2012 Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects

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Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

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1. Will Middlebrooks, 3b
2. Xander Bogaerts, ss
3. Blake Swihart, c
4. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp
5. Bryce Brentz, of
6. Brandon Jacobs, of
7. Garin Cecchini, 3b
8. Matt Barnes, rhp
9. Ryan Lavarnway, c
10. Jackie Bradley, of
Best Hitter for Average Garin Cecchini
Best Power Hitter Bryce Brentz
Best Strike Zone Discipline Alex Hassan
Fastest Baserunner Felix Sanchez
Best Athlete Derrik Gibson
Best Fastball Alexander Wilson
Best Curveball Anthony Ranaudo
Best Slider Alex Wilson
Best Changup Noe Ramirez
Best Control Keith Couch
Best Defensive Catcher Christian Vazquez
Best Defensive Infielder Jose Iglesias
Best Infield Arm Will Middlebrooks
Best Defensive OF Jackie Bradley
Best Outfield Arm Che-Hsuan Lin
Catcher Blake Swihart
First Base Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base Dustin Pedroia
Third Base Will Middlebrooks
Shortstop Jose Iglesias
Left Field Carl Crawford
Center Field Jacoby Ellsbury
Right Field Xander Bogaerts
Designated Hitter Kevin Youkilis
No. 1 Starter Jon Lester
No. 2 Starter Clay Buchholz
No. 3 Starter Josh Beckett
No. 4 Starter Anthony Ranaudo
No. 5 Starter Matt Barnes
Closer Daniel Bard
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Seung Song, rhp
Lotte (Korea)
2003 Hanley Ramirez, ss Marlins
2004 Hanley Ramirez, ss Marlins
2005 Hanley Ramirez, ss Marlins
2006 Andy Marte, 3b Pirates
2007 Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp Red Sox
2008 Clay Buchholz, rhp Red Sox
2009 Lars Anderson, 1b Red Sox
2010 Ryan Westmoreland, of Red Sox
2011 Jose Iglesias, ss Red Sox
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Jon Lester, LHP (2nd round)
Red Sox
2003 David Murphy, OF Rangers
2004 Dustin Pedroia, SS Red Sox
2005 Jacoby Ellsbury, OF Red Sox
2006 Jason Place, OF Yankees
2007 Nick Hagadone, LHP Indians
2008 Casey Kelly, RHP/SS Padres
2009 Reymond Fuentes, OF Padres
2010 Kolbrin Vitek, 2B/OF Red Sox
2011 Matt Barnes, RHP Red Sox
Jose Iglesias, 2009 $6,250,000
Casey Kelly, 2008 $3,000,000
Anthony Ranaudo, 2010 $2,550,000
Blake Swihart, 2011 $2,500,000
Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2006 $2,000,000
Ryan Westmoreland, 2008 $2,000,000
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Boston Red Sox

After trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing free-agent Carl Crawford in a three-day span at the 2010 Winter Meetings, the Red Sox had the look of a legitimate championship contender. They shook off a 2-10 start in April to play as well as any team in baseball for most of the season, entering September with the American League's best record.

Boston exited with the humiliation of the biggest final-month collapse in major league history. Despite the third-highest payroll in baseball and the presence of 15 former all-stars on their roster, the Red Sox dropped 20 of their final 27 games to hand the AL East to the Yankees and blow a nine-game wild-card edge over the Rays.

Their disintegration on the field had repercussions off it as well. Two days after the season ended, Boston declined to pick up the option on the contract of Terry Francona, who won 744 games and two World Series titles in eight seasons as manager.

Following his dismissal, the Boston Globe ran a story in which a team source implied that Francona lost control of the team because he was distracted by marital issues and possible problems with painkillers, which he denied. The same story alleged that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey—who combined for two wins and a 6.55 ERA in September—often drank beer, ate fried chicken and played video games in the clubhouse on days they weren't starting.

While Francona's departure seemed inevitable in the season's final weeks, general manager Theo Epstein's came as a shock. Epstein, who built the Red Sox's first championship teams since 1918, accepted a five-year, $18.5 million deal to become the Cubs' president of baseball operations on Oct. 25.

That set off a series of promotions in Boston's front office. Senior vice president/assistant GM Ben Cherington took over as GM, just as he had (along with Jed Hoyer) when Epstein took a three-month sabbatical after the 2005 season. Well regarded in the industry, Cherington has been with the club since 1999, working his way up from area scout to farm director to vice president of player personnel.

Cherington elevated Mike Hazen and Brian O'Halloran to assistant GMs, Dave Finley to director of player personnel and Ben Crockett to farm director. Cherington also fired senior vice president Craig Shipley, whose duties included overseeing international scouting, and put Eddie Romero in charge of those efforts.

The Red Sox may have embarrassed themselves and missed the playoffs for a second straight season, but they still won 90 games and will remain a contender in the near future. Likewise, Boston's farm system didn't cover itself in glory in 2011, yet still has plenty of talent. The system does lack an elite prospect, however, and many of its best players haven't advanced past Class A.

For the third time in four years, the Red Sox set a new franchise record for draft spending, upping the ante to $11 million in 2011. Their haul included catcher Blake Swihart, righthander Matt Barnes and outfielder Jackie Bradley, all of whom rank among their Top 10 Prospects. The draft changes that came out of baseball's new collective bargaining agreement may hit Boston more than any club, as it will have a relatively small signing bonus cap and fewer extra picks going forward.

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