The hype surrounding Xander Bogaerts just keeps building.
Jose Iglesias and Stephen Drew are manning the left side of the infield for the first-place Red Sox this season, but Bogaerts is the future.
The 20-year-old shortstop prospect, who has continued to excel after his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket this season, is no longer just considered one of the best prospects in the Red Sox's Minor League system. Bogaerts is now one of the top prospects in all of baseball, ranked No. 6 on MLB.com's new Top 100 Prospects list .
"One phone call away [from the Majors]," said Bogaerts. "It's amazing how life is and [how] fast the year has passed. It's a blessing."
Bogaerts is the headline, but Boston's Minor League system as a whole is brimming with young talent. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and right-handed pitcher Allen Webster have already gotten a taste of the Majors this season. Pitchers Henry Owens and Matt Barnes, who round out Boston's top-five prospects, don't seem to be too far behind.
With three season-ending injuries in the bullpen, the Sox's depth in the Minor Leagues has been especially important this season. Drake Britton and Brandon Workman have been solid filling the void and keeping Boston on track for a playoff run.
At least for the 2013 season, Iglesias didn't figure into the Red Sox's plans. The club knew he could field at an elite level and had no qualms about using him as an occasional defensive replacement at the Major League level. But Igelsias' offensive game still had a ways to go before he was ready to be an everyday player -- or so the Red Sox thought.
Iglesias played so well, the Red Sox couldn't afford to send him back down to Triple-A Pawtucket, instead inserting him as a regular on the left side of the infield. The infielder hit well enough to be named the American League Rookie of the Month in June and eventually forced the demotion of Will Middlebrooks, who started the year as the team's third baseman.
It's been a rough season for Pat Light, who entered the year as the Red Sox's No. 18 prospect. The right-hander has been lit up in his nine appearances with Greenville Drive in the Class A South Atlantic League. Light, who is currently on the seven-day disabled list, has an 8.06 ERA with opponents hitting .330 against him.
Double-A Portland's Travis Shaw dropped out of the No. 19 spot. The first baseman prospect has struggled to hit for average this year and is on pace for well over 100 strikeouts.
Trey Ball doesn't figure to be making his Major League debut anytime soon, but the Red Sox think their first-round pick in 2013 has all the tools to be a dominant starter at the top of their rotation. Boston selected the 6-foot-6, 175-pound lefty out of New Castle (Ind.) High School with the seventh overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft; he debuts at No. 8 on the Red Sox's top prospects list.
"When we sort of go through the checklist of things we need to see in a high school pitcher to invest a first-round pick in, he just checks all the boxes," Boston general manager Ben Cherington said. "He's big, he's athletic. We've gotten to know him very well. This is a good kid -- great work ethic, highly competitive."
Jon Denney, the Sox's third-round pick in 2013, has started his career in the Gulf Coast League. The catching prospect is Boston's No. 15 prospect.
Second baseman Mookie Betts won't hit for much power, but the 20-year-old has shown the ability to get on base during his time in the South Atlantic and Carolina leagues this season.
At the No. 19 spot is Manuel Margot, an athletic outfielder from the Dominican Republic. Scouts project the 18-year-old as a centerfielder who has the potential to hit at the top of the order.
red sox' top prospects
|2||Jackie Bradley Jr.||OF|
Starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo's strong year in Double-A Portland has him ranked No. 6 on the new list, up 11 spots from the beginning of the season. Ranaudo is 8-3 on the year with a 2.87 ERA and is averaging more than a strikeout per inning. He joined Bogaerts and third base prospect Garin Cecchini in the 2013 Futures Game.
Playing in his first full year in Triple-A Pawtucket, former first-round pick Bryce Brentz dropped two spots in the rankings to No. 9.
Top 100 representation
The Red Sox have eight players ranked on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, tied with the Astros for the most of any club.
That number is up from six before the season as Ranaudo, Cecchini and Ball joined the list.
Based on a scoring system that awards 100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to the team with No. 2 and so on, the Red Sox rank third among MLB's 30 teams, trailing just the Astros and Twins.
Owens made the biggest jump of any Red Sox player, rising 37 spots to No. 57.
Current centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will be a free agent after the 2013 season, and if he leaves, Bradley Jr. -- ranked No. 32 in the new rankings -- figures to step in as the replacement.
Webster (No. 50), Barnes (59), Ranaudo (88),Cecchini (91) and Ball (95) also made the list.
Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelPeriatt. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less