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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Yoan Moncada, 2b|
|2. Rafael Devers, 3b|
|3. Andrew Benintendi, of|
|4. Anderson Espinoza, rhp|
|5. Michael Kopech, rhp|
|6. Brian Johnson, lhp|
|7. Sam Travis, 1b|
|8. Deven Marrero, ss|
|9. Luis Alexander Basabe, of|
|10. Michael Chavis, 3b|
As the Red Sox sank toward a second consecutive last-place finish in 2015 for the first time since 1929-30, they arrived at a point of crisis. The unexpected bliss of a World Series championship in 2013 had receded sufficiently that the status quo with the front office became untenable to the team's owners.
And so Boston hired Dave Dombrowski, two weeks after he was fired by the Tigers, as the team's president of baseball operations on Aug. 18. Ben Cherington, the architect of that 2013 club—but also the man in charge of three last-place finishes in four years—declined the invitation to stay on as general manager, leading to far-reaching change in the organization.
Yet the last-place finishes and poor moves at the big league level obscured a concurrent development that ultimately made a case for organizational stability. Under Cherington, the Red Sox amassed a number of young players who appeared to be part of future contending teams, contributing to Dombrowski's decision to retain nearly all of the front office he inherited while promoting former farm director and assistant GM Mike Hazen to serve as his GM.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and center fielder Mookie Betts emerged as standouts in 2015, with lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Blake Swihart, both rookies, likewise showing star potential after their callups. Down the stretch, the team also saw a host of young players—including outfielders Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo, first baseman Travis Shaw, lefthander Henry Owens and knuckleballer Steven Wright—make a favorable impression in the big leagues.
At times, the 2015 Red Sox featured five members of their excellent 2011 draft class in the lineup—Swihart, Owens, Bradley, Betts and Shaw—and though the team finished in last place, it performed as one of the better teams in the American League from the time of Dombrowski's hire through the end of the year.
The evidence of a rising tide of young talent extended well beyond the big leagues, despite the graduation of so many top prospects.
The spring signing of Cuban Yoan Moncada to a record $31.5 bonus added to a standout group at low Class A Greenville that featured third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Javier Guerra and 2014 first-round righthander Michael Kopech. That group was eventually joined by 17-year-old righty Anderson Espinoza and 2015 first-round outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
Dombrowski inherited an organization with exceptional resources, and he wasted no time leveraging those resources in the offseason. First, on Nov. 13, he traded Guerra, Double-A center fielder Manuel Margot and two other prospects to the Padres for all-star closer Craig Kimbrel. Then on Dec. 4, he signed reigning AL Cy Young Award runner-up David Price for seven years and $217 million.
Both moves figure to address Boston's most acute weakness in 2015: run-prevention.