By Pat O'Rourke
Four Red Sox prospects were named to Baseball America’s midseason top 50 prospects list, headed by shortstop Xander Bogaerts at number four.
Bogaerts, rated 8th on Baseball America’s preseason list, continues to climb through the Red Sox system. He began the season with Double-A Portland, hitting .311/.407/.502 with twelve doubles, six triples, six home runs, and 35 RBI in 56 games. He was called up to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 14, and has hit .262/.361/.440 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 23 games for the PawSox.
A natural shortstop, Bogaerts is projected to play third base or left field in the Major Leagues, with Jose Iglesias currently being the long-term plan at the shortstop position. He will represent the Red Sox and his native Aruba in this year’s Futures Game at Citi Field in New York
The 20-year old right-handed bat with a 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame could be seen in a Red Sox uniform before the 2013 regular season is up.
The other three Red Sox rounding out the list were Jackie Bradley Jr. (#21), Anthony Ranaudo (#37), and Garin Cecchini (#41).
Bradley began the season on the Major League roster, but was optioned to Pawtucket after struggling in the opening weeks of the season. He was called back up to the varsity on May 29 for a stint that lasted seven games. Bradley fared a little better, hitting .238 with three of his five hits going for extra bases, including his first Major League home run on June 4th in a 17-5 win over Texas.
In 45 games with Pawtucket, Bradley has hit .297 with a .922 OPS, collecting 18 doubles, seven home runs, 21 RBI, and 33 runs scored.
Ranaudo, a 2010 first-round pick by the Red Sox out of LSU, is enjoying a breakout year in his third professional season. He’s the leader of a what has been a strong Portland Sea Dogs rotation, going 8-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 94 over 91 innings of work. Ranaudo will be in the opposite dugout of Bogaerts in this year’s Futures Game, playing for Team USA.
Cecchini has put together one of the best first halves of anyone in the minors, hitting an aggregate .364/.480/.558 over 78 games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, smacking 26 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 40 RBI, stealing 15 bases, and scoring 58 runs.
The lefthanded-hitting third baseman was called up to Portland on June 21st, and has been one of Eastern League’s hottest hitters since joining the Sea Dogs, hitting .418/.522/.600 with seven doubles, one home run, seven RBI, and 14 runs scored in 15 games. An on-base machine, Cecchini has drawn comparisons to former Red Sox and current Yankees corner infielder Kevin Youkilis.