Boston Red Sox place nine on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect list
Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Right-hander Allen Webster is the next pitcher to appear on the list for Boston, coming in at #46. He struggled in his first seven starts with Boston last season, but he’s still viewed as a staple of the team’s future rotation down the line. Boston’s 2012 mega-trade with the Los Angeles will look even more one-sided is Webster can develop up to his potential.
From his scouting report:
"Webster might have the best stuff of any Red Sox prospect. His fastball sits in the mid 90s with heavy sinking action. His changeup is his best offspeed pitch and his slider is also an above average offering. His biggest problem is his command, especially of his two seamer. He becomes susceptible to the long ball when his command of that pitch suffers."
At #57 is third baseman Garin Cecchini. Injuries slowed him shortly after the Sox drafted him but he’s come on strong ever since. Cecchini split his 2013 season between Class-A Salem and Double-A Portland, batting a combined .322/.443/.471 on the season. He’s a line driver hitter who’s yet to develop much of a power stroke and he could still make some improvements to his running game.
"He has everywhere the Red Sox have sent him, becoming perhaps the most consistent hitter in the system."
Backstop Blake Swihart is next, at #61, and is immediately followed by Mookie Betts at #62.
Swihart drew attention for his offensive abilities, but questions remained about how well he’d adapt behind the plate. He’s rewarded the team’s patience and trust, advancing quicker defensively than the organization had ever expected. The 21 year old is likely ticketed for Double-A Portland, but could see Boston before long.
"Swihart threw out 42 percent of would-be base stealers in 2013, leading the Carolina League. He has improved his game management and uses his athleticism well behind the plate. A switch hitter, Swihart makes consistent hard contact from both sides of the plate. His swing is more geared for line drives, but he projects to have average power. He has toned down his approach somewhat, though he wouldn’t be confused with a patient hitter. He is faster than most catchers and isn’t a base clogger."
As for Betts, the second baseman has jumped into rankings after one of the biggest breakout seasons across minor league baseball, hitting a combined .314/.417/.506 across two Class-A levels.
"Betts’ improvement was fueled by an improved approach at the plate and the introduction of power into his game. He has become a patient hitter and is now strong enough to drive balls into the gaps. He is an above average runner and was one of a handful of minor leaguers with at least 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 2013."
Right-hander Matt Barnes checks in next at #86. Barnes got off to a quick start once the team drafted him and ran into some struggles along the way, but has still reached the team’s Triple-A affiliate where he’s penciled into the rotation for 2014. He’s not yet on the team’s 40-man roster, but his MLB Debut isn’t out of the question for the coming season.
Finally, rounding out the list is young left-hander Trey Ball at #96. The team’s 1st Round pick in last June’s Draft, Ball is still just 19 and still developing as a pitcher as he grows into his 6’6” frame.
"Ball throws his fastball in the low 90s and there is projection left in his lanky frame. He only began throwing a curveball a couple years ago, but it already shows the potential to be an above average pitch. In the absence of a breaking ball, his changeup blossomed, and it has the potential to develop into a plus offering."
Boston does not, however, have the top overall system in baseball according to the weighted linear points system that Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo use in “scoring” their ranks. The pair award 100 points to the top ranked players on the roster, 99 to the second, and so on before tallying up those totals. The Houston Astros had seven players in the Top 100 (#8 Carlos Correa, #17 Mark Appel, #21 George Springer, #50 Jonathan Singleton, #52 Lance McCullers Jr., #54 Mike Foltyniewicz, #66 Delino Deshields Jr.) and come out ahead with the best system, totaling 439 prospect points. Boston comes in second with 436.