Red Sox have 4 prospects in ESPN top-100 list

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May 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of a glove and Boston Red Sox hat in the dugout prior to a game between the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Anderson Espinoza

Age: 17
Position: RHP
Top Level: Class A

"“He sat 94-99 mph all summer, and also showed a plus changeup and a plus curveball, although he wouldn’t necessarily have all three pitches working on any single night,” writes Law. “He has great confidence in the changeup and will use it against right-handed batters, a great sign for his pitching acumen, given his youth. His body looks as if it’ll fill out enough for him to handle a starter’s workload, but he’s already throwing so hard — and so easy — at 17 that it’s hard to come up with enough comparisons in recent memory to talk intelligently about the odds he’ll stay healthy as a starter. If he does, we’ll be talking about him in the same way as we did a young King Felix and Doc Gooden.”"

Those are some pretty impressive names to be categorized with for a pitcher that has also drawn some comparisons to Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez. Espinoza’s talent has scouts salivating over his potential as a once-in-a-generation type pitcher.

The biggest issue is that durability is a far greater concern for pitchers than it is for position players, especially for one as young as Espinoza. It’s not uncommon for highly touted pitching prospects to flame out during their minor league careers or encounter arm troubles that set back their timetable. No matter how dominant he is now, Espinoza is still years away from cracking the major league roster.

The Red Sox have David Price anchoring their rotation these days after locking him into a 7-year free agent deal this winter. Espinoza projects to be an ace of similar caliber, which potentially will give the Red Sox a devastating lefty-righty combo at the top of their rotation a few years from now. Boston hasn’t had a pair of aces that promising since Pedro and Curt Schilling led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2004.

Next: Red Sox need to steer clear of Cliff Lee

Espinoza also gives the Red Sox insurance in case Price opts out of his deal after three years in search of an even more lucrative free agent contract. If the young right-hander is ready to take on the ace mantel at that point then the Red Sox may decide to let Price walk and focus their financial resources elsewhere.