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Tracking movement of Red Sox’ top 10 prospects

12.16.13 at 4:13 pm ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens ranked second in Baseball America's top 10 prospects list. (Salem Red Sox)

Left-hander Henry Owens ranked second in Baseball America’s top 10 prospects list. (Salem Red Sox)

The yearly Baseball America Top 10 prospects rankings are out, and for the first time since Hanley Ramirez back in 2003 to 2005, the Red Sox have the same No. 1 prospect for the second season in a row. It’€™s not hard to guess who that might be. Xander Bogaerts reclaimed his title as the best prospect in the Red Sox organization, according to Baseball America. While his ranking is no surprise given his outstanding season both in the minors and at the major league level, the rest of the top 10 list is not nearly as obvious.

Jackie Bradley Jr. dropped slightly in the rankings, moving from No. 2 to No. 3, but like Bogaerts, he’€™s hailed as a ‘€œplayer who could be ready to assume an everyday big league role as soon as Opening Day.’€

With Bogaerts making his way to the majors, there was a sense that Henry Owens took over the title of best prospect in the farm system. He moves up from a number five ranking in 2013 to second in the organization, reinforcing the notion that he’€™s become the club’€™s best pitching prospect. The 21-year-old split the season between Salem and Portland, finishing with a 2.67 ERA in 26 starts between the levels, including a miniscule 1.78 ERA and impressive 13.6 K/9 rate in 30 1/3 innings in Double-A. For the second year in a row, his changeup was rated as the best among Red Sox prospects.Brandon Workman‘€™s impressive stint in the majors helped bump him past both Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo, moving to number eight on the list while Barnes fell from the third slot to number nine. Workman, who will be treated as a starting pitcher coming into spring training after working out of the bullpen for the Sox in 2013, also possesses the best control and the best curveball in the organization, according to Baseball America.

While Workman’€™s big league experience certainly helped him move up the rankings, it’€™s interesting that Allen Webster‘€™s brief time in the majors didn’€™t hurt his position. Webster ranks fourth on the list, higher than any pitcher other than Owens. The righty had a decent season in Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 3.60 ERA in 105 innings while striking out an average of almost 10 per nine innings. But he allowed 29 earned runs in 30 1/3 innings in eight major league outings, walking an average of 5.3 batters per nine innings.

A notable exception in the Top 10 is the man who came to the Red Sox with Webster: Rubby De La Rosa. The right-hander no longer qualifies for prospect status, which is the reason for his exclusion. However, he did rank ninth on the list of top 15 players who are 25 and under. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks also does not qualify for the prospect list but ranked sixth on the 25 and under rankings.

One of the bigger surprises is the presence of Mookie Betts in the top 10, though his .314/.417/.506 line between Greenville and Salem in 2013 certainly warrants some recognition. Betts ranked seventh on the list and was named ‘€œBest Athlete,’€ a category that belonged to Bogaerts in 2013.

One might think that given his outstanding year between Salem and Portland, third baseman Garin Cecchini would rank higher than sixth place, given that he was just one slot lower last year. Perhaps his lack of power Cecchini or average defense contributed to the placement. However, Cecchini was named the best hitter for average and his strike-zone discipline ranked as the best in the organization.

Trey Ball rounded out the top ten, which is unsurprising given his lack of professional experience. Both he and Manuel Margot, the 19-year-old outfielder who ranked as the 15th-best player under the age of 25, both possess a ton of potential, but lack the experience to move up the list. Ball pitched just seven innings for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in 2013, while Margot batted .270/.346/.351 for the Lowell Spinners in his second professional season.

For more information on the top 10 prospects, check out this list of relevant audio and written content from WEEI.com.

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