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September 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Staff Top 40 Rankings, 2014: Chris Hatfield

This week, members of the SoxProspects.com brass will be posting their end-of-season Top 40 rankings and answering some questions about their lists. We'll release our aggregate rankings on Friday as well, so don't worry if some of the player-specific questions don't make sense yet. They will. First up is Executive Editor Chris Hatfield.

The Rankings:
1. Blake Swihart, C
2. Henry Owens, LHP
3. Manuel Margot, OF
4. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
5. Rafael Devers, 3B
6. Brian Johnson, LHP
7. Michael Chavis, SS/3B
8. Matt Barnes, RHP
9. Trey Ball, LHP
10. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP

11. Garin Cecchini, 3B/OF
12. Michael Kopech, RHP
13. Deven Marrero, SS
14. Sean Coyle, 2B/3B
15. Wendell Rijo, 2B
16. Travis Shaw, 1B
17. Edwin Escobar, LHP
18. Sam Travis, 1B
19. Javier Guerra, SS
20. Nick Longhi, OF/1B

21. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
22. Carlos Asuaje, Util
23. Luis Diaz, RHP
24. Steven Wright, RHP
25. Heath Hembree, RHP
26. Alex Hassan, OF/1B
27. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
28. Christopher Acosta, RHP
29. Henry Ramos, OF
30. Justin Haley, RHP

31. Cody Kukuk, LHP
32. Noe Ramirez, RHP
33. Simon Mercedes, RHP
34. Bryce Brentz, OF
35. Joe Gunkel, RHP
36. Jamie Callahan, RHP
37. Dalier Hinojosa, RHP
38. Miguel Celestino, RHP
39. Gabe Speier, LHP
40. Mauricio Dubon, SS

You’ve got 140 characters - describe the system in a tweet-length summary.

The list's weak because of the slew of 2014 grads. Will be more in 2015, then a big gap before the young, high-ceiling hopes would be ready.

Manuel Margot/Rafael Devers/Eduardo Rodriguez were the highest-ranked players we had ranked differently at 3-to-5. Why’d you order these the way you did?

Well, on the one hand, there is the upside: Margot as a five-tool centerfielder, Devers as a slugging corner infielder, Rodriguez as a number two lefty starter. But as with all prospect ranking, it is a matter of assessing ceiling, floor, and chances of where the player will land on that spectrum. Based on what Margot did, at age 19, in Greenville and Salem this year, figuring it out before our eyes in putting together his stellar end-of-season run, was phenomenal. He is already an excellent defender, shows great speed, and can put bat-to-ball. Let's put it this way: he's a year ahead of Mookie Betts's pace. Rodriguez seemingly took a step back this year, at least until his trade to Boston and subsequent turnaround. Oh, and he is still just 21. I value him about as much as Margot, but give the nod to the position player based on risk. Finally, Devers has the chance to be a phenom surpassing both, but I need to see what he does next season. I led a push to move Devers up the rankings quickly earlier this year, but given his age, I am pumping the brakes on myself at this point. Given what I see as more risk there, I put him half a step behind the other two. That said, I think this system's top 6 is phenomenal, especially given the exodus of graduates this season.

Who, not in your top 40, do you see as a potential riser next year?

I'm the only one who didn't put Jake Cosart in his top 40 (I've got him at 48, if you're wondering). I think he is a huge, huge wildcard - a guy who can hit the upper 90s but has not pitched for very long. It is possible he could never make it to full-season ball. It is possible he could figure it out and become a potential back-end-of-the-rotation starter. If he trends in the latter direction, he would shoot up the rankings quickly. I guess, in this case, I am simply being a bit pessimistic on the chances of that happening, for now, but I would happily reverse course in time if he shows that he can harness the heat.

Here’s your top 40 from last year. Where would you like to pat yourself on the back? Where did you screw up?

Y'know, I'm pretty happy with my list from last year. Everyone knew Betts would jump if he performed, and I was high on Devers, which I feel good about. I was low on Jon Denney, although nobody could have predicted how that would turn out. I should have valued the stellar defense of Christian Vazquez more, particularly at a position where there is such a premium on that and in this offensive environment. Looking only at his numbers, I may have been a bit high on Chris Martin, but I will admit to not having followed him much this year, and don't know how much his bloated ERA was influenced by Colorado.

You're the only one with Gabe Speier and Miguel Celestino in your Top 40. What do you see there?

Speier is me gambling on a guy who may have fallen last year because teams knew he needed Tommy John surgery (as heard on one of Alex "No Relation" Speier's podcasts this year, the Sox, at least, knew it was likely when they drafted him. He came back and was great in the GCL at age 19 immediately, which is not necessarily typical for a TJ rehabber. I could see him climbing quickly next season if he is assigned to Greenville and holds his own at age 20. As for Celestino, he has a low ceiling in middle relief, but I think there is a good chance he will fill that role for some team, whether it be the Red Sox or not, next season. I probably should not be that certain, admittedly. Call it a gut feeling.

Open floor - pick one more thing on the list to expound upon.

Let me admit that in our first run through our lists, I had Bryce Brentz and Dan Butler way, way too low in my rankings, and moved them up accordingly. They were originally 44 and 58, respectively, on my list. On Brentz, I put too much weight into his flaws and ignored his positives, including power that's rare in the game today. I still don't think he's an everyday guy, necessarily, but it would be interesting to see him get a shot at doing that with another club. As for Butler, who I now have at 45 on my list, I undervalued a guy who will probably bounce around as a second/third-ish catcher in the bigs, as there is value to that.

Photo credits: Eduardo Rodriguez, Teddy Stankiewicz, and Christian Vazquez by Kelly O'Connor

Chris Hatfield is Executive Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPChrisHatfield.