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Jonathan Mayo

Doors ajar for top prospects after Deadline deals

Doors ajar for top prospects after Deadline deals

Doors ajar for top prospects after Deadline deals

Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts wasn't included in any blockbuster non-waiver Trade Deadline deal on Wednesday. Neither was Astros outfield prospect George Springer, with Houston adding young talent rather than trading it away. But that doesn't mean the pair wasn't impacted by the Deadline activity.

Bogaerts, ranked No. 6 on MLB.com's recently re-ranked Top 100 prospects list, and Springer, coming in at No. 27, both could have big league doors open for them thanks to deals their parent organizations made. The two teams approached the Deadline at opposite ends of the spectrum, with Boston trying to add big league talent to make a playoff push in the American League East and Houston continuing to look toward the future by adding more talent to one of the deepest systems in baseball.

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There's no question that any conversation Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington had about big deals involved Bogaerts, the organization's No. 1 prospect, and it would be an easy conclusion to draw that the Red Sox were Deadline winners because they were able to add talent without dealing the talented infielder or anyone from their Top 20. Boston had to deal Jose Iglesias to get the arm it wanted, but the defensive wizard was likely deemed tradable, because Bogaerts, who has been holding his own as a 20-year-old at Triple-A Pawtucket, was waiting in the wings. The Red Sox, for their part, don't want to put Bogaerts up on a pedestal just yet.

"He's in the discussion," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But the fact is, he's still non-roster, and we wanted to preserve a spot in the event something else happened. So now, we're just kind of letting the dust settle a little bit. That doesn't suggest that his move or his recall or purchase of his contract is imminent.

"But he's doing a very good job, and he's played third of late trying to get some exposure there. We're just trying to cover everything that we can do in Pawtucket, if in fact he's the guy, which, right now, he's not. That's just a normal preparation."

Those games at third could enhance his chances of getting an opportunity to provide a spark in Boston down the stretch. The Red Sox's depth chart currently has Stephen Drew at shortstop and Brandon Snyder at third, with Brock Holt recalled on Wednesday to take Iglesias' spot on the 25-man roster. Bogaerts has more potential than any of the current options on the left side of the infield. If Will Middlebrooks gets his confidence back and reclaims the hot corner, Bogaerts is an option at short.

If Middlebrooks isn't ready to get the job done, Bogaerts could step in at third -- a spot many felt he'd eventually play in the future. Last summer, Manny Machado provided a huge boost to the Orioles at third base and many see Bogaerts providing the same kind of spark for Boston.

The Astros sent Justin Maxwell to Kansas City before the Deadline, getting a quality pitching prospect, Kyle Smith, in return. It also potentially creates an opening in the outfield for Springer, ranked No. 3 on Houston's extremely stacked Top 20 list. Springer's been absolutely raking at Triple-A Oklahoma City, with a 1.148 OPS in 31 games prior to Wednesday's action. He's just one home run away from a 30-30 season in the Minors, and he brings a lot of energy to the field and the dugout.

prospects in deadline deals
Prospect(s) To From Top 20 rank
Josh Hader, L.J. Hoes Astros Orioles 13, 18
Danry Vasquez Astros Tigers 19
Kyle Smith Astros Royals 15
Grant Green Angels A's 3
Matt Stites D-backs Padres 18
Olt, Edwards Cubs Rangers 5, 12
Click on player name for story, team name for club Top 20 Prospects list.

Maxwell was a fourth outfielder type in Houston, but if and when Springer gets the call, he won't be asked to serve in that role. That might be the only thing that delays Springer's callup. When the Astros do bring up Springer, they'll want him to play every day and be ready to stay for the long haul. He's played center field almost exclusively, though he's seen some time in right and he'd be an upgrade over the current options on the 25-man roster.

It would also allow one of the other outfielders -- Robbie Grossman, Brandon Barnes or Marc Krauss -- to fill a more suitable backup outfielder role, though it doesn't look like any move is imminent, either with Springer or top Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton.

"They're [in] Triple-A, and that's where they'll stay for now," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We're excited about both Singleton and Springer and feel that their time will come."

While Bogaerts and Springer are the best examples of young players who could get a better opportunity post-Deadline, they are far from alone. Iglesias was getting some playing time in Boston at third, but he could get a chance to move back to shortstop full-time in Detroit if the Jhonny Peralta suspension comes down.

With Ian Kennedy headed to San Diego, there are openings in the D-backs' rotation that will be filled by the eventual returns of Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill. Zeke Spruill, who saw some Major League time in the bullpen this year, is getting the start against the Rangers on Thursday. If there are any other injury issues, though, perhaps Tyler Skaggs, who was sent down following his most recent start, will get another chance to stick in the big leagues. And Arizona has a host of intriguing options at Double-A Mobile, starting with top prospect Archie Bradley.

Grant Green is now listed as the Angels' No. 3 prospect and was officially sent to Triple-A Salt Lake, with Chris Nelson recalled to replace Alberto Callaspo on the 25-man roster. But the versatile Green should get a chance to get a longer look than the 15-at-bat debut he had with Oakland this season.

Mike Olt was the only Top 100 prospect to get traded, coming in at No. 63. The Cubs likely will want him to get his bearings and try to find some consistency at Triple-A Iowa after a rough season. There's no one blocking his path at third like there was in Texas, so if the slugging right-handed hitter can get on track, he could return to the big leagues at some point, even if it's not until September.

Evaluating the success of Deadline deals is often something that can't be done effectively for a number of years. But if these prospects are able to take advantage of these new opportunities, they could supply some very early returns.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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