Spring training is right around the corner and a lot of buzz will be in Boston regarding this brand new Red Sox team. After a disaster of a 2012 season there is some hope that these new changes will bring at least some respect back to Boston baseball. The Red Sox made quite a few splashes this offseason through free agency, but one aspect of the game people tend to forget is the players that haven’t even stepped foot on a major league diamond yet.
Boston has money to spend in the near future. There isn’t any doubting that. But it’s guys like the five prospects below that could be the future faces of this franchise. A franchise that needs all the help it can get if it wants fans to bet on Red Sox at (click here) Top Bet ever again. Here is a look at the top 5 Boston Red Sox prospects and their scouting reports from SoxPropects.com
1. Xander Bogaerts (SS)
Athletic frame. Body has begun filling out. High baseball IQ with impressive maturity. Smooth, fluid swing that generates lift. Elite batspeed. Strong and explosive hands with good separation during stride. Stays balanced. Creates solid post-contact extension. Shows the ability to drive ball to all fields with backspin and carry. Ball jumps off bat. Above-average-to-better power ceiling. Potential 30 home run bat. Below-average present pitch recognition and strike zone judgment. Struggles with off-speed pitches, but should improve with experience. Aggressive approach and can free swing. Chases due to over-zealousness. Can get too long with his swing to produce too much upper-cut and bat wrap. Average-to-solid-average hit tool. Improving using hands during swing to stay inside the baseball. Shows strong fluidity going with pitches the other way for being age-advanced. Slightly above-average arm. Solid-average range, but losing footspeed as he gets bigger. Needs to slow the game down defensively and resist the feeling to rush plays. Inconsistent with footwork and staying down on the ball. Choppy at times with his movements and reactions. Has been improving with his defensive technique, but does not look likely to stick at shortstop. Will transition to third base or left field down the line. Can stick on the infield. Average runner. Potential for considerable physical development. Highly coachable and displays strong work ethic. Ceiling of a middle-of-the-order bat on a contending team. All-Star potential.
2. Matt Barnes (SP)
Tall righty with projectable body. Easy delivery. Heavy fastball sits 93-95 mph and can top out at 98 mph. Ability to reach for velocity and grab extra when he needs it. Shows excellent downward finish in lower tier of strike zone, but tends to flatten out when elevated. Ball comes out of his hand fluidly. Works fastball to both sides of the plate. Solid-average fastball command. Also throws a 74-77 mph curveball with tight rotation and deep break. Feels offering well to create hard snap. Can hold onto ball too long when throwing curve and also wrap wrist to lose ability to stay on top of it. Grades as an average pitch, with plus potential. Needs to finish more centered with body for consistent command of offering and crispness Average command. Future swing and miss out-pitch at the major league level with more polish and consistency. 85-87 mph changeup presently grades as fringe-average-to-average. Shows arm-side fade, but needs to create more deception and consistency when throwing it. Arm speed varies at times from fastball. Potential to become a solid-average-to-better offering and induce weak contact. Strong pitchability with stuff. Repeatable and loose mechanics. Downhill thrower who generates easy velocity. Can get off balance during delivery, which affects release point and command. Lands too far towards first base with front foot in stretches. Likely to re-incorporate slider into repertoire or develop cutter when closer to the big leagues. Second or third starter projection on a first division team.
3. Jackie Bradley (CF)
At one point considered a mid-to-high first-round pick, Bradley fell to the supplemental round due to a poor start to the 2011 season in which he hit .259 in 37 games, followed by a tendon injury in his left wrist which ended his season. Hits from an open stance. Closes down well on pitch approach to keep himself balanced. Quick and fluid hands. Generates plus batspeed. Swing has slight upward plane through the hitting zone, but is a little on the long side. Can struggle with balls on the inner third due to over-extension. Solid bat control. Projects as a plus hitter for average with work hitting inside the ball and building professional approach. Tends to look middle-to-in consistently. Will need to focus on hitting the other way more in upper minors. Tends to hook balls on outer third and roll over them. Patient and displays strong recognition of secondary offerings. Lean frame. Ability to add a little more weight, but will not fill out considerably. Fringe- average power potential. Home run totals project in the single digits at the major league level. Average speed. Polished defensively and projects to stick in center field. Plus-plus defender. Displays strong natural instincts. Gets excellent reads and jumps on balls hit out his way. Plus arm. Outstanding baseball makeup. Projects as an above-average regular on a first division team.
4. Allen Webster (SP)
Ground ball pitcher, with lean, projectable frame. Solid makeup. Delivery is smooth, but he can short-arm the ball on occasion, losing his release point. Excellent athlete. Fastball sits 92-94 mph and tops out at 96 mph. Shows strong sinking movement, with late life. Fringe-average command. Needs improvement spotting up with offering and consistently staying down in the zone. 82-84 mph changeup grades as plus. Shows depth and bottom dropping action. Generates consistent arm speed when throwing pitch. Also features a solid-average-to-plus 83-87 mph slider, with tight rotation and late bite. Can throw for a strike and bury out of the strike zone. Creates strong wrist rotation. Late break makes it deceptive from the fastball Both secondary offerings show the ability to miss bats. Aggressive on the mound. Strong makeup, with understanding of how to put things behind him. Projects as a middle-to-back-end starter at the major league level. May end up as a high leverage reliever if progress with fastball command stagnates.
5. Rubby De La Ross
Well-filled out righty, especially in lower half. Has been physically developing over the last couple of years. Fastball sits 94-97 mph, with sharp downward movement and explosiveness. Can top out at 98-100 mph when reaches back. Heater shows ability to miss bats. Fringe-average command. Tends to get long with delivery and has trouble keeping arm in slot. Will need to refine delivery to enhance command. 84-87 mph changeup grades as plus-to-better. Strong depth and deep fade. Shows separation and deception between fastball. Can miss bats or produce weak contact. Also throws a fringe-average mid-to-high 80s slider. Flashes plus at times, but inconsistent staying on top of pitch. Tends to wrap wrist. Potential to round into a swing-and-miss offering. Ceiling of a number three starter on first division team. Work becoming more consistent with slider and refining fastball command are keys to reaching ceiling as a starter. Late-inning reliever projection without any improvement. Had Tommy John Surgery in August 2011.
Tom is the owner of RedSoxAholics and an avid Boston Sports Fan. Tom grew up as an avid baseball card collector with favorite players including Dwight Evans, Mo Vaughn, Pedro Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Greenwell.