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September 30, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Staff Top 40 Rankings, 2014: Matt Huegel

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. Next up is Managing Editor Matt Huegel.

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

11. Trey Ball, LHP
12. Deven Marrero, SS
13. Edwin Escobar, LHP
14. Sean Coyle, 2B/3B
15. Michael Kopech, RHP
16. Wendell Rijo, 2B
17. Travis Shaw, 1B
18. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
19. Sam Travis, 1B
20. Heath Hembree, RHP

21. Nick Longhi, OF/1B
22. Steven Wright, RHP
23. Jake Cosart, RHP
24. Carlos Asuaje, Util
25. Alex Hassan, OF/1B
26. Henry Ramos, OF
27. Simon Mercedes, RHP
28. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
29. Christopher Acosta, RHP
30. Javier Guerra, SS

31. Noe Ramirez, RHP
32. Bryce Brentz, OF
33. Dan Butler, C
34. Drake Britton, LHP
35. Luis Diaz, RHP
36. Dalier Hinojosa, RHP
37. Cody Kukuk, LHP
38. German Taveras, RHP
39. Justin Haley, RHP
40. Jamie Callahan, RHP

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

With so many graduating, top 25-and-under talent better than top prospects. Thin after top 10, will need raw guys to develop into next wave.

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?

Margot and Devers obviously have the higher ceilings of the three, and I think a pretty good chance to come close to those ceilings as well. It wasn't particularly hard ranking them over Rodriguez, who I like as a prospect, but I see as having more of a mid-rotation ceiling, back-end starter floor. Devers versus Margot was the choice I struggled with most, as I can envision both blossoming into stars if things go right. It came down to the fact that Margot has a similarly flashy set of tools and high ceiling, with a chance to impact the game in more ways than Devers (defensively and on the basepaths, specifically), and Margot's already proved it at a level where I can actually take something from the results beyond "keep an eye on this guy" (unlike the DSL and GCL).

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

I ranked Mauricio Dubon at 43, and I feel like I could have gone a little higher with him even this year. He has only been playing baseball in the United States since 2009 and seems to still have a lot of room for growth. It was a good sign that he played exclusively shortstop with some competition on the Lowell roster for that spot, and the reports were solid defensively. The numbers offensively showed a raw, but talented, hitter, and if he can add a little power and patience next year, I could see him finishing near the top 20 by the end of next season.

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

I'd pat myself on the back for being the highest among the rankers on Christian Vazquez and Deven Marrero. I think they've shown how far just a little hitting talent can go with elite defense to back it up. I also choose Nick Longhi as a guy I thought could "really jump next year," and I think that's proven to be true. I think my biggest mistake was ranking Mookie Betts at 10. We were all sort of in wait-and-see mode on him last offseason to make sure he could continue success in upper minors, but it would have been nice to be bold and rank him higher.

You’re particularly low on Javier Guerra. Why so?

I know we've heard strong reports from scouts on Guerra, including from our own Ian Cundall during spring training, but I'm just not convinced he's not the next strong defensive shortstop who flashes some tools but just can't hit enough as he advances. Granted, I may be biased by the past shortstops the Red Sox have developed that fit this all-defense, no-hit mold, but there's not much to like in the numbers (most notably, the strikeout-to-walk ratio) and he wasn't particularly young for the league. He does seem to have more power potential than some of the other all-defense shortstops of recent years, but hasn't shown much of any of home run pop yet and he needs to be able to hit enough to use it. I'm open to moving him up as we get more of our scouting eyes on him, but I'm still skeptical at this point.

You’re really high on Jake Cosart. Why’s that?

Kind of a shot in the dark based on upside, honestly. We don't have a ton of reports back on him yet, but I like that he still has a lot of room to grow as a pitcher, having taken to it full-time more recently, and obviously I like the flashy fastball. He may end up a reliever or flameout in minors, but I see Simon Mercedes, the pitcher I have next behind him, as a future reliever as well. I think it's more that I'm not in love with anyone behind him, and I'd rather take a shot on the unknown with the higher ceiling.

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

Edwin Escobar is a guy I like and I was one of the highest on (Ian has him a little higher, as you'll see tomorrow). He was very young for the league and had trouble against righties over the course of the season, but showed improvement after being traded to the Red Sox. I saw him pitch 8 2/3 shutout innings in the International League playoffs and then another 7 innings of two-run ball in his next playoff start, and was impressed. He was a top 100 prospect with San Francisco coming into the year, and I don't necessarily see a huge upside, but I think he has starting pitcher potential.

Photo Credit: Deven Marrero, Nick Longhi, and Mauricio Dubon by Kelly O'Connor

Matt Huegel is managing editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP.