When they were prospects: Ranking the WS players

October 24th, 2018

The Red Sox came out atop MLB Pipeline's farm system rankings in mid-2015, and the Dodgers succeeded them at No. 1 the following spring. It's no coincidence that those teams are meeting in the World Series.
Developing your own young talent remains the most efficient path to success. That Red Sox system from three summers ago produced and plus the blue-chip prospects needed to deal for and Chris Sale. That Dodgers farm from two year ago yielded , and , as well as the sidelined and trade ammunition for Manny Machado.
Here's how the Dodgers and Red Sox built their World Series teams
Both World Series teams are loaded with former top prospects turned key performers. There are exceptions, of course -- here's looking at you, J.D. Martinez and -- but this Fall Classic features 11 former first-round picks, five big-ticket international acquisitions and 22 players who graced an MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list.
Below, we rank the World Series participants based on their prospect sizzle at the time of their big league debut. and are excluded because they were fully formed pitchers when they arrived from foreign leagues.
1. , LHP, Red Sox
First-round pick (No. 1 overall), 2007 (Vanderbilt), $5.6 million bonus/$8.5 million contract (Rays)
The clear-cut top choice in the 2007 Draft, Price reached Tampa Bay by the next September and immediately helped the Rays reach their only World Series with some clutch relief work. He breezed through the Minors in just 19 starts and Matt Wieters was his only challenger for the title of baseball's top prospect when he got called up.

2. Manny Machado, SS, Dodgers
First-round pick (No. 3 overall), 2010 (HS/Florida), $5.25 million bonus (Orioles)

Machado also was a candidate to go No. 1 overall in the Draft but ultimately went third in 2010 behind two other outstanding candidates, and . He made repeated Alex Rodriguez comparisons look prescient by reaching Baltimore shortly after turning 20 and becoming an instant star while learning a new position (third base) on the fly.

3. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox
First-round pick (No. 7 overall), 2015 (Arkansas), $3,590,400 bonus

After an injury-marred Razorbacks debut, Benintendi generated little Draft hype entering 2015 as a sophomore-eligible, then flew up Draft boards when he led NCAA Division I with 20 homers and was the consensus college player of the year. He breezed through the Minors, reaching Boston in August of his first full pro season and starring in the playoffs.

4. , SS, Red Sox
International free agent, 2009 (Aruba), $410,000 bonus

Bogaerts was bedridden with chicken pox when Red Sox international scout Mike Lord made a foray to Aruba in 2011, but his twin brother Jair told Lord about Xander and he signed them both. Boston's best international prospect since , Bogaerts paralleled Machado by breaking into the big leagues at age 20 and at an unfamiliar position -- and he helped the Red Sox win the 2013 World Series two months later.

5. , LHP, Dodgers
First-round pick (No. 7 overall), 2006 (HS/Texas), $2.3 million bonus

Serendipity: The Dodgers thought they had an agreement with 2005 supplemental first-rounder , only to see it fall apart and have him go No. 1 overall in the 2006 Draft -- helping push to No. 6 and the Tigers, who had planned to take Kershaw one pick ahead of the Dodgers. He made hitters look silly in his first big league camp two years later and was in Los Angeles to stay that summer at age 20.

6. Julio Urias, LHP, Dodgers
Purchased from Mexico City Red Devils (Mexican League), 2012, $1.8 million transaction

The Dodgers discovered Urias during a trip to Mexico to scout and ultimately purchased him as part of a four-player package from the Mexico City Red Devils. He dominated low Class A hitters as a 16-year-old and even with Los Angeles handling him with extreme caution because of his youth, he still advanced to the Majors and succeeded there at age 19.

7. Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
International free agent, 2013 (Dominican Republic), $1.5 million bonus

Scouts considered Devers the best left-handed bat on the international market in 2013, and he has lived up to that billing. He thrived at every level of the Minors, reached Fenway Park as a 20-year-old and has been a postseason force in each of the past two Octobers.

8. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Dodgers
Fourth-round pick, 2013 (HS/Arizona), $700,000 bonus

Bellinger lasted four rounds in the 2013 Draft because he hadn't grown into this lanky frame and had a line-drive swing, detracting from his power potential, though his $700,000 bonus made him the biggest over-slot signing in Los Angeles' Draft class. He started driving the ball once he made adjustments to his approach, becoming the top power prospect in the game before setting a National League rookie record with 39 homers in 2017.

9. , OF, Red Sox
Fifth-round pick, 2011 (HS/Tennessee), $750,000 bonus

If eighth-rounder Senquez Golson hadn't turned down $1 million in favor of playing college football at Mississippi, the Red Sox might not have had enough cash left in their 2011 Draft budget to pay Betts $750,000. The scouting report on him at the time was that he had solid but not plus tools, and it took him until 2013 to reach full-season ball. But he made it to Boston by June 2014 and has blossomed into one of the best all-around players in the game.

10. Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers
First-round pick (No. 24 overall), 2015 (Vanderbilt), $1,777,500 bonus

Buehler's polish could have made him the first pitcher selected in 2015, but right elbow issues depressed his performance at Vanderbilt as well as his stock, eventually requiring Tommy John surgery after he signed as a late first-round pick. He wowed observers when he returned at the end of 2016, throwing 4-5 mph harder than he had previously, and he hasn't slowed down since. Buehler was the Dodgers' best starter as a rookie this year.

11. Chris Sale, LHP, Red Sox
First-round pick (No. 13 overall), 2010 (Florida Gulf Coast), $1,656,000 bonus (White Sox)

Though Sale was as accomplished as any college pitcher in the 2010 Draft, too many clubs talked themselves into other players because of his thin frame and low arm slot. The White Sox offered him only a slot bonus rather than the big league contract most top college arms commanded back then, but also promised him a callup if he proved himself. Sale debuted in Chicago 45 days after he signed.
12. , OF, Dodgers
11th-round pick, 2010 (HS/California), $600,000 bonus

Los Angeles paid Pederson its second-highest bonus in the 2010 Draft to lure him away from the opportunity to play baseball and walk on as a wide receiver in football at Southern California. Like Bellinger, it took him a while to grow into his power but he did, recording a 30-30 season in 2014 while winning Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP honors and breaking in with the Dodgers.

13. , RHP, Red Sox
First-round pick (27th overall), 2007 (HS/New Jersey), $3,580,000 bonus/$7,000,519 contract (Tigers)

The best prep pitching prospect in the 2007 Draft, Porcello plummeted in the first round because he had a huge asking price and MLB was leaning on teams to toe the line on bonuses with new signing-deadline rules in place. Coming off a World Series appearance, the Tigers snapped him up and gave him a then-record guarantee for a high school arm. Porcello spent just one year in the Minors, recording a worrisome strikeout rate (5.2 per nine innings) in high Class A, before making Detroit's 2009 Opening Day roster at age 20 and winning 14 games as a rookie.
14. , C/OF, Red Sox
First-round pick (26th overall), 2011 (HS/New Mexico), $2.5 million bonus

With tools reminiscent of a young , Swihart was clearly the top catching prospect as well as one of the top hitters in the 2011 Draft, lasting 26 picks only because of his over-slot bonus demands. Injuries and lack of opportunities have conspired against Swihart, who has yet to become more than a versatile reserve.

15. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
International free agent, 2012 (Cuba), $12 million bonus/$42 million contract

Questions swirled around Puig, who never played for Cuba's top national team and worried clubs with his conditioning and makeup, so the industry was stunned when the Dodgers handed him $42 million. It didn't take long for that huge investment to pay off, however, as he recorded a 1.016 OPS in 63 games in the Minors before bursting into the Majors with a .319/.391/.534 rookie season in 2013.

16. , LHP, Red Sox
First-round pick (No. 5 overall), 2010 (Mississippi), $2.65 million (Indians)

Pomeranz was the Indians' highest Draft choice in the past 25 years and the first college pitcher selected in 2010, but he lasted barely a year with the Tribe. He was the prize in a four-player package that Cleveland sent to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez the following summer, and he debuted in Colorado less than a month after switching organizations.
17. , OF, Red Sox
Supplemental first-round pick (No. 40 overall), 2011 (South Carolina), $1.1 million bonus

Despite winning a second straight College World Series with South Carolina in 2011, Bradley struggled with a wrist injury and toned-down bats during his Draft year. Though he fell all the way out of the first round, he has lived up to his scouting reports: terrific defense in center field, inconsistency at the plate though with a healthy dose of power and patience. Bradley cracked Boston's Opening Day roster in his second full pro season but didn't establish himself as a regular until August 2015.

18. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers
Sixth-round pick, 2003 (HS/Oklahoma), $130,000 bonus

Better known as a basketball player in high school, winning two Oklahoma state championships, Kemp intrigued scouts with his athleticism but was considered so raw that he lasted 181 picks. He took to pro ball quicker than expected, slamming 45 homers and stealing 33 bases in two full Minor League seasons before joining the Dodgers in May 2006.
19. , C, Dodgers
First-round pick (No. 12 overall), 2010 (Miami), $2 million bonus/$3.2 million contract (Reds)

After a lackluster senior season and signability concerns derailed Grandal's first-round aspirations as a Florida high schooler in 2007, Grandal starred at Miami and went one choice ahead of Sale three years later. He played just 169 games in the Minors before homering in his first big league start with the Padres, who acquired him in a trade for Mat Latos and eventually sent him to the Dodgers in a deal centered around Kemp.

20. , LHP, Red Sox
International free agent, 2010 (Venezuela), $175,000 (Orioles)

Under owner Peter Angelos, the Orioles have been the least-involved club in Latin America, though they did land Rodriguez for a modest $175,000 out of Venezuela in 2010. He had his ups and downs during five years in Baltimore's system before taking off after getting traded for Andrew Miller in July 2014, arriving in Boston 10 months later.

21. Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox
First-round pick (No. 19 overall), 2011 (Connecticut), $1.5 million

This makes four players from Boston's 2011 Draft, one of the best efforts this decade (it also included in the ninth round). Barnes thrived as a college starter at Connecticut and the Red Sox envisioned him sliding into the middle of their rotation, but an inconsistent curveball pointed him to the bullpen when he got to the big leagues at the end of 2014. He has made just two starts for Boston and became a valuable reliever once he refined his curve.

22. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Red Sox
11th-round pick, 2008 (HS/Texas), $250,000 (Dodgers)

Eovaldi had Tommy John surgery as a high school junior and rushed back to pitch as a senior, touching 93 mph and impressing the Dodgers enough to command fourth-round money to forego a commitment to Texas A&M. He kept gaining velocity as he got healthier, pushing his fastball into the triple digits by the time he debuted at age 21 with just 308 1/3 innings of Minor League experience.