Baseball America is the industry standard when it comes to ranking prospects. Here is their top 10 for the Red Sox:
1. 3B Will Middlebrooks
2. SS Xander Bogaerts
3. C Blake Swihart
4. RHP Anthony Ranaudo
5. OF Bryce Brentz
6. OF Brandon Jacobs
7. 3B Garin Cecchini
8. RHP Matt Barnes
9. C Ryan Lavarnway
10. OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
A few comments on their ranking:
• Ryan Kalish is not eligible based on his having played so much in 2010.
• Of these 10 players, only Middlebrooks and Lavarnway played at Double A or above last season. The Red Sox don’t completely lack major league-ready prospects, but it’s close. This is a function of a change in their draft strategy several years ago to focus on high school players.
• Swihart, Barnes, and Bradley were 2011 draft picks.
• BA ranks on potential, not production. Even so, Lavarnway seems a little low given his prowess at the plate last season and in his career. He’s no worse than fourth or fifth for me.
Or you can look at it like this, Jesus Montero is No. 1 for the Yankees and there are plenty of scouts who like Lavarnway nearly as much.
• Surprising not to see Jose Iglesias on the list. He hasn’t hit in two years but in my mind he’s still a better prospect than Cecchini, a solid hitter whose defense is shaky. Iglesias should be, at worst, a No. 9 hitter with an excellent glove. Not sure you can rank Cecchini ahead of him yet.
• My other quibble is RHP Alex Wilson. But if forced to choose, I’d take Barnes. So it’s not that much of a quibble.
• This list included LHP Drake Britton (3), LHP Felix Doubront (5), RHP Stolmy Pimentel (6), and 2B Oscar Tejada (10) last season. For Doubront, 2012 is a crossroads season. He needs to start proving something.