Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, in an interview on “Down on the Farm,” suggested that his team’s farm system features as many talented prospects as at any time since he has been dealing with it. Cherington said that, since he started working as first the assistant director of player development in 2002 before taking over that department following that season, the team has more volume than ever. Still, he noted that it’s difficult to predict whether the current group of prospects has as much of an impact as the team produced from 2005-07, when a wave of six future All-Stars (Jonathan Papelbon, Hanley Ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz) graduated from the team’s farm system.
“I think the system is as deep as it’s been since I’ve been involved, going back to 2002, 2003 when I first got started in player development,” said Cherington. “Whether the top end of that turns into the quality of big leaguers of Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Jacoby Ellsbury, etc., Clay Buchholz, turned into, remains to be seen. We did have a really talented group.
“For the most part, those guys I mention — we talk about attrition, but there’s a group of guys who came through during those years that, a lot of them hit. A lot of them made the adjustment to the big leagues and were really good players. What remains to be seen is whether this current group makes the same adjustment that that previous group did and hits the same upside as that previous group. But I think in terms of total talent in the system, we’re as strong as we’ve been since I’ve been involved.”
Asked if it would be his inclination to hoard the team’s depth of prospects or to trade from it to improve the major league team, Cherington made his feelings clear, particularly as it relates to the burgeoning group of starting pitching prospects (Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, etc.).
“Generally, we’d rather hoard it. I think it’s no secret that we have not had enough quality starting depth recently, guys that had a chance to come up and really give a jolt in the arm if we needed eight to 10 starts during the season,” said Cherington. “We haven’t had Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz coming up, with that level of upside or quality. That’s hugely important because of the importance of depth and being able to get through the season, but also, that’s where our next regular members of the rotation are coming from. It’s much like a position player — it’s less likely for a starting pitcher to just jump right into the starting rotation in any season without any big league experience whatsoever.
“For both reasons, we want to hoard as much of it as we can. We think we’re ahead of where we were last year, but still not where we’d like to be.”
The interview will air on WEEI 93.7 FM and WEEI.com on Sunday from 8:30-9 a.m. It will also be available on weei.com/podcast.