Red Sox add 5 prospects, including Ceddanne Rafaela and Brandon Walter, to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox have selected five prospects to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft, the club announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Left-handers Chris Murphy and Brandon Walter, super-utility player Ceddanne Rafaela, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, and infielder David Hamilton were all added. In order to make room for these five on the 40-man roster, which sat at 37 players coming into Tuesday’s deadline, right-hander Jake Reed and catcher Caleb Hamilton were both designated for assignment.

Murphy, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking third among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally selected the Californian-born southpaw in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego.

In 15 appearances (13 starts) with Double-A Portland to begin the 2022 minor-league season, Murphy posted a 2.58 ERA and 3.35 FIP with 91 strikeouts to 31 walks over 76 2/3 innings of work. He was promoted to Triple-A Worcester in late June and pitched to a 5.50 ERA (5.26 FIP) with 58 strikeouts to 41 walks in 15 starts (75 1/3 innings) for the WooSox.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Murphy operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that can reach 96-97 mph, an 83-85 mph changeup, a 73-76 mph curveball, and an 80-84 mph slider.

Walter, 26, is ranked right behind Murphy as Baseball America’s No. 9 Red Sox prospect. The University of Delaware product was taken by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 draft and burst onto the scene last year. He began the 2022 campaign in Portland and produced a 2.88 ERA (2.73 FIP) with 68 strikeouts to just three walks in his first nine starts (50 innings) with the Sea Dogs.

That level of performance netted Walter a promotion to Worcester in late May. But the 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefty made just two starts for the WooSox before a bulging cervical disk prematurely ended his season in early June. Walter works with a 90-93 mph heater that tops out at 95 mph, an 80-83 mph changeup, and an 80-83 mph slider. If healthy, he could provide the Red Sox with starting rotation depth next season.

Rafaela is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system and the No. 78 prospect in all of baseball. The Red Sox originally signed the versatile 22-year-old for just $10,000 as an international free agent in July 2017. He has since emerged as one of the organization’s brightest prospects and was alone in representing the Sox at this year’s All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles.

After earning Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time in 2021, Rafaela could have been added to Boston’s 40-man roster but was instead left off. The major-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft was then cancelled as a result of the ongoing lockout, meaning other teams would not have the opportunity to pry Rafaela away from the Red Sox.

Rafaela broke minor-league camp with High-A Greenville this spring. The right-handed hitter batted .330/.368/.594 with 17 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 36 RBIs, 37 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 51 strikeouts in 45 games (209 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Upon making the jump from High-A to Double-A in early June, Rafaela proceeded to slash .278/.324/.500 with 15 doubles, six triples, 12 homers, 50 runs driven in, 45 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 16 walks, and 62 strikeouts over 71 games (313 plate appearances). Though his production at the plate dipped with the Sea Dogs, Rafaela still led all Red Sox minor-leaguers with 63 extra-base hits and was the only member of the organization to put together a 20-20 season.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela saw the majority of his playing time in Portland come in center field. The 5-foot-8, 152-pounder logged 498 2/3 innings and recorded three outfield assists in center while also logging 103 innings at shortstop.

“I truly believe this: You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster said of Rafaela, who was named the organization’s Defensive Player of the Year for a second time back in September. “He’s not there yet as an infielder, but talent-wise and with some more reps and some more polish, he has Gold Glove potential as a shortstop as well. It’s wild the talent that this kid has.”

Abreu, 23, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Astros in the August trade that sent Christian Vazquez to Houston. The other prospect from that deal (Enmanuel Valdez) was added to the 40-man roster last Thursday so that he would not become a minor-league free agent.

As for Abreu, Baseball America currently ranks the native Venezuelan as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The left-handed hitting outfielder closed out the 2022 season by batting .242/.399/.375 with five doubles, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 25 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 36 walks, and 45 strikeouts across 40 games (168 plate appearances) with Portland. He also played in the Arizona Fall League and made appearances at both corner outfield spots for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Hamilton is undoubtedly the most surprising addition listed here. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Brewers alongside Alex Binelas and Jackie Bradley Jr. in last December’s Hunter Renfroe trade. He spent the entirety of his first season in the Red Sox organization in Portland.

With the Sea Dogs, the left-handed hitting Hamilton batted .251/.338/.402 with 16 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 81 runs scored, a franchise-record 70 stolen bases, 56 walks, and 119 strikeouts over 119 games spanning 531 trips to the plate. He is capable of playing adequate defense at either second base or shortstop.

Given that his speed is his standout tool, Hamilton’s addition to the 40-man roster may have something to do with the rule changes that are coming to Major League Baseball. Larger bases, a pitch timer, limiting throws to first base, and limits on defensive shifts certainly make speedsters such as Hamilton more appealing moving forward.

Following Tuesday’s series of moves, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is at full capacity. That will likely change between now and the non-tender deadline on Friday.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Speedy Red Sox prospect David Hamilton named Eastern League Player of the Month for September

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton has been named the Eastern League Player of the Month for the month of September, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In 14 games for Double-A Portland, Hamilton batted .429 (24-for-56) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 runs driven in, 15 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, nine walks, and 14 strikeouts. The left-handed hitter led the Eastern League in batting average, hits, runs, stolen bases, and on-base percentage (.508). He also ranked fifth in slugging percentage (.643) and second in OPS (1.151), per MiLB.com.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, Hamilton slashed .251/.338/.402 (104 wRC+) to go along with 16 doubles, nine triples, 12 homers, 42 RBIs, 81 runs scored, a franchise high 70 stolen bases, 56 walks, and 119 strikeouts over 119 games (531 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. His 81 runs scored and 70 stolen bases ranked tops among all Eastern League hitters this season.

Defensively, Hamilton saw the vast majority of his playing time this year come in the middle infield. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder out of the University of Texas logged 543 2/3 innings at second base and 460 1/3 innings at shortstop. But he also made two starts in center field, a position he had never played before in his professional career.

Speed is undoubtedly Hamilton’s top tool. According to FanGraphs, Hamilton possesses 60-grade speed on the 20-80 scale. His 9.4 Speed Score with the Sea Dogs this season ranked first among qualified Double-A hitters. Back in August, he was recognized by Eastern League Managers for being the fastest baserunner in the league. Less than a month later, the Red Sox named Hamilton their  Minor League Baserunner of the Year for 2022.

Hamilton, 25, was acquired from the Brewers alongside fellow prospect Alex Binelas in the December 2021 trade that saw Hunter Renfroe go to Milwaukee and Jackie Bradley Jr. return to Boston. The Brewers originally selected the former Longhorn in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft.

It’s been an interesting journey for Hamilton since then. He missed the entirety of his junior season after slicing his Achilles tendon while riding an electric scooter in Austin. That raised questions about whether he would be able to regain his elite speed. But he has gone 122-for-139 in stolen base attempts since making his pro debut last May.

Because of his speed, Hamilton could soon play into the Red Sox’ future plans. Beginning next season, the bases across Major League Baseball will increase in size from 15 to 18 inches square. The league is hopeful that this change will encourage more teams to be more aggressive and steal more bases since the distance between the bases will be reduced by approximately 4.5 inches.

Hamilton, who played in the Arizona Fall League last year, already has experience when it comes to these stolen base. He told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith earlier this month that he does not think the size increase “plays that much into base stealing.”

“The bases aren’t too much bigger to make that big of a difference,” Hamilton said. “I guess close plays, it will make a difference. … I love it, stealing bases. For them to try to bring it back, it’s exciting for me.”

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom does envision Hamilton being a part of Boston’s future, the club has a fascinating decision to make regarding the speedster’s role moving forward.

Hamilton can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time later this winter. The Red Sox will have until November 20 to add him — and all other eligible minor-leaguers — to their 40-man roster. If left unprotected, Hamilton would become available to other teams during December’s Rule 5 Draft. His speed could make him an appealing target for rebuilding clubs in search of quickness off the bench.

If Hamilton remains in the Red Sox organization through the winter, he would likely receive an invite to major-league spring training and open the 2023 season with Triple-A Worcester.

(Picture of David Hamilton: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox announce winners of 2022 minor-league awards: Niko Kavadas, Brayan Bello, Ceddanne Rafaela all recognized

First baseman Niko Kavadas has been named the Red Sox’ 2022 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, the club announced Monday.

In 120 games between Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville, and Double-A Portland this season, the left-handed hitting Kavadas batted .280/.443/.547 (170 wRC+) with 25 doubles, one triple, 26 home runs, 86 RBIs, 71 runs scored, one stolen base, 102 walks, and 152 strikeouts over 515 plate appearances.

Among qualified Red Sox minor-leaguers, Kavadas ranks second in home runs, second in RBIs, first in walks, second in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS (.990), second in isolated power (.267), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Kavadas, who turns 24 next month, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

For a second consecutive season, Brayan Bello has been named the Red Sox’ Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Bello, 23, posted a 2.33 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts) and 85 innings pitched between Portland and Triple-A Worcester before making his major-league debut in early July.

The Dominican-born right-hander has since pitched to a 4.39 ERA and 2.97 FIP in 12 outings (10 starts) spanning 53 1/3 innings of work with Boston. That includes a 1.65 ERA and 2.72 FIP with 27 strikeouts to 10 walks in his last five starts (27 1/3 innings) dating back to the beginning of September. Since Bello surpassed the 50-inning mark on Sunday, he has technically graduated from his prospect status.

Like Bello, the versatile Ceddanne Rafaela was also named the Red Sox’ Minor League Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. The 22-year-old broke out in a big way in 2022 and is now considered a top-100 prospect in all of baseball.

In 116 games between Greenville and Portland this season, Rafaela saw playing time at second base, shortstop, and center field and proved capable of making highlight plays at each position. He was named Baseball America’s 2022 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year last week.

“I truly believe this: You put him in the big leagues right now, he wins the Gold Glove as an outfielder,” Red Sox infield coordinator Darren Fenster told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier recently. “He’s not there yet as an infielder, but talent-wise and with some more reps and some more polish, he has Gold Glove potential as a shortstop as well. It’s wild the talent that this kid has.”

Speaking of speedy prospects, David Hamilton has been named the Red Sox’ Baserunner of the Year. Acquired from the Brewers in the December trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee and Jackie Bradley Jr. to Boston, Hamilton stole 70 bases in 119 games with Portland this season. The 24-year-old’s 70 steals set a new franchise record for Portland and were tied for third most in the minors.

Franklin German, who began the season with Hamilton in Portland, has been named the organization’s Relief Pitcher of the Year. The 25-year-old righty posted a 2.72 ERA and 3.04 FIP with 64 strikeouts to 19 walks over 43 relief appearances (49 2/3 innings) between Portland and Worcester, prompting a big-league call-up earlier this month.

Fellow reliever Zack Kelly was the recipient of the Lou Gorman Award, given annually to “a Red Sox minor-league player who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the Major League team.” Since being recalled on August 29, Kelly has allowed just three runs over 9 2/3 innings.

Finally, infielder/outfielder Andy Lugo and right-hander Eybersson Polanco have been named the Latin Program Position Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Lugo, 18, batted .318/.368/.414 (114 wRC+) while leading the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Blue in total bases (91) and stolen bases (21). Polanco, 19, produced a 1.78 ERA and 2.96 FIP in 12 starts (50 2/3 innings) for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Red. The right-hander held opponents to a .179 batting average against and did not give up a single home run.

Each of these eight award winners were selected by the Red Sox baseball operations department and minor-league roving instructors. The recipients will be honored during a pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park prior to Monday’s series opener against the Orioles.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Speedy Red Sox prospect David Hamilton makes history with 65th stolen base of season for Double-A Portland

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton made history at Hadlock Field on Sunday afternoon.

In Double-A Portland’s 4-3 win over the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Hamilton went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, two runs scored, and one stolen base out of the leadoff spot.

After doubling in the first inning and belting a three-run home run in the fourth, Hamilton etched his name into the Sea Dogs’ record books in the bottom of the eighth. The speedy 24-year-old fittingly recorded his third hit of the contest by beating out a bunt single. He then took off for second and successfully stole his 65th base of the season without a throw.

By swiping 65 bags, Hamilton surpassed Julio Ramirez — who stole 64 in 1999 — for the most single-season stolen bases in Sea Dogs franchise history. His 65 stolen bases are also the most by a Red Sox minor-leaguer in a single season since Jeremy Hazelbaker stole 63 with the Greenville Drive in 2010.

To go along with all those stolen bases, the left-handed hitter is now batting .236/.327/.387 with 14 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, 40 RBIs, 74 runs scored, 54 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 113 games (501 plate appearances) for Portland this season.

Defensively, Hamilton made his 60th start of the year on Sunday. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has logged 523 2/3 innings at second, 426 1/3 innings at shortstop, and 18 innings in center field for the first time in his professional career.

Hamilton, who turns 25 later this month, is not currently regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system. He was, however, recently identified by the publication as the fastest base stealer in the Eastern League.

SoxProspects.com, which lists Hamilton as its 49th-ranked Red Sox prospect, notes that he possesses “plus-to-better speed” and “solid baserunning instincts. FanGraphs grades Hamilton’s speed tool as a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

The Red Sox acquired Hamilton (as well as fellow prospect Alex Binelas and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.) from the Brewers in exchange for Hunter Renfroe last December. Milwaukee originally selected the former Longhorn in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin.

Even after missing the entirety of his junior season and first professional season while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, it appears as though Hamilton has regained the elite speed that makes him stand out on the field.

As the minor-league season winds down and Hamilton looks to add to his record, it is worth mentioning that the San Marcos native can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to prevent that from happening.

If he sticks with the organization through the off-season, one would have to think Hamilton will open the 2023 campaign with Triple-A Worcester. A lot can happen between now and then, though.

(Picture of David Hamilton courtesy of the Portland Sea Dogs)

Red Sox prospect David Hamilton identified by Baseball America as fastest baserunner in Eastern League

In a recent poll conducted by Baseball America, Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton was identified by his peers as the fastest baserunner in the Eastern League.

Coming into play on Wednesday, Hamilton has stolen 58 bases in 104 games with Double-A Portland this season. The left-handed-hitting speedster is also batting .225/.311/.369 with 12 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 46 walks, and 105 strikeouts over 459 trips to the plate.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters, Hamilton ranks first in triples, sixth in runs scored, first in stolen bases, first in speed score (8.5), and first in weighted stolen base runs (8.7), per FanGraphs. Not only are his 58 stolen bases the most in the Eastern League, they are also the most at the Double-A level and the eighth-most in all of Minor League Baseball.

With 58 swiped bags under his belt, Hamilton is now just six shy of passing Jeremy Hazelbaker — who stole 63 for Class-A Greenville in 2010 — for the most by a Red Sox minor-leaguer in a single season dating back to 2006.

On the other side of the ball, Hamilton utilizes his speed while playing both middle infield positions and a little bit of outfield for the first time in his professional career. As a member of the Sea Dogs, the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has logged 477 2/3 innings at second base, 390 1/3 innings at shortstop, and 18 innings in center.

Hamilton, who turns 25 in less than a month, was originally selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin. The former Longhorn missed the entirety of his junior season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in a scooter accident. With the COVID-19 pandemic being cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not make his pro debut until last May.

In spite of the fact that he was coming off an Achilles injury that required surgery, Hamilton still managed to steal 52 bases in 101 games between High-A Wisconsin and Double-A Biloxi. He stole four more in the Arizona Fall League before being traded (alongside Jackie Bradley Jr. and fellow prospect Alex Binelas) to the Red Sox for outfielder Hunter Renfroe in early December.

The 24-year-old began the 2022 season as Baseball America’s 25th-ranked Red Sox prospect, but he has since been dropped from the publication’s top-30 list. SoxProspects.com lists Hamilton as its No. 49 prospect, noting that the native Texan possesses “plus-to-better speed” and “solid baserunning instincts.”

While those two traits stick out as his carrying tools, it remains to be seen how the rest of Hamilton’s skillset will develop as he continues to progress through the upper-minors. The Red Sox will have an important decision to make with Hamilton this fall, as he can become Rule 5 eligible for the first time if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November deadline.

If protected, Hamilton will occupy a spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster while presumably spending the majority of the his age-25 season at Triple-A Worcester. If left unprotected, an opposing club could select Hamilton in this December’s Rule 5 Draft, though they would then need to carry him on their major-league roster for the entirety of the 2023 campaign. If those conditions could not be met, Hamilton would have to be offered back to the Red Sox.

(Picture of David Hamilton: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Tyreque Reed involved in benches-clearing brawl in Portland

Red Sox prospect Tyreque Reed was involved in a benches-clearing brawl between the Portland Sea Dogs (Boston’s Double-A affiliate) and Binghamton Rumble Ponies (New York Mets affiliate) at Hadlock Field on Thursday night.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning, Reed was hit in the hand by a pitch from Rumble Ponies starter Marcel Renteria. It appeared as though the Sea Dogs designated hitter was prepared to take his base without any sort of confrontation.

While walking to first, though, Reed stopped in his tracks and must have heard something he did not like from Renteria, because the 6-foot-1, 250 pounder promptly charged at and punched the right-hander in the head/face area, causing him to drop to the ground.

As a result of the exchange, both dugouts quickly emptied and hurried onto the field. While Reed was involved in a larger scuffle, Renteria got back on his feet and — for whatever reason — tacked Sea Dogs second baseman David Hamilton, who had been the runner at third.

It took some time for the dust to settle, but by the time it ended Renteria was back on the ground being tended to by trainers after suffering an apparent injury. Reed, on the other hand, was ejected from the contest alongside Hamilton. The two were replaced by Elih Marrero and Cam Cannon, respectively.

Portland went on to defeat Binghamton by a final score of 12-5 on Thursday to improve to 6-6 on the season. Both the home and away team at Hadlock Field share the same clubhouse, so the Rumble Ponies stayed on the field a bit longer while Sea Dogs players and staff made their way to the exit.

Following the win, Sea Dogs manager Chad Epperson — who was coaching at third base at the time of the brawl — was asked about what happened. He could only respond by saying he did not know what Renteria said to Reed to ignite such a physical altercation.

“It’s just one of those things,” Epperson told The Portland Press Herald’s Travis Lazarczyk. “Obviously, something was going on there to set something off, but as far as what, I have no idea.”

The Sea Dogs and Rumble Ponies will continue on with their series on Friday night. Brandon Walter, one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system, is slated to start for Portland.

(Picture of Tyreque Reed: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton shines in organizational debut with Double-A Portland

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton made quite the first impression in his organizational debut for Double-A Portland on Friday night.

Batting leadoff and starting at second base in Portland’s opener against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock Field, Hamilton went 4-for-5 with a triple, two home runs, seven RBIs, three runs scored, and one stolen base while leading the Sea Dogs to a commanding 11-6 victory.

Matched up against Fisher Cats starter Elvis Luciano to begin things on Friday, Hamilton got his productive night at the plate started by ripping a leadoff triple to right field and scoring on an RBI double off the bat of Izzy Wilson.

An inning later, Hamilton followed up a leadoff double from Kole Cottam by taking Luciano deep to right field for a two-run home run and his first big fly of the young season.

In the third, Hamilton came through with runners on second and third base and greeted new Fisher cats reliever Parker Caracci by lacing a run-scoring single to right field that plated Hudson Potts and gave the Sea Dogs a 7-1 lead.

After Tyreque Reed, Potts, and Cottam loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, Hamilton took a 1-1 pitch from right-hander Joey Murray and proceeded to deposit a bases-clearing grand slam into Portland’s bullpen in right field.

Hamilton’s second homer of the contest put the Sea Dogs up 11-1. It was also the last time on the night Hamilton reached base, as he came up short of completing the cycle by flying out to right field in his final at-bat in the bottom of the sixth.

Hamilton, 24, comes into the 2022 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 25 prospect in the Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox acquired Hamilton, fellow prospect Alex Binelas, and Jackie Bradley Jr. from the Brewers in the trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee last December.

A former eighth-round draft pick of the Brewers coming out of the University of Texas in 2019, Hamilton missed the entirety of the 2019 minor-league season while recovering from a ruptured Achilles and the entirety of the 2020 minor-league season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The speedy left-handed hitter finally made his professional debut last year and impressed, slashing .258/.341/.419 (110 wRC+) with 48 extra-base hits (eight home runs), 43 RBIs, and 52 stolen bases across 101 games (459 plate appearances) between High-A Wisconsin and Double-A Biloxi. He also participated in the Arizona Fall League and posted a .916 OPS in 14 games (53 plate appearances) with the Salt River Rafters.

Defensively, Hamilton is well-regarded for his skills as a middle infielder. In 2021, the 6-foot, 175 pounder logged 746 2/3 innings at shortstop and 112 2/3 innings at second base. He figures to see time at both positions with Portland in 2022.

Hamilton, who turns 25 in September, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this December. The Red Sox would need to add the native Texan to their 40-man roster between now and late November if they wish to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

With that being said, the 2022 campaign should prove to be an important one for Hamilton. He certainly did not waste any time in getting things off to a hot start on Friday.

(Picture of David Hamilton: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox infield prospect Alex Binelas has plenty of raw power

Alex Binelas enters his first season with the Red Sox as the organization’s No. 17 prospect, according to Baseball America’s rankings.

After being selected by the Brewers in the third round of last year’s draft out of the University of Louisville, Binelas’ time with his hometown team came to an abrupt end when he (and fellow prospect David Hamilton) was traded to the Red Sox alongside outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for Hunter Renfroe in early December.

It was a move that evoked plenty of emotion for Binelas, a Wisconsin native who grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee and less than 20 miles away from American Family Field.

When he was taken by the Brewers last July, Binelas had just recently wrapped up his third and final season with Louisville. In 50 games with the Cardinals, the 21-year-old junior slashed .256/.348/.621 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs across 230 trips to the plate.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 77th-ranked draft-eligible prospect in the 2021 class, Binelas signed with Milwaukee for $700,000 and was assigned to the rookie-level Arizona Complex League Brewers Gold out of the gate. It took all of seven games for the left-handed hitting infielder to earn a promotion to Low-A Carolina on August 16.

Spending the rest of his debut season with the Mudcats, Binelas batted a stout .314/.379/.636 to go along with 11 doubles, nine homers, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts over 29 games spanning 132 plate appearances.

Among all Low-A East hitters who made at least 130 trips to the plate in 2021, Binelas ranked ninth in batting average, 35th in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, fifth in OPS (1.014), third in isolated power (.322), and fifth in wRC+ (163), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Binelas saw time at both corner infield positions in his first exposure to pro ball, as was the case throughout his college career. With Carolina in particular, the 6-foot-3, 225 pounder logged a total of 42 2/3 innings at first base and 167 innings at the hot corner.

Since he was unaffected by this off-season’s lockout, Binelas was one of several Red Sox minor-leaguers who participated in the team’s Winter Warm-Up program back in January. Spring training began shortly thereafter, allowing Binelas to see some action in one Grapefruit League game thus far.

Two days before making his Grapefruit League debut this past Thursday, Binelas was identified by Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes as one of the top raw power prospects in the game since he hit the ball hard and far on a consistent basis last year.

Binelas, who turns 22 in May, is projected by SoxProspects.com to make the jump to High-A Greenville for the start of the 2022 campaign. His first full season as a professional should be one worth watching.

Red Sox add 12 non-roster invitees to spring training roster

The Red Sox have added 12 non-roster invitees to their spring training roster, the club announced earlier Saturday. The list of invitees consists of catcher Kole Cottam, infielders Triston Casas, Ryan Fitzgerald, David Hamilton, and Christian Koss, outfielder Franchy Cordero, and pitchers Chris Murphy, Durbin Feltman, Geoff Hartlieb, Brian Keller, Kaleb Ort, and John Schreiber.

Of these 12 minor-leaguers, four (Cordero, Hartlieb, Ort, and Schreiber) have already played in the majors while two (Hamilton and Keller) were acquired by Boston in some capacity this off-season.

Casas, 22, is undoubtedly the top prospect on this list. The left-handed hitting first baseman enters the 2022 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Sox’ farm system behind only Marcelo Mayer. He is coming off a year in which he played for Double-A Portland, Triple-A Worcester, Team USA in the Summer Olympics, and the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.

Kottam and Koss played alongside Casas in Arizona last fall. Hamilton, meanwhile, suited up for the Salt River Rafters before he and fellow infielder Alex Binelas were traded from the Brewers to the Red Sox in December.

Among the pitching contingent, Murphy — a left-hander — and Feltman are the only two true prospects listed. That being said, Keller is certainly appealing seeing how he was scooped up from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft earlier this winter.

With the addition of these 12 players, the Red Sox now have 23 non-roster invitees on their spring training roster.

BOSTON RED SOX NON-ROSTER INVITEES (23)

PITCHERS (12): Silvino Bracho, Taylor Cole, Tyler Danish, Michael Feliz, Durbin Feltman, Darin Gillies, Geoff Hartlieb, Brian Keller, Zack Kelly, Chris Murphy, Kaleb Ort, John Schreiber

CATCHERS (2): Roldani Baldwin, Kole Cottam

INFIELDERS (6): Triston Casas, Ryan Fitzgerald, David Hamilton, Christian Koss, Roberto Ramos, Yolmer Sánchez

OUTFIELDERS (3): Franchy Cordero, Rob Refsnyder, Christin Stewart

According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Boston will officially open big-league camp in Fort Myers on Sunday, though their first official workout is not expected until Monday or Tuesday.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

What do the Red Sox have in infield prospect David Hamilton?

Red Sox infield prospect David Hamilton returned to his alma mater and played in the University of Texas’ alumni game over the weekend. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored on Saturday while propelling the Texas Exes to an 8-6 victory in Austin.

Hamilton, 24, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Brewers in the shocking trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee and Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston in December.

Along with fellow infielder Alex Binelas, Hamilton led the Sox to believe that they were adding a pair of intriguing minor-leaguers who had plenty to offer to their new organization.

“David Hamilton has premium speed and he’s a really good middle infielder,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said said at the time the trade was made. “Plays a good shortstop. Interesting trajectory. High-touted high school player who went to the University of Texas. Had a tough injury and recovered from it, and kept his speed. He has great speed and athleticism and is a very exciting player to add to our system.”

Originally selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Texas, Hamilton entered the professional ranks having missed the entirety of his junior season due to a ruptured Achilles suffered in a scooter accident earlier that year.

The former Longhorn missed the remainder of the 2019 season while recovering from that Achilles injury, then fell victim to the fact that the 2020 minor-league season was ultimately cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Hamilton was unable to play affiliated ball in 2020, he did spend time with a team in the independent Constellation Energy League that was coached by Roger Clemens. He was able to use his experience there to impress at the Brewers’ fall instructional league and gain momentum heading into 2021.

After breaking minor-league camp with the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the spring, Hamilton made his long-awaited pro debut on May 4. From there, the left-handed hitter batted .263/.351/.422 (114 wRC+) with 14 doubles, seven triples, five home runs, 31 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 41 stolen bases, 35 walks, and 58 strikeouts over 68 games (309 plate appearances) for the Timber Rattlers.

On August 3, the Brewers promoted Hamilton to Double-A Biloxi. With the Shuckers, the speedy middle infielder slashed .248/.322/.414 (104 wRC+) to go along with five doubles, four triples, three homers, 12 RBIs, 16 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 32 strikeouts across 33 games spanning 150 trips to the plate.

Among all qualified minor-league hitters last season, Hamilton ranked fifth in total triples (11), sixth in total stolen bases (52), 25th in speed score (8.9), and seventh in weighted stolen base runs (5.8), per FanGraphs.

Upon completing the conventional minor-league season with Biloxi, Hamilton headed out west to suit up for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, where he hit an impressive .293/.453/.463 in 14 games while swiping four additional bags.

Defensively, Hamilton was drafted and signed out of Texas as a shortstop. Last year, however, the 5-foot-10, 175 pounder saw time at both shortstop and second base. He logged 112 2/3 innings at second and a much more substantial 746 2/3 innings at short between High-A and Double-A before logging 59 innings at second and 38 innings at short in Arizona.

A native of San Marcos, Hamilton was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system at the time the Red Sox acquired him from the Brewers. He, like Binelas, was one of 28 minor-leaguers who participated in the Sox’ Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers last month.

The weeklong minicamp gave Red Sox brass an opportunity to see Binelas and Hamilton in-person for the first time, and it is safe to say they liked what they saw from both prospects and are excited about what is to come.

“I think somewhat different dynamic between Hamilton — more of a speed guy, more of a middle infield threat — “whereas Binelas is more of a power-orientated corner bat,” said director of player development Brian Abraham. “But I think from the short time we’ve seen them, the physicality we’ve seen even out of both them has been exciting to see. They seem like great kids and very excited about coming here to camp.”

As for Hamilton, who does not turn 25 until September, he is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league season with Double-A Portland.

With the Sea Dogs, it seems likely that Hamilton will be used in a variety of ways around the infield since the Red Sox view him as a versatile player. That being said, the speedster can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later this year, so he would need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November deadline if the club wants to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of David Hamilton via his Instagram)