COMMENTARY| The Boston Red Sox are well represented on MLB.com's annual list of the Top 100 Prospects. Six members of the organization were tabbed by the site. The highest rated is infielder Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop came in at number 20. He is followed by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at number 32. The first pitcher came in at number 38, Matt Barnes. Pitching prospect Allen Webster is listed at 71. Left-hander Henry Owens came in at 94, closely followed at 96 by shortstop Jose Iglesias.
It comes with no surprise that Bogaerts is ranked this high on the list. He has simply been the Sox's best prospect. While his glove could still use some work, there's no denying his production at the plate. Bogaerts hit .307 between Salem and Portland last year, with 20 HRs and 81 RBIs. Very respectable numbers for only playing in 127 games.
Bogaerts will also have an opportunity to play in the World Baseball Classic this spring for the Netherlands. The WBC is an important platform for Bogaerts to not only face high-level competition, but also to show Red Sox Nation what kind of player he can be. 2013 could be a banner year for Bogaerts.
Bradley may just be 22 years old, but he could make his Boston debut this season. The former standout at South Carolina was outstanding in his first full season in professional ball last year. Bradley hit .315, with an staggering .430 OBP. He also did well on the base paths, scoring 90 runs, and finishing with 24 SBs.
2013 is huge for Bradley, who may start in Triple-A Pawtucket. With Jacoby Ellsbury not signed, the Red Sox don't have the center field position locked up for the future. If Bradley continues his productive play, he may find himself starting at Fenway Park as sooner than many expect.
A former first-round pick and UConn star, Barnes is entering into his second season with the Red Sox. He went 7-5 last season, splitting time between Lowell and Salem. Barnes finished with a very impressive 2.86 ERA and 1.058 WHIP. There will be a lot of eyes on the 22-year-old this season, considering there isn't a wealth of pitching talent in the minors ahead of him. Barnes and the other pitchers could also get a boost working with Pedro Martinez. The former CY Young winner rejoined the Red Sox with the title of "Special Assistant to the General Manager." Look for him to help develop young players, something the Red Sox have been missing for the past few seasons.
Webster came to the Red Sox last season following the mega deal that sent Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles. Webster finished 2012 with a 5-8 record, and a 3.58 ERA. He started and relieved games for Chattanooga. He managed to start two games in Portland but didn't fare well in the Eastern League, posting an 8.00 ERA. However, a small sample size shouldn't detract Red Sox Nation. Webster is just 22 years old and has a lot of positive hype surrounding him.
At just 20 years old, Owens looks to gain more confidence in his second year as a pro. Owens did post a solid 12-5 record in Single-A Salem. However, his ERA was 4.87. Not a huge shock, considering it was his first year in professional baseball. The lefty is capable of wicked stuff, considering he fanned 130 batters in just over 101 innings last season. Look for Owens to work on mechanics and command in 2013. He's another pitcher that could benefit from Martinez being around.
Rounding the six out is Iglesias. Ranked the 42nd best prospect in 2011, Iglesias has been stuck in a tailspin since. There's absolutely no doubting his glove. The main issue continues to be at the plate. Iglesias is just a career .135 hitter in the majors. It's just a handful of plate appearances, but his minor league stats don't defend him either (career .264 BA, .313 OPB).
The Red Sox are showing obvious signs of concern with Iglesias, who turned 23 this month. Stephen Drew was signed this season to start at shortstop. Meanwhile, Pedro Ciriaco is still on the 40-man roster, and now Iglesias is hearing the footsteps of Bogaerts. There's a logjam at the shortstop position, and Iglesias may end up being the one squeezed out.
Overall, this is significant recognition for the Red Sox. The ownership group has made it a mission to do well in drafting and development of players. It's also extremely valuable for the future at Fenway Park, considering the Sox may have to rely on one or two of these men sooner than expected.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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