Former Red Sox catching prospect Kole Cottam has signed with the Frederick Baseball Club of the independent Atlantic League, per the league’s transactions log.
Cottam, 25, had spent the last five years in the Red Sox organization before being granted his release earlier this month. The Tennessee native was originally selected by Boston in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Kentucky.
After signing with the club for $375,000, Cottam made his professional debut with short-season Lowell. He then split the 2019 season between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem and was named a Red Sox organizational All-Star by MiLB.com.
Though the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cottam still played for the Lexington Leyendas in the Battle of the Bourbon trail that summer. He also took part in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league later that year and received his first invite to major-league spring training the following February.
Cottam began the 2021 campaign with now-High-A Greenville before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in late July. Between the two affiliates, the right-handed hitter batted .278/.371/.500 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 71 games. Once the Sea Dogs’ season ended, Cottam made the trek out west to play in the Arizona Fall League. While out there, he earned AFL All-Star honors alongside fellow Red Sox prospect Triston Casas.
Last year, Cottam again spent time at big-league camp before returning to Portland in April. He remained with the Sea Dogs through early August, slashing .271/.350/.380 with 15 doubles, two triples, two homers, and 26 RBIs in 64 games before making the jump to Triple-A Worcester. With the WooSox, Cottam appeared in just 14 games down the stretch, going 8-for-45 (.178) at the plate with five doubles, two RBIs, four runs scored, five walks, and 17 strikeouts.
Over the winter, the Red Sox bolstered their catching depth by claiming Caleb Hamilton off waivers from the Twins and signing Jorge Alfaro to a minor-league contract. With Reese McGuire and Connor Wong already on the 40-man roster and Hamilton, Alfaro, Ronaldo Hernandez, and Stephen Scott in camp as non-roster invitees this spring, Cottam fell on Boston’s depth chart.
As such, Cottam was released by the Red Sox on March 5. Shortly thereafter, Ed Hand of SoxProspects.com reported that the 6-foot-3, 235-pound backstop “requested his release and was granted it” so that he could “catch on with a better opportunity on another team.”
While he did not sign with an affiliated team, Cottam will now look to continue on with his career in indy ball. The team he signed with (which is based in Frederick, Md.) does not yet have an official name since it was only added to the 2023 Atlantic League lineup in November.
Looking back at his time in the Red Sox organization, Cottam peaked as the No. 34 prospect in Boston’s farm system, per SoxProspects.com’s rankings. He was a lifetime .258/.347/.421 hitter with 71 doubles, six triples, 23 home runs, 129 RBIs, 120 runs scored, two stolen bases, 106 walks, and 196 strikeouts in 268 career minor-league games (1,074 plate appearances) with Lowell, Salem, Greenville, Portland, and Worcester. From behind the plate, he threw out 39 of 210 possible base stealers.
Cottam, who turns 26 in May, and his wife, Elise, welcomed their first child together — a daughter named Callie — last month.
(Picture of Kole Cottam: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)