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January 1, 2013 at 3:37 PM

SoxProspects.com Top 10 Stories/Posts of 2012

We here at SoxProspects.com want to wish a Happy New Year to all of our readers! To celebrate and get in on the whole "countdown" bandwagon that everyone loves at this time of year, here's a list of our top 10 most-read stories of 2012.

Interestingly, all of the posts are from June and later. Perhaps Red Sox fans needing some good news turned to the team's minor leaguers for some hope after things went south in the majors? At any rate, the lists hits on a number of topics: some breaking news, some analysis, and a lot of scouting.

Thanks for all of your support in 2012. Here's to a great 2013!

Chris Mellen and Ian Cundall filed this report from the Fall Instructional League on some of the exciting younger prospects in the system, including Blake Swihart, Cody Kukuk, and Keury De La Cruz.

To give credit where it's due, the Top 40 in Review series was the idea of our Social Media Specialist, JP Kitson (who then had to do none of the work on the project, come to think of it...). Unsurprisingly, the player our readers wanted to hear about most was the system's crown jewel, Aruban Xander Bogaerts (pictured, above). Bogaerts crushed the ball in both the Carolina League and Eastern League at age 19, establishing himself as one of the top prospects in the game, never mind the system.

Our readers love Mellen's installments of The Book, and I don't blame them. This is the first of three posts in that series on the list, and covers one of the breakout stars in the system in 2012. Bradley (pictured, right) jumped from No. 19 in our rankings at the start of the season to No. 3 on the SoxProspects.com list by the end of the year, and some on the staff now rank him as high as No. 2. What's not to love about a center fielder with a great approach and MLB-ready defense who reaches Double-A in June of his first full season?

The second-most read edition of The Book was the result of Mellen's first look at one of the shiny new toys the Sox received in their mega-trade with the Dodgers, the sinkerballing Allen Webster. Chris came away very impressed with the right-hander's changeup and slider, rating his secondary offerings as among the best in the system, but noted his need to improve his fastball command and consistency in his delivery.

This one was the top pure news post of the year. We broke this news, as the Sox eventually signed the right-hander to a deal following a season in which he split time between the White Sox system and Japan, and spent time in camp with the Twins as a Rule 5 pick. My guess is that Doyle's strong New England ties--he grew up in New Hampshire, went to Boston College, is an alum of the Cape Cod League, and now resides in Rhode Island--helped bump the pagehits on this story.

This piece was an Ian Cundall joint, and leading with information on Bogaerts is always a good way to drive up those pagehits. Also featured were Travis Shaw, Bryce Brentz, and Michael Olmsted, as Ian filed this dispatch after a week watching the Sea Dogs.

This stub linked to Mike Andrews's ESPNBoston column. Nobody was surprised that Bogaerts topped the list, but there were ranking questions between Bradley and Matt Barnes at number two, where to put Webster following the Dodgers trade and two starts for Portland, and where to slot A-ball prospects Blake Swihart (pictured, left), Garin Cecchini, and Henry Owens relative to players who are higher in the system like Brentz and Jose Iglesias.

The most-read edition of The Book is chock-full of scout-y goodness, as Mellen hit on all of the top arms in the system (at the time anyway, as this was pre-Webster) in one fell swoop. Who moved forward this year? Who regressed? Who are the important new arms? Find out here, faithful reader! (Hey, sometimes I channel my inner Stan Lee. Is that such a crime?)

It's obvious why this one is up here, given the enormous ramifications of the deal for both teams, monetarily and talent-wise. The Sox traded over $270 million in payroll for five players, including the pitchers currently ranked at Nos. 4 and 5 here on SoxProspects.com. Unfortunately, we had not yet begun calling this "The Punto Trade."

You folks really liked Chris and Ian's reports from Instructs, huh? This piece was the start of Mellen's furious boosting of Manuel Margot, while Cundall had some notes about right-handers Simon Mercedes and Austin Maddox, as well as shortstop Deven Marrero.

Photo credit: Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Blake Swihart by Kelly O'Connor.