EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 4, 2013

Young, talented help is on the way

Ranking the top 10 players in Red Sox farm system

By Christopher Smith

---- — Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects

When Red Sox GM Ben Cherington discussed building the next great Red Sox team last season, he stressed the importance he and his staff would place on drafting and developing and building the team from within.

Several Boston prospects had successful seasons.

Eagle-Tribune baseball writer Christopher Smith ranks the top 10 prospects in the Red Sox organization:

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B

Stats: .297 batting average, .388 on-base percentage, 15 homers, 23 doubles, 6 triples in 116 games between Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket this year.

Skinny: Some might no longer consider this 21-year-old a prospect since he started at third base for the Boston Red Sox throughout the World Series. He will be Boston's shortstop or third baseman next year. He's incredibly exciting to watch.

2. Garin Cecchini, 3B

Stats: .322 batting average, .443 on-base percentage, .471 slugging percentage, .915 OPS, 33 doubles, 47 extra-base hits in 129 games between Single A Salem and Double A Portland.

Skinny: The 22-year-old is an on-base machine who will take his walk and steal bases. He bats left-handed and could start next year at Triple-A Pawtucket.

3. Henry Owens, LHP

Stats: 11-6 record, 2.67 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 26 starts between High-A Salem and Double A-Portland.

Skinny: He's a lanky 21-year-old left-hander with a nasty changeup that he has used to strike out 11.4 batters per nine innings in his 236.2 minor league innings.

4. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Stats: .275 batting average, .374 on-base percentage, 10 homers, 26 doubles, 3 triples in 80 games for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Skinny: The 23-year-old center fielder gets great jumps and takes great routes to fly balls. He will be in Boston's 2014 Opening Day lineup if Jacoby Ellsbury leaves via free agency.

5. Matt Barnes, RHP

Stats: 6-10 record, 4.13 ERA combined between 24 starts at Double A Portland and one start at Triple A Pawtucket.

Skinny: This 23-year-old righthander has a ton of potential but was inconsistent throughout this summer. He throws a fastball, changeup and curveball and has worked a lot on developing the changeup since being drafted. He could make his big league debut at some point in 2014.

6. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP

Stats: 11-5 record, 2.96 ERA combined between 25 games (24 starts) between Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket.

Skinny: The 24-year-old had a huge bounce-back season after posting a 6.69 ERA in nine starts for Portland in 2012. Has a fastball in the high 90s. He also has a spike curveball with 12-to-6 action and a changeup. He could make his big league debut at some point in 2014.

7. Blake Swihart, C

Stats: Just 10 errors in 841 chances (.988 fielding percentage) in 101 games with High A Salem. .298 batting average, 366 on-base percentage, 29 doubles, seven triples, two homers in 103 games.

Skinny: The 21-year-old has all the potential in the world and he eats, sleeps and drinks baseball. But he still is a couple years away from Boston.

8. Allen Webster, RHP

Stats: 8-4 record, 3.60 ERA in 21 starts for Triple A Pawtucket.

Skinny: The 23-year-old has a nasty changeup, sinking action and a fastball that can reach the upper-90s. He struggled in his starts at Boston this year. He has frontline starter potential just needs to gain confidence.

9. Mookie Betts, 2B

Stats: .314 batting average, .417 on-base percentage, 36 doubles, four triples, 15 home runs in 127 games with Single A Greenville and High A Salem, including a .341 average in 51 games for the Salem Red Sox.

Skinny: Like Cecchini he is an exciting on-base machine. Look for the 21-year-old to start next year at Double A Portland after shooting up the prospect rankings this year.

10. Trey Ball, LHP

Stats: 0-1 record, 6.43 ERA in 7.0 innings for the Gulf Coast Red Sox.

Skinny: The seventh overall pick in this year's MLB draft, this 19-year-old has a fastball, changeup and curveball and his progress should be interesting to keep an eye on during the 2014 season.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB