Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski wrapped up his first season with his new organization on a promising note Friday night.
Making his second start for Triple-A Worcester since being promoted there late last month, Winckowski allowed just one earned on two hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts over six innings of work against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies affiliate) at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa.
Coming off a strong showing in his last time out against the Rochester Red Wings, Winckowski retired each of the first six batters he faced in order before running into some trouble in the bottom half of the third.
There, the right-hander led the inning off by serving up a solo home run to Logan O’Hoope. He then issued a four-pitch walk to Nick Maton, who proceeded to advance all the way to third base on a Josh Ockimey throwing error after Arquimedes Gamboa reached safely on a fielder’s choice.
Despite being put in a tough spot at that moment, Winckowski did not waver, as he stranded Maton at third by getting Adam Haseley to fly out to left field before Luke Williams grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play that was started by Jack Lopez and turned by Jonathan Arauz.
Having escaped that jam, Winckowski settled in a bit by retiring the side in order in the fourth, maneuvering his way around a two-out single in the fifth, and working around two walks in the sixth with an emphatic punchout of Darick Hall to end his night on a positive note.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (47 strikes), Winckowski ultimately picked up his first winning decision at the Triple-A level by leading the WooSox to a 4-3 victory over the IronPigs on Saturday.
In his first and final two starts of the season with Worcester, the righty allowed a total of three earned runs on five hits, three walks, one hit batsman, and 13 strikeouts over 12 innings pitched. That’s good for a 2.25 ERA and 3.27 FIP.
Winckowski, 23, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking ninth among pitchers in the organization.
The Red Sox orginally acquired the former 15th-round draft pick of the Blue Jays from the Mets as part of the three-team trade that sent outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February.
He received an invite to major-league spring training before opening the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland, where he posted a 4.14 ERA and 4.02 FIP to go along with 88 strikeouts to 30 walks over 21 outings (20 starts) spanning exactly 100 innings of work.
That led to him being named the Sea Dogs’ Pitcher of the Year, and it also netted him a promotion to Worcester on September 24.
Of the four prospects (Winckowski, right-handers Grant Gambrell and Luis De La Rosa, and outfielder Freddy Valdez) Boston added as part of that three-team swap with New York and Kansas City, Winckowcki is the furthest along in regards to his development.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-4, 212 pound hurler out of Fort Myers operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, an 84-86 mph slider, an 88-91 mph changeup, and a reported split-finger fastball.
The timing of Winckowski’s promotion and success with the WooSox certainly comes at an interesting time when considering the fact that he can once again become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter.
While still with the Blue Jays last year, he was left unprotected upon becoming eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time, though that seems unlikely to happen this time around.
Having said all that, the Red Sox have until November 20 to add Winckowski — as well as any other eligible prospect they would like to protect — to their 40-man roster if they do not wish to expose him to the Rule 5 Draft come December.
(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/MLB Photos via Getty Images)