Latest MLB Pipeline mock draft has Red Sox selecting Buford High School right-hander Dylan Lesko with top pick

In his latest 2022 mock draft for MLB Pipeline, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has the Red Sox selecting Buford High School (Ga.) right-hander Dylan Lesko with their top pick at No. 24 overall.

Lesko, 18, is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 9 draft-eligible prospect, which ranks first among pitchers in this year’s class. Despite the hype, the Georgia native recently underwent Tommy John surgery in late April, which is why Mayo has him falling to the late first round.

Prior to going under the knife, Lesko was coming off a dominant 2021 campaign for Buford in which he posted a 0.35 ERA with 112 strikeouts over 60 innings en route to becoming the first junior ever to take home Gatorade national baseball player of the year honors. He also got his 2022 season off to to a promising start before suffering an elbow injury that ultimately required Tommy John on April 26.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Lesko impressed scouts on the showcase circuit by working with a 92-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph as well as “the best changeup in the draft” and a curveball that has “the potential to become a plus weapon,” per Mayo.

Already equipped with a repeatable delivery, Lesko — who turns 19 in September — is currently committed to play college baseball at the esteemed Vanderbilt University should he choose not to go pro this summer.

While recovering from Tommy John will keep him sidelined for the next 12-15 months, there is still a strong chance Lesko is the first pitcher taken off the board come July 17 in Los Angeles.

The Red Sox have not used a first-round pick on a high school pitcher since 2016, when they took left-hander Jay Groome out of Barnegat High School in New Jersey with the 12th overall selection in that year’s draft.

Boston signed Groome for $3.65 million six years ago. This time around, the assigned slot value for the No. 24 pick in the 2022 draft comes in at roughly $2.975 million.

(Picture of Dylan Lesko: Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello strikes out 10 in debut for Triple-A Worcester

Top Red Sox pitching prospect Brayan Bello made his highly-anticipated debut for Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday night.

Matched up against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and pitching in front of 7,210 spectactors at Polar Park, Bello allowed two earned runs on six hits and one walk to go along with 10 strikeouts over six solid innings of work.

The right-hander retired eight of the first nine batters he faced before serving up a solo home run to Estevan Florial with two outs in the top of the third. He then gave up back-to-back one-out doubles to Greg Bird and Phillip Evans an inning later, which allowed another Scranton/Wilkes-Barre run to cross the plate.

From there, though, Bello was able to settle in a little bit as he worked his way out of another jam in the fifth before stranding Bird on second by sitting down the final three RailRiders he faced in his sixth and final frame.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (64 strikes), Bello induced 15 swings-and-misses on the night. According to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, who was in attendance on Wednesday, the hard-throwing righty sat between 96-98 mph with his fastball while also mixing in his slider and changeup on a frequent basis.

Bello, who turned 23 on Tuesday, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system — which ranks first among pitchers in the organization — and the No. 83 prospect in all of baseball.

The Red Sox originally signed Bello for just $28,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2017. Last season, the 6-foot-170 pound hurler represented Boston in the All-Star Futures Game and took home 2021 Red Sox Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year honors.

Prior to being promoted from Double-A Portland to Worcester earlier this week, Bello had posted posted a 1.60 ERA and 3.20 FIP to go along with 42 strikeouts to 12 walks over six starts spanning 33 2/3 innings of work for the Sea Dogs. He also threw a seven-inning no-header on May 5 in the process of emerging as one of the top arms in the Eastern League.

Now that he has taken the next step to Triple-A, Bello — who is already on Boston’s 40-man roster — will have an opportunity to make even more of a name for himself as he goes up against stiffer competition with the WooSox.

If he can do that, Bello could be on his way to the big-leagues before long.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta tosses complete game 2-hitter as Red Sox take series from Astros with 5-1 win

The ball was once again flying out of Fenway Park on Wednesday night as the Red Sox bounced back with a series-clinching win over the Astros. Boston defeated Houston by a final score of 5-1 to improve to 15-22 on the season.

After Nick Pivetta surrendered a leadoff home run to Jose Altuve, the Sox lineup quickly responded by scoring two runs in their half of the first inning. Matched up against Jose Garcia, Rafael Devers ripped a one-out triple down the right field line and scored from third on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly that nearly left the yard.

Xander Bogaerts followed by actually leaving the yard, as he crushed a Garcia cutter 358 feet over the Green Monster for his fourth home run of the season. Fast forward to the third, Enrique Hernandez led off by reaching base on a fielding error and scoring all the way from first on a wallball double off the bat of Devers.

An inning later, Trevor Story drew a leadoff walk and moved up to second when Franchy Cordero reached base on an Altuve fielding error. Both runners were driven in on back-to-back run-scoring singles from Christian Vazquez and Hernandez, which gave the Red Sox a commanding 5-1 lead.

Pivetta, meanwhile, had settled in nicely after giving up that leadoff homer to Altuve. In what was his eighth start of the season for Boston, the right-hander retired 18 consecutive batters at one point before yielding a leadoff double to Michael Brantley in the top of the seventh. He stranded Brantley on second and then sat down the side in order in the eighth.

Coming back out for the ninth, Pivetta put the finishing touches on a complete game two-hitter as well as a 5-1 win with yet another scoreless frame. He becomes the first Red Sox starter to record an out in both the eighth and ninth inning of a game this season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 112 (78 strikes), Pivetta wound up allowing just one earned run on two hits, no walks, and eight strikeouts over eight solid innings of work. It is the second complete game of the 29-year-old’s career.

The Red Sox have now won their last two series. While Martinez saw his hitting streak come to an end, Devers extended his to 12 consecutive games. Pivetta, on the other hand, picked up his first home win of the year while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.22.

Next up: Welcoming in the Mariners

The Red Sox will next welcome the Mariners into town for the start of a four-game weekend series on Thursday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will be getting the start for Boston while rookie right-hander George Kirby will be doing the same for Seattle.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Barring setback, Red Sox’ Michael Wacha will return from injured list and start against Mariners on Friday

Barring any sort of setback, Michael Wacha will come off the injured list and start for the Red Sox on Friday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) before Wednesday’s game against the Astros at Fenway Park.

Assuming Wacha does return from the injured list for Friday’s bout with the Mariners, it will be his first outing since May 3. The right-hander was slated to start against the White Sox on May 8, but was scratched shortly before first pitch and was later placed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to May 5) due to left intercostal irritation.

In the time since then, Wacha has cleared the necessary hurdles to return to the mound, such as throwing a 35-pitch simulated game on Monday and a short bullpen session earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Wacha’s return to Boston’s starting rotation will be a welcomed one. The 30-year-old hurler has impressed so far this season by posting a 1.38 ERA and 3.89 FIP with 19 strikeouts to 11 walks over five starts spanning 26 innings of work. The Red Sox went 4-1 in those outings.

Wacha, who turns 31 in July, is slated to become a free-agent this winter after signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Sox last November.

With Wacha more than likely coming back on Friday, the Red Sox will be rolling with Rich Hill, Wacha, Garrett Whitlock, and Nathan Eovaldi in their upcoming four-game series against the Mariners that begins Thursday night.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright Jaylin Davis to Triple-A Worcester after outfielder clears waivers

The Red Sox have outrighted Jaylin Davis to Triple-A Worcester after the outfielder cleared waivers, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reported earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Davis, 27, was claimed off waivers from the Giants late last month before making his Red Sox debut on April 30. Appearing in two games with Boston while the team was in Baltimore, the right-handed hitter went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and two strikeouts.

On May 2, the Sox optioned Davis — as well as right-hander Phillips Valdez — to Worcester at the same time big-league rosters shrunk from 28 to 26 players.

In nine games with the WooSox, Davis batted .200/.194/.367 with two doubles, one home run, three RBIs, three runs scored, zero walks, and 11 strikeouts across 31 plate appearances. He was designated for assignment this past Saturday so that the Red Sox could create a spot on their 40-man roster for righty John Schreiber.

Now that he has cleared waivers, Davis will remain in the Red Sox organization, albeit in a different capacity. That said, the North Carolina native should provide Boston with experienced outfield depth in Worcester and it would not be all that surprising if he made his way back to the majors at some point later this season.

(Picture of Jaylin Davis: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela hits for natural cycle in Greenville

Versatile Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela hit for the cycle in High-A Greenville’s 11-6 win over the Hickory Crawdads at Fluor Field on Tuesday night.

Batting third and starting in center field for the Drive, Rafaela went 4-for-5 with two RBIs, three runs scored, and one strikeout. The right-handed hitter singled in the first inning, doubled in the third inning, struck out in the fifth inning, showed off his speed while tripling in the seventh inning, and crushed his eighth home run of the season to cap off the natural cycle in the bottom of the eighth.

Following Tuesday’s performance, Rafaela became the first player in Drive franchise history to hit for the cycle. He is now batting .312/.353/.567 with 10 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 26 runs driven in, 28 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, seven walks, and 34 strikeouts across 32 games (150 plate appearances) for Greenville this season.

Rafaela, 21, was originally signed by the Red Sox for just $10,000 as an international free agent coming out of Curacao in June 2018. The Willemstad native is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he was named the organization’s Minor League Defensive Player of the Year.

So far this year, Rafaela has seen playing time at center field, second base, and shortstop. The 5-foot-8, 152 pounder has already logged 184 innings in center (his primary position), 60 innings at shortstop, and nine innings at second.

Because of his ability to play all over the diamond, Rafaela was identified by Baseball America as the top defensive outfielder in Boston’s farm system before the start of the season. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the Sox’ 22nd-ranked prospect.

Considering the amount of success he has enjoyed in Greenville thus far, it seems likely that Rafaela — who turns 22 in September — could earn a promotion to Double-A Portland before long.

That Rafaela could advance a level this season is relevant when you consider the fact he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline if they would like to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas tweaks right ankle in Worcester

Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas was removed in the seventh inning of Triple-A Worcester’s 4-3 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park on Tuesday night.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Casas was visited at first base by WooSox manager Chad Tracy and trainer David Herrera before being lifted in favor of Roberto Ramos.

To that point in the contest, Casas had gone 1-for-2 with one walk and one strikeout. Following Worcester’s come-from-behind victory that snapped a 10-game losing streak, it was revealed why the 22-year-old had to come out of the game.

As reported by The Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald, Casas tweaked his right ankle on the first base bag while recording the final out of the fifth. In the bottom half of the frame, he rolled that very same ankle as he attempted to get back to third base before getting doubled up.

“I played the next two innings and felt fine,” Casas explained. “They told me if I felt it at all, whether it was hurting a little bit, to let them know. The same motion I made injuring it, or hurting it, was the same motion I need to do to hit, so I was telling them to get (Roberto) Ramos to come into hit for me.”

Ramos did end up taking over for Casas at first base, but it does not appear as though the promising infielder sustained any sort of long-term injury that will require him to miss an extended period of time.

“It was just for precautionary reasons,” said Casas. “I feel good now. We’re going to see how I come in tomorrow, and we’ll take it slow. I feel good.”

Through 36 games with the WooSox this season, Casas is batting .248/.359/.457 with nine doubles, six home runs, 22 RBIs, 22 runs scored, 23 walks, and 35 strikeouts over 156 plate appearances.

The left-handed hitting 22-year-old is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the 19th-ranked prospect in all of baseball. He is expected to make his major-league debut for the Red Sox at some point this year.

(Picture of Triston Casas: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Nathan Eovaldi gives up 5 home runs in single inning as Red Sox get blown out by Astros, 13-4

The Red Sox fell behind early and could never recover against the Astros on a breezy Tuesday night at Fenway Park. Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 13-4 to drop to 14-22 on the season.

Matched up against Jose Urquidy to start things out, the Sox got off to a quick start thanks to Rafael Devers. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Devers extended his hitting streak to 11 consecutive games by crushing a one-out home run 108.7 mph to center field. Moments later, J.D. Martinez extended his own hitting streak to 18 straight games with a single.

After needing just five pitches to retire the side in the top half of the first, Nathan Eovaldi took the mound in the second inning with a 1-0 lead to work with. Despite those two things working in his favor, the right-hander did not make it out of the second.

Instead, Eovaldi served up a leadoff homer to Yordan Alvarez that saw that one-run lead disappear. Yuli Gurriel then reached base on a missed catch error and Kyle Tucker capitalized on Boston’s mistake by mashing a two-run home run over Houston’s bullpen. Jeremy Pena, who played his college ball at the University of Maine, followed with a solo blast to left-center.

So the Astros had plated four runs without recording an out in the second. Eovaldi got that elusive first out, but then ran into more trouble by giving up back-to-back one-out hits to Martin Maldonado and Jose Altuve. Michael Brantley capitalized on the opportunity in front of him by cranking a three-run home run to right field. Houston batted around in the inning as Alvarez singled with two outs and Gurriel ended Eovaldi’s night with a 381-foot two-run blast.

Eovaldi’s eighth start of the season was also his shortest. The 32-year-old allowed nine runs — six of which were earned — on eight hits, no walks, and no strikeouts over just 1 2/3 innings of work. He also became the first Red Sox pitcher to ever give up as many as five home runs in a single inning, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

Tyler Danish took over for Eovaldi and ended things in the second. An inning later, Devers stayed hot by ripping a leadoff double to left field. Martinez followed — and also stayed hot — by hitting his fifth big fly of the season. A 401-foot two-run shot trimmed the Sox’ deficit down to six runs at 9-3.

Danish, meanwhile, had gotten through a scoreless third inning before loading the bases with one out in the fourth. The reliever then yielded a 386-foot grand slam to Kyle Tucker that put the Astros back up by 10 runs.

Following a perfect top half of the fifth from Hirokazu Sawamura, Boston got one of those runs back in the latter half when Trevor Story scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Kevin Plawecki.

Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, and Jake Diekman worked one shutout frame each, as did Austin Davis.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Alex Verdugo, Story, Franchy Cordero, and Plawecki went down in order against Blake Taylor to seal a 13-4 defeat for the Red Sox.

Boston went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday and left 13 runners on base as a team. Despite those situational struggles, Devers and Martinez combined for six hits as they each finished a triple shy of the cycle. Verdugo and Story also had four hits between them.

Next up: Garcia vs. Pivetta

The Red Sox will look to bounce back as they go for the series win over the Astros on Wednesday. Boston will turn to right-hander Nick Pivetta while Houston will roll with fellow righty Luis Garcia in the series finale.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox release Carlos Martínez from minor-league deal; right-hander posted 20.77 ERA in 2 starts for Triple-A Worcester

Less than two weeks after signing him, the Red Sox released right-hander Carlos Martinez from his minor-league contract on Tuesday, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Martinez, 30, inked a minors pact with Boston on May 7 after opting out of his deal with the Giants and becoming a free-agent in late April.

Assigned to Triple-A Worcester out of the gate, Martinez made just two starts for the WooSox and struggled mightily, allowing 10 earned runs on nine hits, three walks, and four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work. That is good for an ERA of 20.77.

This was a reunion of sorts between Martinez and the Red Sox, who originally signed the Dominican native as an international free-agent (and infielder) in 2009 before the deal was voided.

The following year, Martinez signed with the Cardinals and went on to spend the first nine seasons of his major-league career in St. Louis while being named to two National League All-Star teams. He made 16 starts for the Cards in 2021 before undergoing season-ending surgery in July to repair a torn thumb ligament in his right hand.

After St. Louis declined his $17 million club option for 2022 over the winter, Martinez became a free-agent and has already spent time with two different organizations since then.

Now back on the open market, Martinez — who turns 31 in September — will look to get back on track and revitalize his big-league career elsewhere.

(Picture of Carlos Martinez: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez suffers right knee strain with Triple-A Worcester

The Worcester Red Sox are placing Darwinzon Hernandez on the seven-day injured list with a right knee strain, according to Joe McDonald of The Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Per McDonald, Hernandez tweaked his right knee while throwing a bullpen session at Polar Park on Sunday. It is currently unclear how much time the left-hander will miss.

In eight appearances (seven starts) for the WooSox this season, Hernandez has posted a 5.95 ERA and 4.42 FIP to go along with 30 strikeouts to 16 walks over 19 2/3 innings of work.

Last time out against the Rochester Red Wings on May 13, the 25-year-old southpaw impressed by allowing just one unearned run on three hits, one walk, and three strikeouts across three innings pitched. He retired nine of the 13 batters he faced and 33 of the 43 pitches he threw went for strikes.

The Red Sox surprisingly optioned Hernandez to Triple-A Worcester at the end of spring training so that he could improve his mechanics while working on a starter’s schedule (i.e. every five or six days). The goal was for him to make his start, then use the days in between outings to work with WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott in order to become more consistent with his delivery and such.

Now that Hernandez has been sidelined because of a knee strain, the Sox have lost yet another left-handed pitcher to injury for the time being. Of the nine lefties on Boston’s 40-man roster, three (James Paxton, Chris Sale, and Josh Taylor) on the 60-day injured list and one (Hernandez) is on the minor-league injured list.

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)