On Wednesday, Baseball America unveiled its top 10 prospects for the team entering 2016. It will be years before anyone will know how the sense of possibility for that group translates into actual production, or which of them will end up being stars and which will bust, but at this moment, few teams can match the potential impact of second baseman Yoan Moncada, third baseman Rafael Devers, centerfielder Andrew Benintendi, and righthander Anderson Espinoza.
That said, there is a common trait among those players that represents something of a limitation for the Red Sox entering 2016: They all finished the year in Single A Greenville. Aside from lefthander Brian Johnson (No. 6 in the Red Sox system), first baseman Sam Travis (No. 7), and shortstop Deven Marrero (No. 8), who are expected to open the year in Pawtucket, the Red Sox' top prospects will all start the year in the lower levels of the minors.
That's significant for a simple reason. The bottom-heavy strength of the Red Sox farm system suggests that, at the major league level in 2016, the Red Sox' depth may be limited – particularly in the outfield.
On the major league roster, the Sox will feature a group of starters with a limited track record, including two outfielders who have offered just brief glimpses of big league success in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo. The presence of reserves Chris Young and Brock Holt will give the team additional options for the outfield, but of course if Holt plays one position, it removes him as an insurance option elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Sox' most advanced Triple A outfield prospect, Bryce Brentz, is (like Young, Castillo, and Betts) righthanded, and likely lacks the defensive versatility to play anything but left at Fenway. The Sox discovered last year how an outfield ensemble that appears deep on paper can become a liability. As the team pieces together its roster for next year, such a concern still lingers, making the team's minor league free agent signings between now and the start of spring training a matter of potential significance.
The Sox announced six signings of minor league free agents, including outfielder Ryan LaMarre, writes Peter Abraham.
Here's my Globe companion guide to the top 10 prospects list.
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