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November 5, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Staff Top 60 Rankings, 2015: Ian Cundall

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. Last up is Director of Scouting Ian Cundall.

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. Luis Alexander Basabe, CF

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

21. Williams Jerez, LHP
22. Mauricio Dubon, SS
23. Edwin Escobar, LHP
24. Ty Buttrey, RHP
25. Carlos Asuaje, 2B
26. Noe Ramirez, RHP
27. Jonathan Aro, RHP
28. Yoan Aybar, CF
29. Bryce Brentz, RF/LF
30. Garin Cecchini, LF/1B/3B

31. Dayan Diaz, RHP
32. Travis Lakins, RHP
33. Kevin McAvoy, RHP
34. Jalen Beeks, LHP
35. Austin Glorius, RHP
36. Ben Taylor, RHP
37. Chandler Shepherd, RHP
38. Jordan Procyshen, C
39. Austin Rei, C
40. Gerson Bautista, RHP

41. Christopher Acosta, RHP
42. Henry Ramos, RF
43. Kyle Martin, RHP
44. Marc Brakeman, RHP
45. Josh Ockimey, 1B
46. Sean Coyle, 2B/3B
47. Jeremy Rivera, SS
48. Victor Acosta, 3B/2B
49. Josh Pennington, RHP

50. Victor Diaz, RHP
51. Yankory Pimentel, RHP
52. Danny Mars, OF
53. Ben Moore, C
54. Kyri Washington, LF
55. Tate Matheny, OF
56. Mike Meyers, LF
57. German Taveras, RHP
58. Roniel Raudes, RHP
59. Dioscar Romero, RHP
60. Jose Almonte, RHP

Let’s start brief: Describe the state of the system in a tweet-length 140 characters.
Top-heavy, with potentially three of the top prospects in all of baseball. After ten gets thin quick, but still some interesting prospects.

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?
The top 10 is the strongest it’s been since I joined the staff in 2010. It’s rare to have two potential top 15 prospects in all of baseball, but right now the Red Sox have three (Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, and Anderson Espinoza) and maybe even a fourth in Manuel Margot (pictured, above), who would be a very solid top prospect in an average system.

The fall off after the top 10 is pretty noticeable though, and where high-upside, over-slot signees or international prospects would slot in there in past years, there now seems to be an absence of those high-ceiling, low-floor prospects for the most part. I think this is the result of two things—the new draft rules and the international signing bonus cap. The new draft rules have severely limited Boston's ability to grab over-slot prospects who fall in the draft, and on the whole, their drafts since 2013 haven’t turned out many high-upside or high-floor prospects after the first few rounds. And after going over-slot last year, the Red Sox were limited in how much they could spend on bonuses this year and as a result not a single international signee from this year's class slots in the top 60.

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?
From outside the top 40, the two guys I think could rise are catcher Ben Moore and right-handed pitcher Victor Diaz. Moore would likely have been inside my top 40 if not for the knee injury he suffered early in the year with Greenville. Up to that point, he was hitting .319/.356/.426 in 94 at-bats, but he also was very impressive at the plate during Spring Training. The lost time is even more of a concern as he continues his conversion to catching, but if the bat comes back it could play at other positions. Diaz had a strong season in the DSL out of the bullpen and has the arm strength to impress in that role. He easily touches the upper-90s, and if he can improve his command and control and develop a secondary offering, there is potential for a late-inning arm or solid last piece in a trade for a player to help the major league roster.

From the back-half of the top 40, Austin Rei (pictured, left) could rise if he can start to show the tools and perform like he did at the University of Washington. Rei really struggled at the plate, showing fringy bat speed and poor contact ability. More concerningly his defense was very poor in all facets. He struggled with blocking balls in the dirt and throwing down to second, and even with catching the ball at times. The bar at catcher is very low, however, and reports from his amateur days had Rei as one of the better defensive catchers in the draft, so if he can begin to show those defensive skills and any life at the plate he has the potential to rise in the rankings.

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?

One guy I had ranked much lower than the consensus rankings was Anthony Ranaudo, and based on how he performed this year that seems like the correct call. I was never that high on Ranaudo and wasn’t convinced he was even a big league-caliber back-end starter. Thus far, that has proven to be the case. On the other end of the spectrum, I had Simon Mercedes at number 20, and that looks to be a big miss. If you see Mercedes when he’s on, that ranking is justifiable—at his best, he will show a mid-90s fastball that will touch the upper 90s and flash a plus slider and average-to-better changeup. He didn’t show that consistently this year and really struggled, not missing many bats and struggling with his command and control. As for a surprise, this wasn’t much of one, but the strength of the system last year is very impressive. From last year's top four, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, and Eduardo Rodriguez have all graduated, but the depth hasn’t taken a hit at all.

You’re the lowest on Mauricio Dubon. Why is that?
I like Dubon as a prospect, but I don’t see any standout, carrying tool, and therefore can’t project him to be any better than a utility player. Dubon does a lot of things well, but no tool is plus. He is solid in the field, but isn’t the defender at shortstop that Deven Marrero, Javier Guerra, or even Jeremy Rivera are. At the plate, he does a good job making contact, but lacks power. Almost all the guys ahead of him had some sort of carrying tool or had more upside, and that was what separated them.

You took Jake Cosart off your board completely. He had a poor year, but you’re that low on him, huh?
He was in my first couple of drafts, but evidently fell off at some point, though looking at it now I’d have him just outside my top 60. I saw Cosart numerous times this year, starting in Spring Training, then in Lowell and during Fall Instructs, and he didn’t look anything like the pitcher he was last year at any point. His delivery has regressed, and so has his stuff. He really struggled to even throw strikes at times, having outings where he would throw multiple pitches to the backstop on the fly. It seems to be a mental issue, rather than a physical one, but based on how he threw when he did pitch and his limited pitching experience, this wasn’t the type of season he needed after a respectable showing last season. There still could be something there, but I’m going to need to see it a few times to believe it.

Photo credit: by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.