Keith Law recently released his organizational rankings for 2013 and, honestly the news wasn’t very good for the Boston Red Sox. Law ranked Boston’s farm system 17th out of the thirty teams in baseball, citing the lack of major league-ready talent and the lack of a potential ace pitcher in the minors.
This doesn’t bode well for the Red Sox. In fact, it is pretty disappointing news on the brink of spring training.
Law does place four Red Sox minor leaguers in his top 100: Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr, Allen Webster and Matt Barnes. Other minor league baseball experts have ranked Boston higher, so it is possible that Law is just choosing to see the glass half-empty with the current group of prospects.
John Sickles has recently ranked them ninth overall, meaning Law might be focused a little too much on help for the 2013 squad.
Long-term, it just magnifies that the Red Sox have to become much better evaluating talent at the high school and college levels moving forward.
Boston had 11 picks in first-round and supplemental first-round over the last four seasons. The fact they haven’t been able to draft one pitcher who potentially projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter is alarming, and puts even more pressure on this June’s draft.
Boston holds the number seven pick in the coming MLB draft, and there will be even more emphasis for Boston to hit the mark with the pick.
That statistic is even more alarming when you realize that up until recently, the Red Sox held a distinct market advantage by being able to spend more money than almost any team in baseball, and could pick players who were difficult signs later in the draft and throw money at them.
The playing field has been leveled. The MLB amateur draft has now installed a rookie salary pool to cap and limit teams spending. International players now have to be accounted for financially when a team sign them, further limiting the Sox ability to throw their weight around.
When the trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers was made last summer, the initial focus had been on the Red Sox dumping a lot of salary. In retrospect, it allowed the Red Sox to bring in two high-end arms from the Dodgers system, something they may have been aware that they lacked last August. Both arms may help the big league club this season.
Rubby De la Rosa is recovering from surgery and he is someone that Law identifies as a pitcher who could potentially head a rotation if he is completely healthy this season. The 23-year-old De La Rosa will be in his second season removed from Tommy John surgery.
Allen Webster was the other player received from the Dodgers. He is also someone that could eventually help the Red Sox in the rotation. He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation type of pitcher with a heavy sinking fastball.
Law may have painted a disappointing picture of the Red Sox’ farm system, but the Boston farm system has enough talent that they could surprise in the coming year.
For the Red Sox to do that, they will have to hope that their young minor league pitching takes a big step forward in 2013.
You can reach Jonathan Cullen:
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Writing about the Boston Red Sox at www.baseballslate.com