After a three-year hiatus, the Red Sox will be bringing back their Rookie Development Program to Fenway Park later this week.
Boston announced on Wednesday that 11 players are scheduled to participate in the five-day program, which begins on Saturday, January 21, and concludes on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The prospects who were invited are infielders/outfielders Ceddanne Rafaela and Enmanuel Valdez, infielder David Hamilton, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, left-handers Chris Murphy and Brandon Walter, and right-handers Brayan Bello, Ryan Fernandez, Franklin German, Zack Kelly, and Bryan Mata.
Rafaela, Valdez, Hamilton, Abreu, Murphy, and Walter were all added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft. Mata was added in 2020 for the very same reason. Bello, German, and Kelly, meanwhile, all made their major-league debuts for Boston last season.
Interestingly enough, Fernandez is the lone player here who is not currently a member of the Sox’ 40-man roster. The 24-year-old righty flashed some electric stuff (including a high-90s fastball) between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland last year before suffering a season-ending elbow injury in July. He is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 38 prospect in the organization.
Fernandez and these 10 other players will take part in this development program, which was first introduced in 2004 in an effort to ease the transition from the minor- to the major-leagues. Past participants include Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck, Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, Matt Barnes, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts.
The Red Sox last held their rookie development program in Jan. 2020. It was cancelled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not take place in 2022 due to the MLB lockout. In lieu of it being axed last year, Boston held a “Winter Warmup” minicamp in Fort Myers for select prospects who were not yet on the 40-man roster, such as Rafaela, German, Kelly, Murphy, Walter, and Triston Casas.
According to the Red Sox, this year’s version of the rookie development program includes “two workouts daily that emphasize conditioning and strength training as well as a concentration on baseball fundamentals. In addition, the players are attending a number of seminars that will focus on the assimilation into major-league life on and off the field. They will attend the Boston Bruins game on Sunday, Jan. 22, host an RBI clinic alongside the Red Sox Foundation on Monday, Jan. 23, and visit Boston Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 24.”
Team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, general manager Brian O’Halloran, and manager Alex Cora are among those who are scheduled to speak with this year’s participants. They will also hear from other members of the club’s baseball operations, baseball communications and media relations, and community relations departments.
(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)