Four Red Sox Prospects In Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects of 2013

Each year, ESPN Insider Keith Law ranks the farm systems based on his top 100 rankings.

Boston Red SoxIn 2013, we find four members of the Boston Red Sox in his top 100. They are SS Xander Bogaerts (No.5), OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (No. 40). RHP Allen Webster (No. 63) and RHP Matt Barnes (No. 79).

LHP Henry Owens just missed out on the top 100 coming in at 101.

Here's what Law had to say about each player:

Bogaerts:

A year ago, Bogaerts looked like a high-ceiling bat who'd have to find a new position, most likely third base, but a year of full-season ball at shortstop with continued work on maintaining his conditioning has his odds of remaining in the middle of the field up over even money. And a shortstop who can hit like this is a pretty special commodity.

Bogaerts has a very easy, picturesque right-handed swing, with great hand acceleration that leads to surprisingly hard contact — the ball comes off his bat much better than you'd expect, given his size. He gets his front leg down a little late, which could lead to timing issues but hasn't so far.

He's not likely to become a plus defender at short, but even fringe-average defense there would make him a five-win player or more given his bat. And given how he has managed to keep his waist lean and his lower half athletic so far, I like his chances to do just that.

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Bradley, Jr.

Bradley is a potential Gold Glove defender in center — meaning he'd be one of the best, not that he'd get the actual award, since the two have almost nothing to do with each other — who should hit for average and get on base as long as he doesn't overextend himself and try to hit for power.

He is just an average runner but his reads on balls in center rival those of the other elite defensive center fielders in the minors, even ahead of guys like Albert Almora and Mason Williams. His lower half can be a little noisy at the plate, getting his front foot down late, gliding over his front side and sometimes even drifting back mid-swing. But when he keeps his swing short and simple he generates hard line-drive contact from foul line to foul line, with doubles power that might max out around 10-12 homers a year. When he over-rotates to try to hit the ball out, he doesn't make enough contact and the result of the tradeoff is a net negative.

His best attribute as a hitter has been his plate discipline, producing high walk rates in the minors with good pitch recognition as well, producing a .373 OBP after his promotion to Portland.

His emergence in 2012 will probably help the Red Sox feel like they can let Jacoby Ellsbury walk as a free agent after the 2013 season, with a cheaper replacement, one without all of the injuries, waiting in the wings.

Webster:

Webster will show three plus pitches and looks like he should be at or near the top of someone's rotation, but as a converted position player, he has struggled to develop enough fastball command to translate the raw stuff into on-field success.

He will sit at 94 mph with his fastball and can reach 97 with plus sink that led to a 2:1 groundout-to-fly out ratio in Double-A this year, pairing it with a swing-and-miss changeup with good action and a slider that will flash plus but isn't as consistent as the other two pitches. As you'd expect from a former shortstop, he is athletic and can repeat his delivery well, but he lacks the feel for pitching that he'll need to succeed as a starter even at Triple-A, both in terms of just throwing strikes and in using and mixing his pitches more effectively.

The Red Sox were thrilled to get him from the Dodgers in the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett blockbuster that also netted Rubby De La Rosa (no longer eligible for this list) and view Webster as a potential No. 2 starter. I see that ceiling, but a lot of work between here and there.

Barnes

Barnes shocked a lot of scouts this year with the leap forward in his fastball command, working with it up and down, side to side, so even though he wasn't consistently 93-97 as he was in college he could still get outs and set up his off-speed stuff.

He's ditched the below-average slider that screwed him up in his junior year at UConn and pitched most of the season with an above-average downer curveball that he could throw for strikes. His changeup gradually improved over the year as the Red Sox forced him to throw it a number of times each game, but even in Salem he was still getting hitters on both sides of the plate out with the fastball.

Barnes was a little experienced to spend the whole year in A-ball, so his stat line overstates how advanced he is, but he looks like a solid mid-rotation guy who'll be at least league-average, with a chance to profile better than that because of how well he locates the fastball.

Owens:

Owens works at just 88-92 mph with a big, slow curveball and some feel for a change, but has posted high strikeout totals in the low minors because he hides the ball so well behind his 6-foot-6 frame that hitters don't pick it up, swinging through 88 mph like it's 94 mph. That can work for guys in the big leagues, but I'd like to see Owens, who doesn't have a ton of projection for future velocity gains, do it against a higher caliber of hitter before buying in fully.

Law's complete top 100: Index  | 1-25  | 26-50 | 51-75  | 76-100

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