Latest mock draft has Red Sox taking University of Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert with top pick

In the latest version of their 2022 mock draft, Prospects Live has the Red Sox selecting University of Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert with their first-round pick at No. 24 overall.

Gilbert, 21, was originally selected by his hometown Twins in the 35th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Stillwater Area High School, which is less than 30 miles east of Target Field. But the Minnesota native opted not to go pro at that time and instead took his talents to Knoxville, Tenn.

A former two-way player coming out of high school, Gilbert has since transitioned to become a full-time outfielder with the Volunteers. 30 games into his junior season, the left-handed hitter is batting a stout .370/.492/.663 with 12 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 36 RBIs, 30 runs scored, three stolen bases, 22 walks, and 15 strikeouts over 122 plate appearances.

Per his Prospects Live scouting report, “Gilbert gets extremely high marks for his competitive fire and is regarded as one of the more intense players in college baseball. He plays an above average centerfield with an average arm and plus run times. In total, we’re talking about a guy with a smattering of solid average tools, fantastic makeup, and bat speed that could translate into game power as he continues to get a feel for what he’s capable of.”

Coming into the 2022 season, Gilbert was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 149 draft-eligible prospect and by MLB Pipeline as the No. 82 draft-eligible prospect.

Listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Gilbert has served as the Vols’ primary centerfielder this year. Given his past experience as a pitcher, it is not surprising to see that Gilbert has been recognized for his arm strength as well as his ability to play all over the outfield.

On the basepaths, MLB Pipeline notes that Gilbert “has solid to plus speed and will steal and take extra bases. While he’s not a true burner, his quickness and instincts allow him to run down balls from gap to gap in center field.”

Gilbert, who turns 22 in September, has the chance to move quickly through whichever organization he joins this summer. As a reminder, Day 1 of the 2022 MLB Draft will take place in Los Angeles on July 17.

The Red Sox, for what it’s worth, have not used a first-round draft pick on an outfielder since 2015, when they took Andrew Benintendi out of another SEC school in the University of Arkansas.

(GIF of Drew Gilbert via University of Tennessee Athletics on GIPHY)

Hunter Renfroe comes up short, but former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi wins first career Gold Glove Award with Royals

Red Sox right fielder Hunter Renfroe was unable to win his first career Gold Glove Award on Sunday night.

Renfroe was named one of three finalists for the award among all American League right fielders late last month alongside Houston’s Kyle Tucker, but the honors on Sunday instead fell to Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo.

The winners were announced by Rawlings and Major League Baseball on ESPN.

While Renfroe outpaced Gallo in terms of both defensive innings (1,166 to 764 2/3) and outfield assists (16 to 9) from right field this season, Gallo led the way in fielding percentage (.980 to .956), defensive runs saved (11 to 0), ultimate zone rating (2.8 to -1.6), and ultimate zone rating per 150 games (3.8 to -2.1), according to FanGraphs.

It also did not help that Renfroe led all major-league outfielders in errors with 12 while registering negative-one outs above average in right field this year, per FanGraphs.

Renfroe, who turns 30 in January, was Boston’s lone finalist for a Gold Glove Award, though Christian Vazquez and Enrique Hernandez are among those on the team who may have had a case to be made at their respective primary positions (catcher and center field) but wound up getting snubbed.

Despite the fact that Renfroe came up short on Sunday, it should be mentioned that former Red Sox left fielder won his first career Gold Glove Award as a member of the Royals.

Benintendi, who the Red Sox dealt to the Royals as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, logged 1,116 defensive innings over 129 games in left field in his first season with Kansas City.

The 27-year-old was named a finalist for the Gold Glove Award for American League left fielders alongside the likes of Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena and Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

All three of Benintendi, Arozarena, and Gurriel Jr. finished the 2021 campaign having put up seven defensive runs saved in left field, but Benintendi ultimately led the pack in ultimate zone rating (4.9), ultimate zone rating per 150 games (5.5), and outs above average (1).

By winning his first Gold Glove Award, Benintendi joins former teammates Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. as now-former Red Sox outfielders to win at least one Gold Glove in their respective careers.

Betts has taken home five Gold Glove Awards in his time with the Red Sox and Dodgers, while Bradley Jr. and Benintendi have each won it once.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Red Sox designate Franchy Cordero for assignment, reinstate Phillips Valdez from COVID-19 related injured list

Even on a travel day, the Red Sox still made some headlines on Thursday by reinstating right-hander Phillips Valdez from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In order to make room on their 40-man roster for Valdez, outfielder Franchy Cordero was designated for assignment, the club announced earlier Thursday afternoon.

Valdez had been out on the COVID-19 related injured list since testing positive for the virus while the Red Sox were in Chicago on September 12. It took more than two weeks for him to get cleared to return to action, but he was eventually sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Sept. 29.

In two relief appearances for the WooSox, the 29-year-old hurler allowed one earned run on zero hits, six walks, and two strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings of work.

At the moment, it’s unclear if Valdez — who turns 30 next month — can be added to Boston’s American League Championship Series roster since that would require someone else to be taken off. He would be eligible for the World Series if the Red Sox were to advance, though.

With Valdez being activated from the COVID-related IL, the Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster, and they did so by designating Cordero for assignment.

Cordero, one of five players the Sox acquired in the three-team trade with the Royals and Mets that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City in February, initially began the 2021 campaign by making Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training.

The 27-year-old got his season off to a slow start, however, as he hit just .179/.228/.274 with six doubles, one home run, nine RBI, nine runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 37 strikeouts through his first 34 games (102 plate appearances) with the Red Sox before getting optioned to Worcester for the first time on May 27.

While he enjoyed moderate success with the WooSox, the left-handed hitting Cordero could never really find his footing at the major-league level even after the Red Sox tried him as a first baseman to get him more playing time.

From the time he was recalled from Worcester again shortly after the All-Star break, Cordero appeared in a total of 14 games for the Red Sox and spent nearly the entirety of his September at Triple-A.

Despite having one minor-league option remaining and being under team control through 2023, Cordero must have been viewed by the Sox as expandable for them to remove him from their 40-man roster.

Along with Cordero, Boston acquired right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and three players to be named later from Kansas City and New York on Feb. 10.

Less than four months later, the trade was completed when the Red Sox acquired pitching prospects Grant Gambrell and Luis De La Rosa from the Royals and outfield prospect Freddy Valdez from the Mets in early June.

By designating Cordero for assignment, the Sox have exposed the Dominican-born outfielder to waivers. If he goes unclaimed over the next seven days, Boston could then retain his services by outrighting him to Worcester.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire right-handers Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell from Royals as players to be named later to complete three-team Andrew Benintendi trade; Freddy Valdez also acquired from Mets

In addition to acquiring outfield prospect Freddy Valdez as the player to be named later from the Mets in the three-team Andrew Benintendi trade, the Red Sox have also received right-handed pitching prospects Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell as the two players to be named later from the Mets, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

De La Rosa, who turns 19 next month, was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for approximately $147,500 by Kansas City in July 2018.

While he is not listed at the top of many prospect boards, De La Rosa did impress in his professional debut in 2019.

In 12 outings (11 starts) in the Dominican Summer League, the lanky 6-foot-1, 170 pound righty posted a 2.33 ERA and 1.92 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 52 strikeouts over 38 2/3 innings of work en route to being named the Dominican Royals 1 Pitcher of the Year.

According to his Baseball America scouting report from when he first signed with the Royals three years ago, De La Rosa — a former shortstop — “has an array of positive projection indicators, with some of that projection already starting to bear out.” As of that writing, the young hurler was working with a fastball, a slider, and an “advanced changeup for his age.”

A native of Santo Domingo, De La Rosa will become Rule 5 eligible for the first time in December 2022.

Gambrell, meanwhile, was originally selected by the Royals in the third round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Oregon State University. He later signed with the club for $647,500.

The 23-year-old came into the 2021 campaign regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 21 prospect in Kansas City’s farm system even after not pitching at all the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the minor-league season.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Gambrell’s FanGraphs scouting report goes as follows (courtesy of Eric Longenhagen):

“At his best, Gambrell sits in the mid-90s with a plus breaking ball (there might be two, but if so, they’ve run together in my looks) and a tailing, mid-80s changeup that he uses in some clever ways, including as a means to jam righties. His stuff has been inconsistent and he missed considerable time with injury during college, which creates some relief risk. We’re talking about a pitcher who only worked about four innings per outing during his sophomore year, and struggled when the Royals asked him to work as a starter and blow way past his previous single-year innings total after they drafted him in 2019. 

“But Gambrell was sitting 94-96 during 2021 spring action and looked to me to be in much better shape than the last time I saw him. The 2020 layoff means the innings increase piece of Gambrell’s developmental track still feels harrowing, but he has a power-pitcher’s repertoire and a chance to really blow up this year because he came to camp with a totally different body.”

Opening the 2021 season with High-A Quad Cities, Gambrell produced a 4.37 ERA and 4.06 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 28 strikeouts through his first five starts (22 2/3 innings pitched) of the year.

Upon his integration into the Red Sox organization, it seems likely that Gambrell would report to High-A Greenville. We will have to wait and see on that.

The three-team trade between the Red Sox, Royals, and Mets, which was initially agreed to back on February 10, has now been made completely official.

Here are the full returns for all three teams:

Red Sox get: OF Franchy Cordero (from KC), RHPs Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell (from KC), RHP Josh Winckowski (from NYM), and OF Freddy Valdez (from NYM)

Royals get: OF Andrew Benintendi (from BOS)

Mets get: OF Khalil Lee (from BOS via KC)

What a journey it has been.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire outfield prospect Freddy Valdez as player to be named later from Mets in three-team Andrew Benintendi trade; 2 players from Royals expected to be announced soon

The Red Sox are acquiring outfield prospect Freddy Valdez from the Mets as one of the players to be named later in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings.

Valdez, 19, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in the Mets’ farm system, ranking fifth among outfielders in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds, the right-handed hitter was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by New York for $1.4 million at the start of the 2018 international signing period.

In his first full season of pro ball, Valdez posted a.274/.367/.448 slash line to go along with 16 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 39 RBI, 40 runs scored, 31 walks, 49 strikeouts, and six stolen bases over 60 total games and 270 plate appearances between the Dominican Summer League Mets and Gulf Coast League Mets (57 games in the DSL, 3 in the GCL) in 2019. He was named the club’s DSL Player of the Year for his efforts.

After not playing at all in 2020 with the minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Valdez did participate in the Mets’ fall instructional league, where he put his raw power and strength on full display.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the young outfielder “flexed his plus-plus raw power by driving a pitch about 450 feet down the left-field line” during batting practice one time.

Besides that, BA does note that ” the speed of instructional league play was too fast for Valdez, who was one of the younger players in camp.” The rest of his report goes as follows:

“He doesn’t chase out of the zone as much as other hitters his age but struggled to wait on his pitch and do damage. Valdez is a power-over-hit corner outfielder, with below-average hitting ability. His physical, mature body will keep him locked in right field, where he has below-average defensive instincts and a strong arm that is mitigated by a long arm action and slow release.”

Valdez, who does not turn 20 until early December, has seen most of his playing time (49 games) as a professional to this point come in right field with one game in left field mixed in there as well.

Since he signed with the Mets nearly three years ago, Valdez has risen from the organization’s 28th-ranked prospect in 2019, to the organization’s 18th-ranked prospect in 2020, to the organization’s 17th-ranked prospect in 2021.

Although it’s unclear which minor-league level Valdez will start at with the Red Sox, he is under team control through at least 2022, at which point he can become Rule 5 eligible for the first time if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by November of that year.

Valdez is just one of three players to be named later the Red Sox acquired from both the Mets and Royals as part of the trade that sent Benintendi to Kansas City over the winter.

In addition to receiving outfielder Franchy Cordero from the Royals and pitching prospect Josh Winckowski from the Mets, the Sox also acquired one player to be named later from the Mets (Valdez) and two players to be named later from the Royals.

According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the two players from the Royals are expected to be announced later Friday night. So stay tuned for that.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Ron Vesley/Getty Images)

Red Sox could be nearing decision on which 2 players to be named later they will be acquiring from Royals to complete Andrew Benintendi trade; player to be named later from Mets due June 4, per report

UPDATE: According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox “are due to acquire the remaining three players to be named later” in the near future, while “the player from the Mets — assumed to be the best player of the three — is due by Friday,” June 4.

The Red Sox could soon decide on the two players to be named later they will be acquiring from the Royals as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, according to The Kansas City’s Star Lynn Worthy.

Per Worthy, the Sox could very well make their decision within the next week or two.

Boston originally dealt Benintendi to the Royals back in February in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero, outfield prospect Khalil Lee, and two players to be named later. They then traded Lee to the Mets in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and another player to be named later.

According to @RedSoxStats on Twitter, the two players the Sox receive from the Royals will likely be of the “lower-level” variety in regards to prospect rankings, while the player they get from the Mets “is likely to be a higher quality prospect.”

Of the five players Boston will eventually get back in this three-team swap, they have gotten mixed results from the two who have already joined the organization.

Cordero, who made the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster out of spring training, hit a disappointing .179/.228/.274 with just one home run, six doubles, nine RBI, six walks, and 37 strikeouts in 34 games before being demoted to Triple-A Worcester on May 26.

Since being sent down, though, Cordero has shown some signs of life. The 26-year-old has gone 5-for-12 with a pair of homers and three RBI in his first three games with the WooSox.

Winckowski, meanwhile, has been one of the organization’s most impressive pitching prospects to this point in the minor-league season.

Through his first five starts with Double-A Portland, the 22-year-old hurler has posted a miniscule 1.33 ERA and 0.89 WHIP to go along with a 26:9 strikeout-to-walk-ratio over 27 innings of work thus far.

His latest start was unquestionably his best, as he twirled seven scoreless frames of one-hit baseball against the Hartford Yard Goats on Saturday en route to picking up his second win of the season for the Sea Dogs.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Winckowski operates with a fastball, slider, changeup and splitter.

“There’s a good foundation there,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including Smith) when speaking about Winckowski last month. “The changeup shows a lot of promise. It’s a pretty hard changeup right now but you can still have success with that. It’s more of a power change. And that pitch is going to evolve but I think his other stuff will evolve, too. And he’s going to learn different ways to use it as he goes.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Andrew Benintendi crushes 2 homers for Royals; former Red Sox outfielder has found success since moving down in Kansas City’s lineup

Andrew Benintendi’s tenure with the Royals did not get off to the best of starts.

After being dealt from the Red Sox to Kansas City as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, Benintendi struggled throughout his first spring training in Arizona, and that coincidentally carried over into the regular season as well.

Through his first 15 games as a member of the Royals, the 26-year-old put up an underwhelming .193/.270/.246 slash line with just three extra-base hits (all doubles), four RBI, three stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 63 plate appearances.

In that time, Benintendi — primarily Kansas City’s No. 2 hitter — failed to barrel up a single ball and posted a dismal wRC+ of 51 to show for his efforts.

As of the morning of April 21, it looked as though the former first-round pick was still on the path towards regression that started during the final month of the 2019 season.

But on that day against the Rays, Benintendi did something he had not done in a while: make significantly hard contact, and he did it twice by barreling up a pair of balls in the fourth and eighth innings.

Both balls the left-handed hitter squared up went for lineouts, but the fact he made more than solid contact on more than one occasion was encouraging — and a harbinger of positive things to come.

Since then, Benintendi has been on a roll as of late. He came into Saturday’s action riding an eight-game on-base streak and undoubtedly put together his best performance of the season to this point against the Twins at Target Field.

Batting seventh and starting in left field for Kansas City, the Cincinnati native went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of home runs — his second and third homers of the season, two RBI, and three runs scored while leading his side to an 11-3 victory over Minnesota.

At the time Benintendi hit his first big fly of the afternoon (about 4 p.m. eastern time), Red Sox manager Alex Cora was fielding questions from reporters during his pregame Zoom call at Globe Life Field.

Cora had the Royals-Twins game on the television playing in his office as well.. That being the case because at one point, while talking about Eduardo Rodriguez, he paused, saw Benintendi’s home run, and said, “Look at Benny. He hit a homer.”

Following Saturday’s showing, Benintendi raised his batting average on the season to .262 and his OPS on the season to .757.

Over his last seven games alone, Benintendi is slashing an unworldly .435/.519/.870 with three homers six RBI, seven runs scored, four walks, and one stolen base dating back to April 23.

The success Benintendi has enjoyed as of late can be linked to when he was dropped from second to seventh in the Royals’ lineup on April 19.

The Red Sox moved on from Benintendi over the winter after originally taking the outfielder in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft out of the University of Arkansas.

In exchange for Benintendi, the Sox acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals as well as pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later from the Mets.

Cordero, the only player Boston got back in that trade who has seen any major-league time to this point, came into Saturday’s game against the Rangers sporting a .176/.236/.216 slash line to go along with 26 strikeouts in 55 trips to the plate (47% strikeout rate).

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo had a feeling he would make game-saving catch against Twins moments before it happened: ‘It’s one of those plays that you think about right before it happens’

Before making the defensive play of the day in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s Game 1 victory over the Twins, Alex Verdugo had a feeling the ball was going to come his way.

With two outs in the final inning of the day cap of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Twins had put the tying run on base when Jake Cave drew a leadoff walk off Red Sox closer Matt Barnes.

Cave also managed to steal second, which put the tying run in a 3-2 contest in scoring position as leadoff man Luis Arraez was due to hit for Minnesota.

The left-handed hitting Arraez had already hit two balls to the left side of the field, which gave Verdugo — who had shifted from center to left field in the sixth — something to think about.

On a 3-1, 86 mph curveball from Barnes, the Twins third baseman swatted a screaming line-drive with an exit velocity of 95.5 mph in Verdugo’s direction.

Verdugo had been playing relatively deep in left field at that moment, so he was forced to charge towards the ball, which was dying quickly and on the verge of landing on a soft patch of grass.

In a matter of seconds, the 24-year-old left his feet, dove head-first, made the proper adjustments, and snagged Arraez’s liner with his Mexican flag-inspired glove all before the ball hit the ground.

Per Baseball Savant, Verdugo had just a 29% chance of making that clutch, game-sealing catch, but he made it look relatively simple all things considered.

One reason behind that would be because Verdugo anticipated making that highlight play well before it actually happened.

“It was actually weird because it’s one of those plays that you think about right before it happens,” Verdugo explained when speaking with reporters Wednesday night. “And it just so happens that it was exactly what I had thought about. I knew the hitter, I knew that he’s been hitting line drives that way and likes to go oppo. So I was kind of already on edge knowing that Barnesy’s throwing hard and going to get after him.

“It was just one of those ones, man,” he continued. “It kind of manifested into my mind, and it came out. We made the play and held onto it. Any game we get a W and clinch one and don’t have to go to extras or waste any more arms, it’s a huge day.”

The diving catch Verdugo made at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon was reminiscent of the one former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi one made at Minute Maid Park to seal a Game 4 victory for Boston in the 2018 ALCS.

What was at stake in the games these catches were made in differs drastically, obviously, but the catches themselves were similar to one person who saw both of them up-close in Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“Of course,” Cora said when asked if Verdugo’s grab on Wednesday reminded him of Benintendi’s now-famous catch. “That was a great play by Alex.”

The fact that Verdugo was in left field to make that play in the first place was Cora’s doing. As previously mentioned, the Arizona native started out in center field in Game 1 and eventually moved over to left after Kiké Hernández pinch-hit for Franchy Cordero in the sixth.

“That’s why we talk about our defense in the outfield,” said the Sox skipper. “You guys talk about moving guys around late in games. We pinch-hit with Enrique (Hernández) for Franchy and our defense is still good. Alex had a great jump and made the right decision and he caught the ball.”

By the time Wednesday’s doubleheader had ended and the Sox had wrapped up their ninth consecutive win, Verdugo had played all three outfield positions in one day, as he started Game 2 in right field.

It was not too long ago when it looked like Verdugo would be Boston’s everyday centerfielder in 2021, but he has now played every outfield position at least four times since the season began earlier this month.

For Verdugo, not having an everyday position comes as a welcome challenge as he is showing that he can play left, center, and right field at a high level regardless of the opponent or ballpark.

“I feel like at this point now, there shouldn’t really be any questions about versatility or playing any of the different positions at a lower level,” Verdugo said. “I feel like I hold myself to a high standard out there, and I hold it to a high standard in right, center, and left with making plays and throwing people out. So I don’t see any difference with the position.”

(Picture of Matt Barnes and Alex Verdugo: AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski wraps up solid spring with 3 strong innings of work against Twins

In what was undoubtedly be his last start of the spring, Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski impressed against the Twins at JetBlue Park on Sunday afternoon.

Making his first start of the Grapefruit League campaign, the 22-year-old right-hander held Minnesota’s lineup — which included the likes of Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, and Byron Buxton — to one earned run on two hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout over three solid innings of work.

That lone Twins tally came on an RBI groundout off the bat of Donaldson in the top half of the third after Willians Astudillo led off the frame with a double and advanced to third on a flyout.

Other than that, Winckowski wrapped up his day by getting Cruz to ground out to short to retire the side in the third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 51, 33 of which went for strikes, the Ohio native finishes his first spring with the Sox having posted a 3.68 ERA and .154 batting average against over five total appearances spanning 7 1/3 innings pitched.

Boston acquired Winckowski — as well as outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later — in the three-team trade with the Mets and Royals that saw outfielder Andrew Benintendi land in Kansas City last month.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, Winckowski was originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Estero (Fla.) High School.

He signed with Toronto for $125,000 later that summer and proceeded to put up a 3.35 ERA over 54 appearances (50 starts) and 263 innings of work between rookie-league, Low-A, Class-A, and High-A over the next 3 1/2 seasons.

By that time, Winckowski had emerged as an intriguing prospect within the Jays’ minor-league pipeline, and even after not seeing any in-game at action at all (besides Toronto’s fall instructional league) on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he was one of three pitchers the Blue Jays traded to the Mets in January in exchange for left-hander Steven Matz.

Emerging as New York’s 26th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline in the wake of that trade, Winckowski’s time with the Mets did not last all that long.

As previously mentioned, he, again, was traded — this time to the Red Sox — on February 10, prompting him to jokingly change his Instagram bio to ‘I guess Red Sox.’

Given that he grew up and still resides in the Fort Myers-area, Winckowski going from the Mets to the Sox meant being within closer proximity to his new team’s spring training complex, which led to him captioning his Instagram post reacting to the trade with: ‘Spring training drive won’t be too bad.’

(For what it’s worth, his Instagram bio now reads: ‘Crazy few weeks but I’m pumped to be a Sox.’)

Winckowski arrived at the Red Sox’ Fenway South complex last month as one of 30 initial non-roster invitees at big-league camp. He was ultimately reassigned to the minor-leagues on March 9, but not before leaving a positive first impression on some of his new teammates, like fellow right-hander Matt Barnes.

“I was standing right next to him as he was warming up,” Barnes said about Winckowski following his scoreless outing against the Braves on March 7. “The ball was coming out good. Obviously he had a really good inning. Commanded the ball in the zone. Got ahead of guys, attacked hitters. It looks like he’s got firm, good stuff. It looks like the ball jumps out of his hand — really heavy fastball. That’s what it looks like to me. Obviously I’m not on the other end of it. But watching him from behind in the bullpen warming up and obviously the results speak for themselves in the game today, it looks like he’s got really good stuff.”

Winckowski, who does not turn 23 until June 28, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 33 prospect, ranking 17th among pitchers in the organization.

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen wrote this about Winckowski back in January, “Winckowski has a chance to pop in 2021 because he was pitching hurt in 2019 and still got guys out. He looked rusty during instructs but was also up to 97 and added a new splitter to an already decent slider.”

Equipped with a fastball, slider, changeup, and slider in total, Winckowski is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland, though he could earn a promotion to Triple-A Worcester later in the year depending on how he progresses.

The 2021 campaign could prove to be a pivotal one for Winckowski, as he becomes eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later on this winter.

The Red Sox will need to add the righty to their 40-man roster on or before November 20 of this year if they do not want to risk losing him to another club in the December draft.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt makes Rangers’ Opening Day roster

Former Red Sox utility man Brock Holt has made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, per the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant.

Holt, 32, initially signed a minor-league deal with Texas last month and had the ability to opt out of said deal on Wednesday of this week if he was not added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster.

At the time of his signing in February, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Holt “had major-league offers but chose the Rangers because of the opportunity at third base.”

Since then, the native Texan has appeared in 10 games for the Rangers in Cactus League play thus far and is currently slashing .273/.407/.455 with four doubles, two RBI, five walks, and two stolen bases through his first 27 trips to the plate. He has primarily played third base with a little bit of second base and shortstop mixed in there as well.

A former ninth-round draft pick of the Pirates back in 2009, the left-handed hitting Holt spent 2013-2019 with the Red Sox after being part of the trade that sent reliever Joel Hanrahan to Boston in December in 2012.

In his time with the Sox, Holt emerged as a fan favorite who took on a variety of roles both in the lineup and on the field. He played every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher in his seven seasons in Boston and even earned a trip to the All-Star Game in 2015.

Because of his versatility, the 5-foot-10, 180 pounder proved to be a valuable member of the Red Sox during the club’s historic run to a World Series in 2018. He became the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit for the cycle in the postseason in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees that year.

The success Holt enjoyed in 2018 carried over into 2019 — the final season leading up to his free agency– as well, as he posted career-highs in batting average (.297) and on-base percentage (.369) over 87 games played.

Off the field, you can argue that Holt’s impact was even greater. He served as Jimmy Fund captain in each of his final five seasons with the Sox and was the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on four separate occasions.

Despite putting up impressive numbers in his walk year, Holt struggled to latch on with a team last winter before eventually signing a one-year deal with the Brewers last February.

Holt’s time in Milwaukee did not last long, though, as he was cut loose in late August after getting off to a rough 3-for-30 (.100) start at the plate with his new club.

Signing on with the Nationals for the remainder of the year on August 29, Holt bounced back to the tune of a .262/.314/.354 slash line over the course of 20 games and 70 plate appearances before hitting the open market once again in October.

Even while looking to add several versatile left-handed bats who could play multiple positions this winter, the Red Sox never seemed like serious suitors to reunite with Holt.

The former All-Star, now donning the No. 16, instead returns to his hometown team in the Rangers and will look to make an impact down in Arlington as he prepares to embark upon his age-33 season.

As of now, the Red Sox are scheduled to play a four-game weekend series against the Rangers at Globe Life Field from April 29 through May 2, while the Rangers are scheduled to travel to Boston for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park from August 20 through August 22.

(Picture of Brock Holt: Ralph Freso/Getty Images)