Our organization Top 10 Prospects reports kicked off today on our website, starting with the Braves. From now through the end of January, we'll unveil a new Top 10 every couple of days (taking a break around Thanksgiving and Christmas).
If you have any questions about our Top 10 process or the rankings themselves, send them to Ask BA and we'll hash them out. And if you can't get enough prospect rankings and reports, don't forget that we go 30 deep for each organization in the 2012 Prospect Handbook.
The list has been released, and I'll detail all the potential compensation free agents (Capuano is not among them) below. But first, a quick primer on free-agent compensation.
Players are sorted into position groups (catchers; first basemen and outfielders; second basemen, third basemen and shortstops; designated hitters; starting pitchers; relievers) and rated by a statistical formula detailed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Players ranked in the top 20 percent of their group are designated as Type A free agents, and those in the 21-40 percent bracket are classified as Type B.
In order to receive compensation, the player's former club must offer him arbitration by the Nov. 23 deadline. Type A free agents yield the signing team's first-round pick and a supplemental first-rounder as compensation, while Type B free agents bring back only the sandwich pick. Clubs that finished in the bottom half of the major league standings have their first-rounders protected from compensation, and teams also can't lose consolation picks for failure to sign draftees from the previous year. If a club signs multiple Type A free agents, the team that lost the higher-ranking player gets the better choice.
Bear in mind that a new CBA will be announced soon and could include changes to free-agent compensation. For now, these are the potential compensation free agents, including players who will gain free agency if their options are declined or their opt-out clauses exercised by the end of today. The Brewers, Phillies and Reds all have three possible Type A free agents.
Clint Barmes (B).
Athletics: Josh Willingham (A), David DeJesus (B).
Blue Jays: Kelly Johnson (A), Shawn Camp (B), Frank Francisco (B), Jose Molina (B), *Jon Rauch (B).
Braves: Alex Gonzalez (B).
Brewers: Prince Fielder (A), Francisco Rodriguez (A), Takashi Saito (A), Yuniesky Betancourt (B).
Cardinals: *Octavio Dotel (A), Albert Pujols (A), *Rafael Furcal (B), Edwin Jackson (B), Arthur Rhodes (B).
Cubs: Carlos Pena (B), Aramis Ramirez (B), Kerry Wood (B).
Diamondbacks: *Aaron Hill (B).
Dodgers: Rod Barajas (B), Hiroki Kuroda (B).
Giants: Carlos Beltran (A), Pat Burrell (B), Cody Ross (B).
Mets: Jose Reyes (A).
Orioles: Vladimir Guerrero (B).
Padres: Heath Bell (A), *Aaron Harang (B).
Phillies: Ryan Madson (A), Roy Oswalt (A), Jimmy Rollins (A), Raul Ibanez (B), Brad Lidge (B).
Pirates: Ryan Doumit (B), Derrek Lee (B), Ryan Ludwick (B), Chris Snyder (B).
Rangers: *Colby Lewis (A) Darren Oliver (A), C.J. Wilson (A).
Rays: *Kyle Farnsworth (A).
Red Sox: David Ortiz (A), Jonathan Papelbon (A), Jason Varitek (B), *Dan Wheeler (B).
Reds: *Francisco Cordero (A), Ramon Hernandez (A), *Brandon Phillips (A).
Rockies: Mark Ellis (B).
Royals: Bruce Chen (B).
Tigers: Wilson Betemit (B), Magglio Ordonez (B).
Twins: Matt Capps (A), Michael Cuddyer (A), Jason Kubel (B).
White Sox: Mark Buehrle (B), *Jason Frasor (B), Juan Pierre (B).
Yankees: *C.C. Sabathia (A), *Rafael Soriano (A), Freddy Garcia (B).
*Option must be declined or opt-out clause exercised to gain free agency.
Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes, who noticed that I left Rod Barajas and Aramis Ramirez off my original list. I also incorrectly listed a couple of players who will be eligible for arbitration and not free agency (Colby Lewis, Joakim Soria) on the original list.
After going all-in on Matsuzaka—starting with this column from 2006 —I'm a bit leery of high-priced Japanese imports. Outside of Ichiro, there hasn't been a Japanese player who has starred in the major leagues like he did in his native country.
International scouts did prefer Darvish to Matsuzaka even before Matsuzaka went south. Darvish has a seemingly endless supply of above-average pitches, but then so did Matsuzaka, who never seemed to be able to figure out which one to use with the Red Sox. Both guys were worked hard at a young age in Japan, too, with Darvish already having worked 1,268 pro innings through age 24.
All that said, Darvish is exceptionally talented. I wouldn't put him ahead of the three super-elite prospects who will lead off the Top 100 in whatever order (Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Rays lefthander Matt Moore), but Darvish will be in the second tier and I'd probably put him at No. 4.
I used to drive the Lars Anderson bandwagon. I ranked him atop our Red Sox Top 10 Prospects list following the 2008 season, during which he hit a combined .317/.417/.517 as a 20-year-old in high Class A and Double-A. One scout who watched him that year said Anderson was ready to hit major league pitching at that point.
Anderson's star has dimmed in the three years since. He still offers impressive size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), bat speed, strength and hand-eye coordination, and he always has had a solid eye at the plate. But Anderson has two problems preventing him from doing enough damage to become a big league regular. He lacks loft in his swing and thus doesn't drive enough balls out of the park, slugging just .422 in Triple-A this year. He also hasn't proven he can hit advanced lefthanders, with his .242/.331/.409 performance against southpaws in 2011 representing his high-water mark from the last three seasons.
Anderson will be 24 next season, and at this point he profiles as a platoon first baseman without the power desired at the position. The Red Sox don't need a first baseman with Gonzalez on hand, so Anderson probably faces a third straight year in Triple-A unless he gets traded. I could see another team looking at him as a low-cost option at first base, hoping it could somehow unlock some more of his power. Boston had a deal to send him to the Athletics for Rich Harden at the trade deadline in July, but it fell through when the Red Sox didn't like Harden's medical reports.