Red Sox’ Franchy Cordero to play winter ball in Dominican Republic

Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero intends on playing for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League this off-season, he announced on Wednesday.

“I’ll be here in a few weeks,” Cordero said (in Spanish) to team reporter Natacha Pena.

Earlier this week, Escogido general manager Luis Rojas told reporters that he expected Cordero to join the team in mid-November or by the 20th at the latest.

Cordero was officially added to Escogido’s roster on Wednesday, per his MLB.com transaction log. The Azua native has spent the last five winters with the Santo Domingo-based club. He took home LIDOM (Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana) Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honors at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 campaign.

This news is particularly noteworthy since Cordero is still technically recovering from a right ankle sprain that prematurely ended his 2022 season. In the fifth inning of 4-3 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field on September 5, the 28-year-old attempted to track down a 358-foot fly ball off the bat of Randy Arozarena in left field. He wound up jumping for the ball and his right cleat got caught in the fence’s padding. That caused him to land awkwardly and he was ultimately carted off the field.

An MRI revealed that Cordero had sprained both sides of his ankle and he was placed on the 60-day injured list two days later. All told, the left-handed hitter batted .219/.300/.397 with 17 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 29 RBIs, 36 runs scored, four stolen bases, 28 walks, and 92 strikeouts over 84 games (275 plate appearances) in his second season with the Sox.

Since coming over from the Royals in the Andrew Benintendi trade last February, Cordero owns a .209/.279/.350 slash line across 132 career games in a Red Sox uniform. Although he possesses freakish tools, the 6-foot-3, 226-pounder has proven to be a below-average defender at first base who may be better suited for the outfield.

Because he was added back to Boston’s 40-man roster in April, Cordero is eligible for arbitration this winter. He is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $1.5 million in 2023. The Red Sox could elect to non-tender Cordero and make him a free agent before then, but they will first have to activate him from the 60-day injured list by Nov. 15.

In short, it should be interesting to see what the Red Sox have planned for Cordero in the coming weeks. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo took note of the fact that Cordero is well-liked within the organization, so that could play a role in their decision-making process moving forward.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox optimistic that Triston Casas will be able to return to Dominican Winter League before season’s end

Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas has not played for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League since October 17 due to knee soreness.

Casas, who went 2-for-9 (.222) with an RBI, two runs scored, five walks, and three strikeouts in his first three games with Licey, recently flew back to Boston to undergo an MRI on his sore knee.

The imaging revealed no structural damage and the Red Sox are optimistic the 22-year-old will be able to return to the Dominican Republic in the near future, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier on Tuesday.

“We brought him back to Boston, just to make sure that we felt good about everything and get checked out here. We didn’t have concern [based] off of that,” Bloom said. “He’s still in the states right now. But hopefully, he’ll be back down there soon and get ramped up and play a little more.”

Prior to making his major-league debut in September, Casas missed nearly two months of the minor-league season with a high right ankle sprain. Because he was sidelined for so long over the summer, the Red Sox opted to have Casas play winter ball so he could make up for lost time by seeing more live pitching.

It also helps that Red Sox third base coach Carlos Febles is serving as Licey’s bench coach, so the organization has had boots on the ground when it comes to Casas’ wellbeing. If Casas is to return to Licey’s lineup in the coming days or weeks, it is worth mentioning that the Dominican Winter League regular season runs through December 16.

Casas, who turns 23 in January, appeared in 27 games for the Sox towards the end of the 2022 campaign. The left-handed hitter batted .197/.358/.408 with one double, five home runs, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored, one stolen base, 19 walks, and 23 strikeouts across 95 trips to the plate.

If healthy, Casas is expected to emerge as Boston’s everyday first baseman in 2023. That said, he could have to compete with the likes of Bobby Dalbec and Eric Hosmer for the starting job during spring training.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Triston Casas dealing with knee discomfort in winter ball

Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas is dealing with minor knee discomfort as he plays for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League, the team announced on Wednesday night.

Casas has been held out of Licey’s lineup since Monday. The team disclosed in a tweet that the 22-year-old underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage. They are optimistic that he will be able to return to action for Friday’s contest against the Toros del Este.

While it is not yet known if Casas will be back in the lineup on Friday, the Red Sox do not appear to be too concerned about his injury. That is what a source with knowledge of the information told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo on Friday. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier also reported that Casas is expected to be able to play again before the Dominican Winter League season comes to a close.

Casas played three games for Licey before getting hurt. The left-handed hitter went 2-for-9 (.222) with an RBI, five walks, and three strikeouts. Red Sox third base coach Carlos Febles is serving as Licey’s bench coach this winter, so someone from the club will be able to keep tabs on Casas’ knee and exercise caution if necessary moving forward.

Still regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Casas made his major-league debut for the Sox at the beginning of September. The former first-round pick batted .197/.358/.408 with one double, five home runs, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored, one stolen base, 19 walks, and 23 strikeouts over 27 games (95 plate appearances) to close out the season.

Before getting called up from Triple-A Worcester, though, Casas missed nearly two month of the minor-league season due to a high right ankle sprain. The lack of seeing live pitching over the summer was likely a factor in the Red Sox opting to have Casas play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Casas, who turns 23 in January, is expected to have a strong chance at emerging as Boston’s everyday first baseman nest season, though he may have to compete with Eric Hosmer and Bobby Dalbec for the starting job in the spring.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford tosses 3 strong innings in final Dominican Winter League start

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford’s contract with Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League has expired, the club announced Wednesday morning.

Crawford, 25, made five starts for Estrellas, with his final outing coming against Tigres del Licey at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo on Tuesday night.

Over three innings of work, the right-hander yielded just one unearned run on three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night. He retired nine of the 15 batters he faced, worked around a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second, and finished with a final pitch count of 65 — 37 of which went for strikes.

Estrellas topped Tigres by a final score of 3-2 to improve to 13-8 on the season.

In his five Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana starts, Crawford wound up posting a 0.42 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while recording 23 strikeouts and eight walks across 21 1/3 innings pitched.

As for why Crawford’s contract expired when the LIDOM regular season runs through December, SoxProspects.com’s executive editor Chris Hatfield suggests that the righty hit an innings limit set by the Red Sox on Tuesday.

The Red Sox added Crawford — as well as three other players — to their 40-man roster last Friday in order to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and missing all of 2020 as a result, Crawford opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland and earned a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July.

In the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak in early September, the Red Sox selected Crawford’s contract from Worcester so that he could start in place of Nick Pivetta against the Guardians at Fenway Park on Sept. 5.

While he got shelled for five runs over two innings in his major-league debut, the Red Sox were still encouraged with what they saw from Crawford, who displayed a five-pitch mix that consisted of a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup.

Because he was added to Boston’s big-league roster for COVID-19-related purposes, the Sox were able to remove Crawford from the 40-man without exposing him to waivers, thus allowing him to close out the year in Worcester.

Now that he is back in the fold, Crawford, who turns 26 in April, figures to make his return to the majors at some point in 2022. Whether the former 2017 16th-round draft pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University makes his impact felt as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Estrellas Orientales/Twitter)

Red Sox’ Franchy Cordero off to hot start in Dominican Winter League

Red Sox outfielder Franchy Cordero has gotten off to a fast start in the Dominican Winter League.

Cordero was added to Leones del Escogido’s roster on November 9 and made his 2021 Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana debut over the weekend.

After homering in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Aguilas Cibaenas, Cordero went 1-for-3 with a single, two runs scored, one walk, and one strikeout in a 3-1 win over Toros del Este at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo on Saturday evening.

By putting together that performance at the plate while batting second and serving as Leones’ designated hitter, Cordero is now slashing .364/.417/.636 with one home run, three RBIs, four runs scored, one walk, and two strikeouts through his first three games (12 plate appearances) of the LIDOM campaign.

Cordero, who turned 27 in September, was one of five players the Red Sox acquired in the three-team trade that sent fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals this past February.

While he made Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training, the left-handed hitter struggled to the tune of a .179/.228/.274 slash line to go along with six doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, nine runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 37 strikeouts in 34 games (102 plate appearances) before being optioned to Triple-A Worcester for the first time in late May.

From that point forward, Cordero appeared in just 14 additional games for the Red Sox through the end of the regular season. With the WooSox, however, the 6-foot-3, 226 pounder did bat .300/.398/.533 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs over 78 games.

Despite that success at the Triple-A level, Cordero lost his spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster when the club designated him for assignment in the middle of the American League Championship Series on October 21.

Four days later, Cordero cleared waivers and — under normal circumstances — would have been able to elect free agency since he had already accrued more than three years of major-league service time. He did not elect free agency, however, and was instead outrighted to Worcester.

On that same day, Oct. 25, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reported that Cordero actually signed a one-year, $825,000 contract with Boston for next season before getting designated, meaning the Red Sox still control his rights as of now.

Assuming he is not added back to Boston’s 40-man roster by the upcoming Nov. 19 deadline, Cordero would technically be eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft, per SoxProspects.com’s Rule 5 eligibility page.

If he still remains with the Red Sox in the wake of the Rule 5 Draft, Cordero would presumably be in line to receive an invite to big-league spring training come February.

In the meantime, Cordero — who hails from Azua — will continue playing in the Dominican Winter League this fall and winter. 2021 marks the fifth consecutive year in which he has suited up for Leones.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana)

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford impressive in first Dominican Winter League start

It may be the offseason for some, but Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford saw his first in-game action in nearly a month on Thursday night.

Crawford started for Las Estrellas Orientales as they went up against Tigres del Licey in their second game of the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo.

Over four impressive innings of work, Crawford kept the Tigres off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on 55 pitches — 34 of which were strikes.

After retiring each of the first five batters he faced, Crawford issued a two-out single to Dawel Lugo in the bottom half of the second that saw his no-hit bid come to an end. He then stranded Lugo by getting Mets prospect Ronny Mauricio to pop out to second base.

A one-out walk of Diamondbacks minor-leaguer Nick Heath in the third put another base runner on for Tigres, but Crawford again responded by sitting down each of the final five hitters he faced in order going into the top of the fifth inning.

While Estrellas ultimately fell to Tigres by a final score of 9-1 on Thursday, Crawford was certainly solid in what may have very well been his first outing outside of the United States.

The 25-year-old right-hander is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 11th among pitchers in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Crawford was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and missing all of 2020 while recovering from it and an additional procedure on his right elbow, the Florida native opened the 2021 season with Double-A Portland.

In 10 starts for the Sea Dogs, Crawford posted a 3.30 ERA and 2.80 xFIP to go along with 64 strikeouts to just five walks over 46 1/3 innings pitched before earning a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July.

Less than two months into his stint with the WooSox, Crawford had his contract selected by the Red Sox on September 5 while the big-league club navigated its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.

On that same day, Crawford made his first career major-league start against the Indians at Fenway Park, allowing five runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two-plus innings in an eventual loss.

The Red Sox promptly optioned Crawford back down to Worcester the following day, and the righty closed out the season having put up a 5.21 ERA (but much more respectable 3.73 xFIP) and 67:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 10 appearances (nine starts) spanning 48 1/3 innings pitched at the Triple-A level.

On Sept. 21, Crawford was recognized as the team’s Lou Gorman Award recipient, which is given to a Red Sox minor-leaguer “who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the major-league team.”

As of the offseason progresses, it should be kept in mind that Crawford is one of several Red Sox minor-leaguers who can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if they are not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by a certain date: November 20.

Crawford previously spent time on the Sox’ 40-man roster earlier this summer, but only for COVID-19-related purposes as he was removed from the 40-man without having to be exposed to waivers.

This time around, however, the Red Sox could risk losing Crawford via this December’s Rule 5 Draft if they choose not to protect him by adding the hurler to their 40-man roster.

When speaking with The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey recently, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham seemed confident that Crawford would remain in the organization heading into major-league spring training next year. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Estrellas Orientales/Twitter)

Red Sox add flamethrowing right-hander José Adames on minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Jose Adames to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, per MLB.com’s transaction wire. It’s unclear at this point if the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Adames, who turned 28 earlier this month, has spent the last eight seasons with the Reds and Marlins organizations.

Originally signed by Miami out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Adames has never pitched above the Class-A level due in part to the amount of time he has missed because of injury.

The 6-foot-2, 165 lb. hurler has undergone Tommy John surgery on two separate occasions in his professional career — the first of which came in September 2016, the second of which came in June 2018 — which resulted in him missing the entirety of the 2017 and 2018 minor-league seasons as well as the majority of 2019.

In brief stints with the Ariziona League Reds and rookie-league Billings Mustangs at the tail end of the 2019 campaign, Adames “came out firing fastballs in the upper 90s each time, and struck out 8 of the 16 hitters he faced,” according to RedsMinorLeague.com’s Doug Gray.

This past season, Adames was not included in Cincinnati’s major-league spring training roster, though he did get the chance to appear in two Cactus League games against the Rangers and Cubs on February 24 and March 7.

The fireballer managed to work a scoreless frame in each of those outings while also topping out at 100 mph with his fastball at one point.

With the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Adames did not get the opportunity to pitch in organized games over the summer, nor was he part of the Reds’ 60-man player pool at any point last year.

He did however pitch for Águilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican Winter League, allowing six runs (five earned) on three hits and five walks over two relief appearances and 2 2/3 innings of work.

With his new organization, Adames, who projects as potential upper minor-league bullpen depth, will look to make a positive first impression in Fort Myers if he is indeed invited to big-league spring training.

He does bring with him some rave reviews from members of the Reds’ player development staff, including pitching coordinator Kyle Boddy.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
INF Jack Lopez
INF Jeremy Rivera
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett
RHP Zac Grotz
RHP Jose Adames

(Picture of Jose Adames: Águilas Cibaeñas/Twitter)