If you have listened to any interviews with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, you’ve probably heard him refer to “the next great Red Sox team” that’s just beyond the horizon. This team is basically a collection of the top prospects of the Red Sox, who have one of the best farm systems in baseball, many of whom are fairly close to the majors now. If Jackie Bradley Jr. makes an impact this year, he will be the third member of the next great Red Sox team to make one– following Will Middlebrooks and Felix Doubront.
Bradley will be a member of what has the potential to be a very formidable lineup. It would also feature fellow top prospects Xander Bogaerts, Garin Cecchini, Bryce Brentz, and Jose Iglesias, all of whom except Cecchini could have MLB experience at the end of 2013. Let’s fast forward to the beginning of the 2015 season for a minute and see how this lineup would probably look if all goes right.
The lineup would likely be something along the lines of Bradley CF, Pedroia 2B, Bogaerts 1B, Middlebrooks 3B, Brentz LF, Victorino RF, Lavarnway DH, Vazquez C, Iglesias SS. Of course, prospects are far from a known entity and it’s equally possible that half of these players will bust and the Red Sox will have to resort to free agency. This lineup also relies on the ability of Jose Iglesias and Christian Vazquez to hit enough to be starters; otherwise, it will likely be Bogaerts at shortstop and an acquisition behind the plate.
That lineup looks like one that could be above average and produce plenty of runs. However, the real strength of this team looks like it could be in the pitching. Three of the Red Sox top five prospects are starting pitchers (Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, and Rubby de la Rosa). These pitchers will likely all see time in the upper minors this year and Webster and de la Rosa should be in Boston for at least the end of the year.
Those three pitchers will also probably be in the majors in 2015, and the rotation would look something like Buchholz, Barnes, de la Rosa, Webster, and Doubront. If all of those pitchers do not bust and become quality major leaguers like they are expected to, that is going to be one hell of a rotation. All four pitchers excluding Buchholz could strike out close to nine per nine innings and it could be one of the best young, power rotations in the league.
2013 will be sort of a bridge year. The Red Sox should contend, but they likely won’t be serious world series contenders. Towards the end of the year and in 2014, we’ll start to see some of the prospects making their debuts at the major league level. In 2015 and 2016, however, the young players will be settled in at the big league level. I fully expect the Red Sox to be one of the best teams in baseball then, and obviously it’s very exciting as we approach those years.
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