Red Sox spring training: Games through March 4 cancelled due to ongoing lockout

Major League Baseball announced on Friday that spring training games through March 4 have been cancelled as a result of the ongoing lockout. This means that spring training games will start no earlier than March 5.

The Red Sox were originally scheduled to host Northeastern at JetBlue Park on February 25 and open Grapefruit League play against the Atlanta Braves in North Port the following day.

Because of the lockout, however, the earliest the Sox can begin their spring training schedule is March 5, when they are slated to host the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers.

Fans who purchased tickets for spring training games that have already been cancelled are eligible for full refunds.

In a statement released earlier Friday afternoon, MLB says it is “committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to each side. On Monday, members of the owners’ bargaining committee will join an in-person meeting with the Players Association and remain every day next week to negotiate and work hard towards starting the season on time.”

Here is how the MLB Players Association responded:

MLB owners locked out the players when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired on December 2. The work stoppage — and ongoing feud between the league and players association — is now in its 79th day.

If neither side is able to reach an agreement by the end of February, there is a real chance regular season games will wind up getting cancelled as well.

Opening Day for the Red Sox is scheduled for March 31 at Fenway Park, where they are supposed to host the Tampa Bay Rays to kick off the 2022 season.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Where do things stand with Red Sox outfield prospect Gilberto Jiménez heading into 2022 season?

After showing out at fall instructs in 2020 and receiving his first invite to big-league camp the following spring, it really seemed like Red Sox outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez was primed for a breakout year in 2021.

Jimenez came into the year regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect and top athlete in Boston’s farm system. Upon completion of minor-league spring training, Jimenez opened and ultimately spent the entirety of the 2021 season with Low-A Salem.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the minor-league season in 2020, the highest level Jimenez had reached was short-season Lowell. As a member of the Salem Red Sox, the switch-hitting outfielder batted .306/.346/.405 with 16 doubles, six triples, three home runs, 56 RBIs, 64 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 19 walks, and 86 strikeouts over 94 games and 408 plate appearances.

On the surface, a 21-year-old hitting .306 in his first full season of pro ball hardly seems like anything worth complaining about. In Jimenez’s case, however, 89 of his 114 hits (78%) went for singles and he only put up a slightly-above-average 105 wRC+. His 4.7% walk rate also ranked among the lowest in the Low-A East last year.

Defensively, Jimenez saw time at all three outfield positions for Salem. He logged 375 2/3 innings in center field, 247 1/3 innings in right field, and 126 1/3 innings in left field while committing a total of four errors.

Because of how he performed on both sides of the ball, scouts were relatively low on Jimenez as of last fall, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

“Scouts are down on him based on how he performed this year because he didn’t show the ability to impact the baseball,” Cundall wrote in November. “He made little progress with his approach and was inconsistent on defense.”

Baseball America’s prospect rankings reflect this as well considering the fact that Jimenez has fallen out of the Red Sox’ 2022 top 10 list, which was compiled by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

When asked by a reader back if his confidence in Jimenez took a hit in 2021, Speier responded by saying: “The fact that he’s not a top-10 guy suggests as much. He hasn’t made many strides in terms of plate discipline or driving the ball in the air, and the longer he goes without doing so, the harder it is to imagine him getting anywhere near the ceiling suggested by his exceptional athleticism and speed.”

Jimenez, who originally signed with the Red Sox for just $10,000 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, is one of several minor-leaguers eligible for the Rule 5 Draft (if there is a Rule 5 Draft, that is) since he was not added to Boston’s 40-man roster last fall.

As many others (including The Athletic’s Keith Law) have already suggested, it would be surprising to see another team take Jimenez in the Rule 5 since he has only played as high as the Low-A level. Opposing clubs could attempt to stash the speedster on their bench for the entirety of the 2022 major-league season, but they would be risking his development by doing so.

Before the deadline to add Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man roster came and went in November, there was some speculation that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. would entertain the idea of trading a minor-leaguer like Jimenez if they were not going to include him.

That ultimately did not happen, but the possibility remains that Boston could move Jimenez as part of a bigger deal once the MLB lockout eventually comes to a close.

It does feel worth mentioning that Jimenez, who turns 22 in July, was one of three outfielders who participated in the team’s Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers last month alongside Nick Decker and Tyler Dearden.

Under the assumption that Jimenez remains with the Red Sox organization through the start of the 2022 minor-league season, the 5-foot-11, 212 pounder is projected by SoxProspects.com to start out the year with High-A Greenville.

(Picture of Gilberto Jimenez: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Could Red Sox lose pitching prospect Durbin Feltman in Rule 5 Draft?

If there is a Rule 5 Draft before the start of the 2022 MLB season, the Red Sox — like all other teams — will be at risk of losing some minor-league players.

After adding the likes of Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski, and Jeter Downs to their 40-man roster in November, Boston now has 60 minor-leaguers who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, according to SoxProspects.com.

The major-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft was scheduled to take place during December’s winter meetings, but was and remains indefinitely postponed as a result of the ongoing lockout.

As of now, there is no guarantee that a Rule 5 Draft will take place before the season starts or there will be a 2022 major-league season to begin with. Under the assumption that a deal gets between MLB and the MLBPA gets done within the next few weeks, FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein wrote on Monday that front offices believe “they will get somewhere in the neighborhood of seven days from the joint presser of an agreement and starting spring training.”

At the time the Red Sox protected the four previously listed prospects from the Rule 5 Drat last fall, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had mentioned how it was difficult to determine how many players they would be protecting and how many they would wind up exposing.

“We had a few tough calls, and I think some of that is a credit to the depth we built up in the system,” said Bloom. “Any time you add someone or leave someone off, in some sense it’s a calculated gamble. Over time, you learn sometimes the best way to lose a player is to add somebody that you shouldn’t. It might lead to you being in a crunch down the road, experiencing that pain of losing a player in another way, whether it’s that [unprotected] player or someone else.

“Knowing there are other things we want to accomplish this off-season with our 40-man roster and players we’d like to bring in both during the off-season and as we get into next year, wanting to have as much space as possible, that’s something you have to factor into the decisions you make,” he added. “So there were a few that were not easy, but ultimately, this is how we felt most comfortable.”

By adding four prospects to their 40-man roster in November, the Sox brought up the size of their 40-man to 37 players. They then non-tendered outfielder Tim Locastro, signed a trio of veteran pitchers (Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and James Paxton) to major-league deals, and traded Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for fellow outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. as well as a pair of prospects.

That flurry of moves increased the size of Boston’s 40-man roster to 39 players right before the lockout commenced on Dec. 2. It remains that way to this day thanks to the work stoppage.

Based off what Goldstein wrote, though, it does appear that the Rule 5 Draft is still on and will be completed before Opening Day — whenever that may be.

With that being said, The Athletic’s Keith Law recently suggested that the Red Sox could lose pitching prospect Durbin Feltman in the Rule 5 Draft if it does indeed happen.

Feltman, who turns 25 in April, was originally selected by Boston in the third round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Texas Christian University. The right-handed reliever opened the 2021 season with Double-A Portland and closed it with Triple-A Worcester.

Between the two levels, Feltman posted a 2.96 ERA and and 3.87 FIP to go along with 62 strikeouts to just 14 walks over 39 appearances spanning 51 2/3 innings of work.

Despite those solid numbers, the 24-year-old was not added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November, thus leaving him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

“Feltman had a solid year between Double and Triple A, working more in the low 90s now, topping out at 95 mph instead of the upper 90s he showed in college,” Law wrote of the righty. “He walked just four guys in 24 Triple-A innings to close out the season, and since the Red Sox declined to add him to their 40-man roster, he seems likely to be a Rule 5 pick for someone.”

Given the fact that he was left off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, it does seem like the club is relatively low on Feltman at this point. This is reflected by him not receiving an invite to the team’s Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers last month and that he has fallen down to No. 48 in SoxProspects.com’s prospect rankings.

“He was trending down based on looks and reports last season and he was in danger of this kind of drop in the spring if his stuff was the same,” SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield tweeted on January 24. “When he wasn’t invited to the Winter Warm-Up, comparing to those who were, that was sort of telling.”

Coming out of TCU, Feltman had the projection of a high-leverage reliever who could work his way through the minors quickly. After four years in pro ball, it now appears that the Texas-born hurler has the ceiling of a middle reliever at the big-league level.

As SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote last year, “middle relievers like [Feltman] are often left unprotected.” The Red Sox must have felt this way, but could another team be willing to poach Feltman away from Boston if they felt he had some untapped potential?

Only time will tell.

(Picture of Durbin Feltman: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Don’t forget about Red Sox prospect Pedro Castellanos

The Red Sox first base prospect who gets all these attention these days is undoubtedly Triston Casas, who some believe is the top overall prospect in Boston’s farm system.

That being said, there is another minor-league first baseman within the Sox’ ranks who is coming off an impressive season at the plate in 2021 and his name is Pedro Castellanos.

Castellanos, 24, was originally signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2016. He received a mere $5,000 signing bonus and debuted in the Dominican Summer League that same year.

After making it as far as High-A in 2019, Castellanos had his 2020 season taken out from under him as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no invite to the alternate training site to be had that summer, though he was able to make up for some lost time by taking part in fall instructs.

On the heels of that limited development window, Castellanos reported to minor-league camp the following spring and opened the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland.

As a member of the Sea Dogs, Castellanos missed some time due to two separate stints on the injured list in June and August-September. When healthy, though, the right-handed hitter batted a stout .289/.364/.471 (128 wRC+) to go along with 14 doubles, three triples, a career-high 13 home runs, 44 RBIs, 66 runs scored, two stolen bases, 32 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 87 games and 325 plate appearances.

Upon returning from the injured list for a second time in September, Castellanos closed out his year by slashing a red-hot .375/.432/.688 (194 wRC+) over his final eight games and 37 trips to the plate.

Against left-handed pitchers, Castellanos posted an OPS of .885. Against right-handed pitchers, that OPS only dropped down to a still-respectable .822.

Among hitters in the Double-A Northeast who accrued at least 350 plate appearances last year, Castellanos ranked sixth in runs scored, fifth in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage, ninth in OPS (.835), ninth in wRC+, and fifth in strikeout rate (17.1%), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Castellanos has primarily been a first baseman throughout his pro career. With Casas needing playing time in Portland last season, though, Castellanos was moved off first base entirely.

Instead, the 6-foot-3, 244 pounder logged 509 2/3 innings in left field, eight innings in center field, and 154 innings in right field with the Sea Dogs. He recorded a total of seven outfield assists, helped turn two double plays, and registered three errors between those three spots.

Earlier in the off-season, Castellanos headed back to his home country to suit up for Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League. While seeing playing time at first base and both corner outfield positions, the Carora native hit .313/.361/.550 with eight homers and 21 RBIs across 38 games and 144 plate appearances.

Coming into the 2022 season, Castellanos is not regarded by publications such as Baseball America or The Athletics as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system. He is, however, ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 57 prospect in the organization.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Castellanos is limited by his defensive profile. It states that he is a “potential average defender at first base and below-average defender in the outfield” who has “fringe to average arm strength.”

While his defense may be weighing him down at the moment, Castellanos is still relatively young and has hit at every level he’s played at in the minors — as evidenced by his .300 career batting average.

Despite being Rule 5 eligible this winter, Castellanos — who turns 25 in December — is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season with Portland, though an early promotion to Triple-A Worcester certainly seams plausible.

2022 marks Castellanos’ seventh year with the Red Sox organization, so he is slated to become a minor-league free agent in November if he is not retained by the club in some capacity beforehand.

(Picture of Pedro Castellanos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox infield prospect Matthew Lugo has sleeper potential heading into 2022 season

In the process of ranking the top 20 prospects in the Red Sox farm system for The Athletic, Keith Law identified one under-the-radar-minor-leaguer who has a chance to take a big step forward in 2022.

His name? Matthew Lugo, who Law regards as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system behind left-hander Brandon Walter and ahead of right-hander Bryan Mata.

Lugo, who turns 21 in May, was originally selected by the Sox in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. He spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem.

There, the right-handed hitting shortstop batted  .270/.338/.364 (95 wRC+) with 21 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 50 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 15 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 94 strikeouts over 105 games spanning 469 plate appearances.

On paper, a below-average wRC+ of 95 obviously does not stick out. However, in Lugo’s case, he closed out his season by slashing an impressive .349/.432/.587 (171 wRC+) over 17 games (74 plate appearances) in the month of September while being among the youngest hitters in the Low-A East.

“He’s an athletic shortstop who should get to at least average power, and showed solid zone awareness last year in Low-A, with just a 20 percent strikeout rate despite having played just two games outside the complex league before last year,” Law wrote of Lugo on Tuesday. “His defense at shortstop has improved significantly, and the quality of his at-bats also improved over the course of 2021. He might be a level per year guy but projects to be an everyday player at shortstop when he gets there.”

That Law has ranked Lugo as highly as he did is somewhat surprising. Baseball America does not have the 20-year-old infielder included in their top 10 Red Sox prospects list, while SoxProspects.com has him ranked at No. 28 in the organization.

As for why Law believes Lugo could take a step forward this year, he also listed the Manati native as Boston’s sleeper prospect, writing: “I think this is Lugo’s year to take that big step forward at the plate, with harder contact and better at-bats translating at least into doubles power.”

Lugo, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, was one of 28 Red Sox minor-leaguers who participated in the team’s Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers last month. He is projected to begin the 2022 season with High-A Greenville.

(Picture of Matthew Lugo: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Former Red Sox first baseman Josh Ockimey signs minor-league deal with hometown Phillies

Former Red Sox first baseman Josh Ockimey has signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies, he announced on Twitter. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Ockimey, who hails from the Philadelphia-area.

The Red Sox originally selected Ockimey in the fifth round of the 2014 amateur draft out of Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League that summer and made it as far as the Triple-A level.

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season, Ockimey re-signed with Boston that December and opened the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester.

In 98 games for the WooSox, the left-handed hitter batted .225/.358/.416 with 11 doubles, 15 home runs, 45 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 62 walks, and 117 strikeouts over 360 plate appearances. He became a minor-league free agent in November.

Since the time he was drafted nearly eight years ago, Ockimey has established himself as a power threat from the left side of the plate. His 40 home runs since the start of the 2019 season are tied for the 15th-most in Triple-A over that stretch.

Off the field, Ockimey quickly became a fan favorite in Worcester for his community service last year and was named the WooSox Foundation’s inaugural “Heart of the Heart” winner as a result. Even after becoming a free agent in the fall, the 26-year-old still took the time to join the WooSox Foundation on their Holiday Caravan in December.

On the heels of spending seven seasons with the Red Sox organization, Ockimey will now look to make it to the major-leagues for the first time with his hometown team in the Phillies in 2022.

It’s unclear at this point in time if Ockimey’s deal with Philadelphia includes an invite to big-league spring training, thought it feels safe to assume it probably does.

As for the Red Sox, it seems like the idea of a reunion with Ockimey was ruled out when they signed fellow first baseman Roberto Ramos to a minors pact last week. Ramos and top prospect Triston Casas hit from the left side of the plate and both figure to begin the upcoming season in Worcester.

(Picture of Josh Ockimey: Katie Morrision/MassLive)

Former Red Sox infielder Yairo Muñoz signs minor-league deal with Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed former Red Sox infielder Yairo Munoz to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, according to the team’s transaction log. It’s likely the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Munoz, who turned 27 last month, spent the last two seasons with the Sox after originally inking a minors pact with the club in March 2020, just a few weeks after he was released by the St. Louis Cardinals.

With Boston, Munoz appeared in 12 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and five games last season when the Red Sox were in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak. He batted .286/.286/.429 with five doubles, one home run, four RBIs, six runs scored, two stolen bases, zero walks, and 13 strikeouts over 17 games (56 plate appearances) in that stretch.

More notably, Munoz enjoyed quite the year at the plate for Triple-A Worcester in 2021. There, the right-handed hitter slashed an impressive .308/.340/.444 (109 wRC+) with 18 stolen bases across 88 games. From July 1 through August 14, Munoz notched a hit in 35 consecutive contests to set a new Red Sox organizational record. That historic hitting streak surely helped him take home the WooSox’ Most Valuable Player Award in September.

Since Munoz was outrighted off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in October, he was eligible to become a minor-league free agent. The Phillies are his fourth organization after he first signed with the Oakland Athletics out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

Over the course of his professional career, Munoz has proven to be a versatile defender. Last year alone in Worcester, the 5-foot-11, 200 pounder logged 70 innings at first base, 33 innings at second base, 437 2/3 innings at third base, 92 innings at shortstop, 15 innings in left field, 21 innings in center field, and 22 innings in right field.

The Phillies have assigned Munoz to their Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley, so it should be interesting to see if the 27-year-old can make it back to the majors for a fifth consecutive season in 2022.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, have lost a somewhat significant amount of infield depth in minor-league free agency when you consider the fact that both Munoz and Jack Lopez (Tigers) have signed elsewhere this off-season.

That being said, the Sox did gain some experienced infield depth when they signed former Gold Glove Award winner Yolmer Sanchez to a minors pact earlier this week.

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign former Gold Glove Award winner Yolmer Sánchez to minor-league deal for 2022 season

The Red Sox have signed free agent infielder Yolmer Sanchez to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, the club announced on Wednesday afternoon. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Sanchez, 29, was originally signed by the White Sox as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2009. He debuted for Chicago in 2014 and spent the first six years of his big-league career with the team, most notably winning the American League Gold Glove Award at second base in 2019.

At the conclusion of the 2019 season, Sanchez was non-tendered by the South Siders and shortly thereafter inked a minors pact with the Giants. He never suited up for San Francisco, though, as he was released from the team’s alternate training site roster in August 2020.

Just a week after becoming a free agent again, Sanchez latched back on with the White Sox and closed out the pandemic-shortened season in Chicago. There, the switch-hitter batted .313/.476/.688 with three doubles, one home run, one RBI, seven runs scored, five walks, and five strikeouts over 11 games and 21 plate appearances.

Following the 2020 campaign, Sanchez was claimed off waivers by the Orioles but was released the following March. He then signed a minor-league deal with the Braves and spent the entirety of the 2021 season with Triple-A Gwinnett.

In 102 games for the Stripers, Sanchez slashed .216/.309/.352 to go along with nine doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 35 RBIs, 36 runs scored, six stolen bases, 35 walks, and 88 strikeouts across 355 trips to the plate.

Defensively, Sanchez’s experience as a second baseman sticks out considering the fact he was won a Gold Glove Award there. That being said, the 6-foot, 210 pounder has also seen time at second base and shortstop — as well as a little bit of outfield — throughout his pro career.

Sanchez, who turns 30 in June, has been assigned to Triple-A Worcester and seems likely to begin the 2022 season with the WooSox. Given the nature of the lockout, the Maracay native’s versatility certainly adds to his appeal. He should have the chance to get acclimated with his new organization in Fort Myers.

In addition to Sanchez, the Red Sox also announced on Wednesday that they have added catcher Roldani Baldwin and first baseman Roberto Ramos to their spring training roster as non-roster invitees.

Boston has now invited eight minor-league signees to camp, with Baldwin, Ramos, and Sanchez joining the likes of right-handers Taylor Cole, Michael Feliz, and Zack Kelly and outfielders Christin Stewart and Rob Refsnyder.

(Picture of Yolmer Sanchez: Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

What to expect from Red Sox infield prospect Brandon Howlett, who should start the season with Double-A Portland, in 2022

Triston Casas was not the only infield prospect the Red Sox took out of a Florida high school in the 2018 amateur draft.

20 rounds after picking Casas, Boston nabbed George Jenkins High School infielder Brandon Howlett with their 21st overall selection. At that time, the Lakeland, Fla. native was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 399 draft-eligible prospect and was committed to play college baseball at Florida State University.

Rather than move ahead with his commitment to the Seminoles, though, Howlett signed with the Sox for $185,000 that June and quickly debuted in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League just days after putting pen to paper.

After posting a .930 OPS in 39 GCL contests, the then-18-year-old earned a late-season promotion to Low-A Lowell and put himself in a good position entering his first full year of pro ball.

Coming into the 2019 campaign, Howlett was regarded by Baseball America as the 14th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. In spite of those lofty expectations placed upon a teenager’s shoulders, the right-handed hitting third baseman struggled to the tune of a .231/.341/.356 slash line across 113 games (465 plate appearances) with Class-A Greenville.

As a result of a .698 OPS in 2019, Howlett’s stock took a bit of a hit heading into 2020. He, like a majority of minor-leaguers, then fell victim to the fact that the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of receiving an invite to the Sox’ alternate training site that summer, Howlett was left to continue developing on his own time. He did just that, but apparently ‘failed to impress’ at the team’s instructional league that fall.

On the heels of a lost year in 2020, Howlett fell off Baseball America’s Red Sox top 30 prospects rankings entirely last spring. He once again broke camp with Greenville, though the Drive had since moved up from the Class-A to High-A level.

This time around with the Drive, things were different. In 96 games, Howlett batted .253/.345/.469 (117 wRC+) to go along with 19 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs, 57 RBIs, 62 runs scored, two stolen bases, 44 walks, and 136 strikeouts over 414 plate appearances. He also missed a week of action from late June through early July due to a concussion.

From August 22 on, Howlett closed out his bounce-back season by slashing a robust .307/.373/.587 and putting up 151 wRC+ over the final 19 games (83 plate appearances) he played in.

Among those in the High-A East who made at least 400 trips to the plate last year, Howlett ranked 11th in doubles, 10th in home runs, sixth in walk rate (10.6%), seventh in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, eighth in OPS (.815), ninth in isolated power (.217), and eighth in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Howlett has only played third base throughout his pro career and that remained to be the case in 2021. The 22-year-old logged 745 2/3 innings at the hot corner and committed a total of 17 errors there.

Based off his most recent Baseball America scouting report from over the summer, there seems to be some concern about whether Howlett will be able to remain at third base in the long-term. That said, he did end 2021 as the publication’s 23rd-ranked Red Sox prospect.

Seeing how he found success at High-A last year, it was somewhat interesting to realize that Howlett was not among the group of minor-leaguers who took part in the Sox’ Winter Warm-Up minicamp in Fort Myers last month.

Regardless of that, though, Howlett is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season with Double-A Portland. The 6-foot-1, 205 pounder does not turn 23 until September and can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time next winter.

If the Red Sox do not want to risk losing Howlett in the Rule 5 Draft, they would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline. That very well could end up being the case if he excels with the Sea Dogs this year.

(Picture of Brandon Howlett via the Greenville Drive’s Instagram account)

Red Sox sign former Rockies prospect, LG Twins first baseman Roberto Ramos to minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed free agent first baseman Roberto Ramos to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Ramos, 27, was originally selected by the Rockies in the 16th round of the 2014 amateur draft out of the College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita, Calif.). He debuted for Low-A Tri-City that summer and made it as far as Triple-A Albuquerque in 2019.

In 127 games with the Isotopes, the left-handed hitter batted .309/.400/.580 (135 wRC+) with 27 doubles, 30 home runs, 105 RBIs, 77 runs scored, 61 walks, and 141 strikeouts across 503 plate appearances.

Shortly before the start of the 2020 campaign, Ramos had his contract with the Rockies purchased by the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization. The hulking 6-foot-3, 220 pounder did not wait long to make his impact felt overseas, as he slashed .278/.362/.592 (141 wRC+) with 38 homers and 86 RBIs over 117 games (494 plate appearances) in his first season with the Twins.

Last year, however, Ramos was limited to just 51 games due to a lower back injury. He managed all of eight home runs and 25 RBIs while posting a .739 OPS over that stretch before being released by LG in late June.

This off-season, Ramos returned to his home country of Mexico to suit up for Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican Pacific Winter League, though the Hermosillo native only appeared in five games before being placed on the reserve list in November.

Ramos, who does not turn 28 until December, seems likely to begin the 2022 season with Triple-A Worcester. There, he should represent some intriguing first-base depth behind Triston Casas, although he does have limited experience at other positions like third base, left field, and right field.

(Picture of Roberto Ramos: Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)