Keith Law of ESPN Insider unveiled his farm system rankings, and the Red Sox are predictably weak, coming in 17th. Here's Law's diagnosis of our ills:
A lot went right on the farm for Boston this year, with Xander Bogaerts looking like he can stay at shortstop, Jackie Bradley Jr. lighting everyone up with his plate discipline and Matt Barnes and Henry Owens posting very strong full-season debuts. The system's real shortage is in big league ready talent, with right-hander Allen Webster probably the closest.
This is to be expected. After sending out a number of prospects in recent years (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Reddick, and Jed Lowrie, namely), calling up their most successful prospect (Will Middlebrooks), and failing to develop a handful of others, at least on their expected timelines (Jose Iglesias probably qualifies, and unfortunately so might Ryan Kalish and Ryan Westmoreland due to their health issues), the Red Sox set themselves up to have a weaker system. Help does appear to be on the way, but as Law points out, much of it is at least a year away.
The ascent of Bradley has to be the headliner of last year. Getting Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster is a boost, and the possibility of Bogaerts staying at short is tantalizing, but Bradley went from a potential nice player to the type of player that's making a lot of people not worry about losing Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency. He's starting to look special.