In Keith Law's newest prospect rankings for the Boston Red Sox in The Athletic, the usual suspects got their flowers. Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony, Ceddanne Rafaela, Kyle Teel and Miguel Bleis topped Law's list and many others as the best prospects in the Red Sox organization.
But Law made some observations about lower-tier prospects as well, the most positive coming from his pick as the eighth-best prospect in Boston's farm.
Yoeilin Cespedes, a shortstop prospect going into his age-18 season (subscription required), garnered praise from Law on both sides of the ball, but particularly for his offensive production in the Dominican Summer League. He signed with Boston last January and has played one season in its minor league program.
Cespedes raked in the DSL and batted .346/.392/.560. Law noted that he made frequent, hard contact and struck out infrequently for a then-17-year-old at just 11.4%. Cespedes racked up quite a few extra-base hits in his 46 appearances. He hit 15 doubles, four triples and six homers. He scored 37 runs and logged 38 RBI too.
Red Sox prospect Yoeilin Cespedes earned high praise from The Athletic's Keith Law
Law went as far as naming Cespedes as the Red Sox's "sleeper" prospect if his production carries over to regular-season play, where he could become Boston's "next superstar hitting prospect."
Cespedes is also a quality defender and Law said he has a "good chance" to remain a shortstop. He's athletic and boasts a strong arm with middling speed, but the 18-year-old has more than enough time to get faster and better. But even before he grows with the Red Sox program, the prospect is earning comparisons to the last great homegrown shortstop in the organization, Xander Bogaerts.
Cespedes will likely begin his career with the Red Sox in the Florida Complex League or Single-A Salem. He's still on the young end of the prospect pool, so Sox fans likely won't be seeing him at Fenway for two to three seasons, but the idea of Boston's "next superstar hitting prospect" coming through the system is a reason to pay attention.
The front office has placed a lot of emphasis on the farm system in recent years and it's finally beginning to show. Cespedes is one of many who will be clawing their way through Boston's prospect pool, fighting to get to the big leagues. If Law's assessment of his talents is correct, Cespedes will have no problem mashing his way to the majors in a few years.