Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Boston Red Sox

Christian Petersen

Jason Hunt takes a look at a few of the more interesting fantasy prospects from the Boston Red Sox organization.

Over the coming weeks, Craig and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.

Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.

Previous Reviews

NL West: Arizona

NL East: Atlanta

AL East: Baltimore

System Overview

The Red Sox came into the year with some high level talent at the top of their system, with Middlebrooks and Bogaerts leading the way. In addition, there were a lot of decent prospects, but question marks surrounded many of them. Would Anthony Ranaudo find the form that made him a top draft pick? Would Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway and Felix Doubront establish themselves in Boston by season's end? Could Bogaerts take the next step forward and become the elite prospect that some saw in him? By the end of the season, we saw Bogaerts establish himself as the top prospect in the system, and find that the Red Sox do have another decent crop of prospects right behind him in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Matt Barnes, all of whom could see time in Boston by the end of the 2013 season.

Graduates in 2012

Will Middlebrooks (3B), Pedro Ciriaco (IF), Ryan Lavarnway (C), Felix Doubront (SP), Junichi Tazawa (RP)

AA in 2012

These are prospects who reached AA during the 2012 season, playing for the Red Sox' Eastern League affiliate in Portland. These players could see time in Boston in 2013, but generally will be more likely to appear in 2014.

Xander Bogaerts (Profile from July, BBRef Statistics)

Craig profiled Bogaerts earlier in the season, and the biggest thing that stands out for Bogaerts is the power potential. Coming off a 16 home run season in Low-A in 2011, Bogaerts continued the excellent power showing, hitting 20 between High-A and AA, along with 37 doubles and 3 triples.

Bogaerts has been playing shortstop in the minors, but the long term expectation is that Bogaerts will have to move either to third base, or potentially to a corner outfield spot. Either way, his bat is going to play for fantasy owners and the potential for an excellent fantasy contributor is very high. We could be looking at a 25-30+ home run power bat, with the potential to provide a solid batting average to go with it.

Jackie Bradley (BBRef Statistics)

Bradley was a prospect I did not review in last year's post, as there was not a ton of performance to look at after his first season. Bradley was sent to High-A Salem, and showed exactly what made him a top draft pick. Bradley hit .359 with 31 extra base hits in just 67 games, along with 16 stolen bases. He was promoted to AA, and had 24 extra base hits, including 6 homers in the 61 games he played there.

The reports I have seen rave about Bradley's defense as well, noting him as very likely to stay in center field long term. Long term, Bradley seems likely to provide a little bit of power, solid batting average, and solid speed numbers. In addition, Bradley has shown the ability to draw walks at a solid rate, and could be even more valuable in OBP leagues.

High-A in 2012

These are prospects who reached High-A during the 2012 season, playing for the Red Sox' Carolina League affiliate in Salem. These players are likely at least 2 seasons away from reaching the Majors.

Matt Barnes (Player Profile, BBRef Statistics)

I wrote about Barnes back in May after he had been promoted to High-A. He had thoroughly dominated in Low-A, and was simply overmatching the hitters there. While the performance in High-A came back from the stratosphere, he still had an excellent season there as well, striking out 91 and walking 25 in 93 inning pitched.

Back then, I wrote that I thought Barnes could be a top 40 starting pitcher for fantasy purposes, and I think that still holds true. The difference now may be that it is substantially more likely than it was then. Barnes will likely be moved to AA to start the 2013 season, and it would not surprise me in the slightest if he was in the Majors by season's end.

Low-A in 2012

These are prospects who reached Low-A during the 2012 season, playing for the Red Sox' Sally League affiliate in Greenville. These players could be at least 3 seasons away from reaching the Majors.

Blake Swihart (BBRef Statistics)

Swihart was moved up to full season Low-A for his first full pro season, and had a pretty solid season overall. He was viewed as being more prepared as a hitter for the level than as a backstop, but did still throw out 31% of base stealers in the season, and also hit well (.262/.307/.395, 7 HR) in his 92 games this year.

The reports on Swihart seem to indicate that his defense is improving, and there is a very reasonable chance that he will be able to stay at the position long term. He missed some time this season due to injury, but I imagine that despite that the Red Sox will move Swihart up to their High-A affiliate next year, and could be a level-per-year type as he works on both sides of his game. I ranked Swihart as my #10 fantasy prospect at the catcher position, and I think he could jump up the rankings with a solid overall performance in 2013.

Short Season Ball

These are prospects who played for one of the Red Sox' short season affiliates in either the New York-Penn League or the Gulf Coast League.

Deven Marrero (BBRef Statistics)

Marrero was the Red Sox' top draft pick this year, taken out of Arizona State with the #24 pick overall. A shortstop, Marrero posted solid numbers in the New York Penn League with 24 stolen bases and a .268/.358/.374 slash line. In 64 games he had just 19 extra base hits, including 2 home runs, and it sounds from some of the reports about him that he's not likely to develop a ton of home run power.

Marrero is considered extremely likely to stay at shortstop in the long-term, which definitely helps his fantasy value. I could see Marrero being sent to High-A to start the 2013 season, and if he excels move up to AA before the end of the year.

Others of Note

Allen Webster - Webster was acquired by the Red Sox in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, and had a very solid season in AA before the trade. He's unlikely to be in Boston to start the season, but he could see time there during the 2013 season. Based on his numbers, he seems like he would be a #3/#4 type for the Red Sox, who could provide decent numbers for fantasy owners.

Bryce Brentz - Brentz reached AAA to end the season after hitting 17 homeruns in AA with a .296 average. Brentz could see time in Boston next year, and could be a nice source of power for AL-only leagues if he does.

Statistics from Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, and Fangraphs

You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball

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