With hyped young players like Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada being called up to the big club, Red Sox faithful are obviously excited to see what these youngsters can do. Moreover, the best way to gauge the future is to look into the past, so I am starting a series of “Where Are They Now” about former top prospects over the years to see if they were worth the billing. Moving onto the 2014 season, we will look into the rearview mirror to see where these players are, and where they could end up.
Xander Bogaerts (National Ranking 2)
Much of the excitement Red Sox Nation is feeling right now about Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi pales in comparison to the frenzy of Aruban standout Xander Bogaerts who burst onto the scene in the Red Sox magical 2013 World Series run. Today, Xander Bogaerts, while slumping the past month, is everything Sox fans could have hoped and more. He is a pure hitter who has improved his power being on pace for 20 home runs and 90 RBI. After struggling in the field and moving over to third base in 2014, Xander has honed his skills at short playing above average defense. Without doubt, Xander Bogaerts will be in the upper echelon of all MLB players for the next decade.
Henry Owens (National Ranking 40) from previous article*
Standing at 6’6 as a crafty left-hander, Henry Owens was viewed to be the best pitcher to emerge from the Red Sox system since Jon Lester. Before the 2015 season, many baseball reporters suggested Owens would be a centerpiece in a deal to acquire an ace like Cole Hamels who would be a replacement for the aforementioned Lester. However, Owens’ upside quickly faded as he was exposed for being a big lefty with a small arm. Owens has been up and down with the Red Sox between the big club and Pawtuckett, and Sox fans most recently saw him get shelled by the Tigers a few weeks back.
Note: Owens slid four spots the following year in the BaseballAmerica.com prospect rankings.
Jackie Bradley Jr. (National Ranking 50)
“As long as he hit .240 with decent pop, I’ll be happy because his glove is so good!”-Any Red Sox fan over the past three years. Bradley, commonly referred to as JBJ, is a wizard in the field with arguably the most inconsistent bats in recent MLB history. In extended callups with the Red Sox in 2013 and 2014, Bradley batted a truly pitiful .196 in 164 games. Red Sox fans, myself included, were ready to write him off as wasted talent because he was an automatic out; however, in August of 2015, Bradley turned everything around offensively. Shining down the stretch in 2015, Bradley Jr. locked up the starting centerfield spot and hit the ground running in 2016. Bradley continued to build upon his surprising 2015 by amassing an impressive 29 game hitting streak, and hitting 22 home runs so far this season. Bradley is still a very streaky hitter, but his offense is a pleasant surprise which could vault him into being a perennial all-star.
Blake Swihart (National Ranking 73) from previous article*
Switch-hitting catcher Blake Swihart looked primed to make an impact for the Red Sox to bolster an already young and potent lineup featuring budding stars Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Swihart’s unique athleticism and hitting prowess from both sides of plate made the 2011 first round pick very enticing to teams on the trade market. Swihart has played in parts of the past two seasons, with the 2016 season being cut short due to injury, and has performed adequately while transitioning to leftfield.
Note: Swihart moved up to the 17th prospect in baseball the following year.
Garin Cecchini (National Ranking 74)
If you were to go back into a time machine to 2013, Red Sox fans were having the debate about where and if Garin Cecchini had a spot on the roster in the coming years because of the emergence of Will Middlebrooks. Today a common Sox fan says, “Garin who?” and “oh yeah Middlebrooks, the guy who married Jenny Dell.” It is self-explanatory that Cecchini had little success with the Red Sox, and he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2015 offseason.
Other Top 100 Red Sox prospects from the 2014 season include Mookie Betts(75), Allen Webster (88) and Trey Ball (89)
by Joe Spinosa