There are, however, many high upside players who just finished seasons in A ball. The Red Sox have four players on Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein's top 101 prospects list, with SS Xander Bogaerts leading the way at 32, with Brandon Jacobs at 46, and potential Kevin Youkilis replacement Will Middlebrooks at 55. Keith Law has Bogaerts as the Sox top prospect as well, and includes catcher Blake Swihart in his top 100, but Middlebrooks and Jacobs both missed the cut. Also in the system is outfielder Bryce Brentz, who Goldstein ranked at the #6 prospect in the system, and is coming off a massive 30 homerun season, split between low-A and high-A. Finally, there is Sean Coyle, who flashed signs of promise in his full season debut at low-A as a nineteen year old, hitting .247/.362/.464. But what can we expect from them?
Baseball Prospectus' projection system, PECOTA, gives similar players at similar ages with its projections. While I've cherry picked these Red Sox prospects, their top comparable players are downright astounding.
|NAME||POS||COMPARABLES||Avg. WAR||Peak WAR|
|Brandon Jacobs||LF||Johnny Callison, Miguel Cabrera, Boog Powell||46.4||53.8|
|Bryce Brentz||RF||Tony Conigliaro, Jay Bruce, Manny Ramirez||32.5||69.6|
|Sean Coyle||2B||Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Adrian Beltre||30.2||56.1|
|Xander Bogaerts||SS||Wayne Causey, Ed Kranepool, Robin Yount||33.4||74.1|
Every single one of them has a current or potential Hall of Fame hitter in their top three comparables. To top it off, many of these players are still active and adding to their career wins totals or, in the case of Conigliaro, became star major leaguer before a freak injury derailed his career. Essentially, a comparable player is picked based on the players statistics and position; Sean Coyle, for example, has both Uptons and Beltre listed because all came up as middle infielders , struck out a lot, and showed good power for a young player. Brandon Jacobs and Bryce Brentz have both shown unbelievable power for players their age, and it is interesting. This is not to say that these players will become stars, but the potential is there. In the cold month of February, nursing a Patriots loss in the Super Bowl and waiting for spring training to wash away the taste of a bitter September, that list certainly stokes the fire of baseball enthusiasm and hope.