For the second time this month, Red Sox catching prospect Kole Cottam lifted the Scottsdale Scorpions to a come-from-behind win, with this one coming over the Surprise Saguaros in Arizona Fall League action on Tuesday afternoon.
Batting eighth and serving as his team’s designated hitter, Cottam went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, one run scored, and one strikeout in what would turn out to be a 2-1 walk-off victory for the Scorpions at Scottsdale Stadium.
With approximately 477 spectators in attendance, the Scorpions lineup was initially held in check by Saguaros pitching. Through the first eight innings of Tuesday’s contest, Scottsdale failed to put up a single run.
Down to their final three outs in the bottom half of the ninth of a 1-0 game, the Scorpions were tasked with facing off against Yankees right-hander Zach Greene for the Saguaros.
Cottam, who had gone 1-for-3 at the plate up until that point, was due to hit second in the inning for Scottsdale. He did not have to wait long after Twins outfielder Matt Wallner led things off with a hard-hit single to right field.
Representing the potential winning run, Cottam did not waste any time in coming through with his second walk-off hit of the AFL season. On the very first pitch he saw from Greene, the right-handed hitter drilled a two-run home run to right-center field, allowing the Scorpions to improve to 9-15 on the year in the process of doing so.
Following Tuesday’s impressive showing, Cottam is now slashing a stout .286/.380/.548 to go along with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks, and nine strikeouts through 13 games (50 plate appearances) with Scottsdale.
Among all Arizona Fall League hitters this year, Cottam ranks 11th in home runs, 26th in RBIs, 21st in slugging percentage, 26th in OPS (.928), 31st in total bases (23), 13th in isolated power (.262), and 11th in at-bats per home run (14.00), per MLB.com.
Cottam, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally selected the 6-foot-3, 235 pound backstop in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Kentucky.
After receiving an invite to major-league camp this spring, Cottam opened the 2021 minor-league season at High-A Greenville. He batted .276/.386/.487 (135 wRC+) with 13 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 22 runs scored, 25 walks, and 64 strikeouts across 46 games (190 plate appearances) for the Drive while also throwing out six of the 35 (17.1%) of the base runners who tried to steal against him.
On July 29, Cottam — a native Tennessean — earned himself a promotion to Double-A Portland, where he produced a .282/.337/.526 (131 wRC+) slash line to go along with five doubles, one triple, four homers, nine runs driven in, 11 runs scored, three walks, and 33 strikeouts over 25 games (86 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. He also threw out two of the 15 (13.3%) of the base runners who tried to steal against him to close out the year.
In total, Cottam logged 439 innings behind the plate during the 2021 minor-league season, which likely explains why he has only caught for the Scorpions on five separate occasions so far this fall.
That being said, Cottam — who does not turn 25 until next May — can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by November 19 if they intend to protect him from becoming Rule 5 eligible.
(Picture of Kole Cottam: Arizona Fall League)