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November 2, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Staff Top 60 Rankings, 2015: Chris Hatfield

This week, members of the SoxProspects.com brass will be participating in the third year of our annual individual rankings series, posting their end-of-season Top 40 rankings and answering some questions about their lists. Our aggregate rankings are already out as the current site rankings, so that will provide some context for some of the questions each staffer was asked. First up is Executive Editor & Podcast Host Chris Hatfield.

The Rankings:
1. Yoan Moncada, 2B
2. Rafael Devers, 3B
3. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
4. Manuel Margot, CF
5. Andrew Benintendi, CF
6. Javier Guerra, SS
7. Michael Kopech, RHP
8. Brian Johnson, LHP
9. Sam Travis, 1B
10. Deven Marrero, SS

11. Michael Chavis, 3B
12. Wendell Rijo, 2B
13. Luis Alexander Basabe, CF
14. Logan Allen, LHP
15. Trey Ball, LHP
16. Nick Longhi, 1B/RF
17. Marco Hernandez, SS
18. Mauricio Dubon, SS
19. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
20. Pat Light, RHP

21. Williams Jerez, LHP
22. Luis Ysla, LHP
23. Carlos Asuaje, 2B
24. Ty Buttrey, RHP
25. Yoan Aybar, CF
26. Jonathan Aro, RHP
27. Edwin Escobar, LHP
28. Noe Ramirez, RHP
29. Dayan Diaz, RHP
30. Christopher Acosta, RHP

31. Bryce Brentz, LF/RF
32. Kevin McAvoy, RHP
33. Garin Cecchini, LF/1B/3B
34. Kyle Martin, RHP
35. Jalen Beeks, LHP
36. Jordan Procyshen, C
37. Victor Acosta, 3B/2B
38. Chandler Shepherd, RHP
39. Travis Lakins, RHP
40. Ben Taylor, RHP

41. Austin Glorius, RHP
42. Austin Rei, C
43. Marc Brakeman, RHP
44. Sean Coyle, 2B/3B
45. Henry Ramos, RF
46. Yankory Pimentel, RHP
47. German Taveras, RHP
48. Jeremy Rivera, SS
49. Josh Ockimey, 1B
50. Josh Pennington, RHP

51. Gerson Bautista, RHP
52. Roniel Raudes, RHP
53. Mike Meyers, LF
54. Jake Romanski, C
55. Kevin Steen, RHP
56. Jake Cosart, RHP
57. Kyri Washington, LF
58. Ben Moore, C
59. Enmanuel De Jesus, LHP
60. Jorge Marban, RHP

Let’s start brief: Describe the state of the system in a tweet-length 140 characters.
May have 8 Top 100 guys. Best high-end talent in a long time, w/ great U-25 grads too. After that, a lot of relievers. And who will DD deal?

We’ve all been at this for a while. When you compare these rankings to what you’ve done in past years, what are your thoughts?
There's a very clear top nine on this list (internally, we ranked the same guys in the top nine in some order) that is as good a top group as the Red Sox have had in a long time. And that this group is so good is incredible after two years with a ton of high-end graduations; few systems would still be this deep after graduating Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jackie Bradley, Henry OwensTravis Shaw, Allen Webster, and Brandon Workman, among others, in that short of a span. As I tweeted recently, I did an under-25 list for the organization recently, and Brian Johnson only ranked 15th. I like Johnson a lot, so his being pushed that low is astounding to me.

However, there's a pretty clear step down to the next tier, and I'd argue that the group from 10 to the early 20s is actually a little weaker than in past years. It seems to consist of players with either big question marks (can Michael Chavis cut down on the strikeouts and tap into his impressive raw power?) or ceilings that aren't particularly high (Marco Hernandez and Mauricio Dubon feel like utility infielders; Logan Allen is the rare polished, left-handed, but low-ceilinged high school draftee). I'm also struck—both for good and bad—by what seems like a glut of future major league relief arms from 20 to 60 on this list.

Can you give us a player or two from outside your top 40 who you think could potentially rise next year? How about from the back half of the top 40?
I mentioned the relievers in that last answer, and I almost kept writing that Gerson Bautista (pictured, left) struck me as a guy who might develop into a back-end relief arm, despite being 51st on my list. That's the reality of a Rookie-ball arm who has a plus fastball—if things go perfectly, he could be a stud, but he also might not ever make it past Greenville. It's that risk factor that makes me lower on him than some of my colleagues, but I see the potential there as well.

In the middle 20, I still think Garin Cecchini could have a major league future, although the window for that is closing. He might be at the point where he needs to be traded to another organization that will take a chance on him and give him everyday at-bats to see if he sinks or swims. I'm cheating a bit in that I don't think he will ever rank much higher—in order to rise like that, he'd need play well enough that he'd wind up graduating quickly—but while he has never really hit in Triple-A, I find it hard to say that a player whose hit tool once looked like such a certainty just lost it forever in the drive down I-95 from Portland.

Here’s your top 40 from last year. Where would you like to pat yourself on the back? Where did you screw up? What surprised you?
I like that I had Javier Guerra ranked 19th, ahead of our aggregate ranking for him. We quickly moved Eduardo Rodriguez ahead of Henry Owens this season, but looking back, I probably should have bought into his scouting reports a bit more, and I think that experience informed my willingness to put Anderson Espinoza as high as third this year—in past years, I might have hesitated before putting him ahead of at least Manuel Margot, if not Andrew Benintendi. I also thought it interesting that I was the only person to put Gabe Speier in my top 40 before he was dealt as part of the Rick Porcello trade.

You’re the highest on second baseman Wendell Rijo. Why is that?
I think I was the only one on the staff to see Rijo (pictured, top) in person after spring training, so that likely plays into it. I get that his numbers are not super impressive, but consider that he spent the year in Salem although he is younger than Yoan Moncada, Michael Chavis, and Nick Longhi, and less than a month older than Javier Guerra—he could have spent the year in Greenville and we would not have blinked. He appears to have made some improvements in the field, making just two errors in his final 68 games after making nine in his first 40. He has the tools to be a plus defender at second base with a potential plus hit tool.

You’re the highest on Christopher Acosta too. Why is that?
This is complete speculation on my part, as I've never seen Acosta pitch. What I do know is that he got a $1.5 million bonus in 2014, and that while he took his lumps before missing a month with an ankle injury (4 starts, 12 2/3 IP, 21 H, 13 R/10 ER, 3 BB, 9 K), he was much better when he returned (6 appearances, 22 IP, 15 H, 8 R/6 ER, 3 BB, 15 K), and those numbers could be entirely affected by luck, especially in the Dominican Summer League. Obviously, Acosta is not Anderson Espinoza, but I made a concerted effort not to penalize him for that obvious fact.

Photo credit: Wendell Rijo and Gerson Bautista by Kelly O'Connor.

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