Baseball America Top 100 ‘23: 5 Red Sox

chrisfont9

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There was a really interesting piece at ESPN (of all places) yesterday about how guys like Elly De La Cruz, the Orioles building blocks, etc., are a new breed that teams should build around, more so than the station-to-station types... in other words, a growing sense that speed is an important edge to gain. And while not everyone can scare up an EDLC type or Acuna or Oneil Cruz, the Sox are actually well positioned to play the speed game with Duran, Rafael and maybe Hamilton if he can get on. So yes, it's nice to have overall quality, but it's also heartening to think that the game is changing into something the Sox' system is specifically prepared for.
 

BaseballJones

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There was a really interesting piece at ESPN (of all places) yesterday about how guys like Elly De La Cruz, the Orioles building blocks, etc., are a new breed that teams should build around, more so than the station-to-station types... in other words, a growing sense that speed is an important edge to gain. And while not everyone can scare up an EDLC type or Acuna or Oneil Cruz, the Sox are actually well positioned to play the speed game with Duran, Rafael and maybe Hamilton if he can get on. So yes, it's nice to have overall quality, but it's also heartening to think that the game is changing into something the Sox' system is specifically prepared for.
Agreed. I like that baseball is moving back to ATHLETES, not just guys who hit the ball a long ways. In truth, THIS is the kind of world where (sorry everyone) Mookie Betts should absolutely thrive.

The Sox do have a bunch of electric athletes, which is good.
 

jon abbey

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Agreed. I like that baseball is moving back to ATHLETES, not just guys who hit the ball a long ways. In truth, THIS is the kind of world where (sorry everyone) Mookie Betts should absolutely thrive.
Mookie has been a below average runner the last two seasons. Of course he is getting older but Brett Gardner stayed very fast until the end, so it’s not just that.

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/mookie-betts-605141?stats=statcast-r-running-mlb
 

JM3

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There was a really interesting piece at ESPN (of all places) yesterday about how guys like Elly De La Cruz, the Orioles building blocks, etc., are a new breed that teams should build around, more so than the station-to-station types... in other words, a growing sense that speed is an important edge to gain. And while not everyone can scare up an EDLC type or Acuna or Oneil Cruz, the Sox are actually well positioned to play the speed game with Duran, Rafael and maybe Hamilton if he can get on. So yes, it's nice to have overall quality, but it's also heartening to think that the game is changing into something the Sox' system is specifically prepared for.
Organizational steals leaders (cs in parens)...

Rafaela (AA) 30 (8)
Hamilton (AAA/MLB) 29 (6)
Liendo (A) 28 (5)
Sikes (AA) 27 (3)
Rosier (AA/AAA) 26 (4)
Allen (AAA) 23 (0) - RIP
Ferguson (A+/AAA) 23 (4)
Chacon (A) 20 (10)
Duran (AAA/MLB) 16 (1)
Paulino (A+) 15 (2)
Anthony (A/A+) 12 (6)
Castro (A) 12 (5)
Coffey (A) 12 (4)
Sogard (AAA) 11 (5)
Koss (AA) 11 (1)
McDonough (AA) 11 (2)
Ugueto (A+) 11 (3)
Bleis (A) 11 (4)
Lopez (A+) 10 (1)
Meredith (A+) 10 (2)
Dalbec (AAA/MLB) 9 (1)
Crook (AAA) 8 (2)
Meidroth (A+/AA) 8 (0)
Mayer (A+/AA) 8 (5)
Simas (A) 8 (4)
 

chrisfont9

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Agreed. I like that baseball is moving back to ATHLETES, not just guys who hit the ball a long ways. In truth, THIS is the kind of world where (sorry everyone) Mookie Betts should absolutely thrive.

The Sox do have a bunch of electric athletes, which is good.
I know I shouldn't ever look at comments at the Globe, but there are so many 80-something eeyores over there complaining that it ain't what it was. [Maybe they mean it's not white enough?] Baseball right now is better to watch than I remember, and I'm pretty old.
 

BaseballJones

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chrisfont9

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Organizational steals leaders (cs in parens)...

Rafaela (AA) 30 (8)
Hamilton (AAA/MLB) 29 (6)
Liendo (A) 28 (5)
Sikes (AA) 27 (3)
Rosier (AA/AAA) 26 (4)
Allen (AAA) 23 (0) - RIP
Ferguson (A+/AAA) 23 (4)
Chacon (A) 20 (10)
Duran (AAA/MLB) 16 (1)
Paulino (A+) 15 (2)
Anthony (A/A+) 12 (6)
Castro (A) 12 (5)
Coffey (A) 12 (4)
Sogard (AAA) 11 (5)
Koss (AA) 11 (1)
McDonough (AA) 11 (2)
Ugueto (A+) 11 (3)
Bleis (A) 11 (4)
Lopez (A+) 10 (1)
Meredith (A+) 10 (2)
Dalbec (AAA/MLB) 9 (1)
Crook (AAA) 8 (2)
Meidroth (A+/AA) 8 (0)
Mayer (A+/AA) 8 (5)
Simas (A) 8 (4)
How did Hamilton get caught 6 times? I'm impressed by that. [Pop times are another thing where it seems like players now are so much better.]
 

Archer1979

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Aren't steals up because of the unintended consequences of instituting the pitch clock? Knowing that the pitch clock is winding down gives even the average runner a better chance to successfully steal.

Doesn't surprise me that the running game is going to have a greater emphasis going forward.
 

Archer1979

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The larger bases too
Its one of those things that it doesn't take Bill Belichick to know how to exploit the rules. Granted, I didn';t think of it until there were columns written about it, but it seems like there wasn't a huge learning curve for the league as a whole.
 

shaggydog2000

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The top 100 lists are kind of whatever. It's nice to get your people recognized, but what's really encouraging to me is all the guys we have who would be in the top 300 or even top 500 if such lists existed. It's that organizational depth that kind of reminds me of the BB more darts drafting strategy. We have a lot of guys who could be a real guy at this point which is great for future roster construction & trades.
I think fangraphs does a good job of creating tiers and showing players in equivalent value levels, which makes a lot more sense than just a straight top 100 list. Because it's not like #100 is that much, if at all better than #101. #81 could be roughly equal to #102. Treating 100 like it is a magical number is silly. Treating rankings like each number is a significant difference is silly. #6 may be one of a group of amazing prospects. Or he could be a step down and just outside a clear top 5 grouping.
 

DJnVa

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Keith Law now has Mayer at #3

Top 60 MLB prospects 2023: Keith Law’s rankings has Jackson Holliday vs. Jackson Chourio - The Athletic

Please keep in mind that my offseason top-100 ranking is a month-long process, while this ranking is more of a week-plus process, and has more built-in recency bias than the rankings I run every February.
Wherever he plays, Mayer can hit and already is showing close to plus power, with everything better this year now that the wrist injuries from 2022 are in the rearview mirror. It’s a beautiful left-handed swing with excellent bat speed, and he is driving the ball better to all fields this year as well. He projects as a 25-30 homer guy with strong OBPs, which will play regardless of where he is on the dirt.
Marcelo Mayer #3 (from #11)
Roman Anthony is #45 (unranked)
Ceddanne Rafaela is #48 (from #37)
Kyle Teel is #50 (ineligible)
Brainer Bonaci is honorable mention
 
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greenmountains

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Is Law's post another hint that at least some scouts are concerned about Mayer sticking at short?
From Law:

"He’s a true shortstop who’s a plus defender there already and could end up more than that depending on how his body develops. I’d be shocked if he wound up moving to another position, although I know some scouts think he might end up at third base..."
 

Sin Duda

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So we like Keith Law now or not? :)
Of course we like him if he fits our narrative! (I, personally, never had a big problem with him and liked his old days when he'd talk about board games and such). He's a crystal ball reader; he's never going to be super accurate. And part of that profession is providing some entertainment, which he does for me.
 

LogansDad

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Of course we like him if he fits our narrative! (I, personally, never had a big problem with him and liked his old days when he'd talk about board games and such). He's a crystal ball reader; he's never going to be super accurate. And part of that profession is providing some entertainment, which he does for me.
Agreed.
 

grimshaw

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Bonaci as an honorable mention outside of the top 60 seems like he wants Sox fans to stop trolling him about Yoshida. Not really, but nice to see Bonaci getting noticed.
 

ookami7m

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Of course we like him if he fits our narrative! (I, personally, never had a big problem with him and liked his old days when he'd talk about board games and such). He's a crystal ball reader; he's never going to be super accurate. And part of that profession is providing some entertainment, which he does for me.
He still does that in his newsletter
 

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I think it’s important to finish that sentence regarding Mayer moving to 3B:

“…I’d be shocked if he wound up moving to another position, although I know some scouts think he might end up at third base, which could be a Gunnar Henderson situation (very good at short, elite at third).”
 

dhappy42

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I think it’s important to finish that sentence regarding Mayer moving to 3B:

“…I’d be shocked if he wound up moving to another position, although I know some scouts think he might end up at third base, which could be a Gunnar Henderson situation (very good at short, elite at third).”
If Mayer plays 3B where does Devers play?
 

sodenj5

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From Law:

"He’s a true shortstop who’s a plus defender there already and could end up more than that depending on how his body develops. I’d be shocked if he wound up moving to another position, although I know some scouts think he might end up at third base..."
Yea, I thought the consensus was Mayer was a no brainer shortstop and his bat will be above average to plus.

I think the positional hedging you’re hearing is maybe in case he gets called up to a different position than SS, but Boston does not have a logjam in front of him. Would assume as soon as he’s ready, he takes over at SS and Story kicks back over to 2B.
 

nvalvo

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Yea, I thought the consensus was Mayer was a no brainer shortstop and his bat will be above average to plus.

I think the positional hedging you’re hearing is maybe in case he gets called up to a different position than SS, but Boston does not have a logjam in front of him. Would assume as soon as he’s ready, he takes over at SS and Story kicks back over to 2B.
Story has an opt-out after 2025, remember. It's not clear how long he'll be here for. 2025, 2027, or 2028 are the possible endpoints of his somewhat elaborate contract.
 

sodenj5

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Story has an opt-out after 2025, remember. It's not clear how long he'll be here for. 2025, 2027, or 2028 are the possible endpoints of his somewhat elaborate contract.
As of right now, Story is looking far more like David Price than Xander.

A lot can change between now and then, but Mayer and Story will likely overlap at some point.
 

nvalvo

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As of right now, Story is looking far more like David Price than Xander.
Sure, but he's been hurt. If he is reasonably healthy and productive for the end of this season and next, he could hit FA again after his age-31 season by opting out of 2/$50m. That seems like a number he could beat pretty easily if he performs anywhere near his career norms. I guess we'll see.
 

mikcou

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Sure, but he's been hurt. If he is reasonably healthy and productive for the end of this season and next, he could hit FA again after his age-31 season by opting out of 2/$50m. That seems like a number he could beat pretty easily if he performs anywhere near his career norms. I guess we'll see.
If he’s worth more than 2/$50, in what world are the Red Sox not picking up the additional 1/$20 option that would preempt his ability to opt out? This is always how the contract was intended to go - the opt out is very unlikely to occur - either he’s playing well and he ends up with 3/70 or he’s not and he gets the 2/50.There would have to be a sizable difference in opinion between the Sox and the Story camp for the opt out to actually occur.
 

nvalvo

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If he’s worth more than 2/$50, in what world are the Red Sox not picking up the additional 1/$20 option that would preempt his ability to opt out? This is always how the contract was intended to go - the opt out is very unlikely to occur - either he’s playing well and he ends up with 3/70 or he’s not and he gets the 2/50.There would have to be a sizable difference in opinion between the Sox and the Story camp for the opt out to actually occur.
I agree with your read on the situation, but I think there are scenarios where that happens. E.g., a world in which the team wants to go forward with Mayer and Yorke at the middle infield spots and prefer to reallocate Story's money, but don't think he's easily tradeable at 3/$70.
 

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I think the only thing that’s close to sure thing is Mayer at SS. I wouldn’t put even money on Yorke at 2B, but Story gives them flexibility until Yorke, Meidroth, Romero, or some other California HS SS selected in the draft is able to come up and fill the position.
 

johnlos

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So we like Keith Law now or not? :)
I dunno that we didn't like him, it just seemed like he was being stubborn about Yoshida (despite admitting to never having seen him play; and he's a guy that flexes about incorporating his own scouting at games into his rankings) and making up rules as he went along about how the Sox system was being lowered in his eyes for their imbalance of hitting talent over pitching talent. Didn't seem like he hated the Sox in particular but it did make it seem like he was phoning it in compared to his previous rankings.
 

johnlos

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Teel over Bleis and Anthony was unexpected, is that something anyone else agrees with? Bleacher Report has some pretty awful takes (they’re ranking best current nfl coaches right now on the app if anyone wants to see what I mean). Do they base less on upside than other rankings?
I appreciate independent takes but yes I'd take B/R's with a large grain of salt. Roman Anthony outside the top-100 after Baseball Prospectus (who kind of invented this whole industry) ranked him 9th is a bit embarrassing.
 

Jimbodandy

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I dunno that we didn't like him, it just seemed like he was being stubborn about Yoshida (despite admitting to never having seen him play; and he's a guy that flexes about incorporating his own scouting at games into his rankings) and making up rules as he went along about how the Sox system was being lowered in his eyes for their imbalance of hitting talent over pitching talent. Didn't seem like he hated the Sox in particular but it did make it seem like he was phoning it in compared to his previous rankings.
Fwiw, seems like Law has a bias towards toolsy players and less interest in skillsy players. I wouldn't call it phoning it in as much as just different priorities over what he values. And I don't think even the rosiest of red colored glasses wearers wouldn't consider our system stronger if we had a couple of high end pitching prospects in place of a couple of our positional ones. That's not a defense of Law as much as an acknowledgement that his rankings will differ based on his preferences in player types. Similarly some scouting guys prefer only high ceiling guys where others love a high floor guy who's a better guarantee of being an MLB regular. Knowing these folks' biases helps us interpret their writeups. It has nothing to do with liking or disliking an expert. If anything Law probably learned from the Yoshida assessment but may still think that this is peak Yoshida and may still prefer the MVP ceiling that some of the toolsier high prospects have. That's not an entirely irrational take.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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I appreciate independent takes but yes I'd take B/R's with a large grain of salt. Roman Anthony outside the top-100 after Baseball Prospectus (who kind of invented this whole industry) ranked him 9th is a bit embarrassing.
Baseball America goes back to 1981 and their Top 100 lists started in 1990. When I was reading prospect news in Baseball Weekly in the first half of the '90s, it was basically a page that relied on BA. Baseball Prospectus didn't exist until 1996, so no, they didn't invent the whole industry.
 

grimshaw

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I dunno that we didn't like him, it just seemed like he was being stubborn about Yoshida (despite admitting to never having seen him play; and he's a guy that flexes about incorporating his own scouting at games into his rankings) and making up rules as he went along about how the Sox system was being lowered in his eyes for their imbalance of hitting talent over pitching talent. Didn't seem like he hated the Sox in particular but it did make it seem like he was phoning it in compared to his previous rankings.
It's fun when Law comes out with his rankings, but he can't possibly put more work than Speier, our Soxprospects guys and Fangraphs does. He was stupid high on Rafaela when Chris Hatfield and co. who watch him all the time were warning us to pump the brakes.

I don't know that Law has scouts parked in the DSL and rookie ball either because Luis Perales, Angel Bastardo and Yordanny Monegro look pretty good and Fangraphs correctly identified them as the types of guys to watch that most of us diehards didn't know anything about last year.
 

nighthob

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I’m also a little mystified by Anthony’s ranking. Still just a 45+ future value and high risk rating? I get that there’s still wide variance on his ultimate outcome, but jaysus, the kid is demolishing high A pitching at barely 19. The odds are that he’s going to make the ‘25 Red Sox.
 

Brianish

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I was thinking the same. Certain evaluators just seems not to believe that his batting eye will be good enough. (Or that his contact skills will make up the difference).
 

TFisNEXT

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C-Note appears to be a somewhat divisive player.
His lack of plate discipline is probably causing many to be cautious. It’s the type of profile that could get exploited quickly at the MLB level even if he has some initial success. It would be awesome if he could tick his walk rate up even another 2 percent or so.
 

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His lack of plate discipline is probably causing many to be cautious. It’s the type of profile that could get exploited quickly at the MLB level even if he has some initial success. It would be awesome if he could tick his walk rate up even another 2 percent or so.
No, I get that for sure. Just interesting that fangraphs is pretty much all in, while BA appears to be quite cautious.
 

billy ashley

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I think a lot of folks here are describing Rafeala's weakness accurately, but in a manner that others might not understand by simply looking at his slash line.

Rafeala's biggest issue is his discipline. Which doesn't mean he doesn't walk or that he strikes out too often. Rather, it's that he attacks everything and whiffs frequently in the zone. He also makes a decent amount of bad contact (which masks the K numbers).

He needs to be more disciplined. but the impact of his aggression manifests itself differently than a guy who strikes out all the time.

Now if he's in the majors, where pitchers can beat you in the zone routinely, that k rate probably climbs.
 

Fishy1

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I think a lot of folks here are describing Rafeala's weakness accurately, but in a manner that others might not understand by simply looking at his slash line.

Rafeala's biggest issue is his discipline. Which doesn't mean he doesn't walk or that he strikes out too often. Rather, it's that he attacks everything and whiffs frequently in the zone. He also makes a decent amount of bad contact (which masks the K numbers).

He needs to be more disciplined. but the impact of his aggression manifests itself differently than a guy who strikes out all the time.

Now if he's in the majors, where pitchers can beat you in the zone routinely, that k rate probably climbs.
How much weak contact does he make, really, though? His career BABIP is pretty normal, .307. Below average, actually, for the start of his career. In 2021 he posted a mark of .288; but since then, in about 800 PA, he's posted .409, .310, .351, 347. Am I wrong in thinking that's a long time for a guy to have a BABIP of .350 without him hitting the snot out of the ball every time he makes contact?

At the end of the day, his K rate is, yes, over 20%, but it's also not that far above 20%. His minor league numbers compare to Bichette's unfavorably, but not unfavorably enough for me to be in a panic. I think he, with any luck, puts up a wrc+ of around 90 or so while giving gold glove defense, which is really valuable. We're also underrating his pop, I think: 38 home runs over the last two years, with a couple of months to go, is nothing to sneeze at.

Larger point is well-taken, though. He will need to learn to lay off stuff out of the zone or he's going to quickly find himself carrying his weight as a glove-first guy who hits a clutch of home runs.
 

billy ashley

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I think a 90wRC+ is absolutely a real possibility, and I agree, with his defense that's a darn good ball player.

The issue is that his inzone whiff rate has rivaled Javy Baez this year. I don't have those numbers handy, but it's really had to be an above average offensive player doing that. A lot of this issue is masked because like Baez, he's very talented guy, who swings a lot. It's not that common for him to whiff 3 times in a row against AAA pitching. Once he faces major league pitching, that almost certainly changes.

The issue is that he makes a far bit of weak contact. The career BABIP only being .307, despite plus speed is kind of telling.

Why Rafeala is such an interesting prospect, is that I totally agree with you, I think he could be about 10% worse than league average offensively, and still be a 2-3 win player with the glove.

But it also feels like that would be a shame if that's all he ever becomes. He's clearly got sneaky power. If he could smooth out his game he could be an All Star.

It's a weird profile. Both high floor and high ceiling, but likelihood of him maxing out is probably pretty low. I think that is why you see people dropping him out of their top 100s (forgetting that an excellent defensive CF with versatility who doesn't kill you offensively is really valuable, too).