Red Sox Select Jonathan Arauz in Rule 5 Draft

In their only major move of this past week’s Winter Meetings, the Red Sox selected Astros infield prospect Jonathan Arauz with their lone pick in the major-league portion of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft.

Arauz, 21, had been part of the Astros organization since December 2015, when he came over from the Philadelphia Phillies in the trade that sent Ken Giles to Houston exactly four years ago Thursday.

The selection of Arauz marks the first time since 2016 that Boston took a player in the Rule 5 Draft. That player? Josh Rutledge, who had signed a minor-league deal with the Colorado Rockies that November before making his return to the Sox’ active roster.

As it goes for all players selected in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, Arauz must stay on Boston’s 26-man roster or injured list throughout the 2020 season. If he does not, then he would have to be offered back to Houston.

According to the Red Sox’ vice president of professional scouting Gus Quattlebaum, Arauz, a native of Panama, will be given the chance to compete for a utility role with Boston come the spring.

Other infielders the switch-hitting Arauz could be competing with include C.J. Chatham, Marco Hernandez, and Tzu-Wei Lin.

Previously ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the Astros farm system, Arauz’s tenure in the minors has not been all smooth sailing. In fact, he was handed down a 50-game suspension in April 2017 for testing positive for the banned stimulant methamphetamine.

As the first tweet above from the Red Sox mentions, the club now has 37 players on their 40-man roster.

Turning to the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft now, the Sox also selected 22-year-old Jose Espada from the Toronto Blue Jays and 28-year-old Raynel Espinal from the New York Yankees, both of whom are right-handed pitchers who will more than likely begin 2020 with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Red Sox Add Five Playes to 40-Man Roster, Including Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, and Marcus Wilson

The Red Sox added five players to their major league roster on Wednesday night.

Infielders C.J. Chatham and Bobby Dalbec, outfielder Marcus Wilson, and left-handed pitchers Yoan Aybar and Kyle Hart were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the 8 PM ET deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during the Winter Meetings in December.

Since they only added five players on Wednesday, the Red Sox’ active roster stands at 39, meaning they still have one available spot to work with for the time being.

Out of the five minor-leaguers added, Hart would have to be the surprise of the bunch, or at least that’s how I view it.

The former 19th-round pick out of Indiana University in 2016 is set to turn 27 on Saturday.

In 27 appearances (24 starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this past season, Hart posted a 3.52 ERA and .233 batting average against over 156 total innings pitched.

Ranked as the Sox’ No. 28 prospect on MLB.com, the left-handed Hart offers a pitch mix that includes an 87-92 MPH fastball, an 85-86 MPH cutter, a 76-79 MPH curveball, and an 81-82 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.

As for the other four, both Dalbec and Chatham are ranked within Boston’s top 10 prospects, with the former coming in at No. 2 and the latter coming in at No. 9. The pair of infielders were also both part of Team USA’s fourth-place finish in this year’s Premier12 tournament.

Wilson, meanwhile, is ranked as Boston’s No. 18 prospect in his first offseason with the Sox after coming over in the deal that sent Blake Swihart to the Arizona Diamondbacks this past April.

The 23-year-old outfielder out of Los Angeles played in just eight Arizona Fall League games this year, but slashed an impressive .333/.412/.467 with one home run, eight RBI, and two stolen bases while doing so.

With the possibilities of Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and even to an extent Andrew Benintendi, getting dealt this winter, Wilson could be someone to watch during the early stages of spring training in February.

Aybar also played in the Arizona Fall League this year, posting a 6.75 ERA and 1.38 WHIP across seven relief appearances and eight innings of work.

Initially signed as an outfielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, the 22-year-old has since converted to a left-handed reliever with a fastball that can top out at 97 MPH. He worked his way up to High-A Salem in 2019, so perhaps Double-A Portland is in the cards for the club’s No. 30 prospect in 2020.

Of course, just because these moves were made now does not mean that the Sox’ 2020 roster is set in stone. Changes will still come, and they will probably start once the Winter Meetings get underway in San Diego next month.

 

Evaluating How Red Sox Prospects C.J. Chatham, Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, and Noah Song Performed for Team USA in Premier12 Tournament

Team USA was officially eliminated from the Premier12 tournament on Sunday afternoon in Tokyo, as they fell to Team Mexico in the bronze medal game by a final score of 3-2 in 10 innings to temporarily squash their hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games.

As has already been mentioned on here, four Red Sox prospects made up the 28-man Team USA roster four this tournament, so I thought it would be a good time to go over how each of C.J. Chatham, Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, and Noah Song fared over the last few weeks. Let’s get to it.

C.J. Chatham

Chatham, who turns 25 in December, slashed .292/.292/.417 with three doubles and two runs scored over seven games for Team USA in this tournament. He also committed just one error over that same span while manning both second base and left field.

A third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic University in 2016, Chatham needed to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by November 20th in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place later in December. He is listed as Boston’s ninth-ranked prospect on MLB.com.

Bobby Dalbec

Dalbec was named to the tournament’s All-World Team as a first baseman for his efforts, as the 24-year-old posted a .250/.364/.500 slash line to go along with two home runs and eight RBI over eight games for Team USA.

The Washington native could have had the game-winning RBI with a run-scoring single in the top half of the seventh to put his side up 2-1…

…but Team Mexico rallied with a run of their own in ninth to tie it and another in the 10th to walk it off.

Like Chatham, Dalbec, who is ranked as Boston’s No. 2 prospect, needs to be added to the club’s 40-man roster by November 20th.

Tanner Houck

Houck made two starts for Team USA in this tournament, with the first coming against Team Mexico on November 3rd and the second coming against Team Australia on the 13th.

In those two outings, the 23-year-old right-hander surrendered five runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits and two walks to go along with 11 strikeouts over 9 1/3 total innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 3.86 and a batting average against of .206.

Ranked as the Sox’ No. 5 prospect, Houck is interesting in that he worked as both a starter and reliever in 2019, but the plan for him now seems to be to remain in the starting rotation, wherever that may be.

Noah Song

I mentioned how impressive Song had been in this tournament this past Friday. The 22-year-old right-hander made one final appearance for Team USA on Sunday, entering with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, walking one, getting another to fly out to end the frame, and then retiring the only three hitters he faced in order in the eighth.

All in all, Song did not surrender a single run over his five relief outings and 5 1/3 innings pitched this month.

A graduate of the Naval Academy back in May, Song will head to flight school in Pensacola, Fla. in December and is currently awaiting a decision from the Department of Defense on whether he’ll be able to defer his two-year active service requirement.

 

Red Sox’ Second-Ranked Prospect Bobby Dalbec Crushes Grand Slam for Team USA as Part of 9-0 Win Over Team Netherlands in Premier12 Tournament Opener

Team USA opened 2019 World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 tournament play with a dominating 9-0 shutout win over Team Netherlands in Guadalajara on Saturday afternoon, and a couple of Red Sox prospects played a significant role in the victory.

Yup, the club’s No. 2 prospect Bobby Dalbec, No. 9 prospect C.J Chatham, and No. 15 prospect Noah Song all played on Saturday. Here’s how they fared in Team USA’s opener.

Starting with Dalbec, the 24-year-old went 2-for-4 hitting out of the four-hole in this one, and he also came through with Team USA’s most productive hit of the afternoon in the bottom half of the fifth inning.

With two outs and the bases full following an intentional walk of Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Daulton Varsho, Dalbec made Team Netherlands right-hander Lars Huijer pay for that he decision, as he unloaded on a 3-2 fastball and deposited it over everything in left field for the game-sealing grand slam.

That moonshot, which was promptly followed by a well-deserved bat drop, put Team USA up by seven runs.

A half inning later, in came Noah Song to relieve Team USA starter and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Cody Ponce after five solid frames of work.

The 22-year-old Naval Academy product worked his way around a one-out walk in an otherwise clean inning of relief, as he needed just 12 pitches to do his part in a combined two-hit shutout for Team USA pitching on Saturday.

Graduating from the Naval Academy earlier this year, Song finds himself in a unique spot, as he is required to serve two years active duty.

According to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams, Song could defer those two years and continue to pursue a career in baseball, but only if that deferment is approved by the Department of Defense. If not approved, Song would head to Pensacola, Fla. in December to begin training as a Naval flight officer.

“This is to be determined for me,” Song told McWilliams. “All I have to look forward to is
the next couple of weeks and trying to make the most out of it.”

C.J. Chatham, meanwhile, batted out of the nine-hole for Team USA on Saturday, and went 1-for-4 with a single.

Both Chatham and Dalbec need to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by November 20th in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during winter meetings in December.

One Red Sox prospect who was not mentioned here is right-hander Tanner Houck, who is on Team USA’s roster as a starting pitcher, not a reliever.

Team USA’s next game of the Premier12 tournament comes against Team Mexico on Sunday at 8 PM eastern time.

Three Red Sox Prospects Selected to 2019 Fall Stars Game

Three Red Sox prospects will be representing the Peoria Javelinas in the 2019 Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game on Saturday night, as announced by MLB.com earlier Tuesday.

Outfielders Jarren Duran and Marcus Wilson, as well as infielder C.J. Chatham, have impressed thus far with Peoria despite the club only sporting a 8-7 record with 13 games remaining in the AFL season.

Ranked as the club’s top prospect out of the three and fourth overall, Duran is slashing .262/.340/.381 with one home run, two doubles, two stolen bases, and three RBI over 11 games played. The 23-year-old will be one of six prospects who participated in the All-Star Futures Game in Cleveland back in July.

Chatham, who turns 25 in December, is ranked as the Sox’ ninth overall prospect, and has put together a .300/.364/.400 slash line to go along with three stolen bases, four doubles, and six RBI through 10 games.

Wilson, meanwhile, has only played in six games for the Javelinas, but is slashing .318/.423/.500 with one home run, two stolen bases, and eight RBI over that span. He is second on the team in terms of OPS (.923), trailing only Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Jared Oliva (1.174). in that category.

Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks this past April, the 23-year-old Wilson is ranked as the Sox’ 17th overall prospect, per MLB.com.

According to SoxProspects.com, both Chatham and Wilson will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster come November in order to avoid protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Bobby Dalbec, the club’s No. 2 prospect, will also need to be added, so it will be interesting to see what moves the Red Sox make in order to create space for three of their prospects.

Checking in on the Six Red Sox Prospects Playing in the Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League opened up 2019 play on Wednesday, September 18th, meaning we are now officially one full week into the new season.

Through seven games played, the Peoria Javelinas, the club that all six Red Sox prospects participating in the AFL were assigned to last month, are only 3-4, but have gotten plenty of contribution from those aforementioned Boston prospects.

For starters, outfielder Marcus Wilson leads Peoria in hitting with a .500 batting average (7-for-14) and OPS (1.3297) to go along with one home run and eight RBI through four games of action.

Ranked as the Sox’ 17th-best prospect on MLB.com, the 23-year-old was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back on April 19th and saw time with both High-A Salem and Double-A Portland this year.

Next up, outfielder Jarren Duran is barely trailing Wilson for the team lead in hitting, slashing .400/.438/.400 with one RBI and one stolen base in four games played as well.

Wilson’s teammate in Portland for the latter part of this season, Duran was Boston’s lone representative in the 2019 Futures Game back in July. The recently-turned 23-year-old is ranked as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect and fourth overall prospect on MLB.com. This is his first full season in professional baseball, as he was a seventh round pick out of Long Beach State in last year’s draft.

Coming in at third, infielder C.J. Chatham trails Duran by just .025 points in Peoria’s batting race, as he owns a slash line of .375/.474/.563 to go along with two doubles, two runs driven in, and two stolen bases over his first four games.

Selected in the second round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, the 24-year-old will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before November 20th of this year in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. He is ranked as Boson’s ninth-best prospect on MLB.com

Transitioning from position players to pitchers now, Yoan Aybar and Bryan Mata are two of 10 Javelinas hurlers who have yet to surrender an earned run in AFL play.

Aybar, 22, has appeared in two games for Peoria, working a total of three innings of relief while walking three and striking out two in that span.

The Dominican Republic native put together a fascinating 2019 campaign, posting an ERA of 4.61 but a batting average against of .176 over 44 outings and 56 2/3 innings of work between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

Originally signed as an outfielder six years ago, Aybar was converted into a left-handed reliever in 2018 and has a pitch arsenal that consists of a 93-97 MPH fastball, an 86-87 MPH slider, and an 83 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.com.

Like Chatham, Aybar, the Sox’ 29th-ranked prospect, is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December if he is not added to the club;s 40-man roster before then.

Mata, meanwhile, has also appeared in two games for the Javelinas, plunking two and walking another to go along with three punchouts over three total innings pitched.

Climbing up the ranks to become Boston’s top pitching prospect this season, the 20-year-old right-hander earned a promotion from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland back on July 1st and posted an ERA 5.03 over his final 11 starts of 2019.

And finally, right-hander Tanner Houck has struggled since returning to the starting pitching role, yielding six runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits, three walks, and two HBPs to go along with three strikeouts over two starts and 5 1/3 total innings of work. That is good for an ERA of 6.75 and WHIP of 1.88.

Houck made the transition from starter to reliever shortly after making the jump to Triple-A Pawtucket in July, and it seemed as though that plan revolved around the possibility of the 23-year-old being called up the majors at some point in September.

That is not how things turned out however, as Houck is still not a member of Boston’s 40-man roster. He still has another year left before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2020, so there’s no reason to rush on that decision either. Houck is listed as the Sox’ second-best pitching prospect on MLB.com.

The 2019 installment of the Arizona Fall League runs through October 25th, with the Fall Stars Game being played on the 12th and the championship game being played on the 26th, so stay tuned for updates regarding how these six Red Sox prospects are holding up in the desert.

Six Red Sox Prospects to Play for Peoria Javelinas in Arizona Fall League

In case you missed it, the Red Sox will be sending six of their prospects to the Arizona Fall League this year, with right-handers Bryan Mata and Tanner Houck, left-hander Yoan Aybar, infielder C.J. Chatham, and outfielders Jarren Duran and Marcus Wilson all being assigned to the Peoria Javelinas on Wednesday.

Mata is listed as the top pitching prospect in Boston’s system and the third-highest overall behind only Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec, per MLB Pipeline.

Since being promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland at the beginning of July, the 20-year-old hurler has posted a 5.79 ERA and .296 batting average against over his first 10 Eastern League starts and 46 2/3 innings of work. He was the Sox’ lone representative in the All-Star Futures Game last year.

Houck, meanwhile, was converted from a starter to a reliever while with Double-A Portland in early July before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on July 13th.

In 14 appearances (one one-inning start) with the PawSox, the 23-year-old owns an ERA of 2.21 and xFIP of 5.62 over 20 1/3 innings pitched.

The former 2017 first round pick out of the University of Missouri is ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the Sox’ system.

Aybar is a bit of an interesting case, as he came up through the pipeline as an outfielder after signing as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic six years ago.

The whole hitting thing never really panned out for Aybar though, with a career .624 OPS and all through his first four minor league seasons, so he began working as a pitcher in 2018.

The now 22-year-old held opponents to a .234 batting average while posting a 4.13 ERA over his first 17 outings as a reliever between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and Low-A Lowell Spinners last year.

Fast forward to this season, and Aybar has allowed a total of 29 earned runs over 43 appearances and 55 2/3 innings between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem. He is ranked as the No. 29 prospect in Boston’s system.

As for the position players, Duran has skyrocketed up the prospect boards, moving into the No. 4 spot in just his first full professional season after being selected in the eighth round of last year’s amateur draft out of Long Beach State.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old tore up the Carolina League to begin his 2019 campaign, slashing .387/.456/.543 to go along with 49 runs scored and 18 stolen bases over 50 games played before being promoted to Double-A Portland in early June.

Duran’s numbers have cooled off since then, but as I have mentioned before, to make the Futures Game in your first full season of professional baseball is quite the feat. Not to mention he was the lone prospect to represent the Sox in Cleveland as well.

Chatham, like Duran, has worked his way up through the Sox’ system in 2019, eventually earning a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket on August 13th after posting a .297/.333/.403 slash line in 90 games with the Sea Dogs to begin the year.

Taken with the 51st overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, Chatham will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Set to turn 25 in December, the Florida native is currently the ninth-ranked prospect in the Sox’ system.

And finally, Wilson was the minor leaguer the Red Sox acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back in April in exchange for Blake Swihart, who has since been designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A by Arizona.

Wilson’s Red Sox tenure got off to a rocky start, as he went just 10-for-his-first-62 (.161) with 33 strikeouts before getting demoted to Salem on May 18th.

There, the 23-year-outfielder thrived, as he slashed .342/.413/.603 with eight home runs and 29 RBI over 45 games, which eventually earned a promotion back up to Double-A on July 14th.

Since then, Wilson has been better for the most part, as he owns an OPS of .847 and wRC+ of 146 in his last 39 games with the Sea Dogs, although he is currently in the midst of an 8-for-39 slump over his last 10 contests going back to August 15th.

The Arizona Fall League begins on September 18th. The Valejina will consist of prospects from the Red Sox’, Houston Astros’, Seattle Mariners’, Pittsburgh Pirates’ and San Diego Padres’ systems respectively.