perfect world he becomes a switch hitting catcher with above average power for the position, but the distance between here and there is vast.
With my own eyes (video): While Swihart's pitch recognition leaves a lot to be desired, I've always been a fan of his swing. he has quick hands and get's the bat through the zone with a little loft and plenty of extension.
Upside: .280/.330 with 15-plus home runs and adequate defense
Downside: He remains too much of a hacker and doesn't improve enough on defense, leaving him as a borderline big leaguer.
Fantasy potential: He has upside to be a top 10 catcher, but there is plenty of risk in making that potential an assumption.
Garin Cecchini 3B
Age by 4/1/2013: 21
Notes: The numbers that he has put up over the past two years are impressive, but there is some risk that certain skills won't translate at the upper levels. Robust stolen base numbers at the single-A levels almost never translate once in double-A and Triple-A, so don't expect him to to continue to put up such large numbers in that category. Some prospect gurus are concerned by the lack of power numbers, but Cecchini did hit 38 doubles last season, so there is room for development in that department. He has already shown an advanced eye at the plate.
With my own eyes (video): Very quiet mechanics and quick swing. Could stand to utilize his lower body more and not rely so much on his hands and quick wrists. This is where he could find a little more power. Shows good instincts and athleticism at third.
Upside: .300 with well above average on-base skills. Good defense at third and, if the power numbers improve, 15-20 home runs.
Downside: He still gets on base at a good clip, but his average doesn't shine and he never develops much power.
Fantasy potential: Will be mixed league material for certain if everything comes together.
Role Player Potential
Bryce Brentz OF
Age by 4/1/2013: 24
Notes: Brentz's raw power keeps him high on the prospect totem-pole, but fairly high strikeout rates are a concern. He should reach the big leagues and contribute in some capacity…as long as he doesn't shoot himself in the foot.
With my own eyes (video): Brentz depends a lot on getting all of his momentum going forward and getting maximum extension.
Upside: He probably won't hit for AVG, but in an everyday role he could produce an average or slightly above average OBP with 25-plus home runs.
Downside: Strikeouts stockpile at the big league level, and he's more of a role player.
Fantasy potential: Power…and that's mostly it.
Jose Iglesias SP/RP
Age by 4/1/2013: 23
Notes: Super glove, very questionably bat. Can he hit enough to be much more than a one-WAR big leaguer.
With my own eyes (live): The defensive ability is clearly special. at the plate, I feel like his hands lag behind the rest of his body during his swing. He begins to clear his hips and pivot before he brings his hands forward.
Upside: He's a spectacular defender that hit's enough to not kill the offense hitting out of the nine-hole.
Downside: He's basically all defense and provides zero value with his bat, which cuts his everyday playing time chances down a bit.
Fantasy potential: Does your league count defensive stats?
Devin Marrero SS
Age by 4/1/2013: 22
Notes: Marrero is a great athlete with plus instincts for the game. There are no concerns of him becoming a good defensive big league shortstop and many believe that he will develop a bit more gap power over the next few years. He already has a decent eye at the plate.
With my own eyes (video): Good rotation and strong hands allow him to get the bat through the zone well. His hands remain just a bit away from his body, which might cause struggles against good inside fastballs on his way up the chain. Though he stole 24 bases in 64 Low-A games last year, he's not a plus runner.
Upside: A good defensive shortstop that gets on base at a solid clip,
Downside: His hit-tool doesn't quite translate at the higher levels and he becomes a role player.
Fantasy potential: Probably better in OBP leagues, but he could put up some .300 seasons with a handful of homers and steals.
About the author: Charlie Saponara is a former college baseball player who has coached at the high school and collegiate levels. He currently works for the Visalia Rawhide, high-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. You can find examples of his scouting reports from Project Prospect here (Mike Trout), here (Tyler Skaggs), and here (Billy Hamilton).
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