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Draft is just one way Red Sox have restocked

International market, trades also help Boston build promising farm system

BOSTON -- Though it might seem like the prospects the Red Sox selected in this year's First-Year Player Draft won't be seen at Fenway Park for quite awhile, time can fly by.

Just look at Jackie Bradley Jr., who was taken just two years ago and has already made two stints with the Red Sox this season.

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Trey Ball, Teddy Stankiewicz and Jon Denney will be among the newest Red Sox prospects, once they complete the signing process.

They will only add to a farm system that is already reaping the benefits of recent Drafts and international signings.

"We think we've got a strong farm system and some guys who are taking an additional step forward in the first couple months of the season," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "We think we have a chance through the Draft and international market between now and the end of July to add a lot more talent."

Right-hander Matt Barnes, who was taken in that same 2011 Draft as Bradley, is a pitcher Red Sox fans should be excited about.

This, even though Barnes has taken some lumps at Double-A Portland this season, going 3-3 with a 5.87 ERA in his first 12 starts.

You never know when things will start to click for a pitching prospect. Plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness last year, Anthony Ranaudo, a 2010 Draft pick, has been lights-out at Double-A this season, going 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 11 starts.

Which Sox prospect should you be looking out for in the lower Minors? Left-hander Henry Owens is a good place to start.

Another 2011 pick, Owens is thriving at Class A Salem.

"Owens has really good stuff," Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said recently. "His focus [coming into the season] was on pounding the strike zone and being aggressive early in the count."

Deven Marrero, the shortstop out of Arizona State whom the Sox selected with their first-round selection in 2012, displayed such maturity that he was invited to Major League camp this past Spring Training.

As excited as the Red Sox were to get a catcher like Denney in Friday's third round, they already have a receiver in the lower Minors they are watching with anticipation in Blake Swihart.

Taken with the 26th overall pick out of high school in 2011, Swihart has swung a hot bat of late at Salem.

Though the Draft is a key way to strengthen a farm system, it isn't the only way. International signings have become increasingly important in recent years.

There are many scouts who consider Xander Bogaerts to be the best position-player prospect in Boston's farm system. In fact, he was tabbed as's top Red Sox prospect at the start of the season.

Bogaerts, who hails from Aruba, was signed by Boston in 2009. It has been a whirlwind season so far for Bogaerts, who started Spring Training with the Red Sox and then played for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

At Double-A Portland, was hitting .308 over his first 211 at-bats with a .910 OPS.

Then, there is the other way to stack up the farm system -- via the blockbuster trade. The Red Sox did that last August with the Dodgers, trading proven big leaguers Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto for highly touted young pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa.

Both of those right-handers are at Triple-A Pawtucket -- just a phone call away.

Webster has already started twice for the Red Sox this season, the first a strong performance and the second a reminder that his development is not complete.

"We believe we have a lot of good big leaguers -- potentially some really good big leaguers in the system," said Cherington. "But you can never be satisfied and the strength of the farm system and people's perception of that is such a -- it can change so quickly. Things happen, injuries happens, graduation happens.

"As soon as you start to get a little bit comfortable with where you are it can feel a lot differently quickly. So we have to just keep the pedal down and keep looking for talent, the best talent, wherever we can get it."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

Boston Red Sox, Matt Barnes, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Deven Marrero, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, Blake Swihart