January 1, 2014 at 9:00 AM
It's that time again, and we'd like to wish a happy new year to all of our readers! Once again, we had our best year yet here at the website, one that has us excited for what's ahead in 2014! Here at the site, we celebrated our 10th anniversary, both started the year and finished it by adding to our ownership team, and of course, celebrated another Red Sox World Series victory just like everyone else.
It has become an annual tradition for us to count down our top 10 posts from the News Page from the past year by pageviews. We admittedly had a few surprises on here, but hey, you're the ones who are clicking the links! In a new feature this year, we'll also close out the piece with links to our most popular podcasts (and by the way, you can expect a new one to go up by the end of the week).
Thanks again. Cheers to a great 2014!
10. Bogaerts captivates in Triple-A debut, June 15
Our own Kevin Pereira was on hand for uberprospect Xander Bogaerts's (pictured, above) debut at the minors' highest level, becoming the youngest PawSox ever. One thing I love about this story? All the quotes from Bogaerts and Pawtucket Manager Gary DiSarcina about his patience, which sound downright prescient in hindsight after his 2013 playoff performance:
"I just wanted to keep the same approach and not try to do too much because that can make you get into a funk. I've been hitting good lately, so I was just trying to do the same thing -- be patient. I was really patient today."
9. Scouting Scratch: Henry Owens, Aug. 14
No pitcher had a better year in the Red Sox system than left-hander Henry Owens. Ian Cundall was able to catch Owens in his first couple of weeks after being Promoted to Portland, and wrote up this report of the 6-foot-6 pitcher. Ian caught him on a day when his velocity was down, as he sat 88-90 mph (reports had him sitting 93-94 mph in other starts, as noted in the post). Owens's ability to succeed at the higher levels of the system may be one of the most interesting stories heading into 2014, so let this be your preparatory primer.
With the Fall Instructional League being one of the parts of the prospect season that happens mostly in the dark, you folks tend to love when we report in from Fort Myers at the end of the year. I was lucky enough to make the trip this year, although it was unfortunately only for a couple days. I particularly liked what I saw from 16-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers, who looked like he belonged despite being the youngest player present by far, and 18-year-old second baseman Wendell Rijo (pictured, left), who showed me that the one look I got at the GCL in August was a bad day to judge him on alone.
(For what it's worth, perhaps my favorite discovery during this trip may have been that Blu Sushi has an all-you-can-eat lunch special. If you go to Spring Training and don't hit this place... I'm not sure what to tell you.)
As you'll see, 2013 was definitely the year of Xander Bogaerts (at least in the non-bearded, minor league category). At this point of the summer, Xandamonium was really ramping up, the trade of Jose Iglesias seemingly opening up the third base job for the precocious young infielder. Here, Ian praised Bogaerts's ability to adjust to his new level after early struggles. He also had insights on two of the PawSox's best hitters this season, reporting on Alex Hassan's new leg kick that allowed him to hit for more power, and describing how Dan Butler has a tool set to carve out a major league career.
6. Deven Marrero promoted to Double-A Portland, Aug. 12
This was the first surprise to me on this list. Will Woodward had this post on the promotion of Deven Marrero (pictured, right), the Red Sox's first draft pick in 2012, from High-A Salem was something of a surprise as well, as he had only hit .256/.341/.334 in 332 at-bats and spent 20 days on the DL in April/May with a hamstring injury. However, Marrero's best skills do not show up on the stat sheet—he's an outstanding defensive shortstop, and he was named the organization's Baserunner of the Year. Just goes to show that there's more to scouting the minor leagues than following stat lines.
Everyone remembers this as being Iglesias to Detroit, Avisail Garcia to Chicago, and Jake Peavy to Boston. But of course, the Red Sox also received Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers and sent Frank Montas, JB Wendelken, and Cleuluis Rondon to the White Sox. In this piece, James Dunne and Ian teamed up to let you know just what the Sox had given up in the deal that brought the guy who bought that cigar store Indian and later purchased a duck boat to ride around his Alabama property to Boston.
4. Prospects traded by the Red Sox since 2005, July 23
This post by Mike Andrews reached all the way back to 2005 to follow up on every prospect the Red Sox have ever traded? Ever wonder what happened to that guy you saw in Lowell that one time? Have a friend named Scott Shoemaker and want to follow up on what his minor league counterpart wound up doing? This is your post.
3. A look at potential Sox rookies in 2014, Nov. 8
The posts that placed this piece third came from the stub on our site that linked to Mike's post on ESPN Boston. Fresh off the club's World Series win, folks were apparently thirsty to hear what was coming down the pipeline for next year. What "World Series Hangover"???
So, you guys like-a the Xander eh? As fate had it, this Scouting Scratch went up the day before Bogaerts was promoted to Pawtucket. There was plenty in Ian's report here to make Bogaerts fans drool, as he had recently caught a two-home run performance from the young Aruban. Meanwhile, Almanzar has since been selected by Baltimore in the Rule 5 draft. This report talked about his improvement over the course of his career, but also what he still has to work on.
1. SoxProspects.com season-end award winners, Sept. 10
OK, your guess is as good as mine here. Yes, a Xander-less post was our top story of the year. Mookie Betts (pictured, left) was named our Offensive Player of the Year, Owens our Pitcher of the Year, Anthony Ranaudo the Comeback Player of the Year and Aussie Daniel McGrath the Rookie of the Year. Victor Acosta and Daniel Gonzalez split DSL Player of the Year honors. It was a hell of a year for the farm system—let's be honest, it's a good time to be a Sox fan.
Happy New Year everyone.
Photo Credits: Xander Bogaerts, Wendell Rijo, Deven Marrero, and Mookie Betts, all by Kelly O'Connor.
Chris Hatfield is Executive Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPChrisHatfield.