UPDATE: This is now official. The Red Sox have called up Kelly and Ort from Triple-A Worcester and have designated Davis and Sawamura for assignment, the club announced before Monday’s series opener against the Twins.
Kelly will wear the No. 76, becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to do so and the first since Hector Velazquez donned the number from 2017-2019.
After designating Austin Davis and Hirokazu Sawamura for assignment on Sunday, the Red Sox are expected to call up right-handers Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort from Triple-A Worcester, according to multiple reports.
Kelly and Ort will join the Red Sox and their new-look bullpen in Minnesota ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Twins at Target Field. The former will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster while the latter is already on it.
When Kelly gets into a game, it will mark his major-league debut. The 27-year-old has spent the last two seasons in the Red Sox organization after originally signing a minor-league deal with the club last January. Prior to that, Kelly had gone undrafted out of Division II Newberry College (Newberry, S.C.) and signed with the Athletics for just $500 in January 2017.
After splitting time between the Athletics and Angels organizations, Kelly suffered an elbow injury in the spring of 2020 that would ultimately require surgery. He was released by Los Angeles that May in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown.
Since then, however, Kelly has only seen his stock rise. The native Virginian posted a 2.18 ERA over 36 appearances (45 1/3 innings) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester last year and leveraged that performance into his first-ever invite to big-league spring training after re-signing with the Red Sox in November.
With the WooSox this season, Kelly has pitched to a stellar 2.72 ERA and 2.81 FIP to go along with 72 strikeouts to 25 walks over 44 relief appearances spanning 49 2/3 innings of work. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound hurler operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball, a low-80s changeup, and a high-80s cutter.
Ort, who debuted for Boston last September, has produced a 9.00 ERA and 4.06 FIP with 13 strikeouts and seven walks across 12 outings (15 innings) at the major-league level this season. The Red Sox originally acquired the 30-year-old from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.
Frequently pitching behind Kelly in Worcester, Ort owns a 2.88 ERA (2.68 FIP) in 39 appearances for the WooSox this year. He has put up those numbers while converting 16 of a possible 18 save opportunities.
When Davis and Sawamura are officially designated for assignment and Kelly and Ort are officially called up, the Red Sox will have 26 players on their 26-man roster and 39 players on their 40-man roster. At this point in time, it is not yet known how they will use that open spot.
(Picture of Zack Kelly: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)