The Red Sox may have traded Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr. on Wednesday night, but they did so while also acquiring two intriguing prospects from the Brewers.
As highlighted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox basically dealt Renfroe and took on Bradley Jr.’s $9.5 million salary for 2022 (plus an $8 million buyout in 2023) in order to add infield prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton.
“Having two premium defensive center fielders is a huge boost to our roster,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday. “And we’re also excited about the minor-league players that we got. So we felt like this was something that made sense for us right now and also had a chance to pay dividends down the road.”
Binelas was recently selected by the Brewers in the third round of the 2021 amateur draft out of the University of Louisville, where he belted 19 home runs and posted a .968 OPS in his final season with the Cardinals.
Going into this summer’s draft, Binelas was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 76 draft-eligible prospect and was assigned to Milwaukee’s Arizona Complex League affiliate upon signing with the organization for $700,000.
After just seven games in the rookie-level complex league, Binelas was promoted to Low-A Carolina on August 16. In 29 games with the Mudcats to close out the year, the left-handed hitter slashed .314/.379/.636 (163 wRC+) with 11 doubles, nine home runs, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts over 132 plate appearances.
Among hitters who accrued at least 130 plate appearances in the Low-A East this season, Binelas ranked fifth in OPS (1.014), third in isolated power (.322), and fifth in wRC+, per FanGraphs.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the 21-year-old is capable of playing both corner infield positions. At the midway point of the 2021 season, he was regarded by Baseball America as the 20th-ranked prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system.
“A left-handed hitter with power,” Bloom said of Binelas. “He plays both infield corners. But the bat is really his calling card. A good hitter with really special power. Obviously it’s just early in his professional journey but he had a tremendous debut and really showed a lot in his acclimation to pro ball. A really nice power left-handed bat to bring into the system.”
Hamilton, on the other hand, was selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin despite suffering a ruptured Achilles in a scooter accident that resulted in him missing the entirety of the 2019 season at both the college and pro levels.
With the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton did not make his professional debut as a member of the Brewers organization until this spring.
The 24-year-old, who is also a left-handed hitter split the 2021 season between High-A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. He batted .258/.341/.419 (110 wRC+) with 19 doubles, 11 triples, eight homers, 43 RBIs, 66 runs, 52 stolen bases, 50 walks, and 90 strikeouts in 101 games spanning 459 total plate appearances.
Formerly regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system, Hamilton just wrapped up a solid campaign in the Arizona Fall League by slashing .293/.453/.463 with three doubles, two triples, five RBIs, five runs scored, four stolen bases, 12 walks, and six strikeouts over 14 games (53 plate appearances) for Salt River.
Listed at 5-f00t-10 and 175 pounds, Hamilton is obviously well-regarded for his speed and athleticism, which were his carrying tools coming out of college. The middle infielder’s 52 stolen bases were the sixth-most in the minor-leagues this season.
“David Hamilton has premium speed and he’s a really good middle infielder,” Bloom said. “Plays a good shortstop. Interesting trajectory. Highly-touted high school player who went to the University of Texas. Had a tough injury and recovered from it, and kept his speed. He has great speed and athleticism and is a very exciting player to add to our system.”
Unlike Binelas, Hamilton can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career in 2022. The Red Sox will need to add the speedster to their 40-man roster by next November if they want to prevent that from happening.
(Picture of Alex Binelas: Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)