Red Sox Set To Kick off Fall Instructional League This Week With Bevy of Top Prospects in Attendance

The Red Sox are set to kick off their fall instructional league in Fort Myers on Monday. And according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, several of the club’s top prospects will take part in these offseason activities.

Among the 62 minor-leaguers who will report to Fenway South starting this week, several had just spent at least part of their summers at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket. Those names, per Speier, include pitchers Bryan Mata and Jay Groome, infielders Triston Casas, Nick Yorke, and Hudson Potts, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario.

As for the prospects who did not receive an invite to the alternate site this season, there are right-handers Brayan Bello and Thad Ward, left-hander Chris Murphy, infielders Brainer Bonaci and Matthew Lugo, and speedy outfielder Gilberto Jimenez.

On top of that group of players, infielder Blaze Jordan and pitchers Shane Drohan and Jeremy Wu-Yelland — the rest of Boston’s 2020 draft class — are also expected to attend this offseason program that will run until November 12.

Although it is not yet clear if teams will be allowed to play games against one another due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these instructional leagues do allow the Red Sox, as well as the other 29 clubs, to get back in contact with the core of their minor-league talent.

Speaking of minor-league talent, as of September 1, the Sox had the No. 25 farm system in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

As underwhelming as that ranking may be, there appears to be optimism from within the organization that things in that developmental area are steadily improving. PawSox manager Billy McMillon opined as much when speaking with reporters this past Friday via Zoom.

“I think it’s very promising right now,” McMillon said regarding the state of the Red Sox farm system. “Some of the returns that we got back in some of the various trades and offseason acquisitions, I think that’s going to raise the level of our minor-leagues. We saw some guys develop, get a little bit better. There’s encouraging news from guys that impressed on the mound to seeing how some of the position players developed. I think the cupboard is getting full again, and I think there’s reason for optimism with some of the guys that we saw in the alternate camp.”

Expect the full list of Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be attending fall instructs to be released relatively soon.

UPDATE: Here’s the full list of the 62 Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be at full instructs, courtesy of SoxProspects.

Red Sox Top Draft Pick Nick Yorke Talks Alternate Training Site Life

At 18 years and 173 days old, Nick Yorke is by far the youngest player at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket. The 2020 first-round draft pick received an invite to the alternate site earlier this month and first reported to McCoy Stadium last Thursday.

Since then, Yorke has gone 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two walks in simulated game action while also getting acclimated to a whole new level of baseball far different than what he had grown accustomed to at Archbishop Mitty High School out in San Jose.

In a brief period of time, Yorke, a west coaster, has seen his life essentially flip upside down after signing his first professional contract back in July. Even so, the right-handed hitting infielder is just glad to be playing baseball in some capacity in what has already been an unprecedented year.

“I’ve been having so much fun getting on the field again,” Yorke said when speaking with reporters via Zoom earlier Tuesday. “Competitiveness-wise, it’s just fun getting to be on the field against another pitcher and have some at-bats. So, I’ve been having a great time out here.”

One of those pitchers Yorke got the chance to face in his Pawtucket debut on Saturday was top prospect Bryan Mata, who wound up dazzling the youngster with his velocity a bit before eventually yielding an opposite-field single.

“I remember that first pitch he threw me,” Yorke said of his encounter with the 21-year-old Mata. “He threw it for a ball but I was like ‘I didn’t know a ball could move like that!’ So then I put on the batting gloves and it was time to compete, put a barrel on the ball, and let him do the work.”

While Yorke is still adjusting to this new level of baseball, he is also getting better familiarized with his peers, such as fellow prospect Triston Casas, veteran infielder Jose Peraza, and PawSox manager Billy McMillon.

“They’ve been really good about getting my feet wet,” the one-time University of Arizona commit added.” I took the first 2 – 2 1/2 days kind of just taking BP and working out with the guys. Triston Casas has been really good with me. I go and hit with him before we report everyday to come hit off the machine and get the [velocity] in before the games.”

Regarding Peraza, who was optioned to the alternate site on September 9, Yorke says the ex-Red was surprised about his age and has been one of several players with major-league experience who have doled out some wisdom or advice if needed.

“It’s amazing. I mean, they’re all so welcoming,” Yorke said of the veteran presence in Pawtucket. “I’ve tried to be a sponge. They’re really good about letting me in and showing me the ropes. I’ve had a great time with them.”

When discussing what his interactions with McMillon have been like, Yorke described the PawSox skipper as an ‘amazing’ individual.

“[McMillon’s] very funny,” he continued. “He always puts smiles on guys’ faces… and just makes transitions a lot easier, introducing myself to new guys through Billy and whatnot. He’s been great with me.”

Yorke, as well as the other 32 or so players in Pawtucket, will presumably continue their workouts at McCoy through the end of the 2020 major-league season this coming Sunday. From there, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox are planning to invite about 60 players to a fall training camp in Fort Myers. The California native could very well be one of those 60 players who receive an invite. We will have to wait and see on that.

Red Sox Sign Fifth-Round Draft Pick Shane Drohan for $600,000

The Red Sox have signed fifth-round draft pick Shane Drohan, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, Drohan, a 21-year-old left-hander out of Florida State University, signed with Boston for $600,000, which is well above the $364,400 in recommended slot value assigned to the 148th overall pick ($364,400).

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 147th-ranked draft-eligible prospect headed into this year’s draft, Drohan posted a 4.08 ERA over four starts and 17 2/3 innings pitched for the Seminoles in his junior season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the college baseball season.

Based off his SoxProspects scouting report, Drohan, a native of Fort Lauderdale, has a pitch mix that includes a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and an 80-83 mph changeup.

By signing Drohan, the Red Sox have now inked all four of their 2020 draft picks to professional contracts.

First-rounder Nick Yorke signed for $2.7 million, third-rounder Blaze Jordan signed for $1.75 million, fourth-rounder Jeremy Wu-Yelland signed for $200,000, and as already mentioned, fifth-rounder Shane Drohan signed for $600,000.

In total, Boston spent $5.25 million in order to sign their draftees, an amount that just barely surpasses their $5,129,900 bonus pool. As noted by SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall, this means that the club will “have to pay a 75% tax on the extra $120,100” they spent on their picks.

Also worth mentioning, the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, have signed 14 undrafted free agents, the most in baseball.

2020 Minor League Baseball Season Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

This news does not come as a surprise, but the 2020 Minor League Baseball season has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. MiLB released a statement addressing the matter earlier Tuesday evening.

 

Per league president and CEO Pat O’Connor, “This announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, heavy financial constraints were placed on minor-league clubs across the country due to the fact their primary source of revenue comes from ticket sales.

Unlike their parent major-league clubs, minor-league affiliates do not have lucrative television or other media contracts to rely on in the absence of ticket sales and other gameday revenue, so getting through an entire season with teams playing in empty or nearly empty ballparks would have been virtually impossible.

Back in May, the Red Sox committed to paying their non-40-man-roster minor-leaguers $400 per week through the end of August, or what would have been the end of the minor-league season.

Without a minor-league season, it has been reported by Baseball America that some teams will allow their minor-leaguers to pursue opportunities in independent league baseball.

It is also worth mentioning that the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, were supposed to play their final season at McCoy Stadium this year before relocating to Worcester.

With Polar Park making progress towards its completion before the start of the 2021 minor-league season, it would seem as though the PawSox have already played their last game at McCoy, which they have called home since 1969.

On another note, the short-season affiliate of the Red Sox, the Lowell Spinners, probably won’t be affiliated with the Red Sox for that much longer, as the entire infrastructure of minor-league baseball appears to be headed towards rapid turnover. That much was made evident by this year’s amateur draft, which consisted of only five rounds to make it the shortest in MLB’s history to this point in time.

Minor-league baseball is an important aspect of the game for developing players and young fans alike. Despite that notion, the landscape of MiLB will probably never be the same beginning in 2021 if those aforementioned changed do take place.

Blogging the Red Sox Presents: An Interview With Chaim Bloom

When Major League Baseball first suspended spring training and delayed the start of the 2020 season back in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I sent an email to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom asking if I could send him a handful of questions pertaining to those aforementioned events taking place.

It took some time, but after sorting things out with the club’s media relations department over the last few weeks, I have in my virtual possession the written responses to the questions I sent him.

Rather than structure this article like a story you would typically see on here, I am instead going to enclose the “transcript” of the “interview” below. So please enjoy, and remember, these questions were sent earlier in the spring, before this year’s draft and before MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he’s not “100%” confident there will be a season this year.

Would you rather the Red Sox host spring training workouts in Boston or Fort Myers?

Chaim Bloom: This is such a unique year – it forces us to rethink everything that goes into spring training. There are certainly benefits to both places and we’re hoping to get a clearer idea of exactly what 2020 will look like before we firm up a plan. In the meantime, we’re working on parallel tracks to make sure we’re ready for whatever makes the most sense once we see the schedule as a whole.

How has it been preparing for this year’s draft with less material to go over than usual?

Bloom: The process to prepare for the 2020 draft really favored those staffs who had done their homework in the summer and the fall. When you have a hard-working staff with a lot of continuity, which we do, that’s one aspect we were well prepared to take advantage of. The biggest challenge for all 30 clubs was how to weigh those spring samples, which were either small or nonexistent. If a player changed dramatically from what he’d been, how much weight do you put on that? Is that who he is now – was it a real step forward or back – or was it just a small-sample fluke? Those types of discussions were some of the most interesting that we had amongst our staff.

Who in the front office or scouting department would be best at convincing undrafted players to sign with the Red Sox for up to $20,000?

Bloom: The decision to play pro ball is a very personal one for a lot of players and this year is no different. We certainly want to make the case to interested players that we’re the organization that can get the most out of them and maximize their potential. But we also want this to be a mutual fit, who see themselves as well-positioned to take advantage of what we have to offer. When those things line up, we will be set up well to have success in development.

Despite the current freeze placed on any sort of roster moves, have you had any conversations with free agents or other general managers during this period?

Bloom: Along with others in the front office, I’ve continued to speak to counterparts and contacts throughout the game, but not to discuss trades or roster moves. That’s just not appropriate right now and there have been many other issues to worry about.

As a spectator, how different would it be for you to watch Major League Baseball be played in empty ballparks? Would that impact the way you view or analyze a certain player since there would be no crowd noise to react to?

Bloom: It would be different, that’s for sure. I don’t think we know exactly how players will react. But I’d be hesitant to give too much blame or credit to the attendance (or lack thereof) when assessing how a player performs. There’s so much that goes into what these guys do that I don’t know how we could separate the signal from the noise. They’re pros and I have every reason to think they’ll be locked in when the time comes to compete.

Finally, how odd has it been to not have any live stateside baseball to watch at this point in the year? There are obviously more pressing issues at hand in this country, but as someone who has been part of a major-league front office in some capacity since 2005, this has to be kind of strange, no?

Bloom: No question. This is not an experience that has been fun for anyone in the game. We’ve done what we can to make the most of the time, but we’re all in this because we love baseball and when there isn’t any, it’s a downer. Having said that, we know that public health and the safety of our players, our staff, and our fans is and should be higher priorities. Those things have to come first, but we’re hopeful that we can provide some entertainment for our fans during this really difficult period.

Thank you to Chaim Bloom and Red Sox vice president of media relations Kevin Gregg for making this possible. 

Red Sox Draft Round-Up: How Did Chaim Bloom Fare in First Draft as Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer?

As the dust settles on the day following the completion of the shortest draft in Major League Baseball history, the Red Sox will come away with four new additions to their minor-league pipeline if all goes according to plan.

Those four new additions are prep infielders Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan, as well as college left-handed pitchers Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Shane Drohan.

As part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018, the Sox were docked a second-round pick in this year’s draft, which subsequently dropped their total pool money down to just $5,129,900.

Because of that, it seems that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni utilized a somewhat unconventional approach in their first draft together.

By taking Yorke, an 18-year-old second baseman out of San Jose, Calif. who was regarded by Baseball America as the 98th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, the Sox will likely be able to save quite a bit of money. That being the case because Yorke, who is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona, will presumably sign with Boston for less than the $3,609,700 slot value assigned to his draft position.

With that in mind and done with on Day 1 of the draft, Blom and Co. were able to go out and splurge with their third-round selection in first baseman/third baseman Blaze Jordan on Thursday.

The 17-year-old likely fell to the third-round because of his commitment to Mississippi State University, but the Red Sox will presumably be able to sway Baseball America’s 90th-ranked draft-eligible prospect to go pro by offering him more than the $667,900 signing bonus assigned to his draft position (No. 89).

“Getting that kind of upside at pick No. 89, it’s not normal,” Toboni said of Jordan Thursday night. “We were able to assume the risk mainly because the expected value we thought we were getting was really, really good in that area of the draft. He’s just a really exciting talent. There’s no other way to put it.”

As for the two college hurlers, Hawaii left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Florida State left-hander Shane Drohan, taken by Boston in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft, they were ranked by Baseball America as the No. 261 and No. 189 draft-eligible prospects respectively.

Wu-Yelland, who was scouted by J.J. Albotelli, has a recommended slot value of $487,9000, while Drohan, who was scouted by Dante Ricciardi, has a recommended slot value of $364,400.

The Red Sox have until August 1st to sign these four prospects, as well as any undrafted free agent they may pursue.

Some players are already reaching agreements with their new clubs, so it should not be long until we get our first reports of the Red Sox agreeing to terms with one of the four names mentioned above.

Red Sox Take Florida State Left-Hander Shane Drohan With Final Pick of 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected left-hander Shane Drohan with their fourth and final pick of the 2020 MLB Draft at No. 148 overall.

Taking their second consecutive college lefty, the Red Sox go with Drohan, a 21-year-old junior out of Florida State University in Tallahassee.

MLB Pipeline’s 147th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, Drohan posted a 4.08 ERA over four starts and 17 2/3 innings pitched for the Seminoles in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His pitching arsenal consists of a 92-93 MPH that can reach 95 MPH, an above-average curveball, and a changeup that “continues to improve.”

A former 23rd round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017, Drohan, once a star quarterback at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, “is still learning how to pitch,” according to MLB Pipeline, which means “there’s still ceiling [for him] to reach.”

By being taken in the fifth round of this year’s draft, Drohan’s recommended slot value is approximately $364,400.

The Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, will have until August 1st to sign Drohan, as well as the three other players that have been drafted by Boston over the last 26 hours or so.

Speaking of Bloom and Toboni, the selection of Drohan marks the conclusion of their first draft together.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll have a wrap-up post about this year’s draft for the Red Sox up some time on Friday, so stay tuned for that.

 

 

Red Sox Take Hawaii Left-Hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland in Fourth Round of 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland with their fourth-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft at No. 118 overall.

The first college player and pitcher taken by Boston in this year’s draft, Wu-Yelland is a soon-to-be 21-year-old junior out of the University of Hawaii.

Before this past college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wu-Yelland, a native of Spokane, Wash., posted a nice 0.69 ERA and .200 batting average against over seven relief appearances and 13 innings of work out of the Rainbow Warriors bullpen.

Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 261 prospect in this year’s draft class, Wu-Yelland relies heavily on his fastball, and thanks to a somewhat erratic delivery, he has dealt with control issues in the past, which ultimately led to a move to Hawaii’s ‘pen prior to the start of the 2020 season.

As a fourth-round selection, Wu-Yelland is likely to sign with Boston for around $487,900 if he so chooses.

The final pick of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni’s first draft together is coming up in the middle of the fifth round. Or, more specifically, the 148th overall selection.

Red Sox Take Power-Hitting Prep Corner Infielder Blaze Jordan With Third-Round Pick in 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected prep first baseman Blaze Jordan with their second pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft at No. 89 overall.

Jordan, who does not turn 18 until December, is committed to play college baseball at Mississippi State University.

The DeSoto Central High School (Miss.) product is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 42nd-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class, and he has one of the best power tools of anybody.

Per his MaxPreps page, Jordan slashed .422/.509/.777 with six doubles, five triples, and four RBI over 13 games this past season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted high school and college baseball across the country.

Once likened to Bryce Harper at just 15 years old, Jordan has been in the spotlight for quite a while. That much is made evident by his verified Instagram account that has over 78,000 followers.

Jordan’s Baseball America Scouting report from last month goes as follows:

Jordan has a mature approach at the plate, with quick, fluid hands and an all-fields approach in batting practice and in games despite his plus raw power. Teams were impressed with how he cut down his frame to give himself a chance to handle third base, though he needs plenty of improvement with his footwork, hands and throwing ability to stick there.

Because first-round pick Nick Yorke is likely to sign for less than the $3,609,700 allotted to his draft position, it seems probable that the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, took Jordan with the idea of signing him for more than the $667,900 allocated to his draft position.

Boston’s next pick, a fourth-rounder, comes up at No. 118.

What to Expect From Red Sox on Day 2 of 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox surprised many Wednesday night by selecting Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.) second baseman Nick Yorke with their top pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft.

Yorke, who turned 18 in April, represented Boston’s lone Day One selection. Now, the Sox will make three more picks on Thursday before the shortest draft in the sport’s history comes to a close.

Led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, the Red Sox, absent a second-round pick as part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018, will make picks in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of the draft Thursday evening.

Those three picks come at No. 89, No. 118, and No. 148 overall. The allotted slot values for those picks are $667,900, $487,900, and $364,400 respectively.

Because the Red Sox took Yorke, who is expected to sign for less than the $3,609,700 assigned to his draft position, it’s a very real possibility that the club on Thursday targets prospects they could sign for more than those aforementioned slot values. As a reminder, they have $5,129,900 in total pool money to work with.

Here are some of the prospects the Red Sox could go after on the final day of the 2020 draft:

The second round of the draft begins at 5 PM eastern time on MLB Network and ESPN2.