Jonathan Arauz is one of a handful of players who are on the Red Sox’ roster bubble as the 2020 season nears. The 21-year-old was selected by Boston in last December’s Rule 5 draft, meaning he currently has a spot on the club’s 26-man roster.
Prior to spring training being shut down in March, it looked as though the Panamanian-born infielder had a legitimate shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster as a utilityman off the bench. Flash forward four months, and it appears that much remains true as Summer Camp winds down for the Red Sox and Opening Day looms.
Starting at second base for the Home Sox in Saturday’s four-inning intrasquad game at Fenway Park, Arauz went 1-for-2 with the biggest hit of the night, as he greeted newest Red Sox hurler Zack Godley by taking the right-hander deep to right field for a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom half of the fourth.
That two-run blast gave the Home Sox a 2-0 victory, and it certainly improved Arauz’s chances of making his first career Opening Day roster as well.
Even before Saturday’s impressive showing, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke sounded pleased with what he’s seen from the switch-hitter, who has never played above Double-A ball in the minors, thus far at Summer Camp when speaking to reporters earlier in the week.
“We like Jonathan,” the Sox skipper said via a Zoom call on Friday. “I’m liking what I see offensively being a switch-hitter. He’s patient. He sees the ball well. And on defense, he’s got good hands. He’s got a really good arm, an accurate arm. His mind doesn’t speed up on him. He’s pretty slow thinking, which you need to be. And for a young age, I would say he’s pretty advanced that way. We’re surprised that he’s handling being with these guys really well. So I’m hoping he can help us some this year. And certainly the future is also what we’re looking at. But those are hard questions. Hopefully we get through this and we’ll be really happy that we have him here for a long time.”
Arauz, formerly with the Astros’ organization, became the first player taken by the Red Sox in the major-league phase of a Rule 5 draft since Josh Rutledge in 2016.
Boston paid Houston $100,000 in order to make that happen, and if they feel as though Arauz is no longer worthy of a spot on the active roster at any point this season, they will have to offer him back to the ‘Stros for $50,000 if he clears waivers.
If Houston does not want Arauz back in this scenario, the Sox would then be able to option him to the minor leagues, which in 2020 would essentially be the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, I think.
It’s definitely a confusing process, but as a soon-to-be 22-year-old who is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Arauz should be someone the Red Sox want to hold on to, even if it may be tough to find him playing time at the major-league level this year.