With the recent drafts of the Celtics and Bruins, there have been a lot of discussions about the potential for Boston Future Stars. After pro sports drafts, there is always a lot of speculation and analysis done on each player. The reality is that no one really knows how good a player will be as a professional athlete right away. Usually, within the first year or two, we get a good sense of the potential of each player and we can begin to set longer term expectations. This brings us to our second Titletown Ten post on First Score Boston. Our first Titletown Ten post on 6/4 gave an opinion on the ten best championship teams since 1980. This time, we’ll discuss the future stars of the four Boston sports teams. Let’s set the criteria. The player has to be under 25 years old and has to be on a current roster of a Boston sports team. The list will be based on which players will have the most impact to his respective team over the course of his career. Unfortunately for Boston sports fans, Tyler Seguin will not be topping this list. Thanks, Cam and Peter!
#10 – Eduardo Rodriguez – Red Sox
The Red Sox acquired Rodriguez in a trade with Baltimore last year for Andrew Miller. Rodriguez proved himself very quickly this year with AAA Pawtucket. In eight starts with them, he had a 4-3 record with a 2.98 ERA. He earned a call up to the Red Sox and he has made seven starts with a 4-2 record and a 3.92 ERA. He’s shown shades of dominance. However, he still clearly has some things to work on such as tipping his off-speed pitches. At just 22 years old, Rodriguez is still very raw, but he has shown that he has the makeup of a top of the rotation starter.
#9 – Blake Swihart – Red Sox
Many fans would argue that Swihart should be higher on this list given how high he has been ranked as a prospect. Swihart has already shown signs that he is capable of hitting at the big league level. In his first season, he’s hitting just .241 with a .602 OPS. However, he is just a rookie and he has already improved since he was first called up. The questions around Swihart’s potential are whether or not he can be elite defensively. He may be one of those players who proves to be very strong offensively at the catcher position, but is average defensively. Having said that, the potential is there for him to be a stud. He’s been compared to Buster Posey which is a very elite comparison.
#8 – Torey Krug – Bruins
In terms of potential, Torey Krug falls a bit short on this list. He likely is not going to be an elite player in the NHL. We know what he is. He’s a very solid NHL defenseman who is a weapon on the power play. He likely will continue to improve, but there is a ceiling for him. In his past two seasons, he’s posted 40 and 39 points, respectively. These are very solid numbers for a defenseman. Krug brings a lot of speed and puck movement to the game which is the direction it appears that the Bruins want to go in. Krug will play an even bigger role with Doug Hamilton recently being traded.
#7 – Christian Vazquez – Red Sox
It’s unfortunate that Vazquez is missing the entire 2015 season due to having Tommy John surgery. Last year, Vazquez showed a lot of promise and was quickly viewed as one of the elite defenders in the game at the catcher position. In addition, he held his own at the plate batting .240 with a .617 OPS. Like Swihart, these are not outstanding numbers, but they were solid for a rookie. Vazquez is expected to be back for the 2016 season and it will be interesting to see how the Red Sox handle the situation between him and Swihart. With defense being such a priority at this position, it would be surprising to see the Red Sox part ways with Vazquez.
#6 – Jared Sullinger – Celtics
Jared Sullinger has the talent to be an All Star in the NBA. The question is whether or not he’ll do the work to get there. There have been many times where Sullinger has been viewed as lazy and out of shape. However, when he’s on his game, he’s been the best player on the Celtics over the past two years. He’s a very good rebounder and he is very good at scoring from fifteen feet and in. Averaging just 27 minutes a game, Sullinger averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last year. If he can get in shape and increase his minutes, he could be a 15/10 type of player. He’ll need to prove he can do it to Brad Stevens. The potential is there and, at age 23, there is still time to improve and put it all together.
#5 – Jimmy Garoppolo – Patriots
Garoppolo could very easily end up being #1 on this list. He also could easily drop off of the list. We just don’t know what to expect. He seems to have the talent to be a productive NFL QB, but it’s just too early to tell because he hasn’t played in a meaningful game. Part of this is whether or not he even gets a chance to play. Tom Brady has made it clear that he expects to play into his 40’s. We may get a taste of Garoppolo’s ability at the beginning of the regular season depending on the results of Brady’s appeal. Time will tell, but Jimmy G. may move up on the list sooner rather than later!
#4 – David Pastrnak – Bruins
Pastrnak had a very solid rookie season with 10 goals and 17 assists in just 46 games. At just 19 years old, he has a lot of potential and could be the guy the Bruins need to be a 30+ goal scorer. A lot of this is based on the opportunity he’s given as this is not an organization that has always welcomed elite scoring talent. In addition to his scoring, he has received high praise from Claude Julien and the coaching staff regarding his work in the defensive zone. After trading Milan Lucic, it’s likely that the Bruins will want Pastrnak will see more time on the first two lines which should increase his production right away. This is a player who has a very high ceiling.
#3 – Marcus Smart – Celtics
After being drafted at #6 in the 2014 NBA Draft, Smart delivered in a solid rookie season. He was very strong defensively and he was a big key during the Celtics run to the playoffs. Offensively, he showed some promise averaging 7.8 points and 3.1 assists per game. At just 21 years old, there’s still a lot of time for improvement for Smart, but he has already proved he can be a starting guard in the league on both sides of the floor. The Celtics have recently included him in some trade offers. He’s the biggest asset Danny Ainge has on the current roster and time will tell if he remains a Celtic.
#2 – Mookie Betts – Red Sox
After a solid rookie season, Betts is again showing sign of elite potential. He’s batting .273 with a .773 OPS. He currently ranks 4th in the AL in batting average, OPS, and RBI’s amongst qualifying centerfielders. What has been even more impressive has been his ability to transition from second base to centerfield without any issue. At just 22 years old, Betts is a raw talent who has the potential to be a five tool player. He can hit for average, hit for power, and he is a very good base runner. Given that he is signed with the team through 2021, we can likely expect Betts to be a big factor for the Red Sox for many years to come. FYI – Mookie just hit a home run as I was typing this. That’s a sign!
#1 – Xander Bogaerts – Red Sox
After playing very well in the 2013 World Series, Bogaerts struggled in his first full season finishing with a .240 batting average and a .660 OPS. He also struggled defensively and was moved from shortstop to third base. In 2015, Bogaerts has played very well and he is being considered for the AL All Star Team. He’s batting .289 with a .728 OPS and he has been playing excellent defense, committing just four errors. At 22, Bogaerts is beginning to live up to his potential. Many experts expected more raw power from him, but that is still expected to come with time. It’s very possible that Bogaerts will cement his spot on the AL All Star Team this year and stay there for many years to come.
Time will tell how this plays out. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the rankings?