New England has enjoyed an historic run since the start of this century. Championships, superstars, characters . . . the whole gamut. But who are the next crop of athletes that will replace the greats like Pierce, Brady and Ortiz?
For the past three years, CSNNE.com has counted down the best "20 Under 25" athletes for the local professional teams. Members of our Comcast SportsNet staff have ranked each qualified athlete on a scale of 1-10. A vote of 1 meant the player was going to make little to no impact on the franchise. A vote of 10 meant that the player would be a superstar/franchise type.
This year, we have added videos and the ability for fans to cast their vote (click here). Fan voting will be open through Thursday, with the results posted on Friday.
Here is the schedule for the countdown this week:
MONDAY: No. 20-No. 16
TODAY: No. 15-No. 11
WEDNESDAY: No. 10-No. 6
THURSDAY: No. 5-No. 1
The write-ups for each athlete on the last were done by our CSNNE.com Insiders: Sean McAdam (Red Sox), A. Sherrod Blakely (Celtics), Tom Curran (Patriots), and Joe Haggerty (Bruins). "State of the Revs" producer Adam Hart contributed for players on the list from the New England Revolution.
15) MATT BARNES, Red Sox minor-league pitcher
DOB: June 17, 1990
2013: Spent most of the season in Portland (AA), got one start in Pawtucket (AAA). Started 24 games in Portland, 4.33 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 11.25 k/9, 2.93 k/bb
A former standout at the University of Connecticut and the Red Sox' first-round pick in 2011, Barnes is part of the Red Sox stash of promising young pitchers in the organization. Barnes has a fastball which he throws in the low-to-mid 90s, with good late sink. His curveball is good and getting better while his changeup needs more refinement. Has a similar frame to Derek Lowe, though his two-seamer is not as heavy. Barnes has averaged at least a strikeout per inning at every level, though his command could use some improvement. After spending most of last season at Double A Portland, he made one start in August in Pawtucket and will likely start 2014 at Triple A. By mid-season, he could be a candidate to fill in for some starts in Boston mid-season. He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
14) ALFONZO DENNARD, Patriots cornerback
DOB: September 9, 1989
2013: 12 games, 40 tackles, 8 passes defensed, 1 interception
On the field, Alfonzo Dennard’s shown promise. Stockily built with a nice combination of strength, straight speed and short-area quickness, he’s already won one of the Patriots' starting corner spots after being drafted in the seventh round in 2012. But it’s the fact he was available in the seventh round -- thanks to an arrest just days before the draft -- that gives cause for pause. Dennard was found guilty of assault on a police officer at trial this past April then, in July, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. He’ll be serving time for the assault and subsequent parole violation this coming offseason. If he can get his off-field life in order, there’s no reason he can’t be a solid NFL player because he’s got the physical skills and strong mindset necessary to succeed.
13) AVERY BRADLEY, Celtics guard
DOB: November 26, 1990
2013-14: 26 games started, 13.5 ppg, 1.3 apg, 3.9 rpg, 1.1 spg
When the Celtics weren't able to work out an extension by Oct. 31, it raised a few eyebrows as to Bradley's status going forward. Boston has every intention of locking him up this summer, and for good reason. He has a defined skill - defense - that sets him apart from most players in his age range. And he's developing a reliable mid-range touch that any team would benefit from. Of the young players on this team, he is the most proven of the bunch while still showing signs of having room to grow.
12) HENRY OWENS, Red Sox minor-league pitcher
DOB: July 21, 1992
2013: Made 20 starts in Salem (A) and six in Portland (AA). In Portland he had a 1.78 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 13.65 k/9, 3.07 k/bb
In many ways, Henry Owens is perhaps the most intriguing pitching prospect in the Red Sox' development system because of his size -- 6-foot-7 -- and his ceiling. After dominating at Single A Salem last year, he was promoted to Portland, where he averaged 13.65 strikeouts per nine innings. As often happens with lanky pitcher his size, Owens sometimes struggles with command (he walked 15 in 30 innings), but the feeling is that will improve as matures and fills out some. Owens has remarkable potential and it's fair to say he's the prospect the Sox would least likely trade in a deal. He'll probably begin the season at Portland before making his way to Triple A. Still just 21, expect him to arrive in the majors by 2015.
12) ANDREW FARRELL, Revolution defender
DOB: April 2, 1992
2013: Made 32 starts, 1 assist, 9 shots on goal, 12 fouls committed
With the Revolution trading up to select Farrell No. 1 overall, he did not disappoint in holding down the right back position for a defense which conceded the third fewest goals in MLS. As a rookie, he showed considerable burst with the ball and an ability to jump up into play in the offensive half. Farrell has the talent to become an MLS All-Star and, eventually, push for a spot on the US National Team.