Why did Red Sox leave Rule 5 eligible prospects such as Gilberto Jiménez and Thaddeus Ward off 40-man roster? Chaim Bloom explains

The Red Sox were never going to be able to protect all 54 of their eligible minor-leaguers from next month’s Rule 5 Draft since they only had seven open spots on their 40-man roster to work with.

However, when the time came for the Sox to add those prospects they deemed worthy of protecting this past Friday, the club elected to fill just four of the seven vacancies they had on the 40-man.

While right-handers Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Josh Winckowski and infielder Jeter Downs were all added, 50 other Red Sox minor-leaguers were not and effectively became eligible for December’s Rule 5 Draft as a result.

Of those 50 who missed the cut, some notable prospects stick out, such as Kole Cottam, Durbin Feltman, Franklin German, Gilberto Jimenez, A.J. Politi, Ceddanne Rafaela, Victor Santos, Chase Shugart, and Thaddeus Ward, among others.

Within this group, Jimenez and Ward are regarded by SoxProspects.com as two of the top 20 prospects in Boston’s farm system and could be of interest to other clubs come December.

With that being said, though, Jimenez — a 21-year-old outfielder — has yet to advance past the Low-A level in the minors, while Ward — a 24-year-old right-hander — is only five-plus months removed from Tommy John surgery and is unlikely to pitch in 2022.

As FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen recently wrote, Jimenez would “be a bold Rule 5 choice for a rebuilding club, who’d be putting his long-term development at risk by rostering him.”

Ward, on the other hand, “would also be an interesting Rule 5 choice” since his new team could stash him on the 60-day injured list for the entirety of the 2020 season while he rehabs in order to clear a 40-man roster spot of their own.

On Monday, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom explained to reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) just how difficult it was to leave a number of talented players off their 40-man roster going into the winter.

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

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

Put another way, by keeping three spots on their 40-man roster open, the Red Sox at present would not have to make a corresponding move if they were to sign a free-agent to a major-league contract.

Along those same lines, Bloom and Co. are essentially daring other teams to take any of the prospects Boston left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and attempt to keep them on their big-league roster throughout the 2022 season.

As SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall explains, if the Red Sox added an eligible prospect like Jimenez to their 40-man roster and wanted to remove him from it in the future, another club could then just claim him off waivers, option him to the minors, and keep him there.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Top prospects Jeter Downs, Gilberto Jimenez included in second round of Red Sox spring roster cuts

Following their 8-2 victory over the Rays at JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon, the Red Sox announced their second round of spring roster cuts, as the club optioned four players to their alternate training site and reassigned eight players to the minor-leagues.

Right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, infield prospect Hudson Potts, and outfield prospects Jeisson Rosario and Marcus Wilson were optioned down to Boston’s alternate training site.

Left-handers Kyle Hart and Matt Hall, right-handers Caleb Simpson and Ryan Weber, catcher Jett Bandy, infielder Chad De La Guerra, infield prospect Jeter Downs, and outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez, meanwhile, were all reassigned to the minors.

All four prospects who were optioned to the alternate site are currently on the Sox’ 40-man roster, while all eight players who were reassigned to the minors were taking part in major-league spring training as non-roster invitees.

Among those who were sent down to the alternate site, Baseball America ranks Potts as the No. 24 prospect, Rosario as the No. 20 prospect, and Seabold as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into the 2021 season.

Among those who were reassigned to minor-league camp, Downs and Jimenez are regarded by Baseball America as the No. 2 and No. 7 prospects in the Red Sox farm system, respectively.

Following Friday’s flurry of moves, the Sox now have just 10 non-roster invitees at big-league camp, bringing the total size of their spring training roster down to approximately 53 players.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora looking forward to seeing top prospect Gilberto Jimenez in action at spring training: ‘It should be fun to see him run around the bases’

In case you missed it, the Red Sox added top outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez to their major-league spring training roster as a non-roster invitee Friday afternoon.

Jimenez, who does not turn 21 until July, is now the second-youngest player at Red Sox camp behind 2020 first-round draft pick Nick Yorke.

Manager Alex Cora has had high praise for the 18-year-old infielder since he arrived in Fort Myers for his first ever big-league spring training last month. His attention now shifts to another youngster at the Fenway South complex in the form of Jimenez.

“Just like the other kids, to be able to have him here, work out with us and learn the game,” Cora said of the 20-year-old outfielder following a 5-4 win over the Rays at JetBlue Park on Friday. “Hopefully, he can get some at-bats and see what he can do.”

Jimenez is currently ranked as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system by Baseball America.

Last time he saw any organized minor-league action, the Dominican national slashed .359/.393/.370 with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 14 stolen bases across 59 games for Low-A Lowell in 2019.

At that time, Jimenez was listed at 5-foot-11 and around 160 lbs. Since then, he has bulked up tremendously. And he put that added muscle on full display at the Sox’ fall instructional league last year (2020).

“The young Dominican is now listed at 212 pounds, up significantly from where he was with Lowell,” SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote of Jimenez’s showing at fall instructs in December. “Even though he has added that much size, he still is an elite athlete and has only lost a little speed, now grading as a 70 runner rather than 80.”

Among minor-leaguers in the Red Sox system, the switch-hitting Jimenez is perhaps one of, if not the quickest prospect the organization has to offer.

That aspect of his game — as well as his strength — is something Cora is looking forward to seeing in action.

“This is the first time I’ve seen him,” the Sox skipper said. “Strong kid. Strong. Looking forward to him to go out there and learn from the guys. It should be fun to see him run around the bases.”

Cora wanting Jimenez to learn from the veterans around him at camp should come as no surprise. He did after all encourage Yorke to follow around Enrique Hernandez during workouts.

“He’s going to spend a lot of time with us, but that’s what I want him to do,” Cora said of Yorke late last month. “Just learn, keep working, understand what it takes to be a big-leaguer, and he’ll be a big-leaguer. He’ll be a big-leaguer.”

Though he did not say it on Friday, it’s safe to assume Cora wants Jimenez and Yorke to share the same sort of experience this spring.

Put another way, neither of the organization’s most talented prospects have a realistic shot of cracking Boston’s Opening Day roster or getting called up to the majors this year, but what they learn right now could help them down the line as they continue on with their development.

Jimenez, who signed out of the Dominican for just $10,000 back in 2017, is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville, whose season does not start until sometime in May at the earliest.

This year has the potential to be an important one for the speedster, as he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this December.

At this point, one would have to assume that Jimenez is a favorite to secure a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster some time between now and November 20, but a strong season in Greenville — or wherever else he plays — certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.

(Picture of Gilberto Jimenez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox add top outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez to major-league spring training roster

The Red Sox have added outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez to their major-league spring training roster as a non-roster invitee, the team announced Friday.

Jimenez, 20, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, ranking second among outfielders behind only Jarren Duran (No. 5).

Boston originally signed the young outfielder out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000 back in August 2017.

Since then Jimenez has hit wherever he’s gone, most recently posting an impressive .359/.393/.470 slash line to go along with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 14 stolen bases over 59 games for Low-A Lowell in 2019.

With there being no minor-league season in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the switch-hitter was not included in the Sox’ 60-man player pool at any point last year, but he did participate in the organization’s fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

There, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Jimenez was identified by scouts as “the top prospect” at instructs.

“The biggest development for Jimenez at Instructs was his newfound ability to drive the ball, especially from the right side of the plate,” Cundall wrote back in December. “Jimenez has tweaked his stance and filled out considerably, allowing him to impact the ball. He showed plus raw power from the right side and a vastly improved swing from the left, in which he no longer is just looking to slap the ball. While his right-handed swing likely will always be better than his left-handed swing, the improvements he made should help ensure he is not a liability from his weaker side against more advanced pitching. Defensively, Jimenez showed a solid all-around skill set with plus range and an above-average arm. He still will make the odd mistake out there, but given his speed and decent instincts, he has a chance to develop into a very solid defender.”

On the 20-80 scouting scale, Jimenez’s speed — or run tool — is graded at a 70, making him one of, if not the quickest prospect in the organization.

While maintaining his elite athleticism, Jimenez has also bulked up recently as he is now listed at 5-foot-11 and 212 lbs., which, as noted by Cundall, “is up significantly from where he was with Lowell.”

Now one of 34 non-roster invitees currently at big-league camp in Fort Myers, Jimenez is projected to begin the 2021 season with High-A Greenville, whose season does not start until sometime in May at the earliest.

For the time being, though, it should be fascinating to see what Jimenez, who turns 21 in July, can do once he gets into some Grapefruit League games this spring. One would assume he will have the opportunity to leave an impression on Red Sox manager Alex Cora and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom if he performs up to his standards.

(Picture of Gilberto Jimenez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: outfield prospect Wil Dalton joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox outfield prospect Wil Dalton.

Dalton, 23, was drafted by Boston in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Florida.

Among the topics we discussed in this episode, which is available on iTunes and Spotify, were Dalton’s path from junior college to Florida, takeaways from his first professional season in Lowell in 2019, his performance at the fall instructional league in 2020, and his personal expectations for the 2021 minor-league season.

Thanks to Wil for taking time out of his Monday evening to answer some questions.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Wil Dalton: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospects: right-hander Aldo Ramirez, outfielder Gilberto Jimenez among top performers at fall instructs

Among the 62 minor-leaguers who attended the Red Sox’ fall instructional league from October 5 through November 12, right-hander Aldo Ramirez and outfielder Gilberto Jimenez stood out the most, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

Per Cundall, evaluators who had the chance to attend fall instructs reported that Ramirez “showed advanced feel and should stick as a starter,” while Jimenez “has filled out considerably” and “has started to drive the ball at the plate.

Ramirez, 19, is regarded by SoxProspects as Boston’s sixth-ranked right-handed pitching prospect and 17th-ranked prospect overall.

The native of Mexico was signed from Rieleros de Aguascalientes of the Mexican League for $550,00 back in April 2018, with Sotero Torres, Eddie Romero, and Todd Claus being the scouts responsible for his signing.

Since that time, Ramirez most recently got a full season’s work in 2019 while spending time at short-season Lowell.

In 14 appearances (13 starts) for the Spinners, Ramirez posted a 3.94 ERA and a 2.95 xFIP over 61 2/3 innings of work. The 2020 minor-league season was, of course, a wash due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Per his SoxProspects scouting report, the 6-foot, 180 lb. righty works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 91-95 mph fastball, a 77-80 mph curveball, and a 86-88 mph changeup with “splitterish movement.”

Typically pitching from a three-quarters arm slot, Ramirez currently projects to be a back-end of the rotation starting pitcher at the big-league level. At such a young age, though, he still has plenty of time to improve and further develop his craft before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2022.

Jimenez, meanwhile, stood out as the best position player at fall instructs, and it’s easy to see why considering the 20-year-old is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect.

The speedster was signed out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000 by Romero and Manny Nanita back in August 2017.

That investment has proven to pay off for the Red Sox in a tremendous way thus far, as Jimenez is without a doubt one of the more exciting players in the club’s minor-league pipeline.

On top of his 80-grade speed tool, the highest mark in the system according to FanGraphs, Jimenez has proven to be an on-base machine.

With short-season Lowell in 2019, the switch-hitting outfielder won the New York-Penn League batting title by slashing .359/.393/.470 to go along with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 14 stolen bases over 59 games played.

The one downside to Jimenez’s performance last year was that he primarily relied on his speed to turn groundballs into base hits, meaning he did not get the ball in the air all that much.

Despite that lone deterrent, Jimenez does have quick hands and plus bat speed to show for it. As mentioned above, he has also apparently filled out this year to the point where he is “now built like a running back.”

With that additional muscle, Jimenez has begun to show some flashes of power from the right side of the plate, which is the side of the plate he primarily hit from until converting into a switch-hitter in 2017.

Jimenez will become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next winter, meaning there is a very good chance he will be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster within the next 12-plus months.

As you may have already guessed upon reading this report, Jimenez has plenty of potential, and like Ramirez, plenty of room to grow as a player, too.

Neither Ramirez nor Jimenez were included in the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool this past season, so the fall instructional league provided the club with its first real opportunity since March to check in on many of its coveted prospects.

Information from FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline, and SoxProspects.com was used in this article.

Top Red Sox Outfield Prospect Jarren Duran Set To Play Winter Ball in Puerto Rico

Top Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran will be competing in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico this winter for Los Criollos de Caguas, the club announced earlier Tuesday.

Duran, who turned 24 last month, is regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 8 overall prospect and top outfield prospect.

The 2018 seventh-round draft pick out of Long Beach State was added to the Sox’ player pool back in July and put on quite a show at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket in what would have been his second full minor-league season.

In joining Caguas, Duran will be managed by Red Sox coach Ramon Vazquez, while Alex Cora’s brother-in-law Jesus Feliciano serves as the team’s general manager.

“Jarren Duran has a great chance to play in the big leagues next year. A player who has hit for average, has strength and has stolen 70 bases in his two seasons as a professional,” Feliciano said (in Spanish) of the speedy outfielder. “He is a versatile player who we are going to like a lot because of the strong way he plays and he will help us with the experienced outfielders we have on our team.”

According to FanGraphs, Duran, who has swiped 70 bags in 199 career minor-league games, has the second-best speed tool (70) in the Sox’ farm system behind only fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez (80).

With that speed, as well as the uptick in power he put on display at McCoy Stadium, the California native may have a legitimate shot to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster come next spring.

Many around the organization seem impressed with what they have seen out of Duran in the relatively short period of time he has been a professional. Worcester Red Sox manager Billy McMillon is no exception.

“He had an unbelievable offensive camp. Stole a lot of bases, hit a lot of home runs. Impacted the baseball hard day in and day out,” McMillon said of Duran earlier this month. “I think he continues to get better in the outfield and as that continues to get better, I think that’s going to help clear the path for him. He’s okay, he’s solid, but you can see there’s some room for improvement there. We did some things working on footwork and routes to balls and he kind of cleaned that up a little bit. For me, the question is, can he do that consistently? If he hits a lull with his offense, is he going to stay as positive as we was all camp? I never saw him down during the camp. He hit really well for the entirety of the camp. He’s a very intriguing, very interesting guy.”

Because of what he did in Pawtucket this summer, the Red Sox likely felt that Duran did not need to attend fall instructs, which are currently underway in Fort Myers. Instead, the young speed merchant will take the field for Los Criollos de Caguas down in Puerto Rico in the coming weeks.

Barring any COVID-19-related setbacks, the 2020-2021 Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente season should begin sometime in mid-November.

Red Sox Set To Kick off Fall Instructional League This Week With Bevy of Top Prospects in Attendance

The Red Sox are set to kick off their fall instructional league in Fort Myers on Monday. And according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, several of the club’s top prospects will take part in these offseason activities.

Among the 62 minor-leaguers who will report to Fenway South starting this week, several had just spent at least part of their summers at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket. Those names, per Speier, include pitchers Bryan Mata and Jay Groome, infielders Triston Casas, Nick Yorke, and Hudson Potts, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario.

As for the prospects who did not receive an invite to the alternate site this season, there are right-handers Brayan Bello and Thad Ward, left-hander Chris Murphy, infielders Brainer Bonaci and Matthew Lugo, and speedy outfielder Gilberto Jimenez.

On top of that group of players, infielder Blaze Jordan and pitchers Shane Drohan and Jeremy Wu-Yelland — the rest of Boston’s 2020 draft class — are also expected to attend this offseason program that will run until November 12.

Although it is not yet clear if teams will be allowed to play games against one another due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these instructional leagues do allow the Red Sox, as well as the other 29 clubs, to get back in contact with the core of their minor-league talent.

Speaking of minor-league talent, as of September 1, the Sox had the No. 25 farm system in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

As underwhelming as that ranking may be, there appears to be optimism from within the organization that things in that developmental area are steadily improving. PawSox manager Billy McMillon opined as much when speaking with reporters this past Friday via Zoom.

“I think it’s very promising right now,” McMillon said regarding the state of the Red Sox farm system. “Some of the returns that we got back in some of the various trades and offseason acquisitions, I think that’s going to raise the level of our minor-leagues. We saw some guys develop, get a little bit better. There’s encouraging news from guys that impressed on the mound to seeing how some of the position players developed. I think the cupboard is getting full again, and I think there’s reason for optimism with some of the guys that we saw in the alternate camp.”

Expect the full list of Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be attending fall instructs to be released relatively soon.

UPDATE: Here’s the full list of the 62 Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be at full instructs, courtesy of SoxProspects.

Red Sox No. 7 Prospect Gilberto Jimenez Identified as Potential Breakout Prospect for 2020 by MLB Pipeline

Red Sox outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez has been named a potential breakout candidate for the 2020 season, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Mike Rosenbaum:

Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 7) — A $10,000 steal from the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez skipped a level last season and led the short-season New York-Penn League in batting (.359) in his U.S. debut. The best center-field defender and one of the fastest runners in Boston’s system, he’ll make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.”

As the above excerpt from this article mentions, Jimenez enjoyed great success in his first professional season stateside, slashing .359/.393/.470 with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 16 RBI over 59 games with Short-Season Lowell in 2019.

In a span of less than two years, the 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic has  worked his way up from unranked to the seventh-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Using the 20-80 scouting sale, Jimenez’s hit tool is graded as slightly above average, while his power tool is graded as slightly below average, his run tool is graded as well above average, and his fielding tool is graded as slightly below average. All in all, the young outfielder is graded as an average prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

Projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2020 minor-league season with Low-A Greenville, it will be interesting to see how Jimenez’s game translates to the next level in the South Atlantic League.

Among Red Sox minor-league center fielders, Jimenez currently sits fifth behind Marcus Wilson, Duran, Keith Curcio, and Cole Brannen on SoxProspects.com‘s depth charts.

Last year, MLB Pipeline predicted that left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, then Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect, would be a breakout prospect in 2019. The 23-year-old only made his big league debut on April 23rd, made his impact felt as a reliever later in the season, and now looks poised to play a key role in the Sox’ bullpen in 2020.