May 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM
This week's minor league notes:
- Xander Bogaerts (pictured, right) has topped the SoxProspects.com rankings since July 20, 2012, but that reign came to an end on Friday when Bogaerts graduated from the site rankings. We believe his total of 651 days at the top was the longest ever for the site. The last previous number one ranked players were Matt Barnes, who is currently ranked fifth, and current Red Sox third basemen Will Middlebrooks.
- Though Bogaerts was signed on August 23, 2009, the SoxProspects.com scouting staff got their first look at him at Fall Instructs in 2010. Here is senior scouting advisor Chris Mellen's write-up of that first look.
- Any rookie who puts up a .394 on-base percentage over his first month of the year cannot be struggling too badly, but the expectations for Bogaerts were very high coming into the year. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal talks about how his defense is still a work in progress. Bogaerts believes that he will heat up along with the weather, and Joon Lee of WEEI.com passes along some quotes from the Red Sox shortstop.
- The performances of rookies Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley have gotten national attention as well. ESPN's Buster Olney says that fans need to temper their expectations with the young rookies, while also saying that teammates notice and respect their strong work ethic. WEEI.com's Arjuna Ramgopal gives some quotes from Olney on those subjects and more from his appearance on the Mut & Merloni show.
- Rankings adjustments have been made every Friday thus far this season, and none were more dramatic than when the number one prospect graduates from the rankings. Managing editor Matt Huegel took to Twitter to crowd source who the fans thought the new number one player should be.
- When it was finally announced on Friday that Portland second basemen Mookie Betts (pictured, below) would be the new number one player, SoxProspects.com director of scouting Ian Cundall posted a piece explaining the thought process and debate behind the rankings from several members of the SoxProspects.com brass.
- In the end it had to be Mookie, who to this point in the year has put up a .405/.456/.622 slash line with four home runs, 13 steals, as 12 walks to only nine strikeouts. He has also done all of this while being 3.6 years younger than the average player in the Eastern League according to Baseball Reference. Based on that performance, he was an easy call for the SoxProspects.com player of the month for April, along with starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa who posted a 2.28 ERA over 27 2/3 innings in April.
- Betts has flown up our rankings after starting the year ranked 10th in the system. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus has seen Betts' stock soar as well, and he wonders what he missed in his previous evaluations of Betts. He goes as far as to say that if Betts reaches his potential, "that's not a normal player. That's a franchise player. That's a $100M player in the modern game." Very high praise for the 21 year-old.
- Over the off-season, there was talk about playing Betts at other positions such as shortstop or in the outfield due to the fact he was blocked by Dustin Pedroia. While Betts has only played second base thus far in 2014, that talk has increased due to his incredible play perhaps speeding up his timetable. WEEI.com's Alex Speier looks into other positional options for Betts, and also concludes that if he continues to perform at this level that there will be no choice but to find a way to get him into the lineup.
- While Bogaerts and Betts have been grabbing much of the attention thus far, other players are performing at high levels as well. Matt Barnes has now made two starts for Pawtucket this year after getting a late start, and PawSox radio broadcaster Jeff Levering has been impressed.
- Speier meanwhile has been taking note of left-hander Brian Johnson, and wonders if his prospect status could take off this year. Johnson began the year at Salem where he ended 2013, but has since been promoted to Portland as SoxProspects.com executive editor Chris Hatfield notes. Along with that move left-handed Cody Kukuk was moved up to Salem from Greenville, and Ty Buttrey was assigned to Greenville after getting a late start to the year.
- Drake Britton, who has gone up and down from Pawtucket to the big league club with some regularity was again recalled this past week as staff writer James Dunne writes.
- The Red Sox have released second basemen Bryan Johns and right-hander Victor Ramirez as reported by Matt Eddy of Baseball America in his weekly transactions recap. Of these two, Ramirez is the larger surprise after he received a $110,000 bonus when he signed as an international free agent in August of 2011 out of Venezuela.
- The SoxProspects.com featured video of the week was the latest Red Sox first round pick, Trey Ball, who was drafted seventh overall last year. He has only had a few starts as a professional thus far, and if you had not had a chance to see him pitch then the video is a must watch.
- Longtime Red Sox scout George Digby passed away this past week at 96 years old. He signed many big name Red Sox over the years, but as ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes writes, he was very close to signing one of the greatest players of all-time, Willie Mays.
- Finally, if you missed any of the news, notes, or stats from the month of April, SoxProspects.com editor-in-chief Mike Andrews has you covered with the farm notes over at ESPNBoston.
Photo Credit: Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts by Kelly O'Connor.
Will Woodward is a staff writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter here.