New Podding the Red Sox episode: SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

Among the topics Ian and I discussed are how he got his start in scouting, how he is looking forward to the return of minor-league baseball next week, what he thought about brand-new Polar Park in Worcester, his thoughts on what the Red Sox could do in this summer’s draft, his impression of the Sox’ farm system under Chaim Bloom heading into the 2021 minor-league season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Ian for taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow Ian on Twitter (@IanCundall) by clicking here. You can check out his work for SoxProspects.com by clicking here.

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

(Picture of Polar Park: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora on outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario’s potential: ‘We believe that there’s more there’

Red Sox outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario was one of seven players the club optioned to their alternate training site over the weekend.

The 21-year-old has not seen much action this spring after suffering a left hamstring injury while running after the ball in the fifth inning of a game against the Twins back on March 3.

While Rosario has not played since then, the Red Sox still believe they have something in the centerfielder, who was one of the two prospects (Hudson Potts being the other) they acquired from the Padres in exchange for Mitch Moreland last August.

“Good athlete,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of the young outfielder on Saturday. “We believe that there’s more there. Physically, we need to get him in a better spot. It was a tough offseason for him with the birth of his child. He was here for [fall instructs] and then went back to Miami. It’s not that he was way out of shape, but he can do better.”

Per his Instagram, Rosario and his partner welcomed their first child into the world back in January, so that was the time frame Cora was referring to.

The Dominican native — listed at 6-foot-1 and 191 lbs. — comes into the 2021 season as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system, per Baseball America.

The last time he saw any organized minor-league action, the left-handed hitting, left-handed throwing Rosario slashed .242/.372/.314 (102 wRC+) to go along with three home runs, 35 RBI, and 11 stolen bases over 12o games played for High-A Lake Elsinore in 2019.

Upon acquiring him from the Padres last summer, the Sox sent Rosario to their alternate training site in Pawtucket and then to their fall instructional league in Fort Myers before adding the speedster to their 40-man roster in November in order to avoid being eligible for December’s Rule 5 Draft.

At fall instructs, Rosario got off to a decent start, but started to struggle as camp went on, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

“Rosario did not show a stand-out tool and did not seem like a potential difference maker,” Cundall wrote back in November. “His frame is not that projectable. His best tools were on defense, where his instincts stood out and he showed an above-average arm. His run times, however, were closer to average than plus, which is a concern — if his speed continues to decrease, it could limit his defensive upside.

“At the plate, Rosario’s approach was OK,” added Cundall. “He worked counts but did not seem to be seeing the ball that well and showed fringy contact ability and minimal raw power. The Instructs games were not the ideal showcase for Rosario — he lacks loud tools, but as one of the more advanced players there, scouts expected more out of him against inexperienced pitching.”

Taking that report into consideration, it would appear that Rosario — who does not turn 22 until October still has plenty of room to grow in regards to his development. He is currently projected to begin the 2021 season with Double-A Portland.

“He’s so young that we just got to get him in a good spot,” said Cora. “If he does that, his athletic ability is going to take over. He controls the strike zone, which is very important. And he’s a good athlete.”

(Picture of Jeisson Rosario: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland agrees to one-year deal with Athletics, per report

Former Red Sox first baseman has reportedly agreed to a one-year, major-league deal with the Athletics, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo adds that Moreland will earn $2.25 million with Oakland with the chance to earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses.

The 35-year-old is coming off a 2020 season split between the Sox and Padres in which he slashed .265/.342/.551 to go along with 10 home runs and 29 RBI over 42 total games played.

Starting off the campaign as Boston’s primary first base option, Moreland enjoyed great success and got off to a hot start by clubbing eight homers and posting a 1.177 OPS through his first 22 contests of the year.

That strong showing surely helped the Sox flip Moreland to the Padres in exchange for infield prospect Hudson Potts and outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario — both of whom are now on Boston’s 40-man roster and are regarded by MLB Pipeline as top-20 prospects within the club’s farm system — in late August.

Upon arriving in San Diego, though, Moreland cooled off significantly (.609 OPS in 73 plate appearances) and ultimately had his $3 million club option declined by the Friars in the fall, which led to him becoming a free agent in the first place.

While the Mississippi native was on the open market, Cotillo noted that the Sox ‘had some interest in a reunion’ with Moreland and even ‘engaged in talks with Moreland’s camp.’

Alas, the two sides could not reach an agreement on terms, and Boston ultimately went in the direction of agreeing to sign veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez, a switch-hitter, to a one-year, $3.1 million pact for 2021 that includes up to $1.1 million in additional incentives.

As much as Moreland may have wanted to return to Boston, he now has an opportunity with Oakland to serve as the club’s primary designated hitter while also spelling fellow Gold Glover Matt Olson at first base when necessary.

In 53 career games at the Oakland Coliseum — a majority of which came when he was a member of the Texas Rangers from 2010-2016 — Moreland owns a lifetime .275/.340/.561 slash line to go along with 15 home runs and 36 RBI over 192 total plate appearances.

(Picture of Mitch Moreland: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Examining Red Sox infield prospect Hudson Potts’ big-league potential

Hudson Potts’ first offseason as a member of the Red Sox organization has been a busy one to say the least.

Back in November, the 22-year-old was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. That, in turn, led to Potts receiving his first invite from the Sox — and third invite overall — to big-league spring training.

The Texas native was originally acquired by the Red Sox along with outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario last August in a trade that sent veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres.

At that time, Potts was regarded by MLB Pipeline as San Diego’s No. 16 prospect, and with the minor-league season having been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he was spending time at the club’s alternate training site at the University of San Diego.

He spent the rest of the year at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Even with no real in-game action in 2020, the former 2016 first-round draft pick was less than a full year removed from his age-20 season with Double-A Amarillo of the Texas League in which he slashed a modest .227/.290/.406 to go along with 16 home runs and 59 RBI across 107 games in 2019.

Those numbers — as well as a strikeout rate of 28.6% and a walk rate of 7.1% — might not jump off the page, but it is important to remember that Potts was doing this at a fairly young age for the level he was playing at. FanGraphs’ Ben Clemens noted as much when writing about Potts and other position player prospects on Tuesday.

“It’s so hard to play in Double-A at 20 years old,” Clemens wrote. “Potts wasn’t good, but he was able to tread water despite being three to four years young for the level, which is often a better sign than hitting well at an age-appropriate level. That said, don’t sleep on his 2018, when he was also quite young for Hi-A and put together a fearsome power season.”

In 2018 with High-A Lake Elsinore of the California League, the right-handed hitter posted a .281/.350/.498 clip in addition to clubbing 17 homers and driving in 58 runs over 106 games (453 plate appearances).

One of the things that has held Potts back, if you want to say that, to this point has been his inability to make contact on a consistent basis. Another dimension of his game that is shrouded in uncertainty pertains to his primary defensive position.

Both of those aspects could hinder the 6-foot-3, 220 lb. infielder’s long-term potential as a major-league-caliber player, according to Clemens.

Warning Signs: The big one is contact — that’s not the kind of thing you can paper over with other skills,” Clemens wrote of Potts. “He’ll also need to find a defensive home; he looks like a corner guy, though San Diego experimented with a Mike Moustakas-esque second base assignment before trading him. Corner-only sluggers with contact issues aren’t exactly in short supply, so that’s the worry here.”

In regards to the 20-80 scouting scale, FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen has Potts’ hit tool at 30 in terms of present value and 35 in terms of future value, which ranks ninth and 19th among Red Sox position player prospects, respectively.

“If [Potts’ hit tool turns out lower than 40 FV], it might make his bat unplayable” due to all the swings-and-misses, Clemens wrote.

Despite those concerns, Clemens still seems optimistic about Potts’ outlook, opining that “the combination of his power and age are simply more enticing than the whiffs are worrisome.”

Currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s 19th-ranked prospect, Potts is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season — whenever it starts — with Double-A Portland and could seemingly see playing time at every infield position besides shortstop.

The Red Sox will host their first full squad spring training workout in Fort Myers this coming Monday, so that could be a good time to get our first glance at Potts since last year’s fall instructional league. Stay tuned for that.

(Picture of Hudson Potts: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstillsmugmug.com)

Red Sox add top pitching prospect Bryan Mata, 6 others to 40-man roster ahead of Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox added seven minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster on Friday in order to protect them from being eligible for this December’s Rule 5 Draft.

Right-handers Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, and Eduard Bazardo, left-hander Jay Groome, catcher Connor Wong, infielder Hudson Potts, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster.

Going into Friday, the Sox’ 40-man roster was at 36 players, meaning three players had to be removed in order to make room for the seven names mentioned above.

The three players removed from Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday were left-handers Kyle Hart and Matt Hall, and right-hander Ryan Weber. Hart has been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, while Hall and Weber were designated for assignment.

Both Hart and Hall made their Red Sox debuts in 2020, and both struggled mightily in limited action.

In what was his first taste of the big-leagues, the soon-to-be 27-year-old Hart allowed 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits and 10 walks over just nine innings pitched through his first three starts after getting called up in mid-August.

A demotion to the bullpen did not do any wonders for the former 19th-round draft pick either, as he surrendered six earned runs over two innings of relief against the Braves on September 1 before his season came to an end a day later due to a left hip impingement.

Hall, meanwhile, was acquired by Boston in a trade that sent minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez to the Tigers back in January.

The 27-year-old looked impressive at summer camp, but that did not translate well to his first season with the Sox.

Making just four appearances (one start), the southpaw posted a dismal 18.69 ERA and 7.92 FIP in 8 2/3 innings of work.

As for Weber, this comes as somewhat of a surprise considering the notion that the Red Sox have always seemingly been high on him as well as the fact that he held opponents to a .656 OPS against over his last 14 outings (two starts) of the year.

Still, the 30-year-old hurler’s 2020 season had plenty of down moments as well, and it appears that Boston no longer deems him worthy of a 40-man roster spot.

Because they were designated for assignment, Hall and Weber will have to clear waivers if they are return to the Red Sox in a lesser capacity unless they opt for free agency instead.

So, the removals of Hart, Hall, and Weber decreased the Sox’ 40-man roster size to 33, thus opening the gateway for all seven of Bazardo, Groome, Mata, Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong to be added Friday evening.

Groome, Mata, Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong were all expected to be protected from this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, leaving Bazardo as the most interesting addition listed here.

The 25-year-old was actually eligible for last year’s Rule 5 Draft, too, but he did not get selected.

Despite not being added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool at any point in time this past season, Bazardo impressed enough at fall instructs to earn himself a spot on the 40-man.

The Venezuela native originally signed with Boston for just $8,000 as an international free agent in 2014.

Most recently, he posted a 2.21 ERA and .206 batting average against in 38 total relief appearances and 73 1/3 innings pitched between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019.

Listed at 6-foot and 155 lbs., Bazardo could very well make his major-league debut out of the Red Sox bullpen at some point next season. He certainly will be one of the more fascinating hurlers to monitor during spring training once camp breaks in February.

With Friday’s round of transactions complete, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is now at full capacity at 40 players. That does not mean that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will continue to make moves, though, as this could make for an eventful winter depending on how the free agent and trade market plays out.

Long story short, Bloom and the Red Sox are not close to done in terms of 2021 roster construction. There will be plenty more to come.

Red Sox add free-agent outfielder Michael Gettys on minor-league deal, re-sign Emmanuel De Jesus

The Red Sox have signed free agent outfielder Michael Gettys to a minor-league contract, per Major League Baseball’s transaction wire.

Gettys, who turned 25 last month, had spent the previous seven seasons with the Padres organization after being selected by San Diego in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft.

A Georgia native, Gettys declared for free agency earlier in November after not being included in the Padres’ 60-man player pool at any point during the 2020 season.

Prior to 2020, Gettys had made it as far as Triple-A El Paso, where he posted a .256/.305/.517 slash line to go along with 31 home runs and 91 RBI over 128 games played in 2019. He also swiped 14 bases en route to being named an organization All-Star for San Diego.

As much as he thrived as a power hitter last year, Gettys also dealt with his fair share of strikeouts, too. In 551 plate appearances with El Paso, he whiffed 168 times, or in other words, a whopping 30.5% of the time.

In terms of defensive capabilities, the 6-foot-1, 217 lb. outfielder has experience playing all three outfield positions, so that versatility may have played a key role in his signing with the Red Sox.

By adding Gettys, the Sox have now acquired three former Padres prospects in some fashion within the last three months. Back in August, the club acquired infield prospect Hudson Potts and outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario from San Diego in exchange for first baseman Mitch Moreland.

Both Potts and Rosario are eligible for this December’s Rule 5 draft, as is Gettys. And although neither Potts nor Rosario have played above Double-A yet, Gettys has a solid track record at the Triple-A level, so he could very well start the 2021 campaign in Worcester depending on how things pan out in the spring.

On another note, the Red Sox also resigned left-hander Emmanuel De Jesus to a minor-league contract.

De Jesus, who turns 24 next month, originally signed with Boston as an international free agent out of Venezuela for $787,500 back in 2013.

The lanky southpaw most recently posted a 3.58 ERA over 24 starts and 130 2/3 innings pitched for High-A Salem in 2019. He, too, is Rule 5 eligible this winter.

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 Prospect Hudson Potts Made Positive First Impression in Pawtucket This Year, Has Chance To Be ‘Interesting’ Player in 2021

Infielder Hudson Potts was a late addition to the Red Sox’ player pool this season on account of the fact he was acquired from the Padres on August 30.

The 21-year-old arrived at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket in early September and, unlike the majority of players and prospects who were already there, did not have a ton of time to get acclimated to a completely new environment.

Still, Potts impressed and showed glimpses of promises in his first go-around as a Red Sox prospect. PawSox manager Billy McMillon, who was one of the main authority figures at the alternate site these past two-plus months, made that much clear when speaking with reporters via Zoom on Friday.

“I was really, really impressed with his approach at the plate,” McMillon said of Potts. “He would hit a ball to the pull side 400 feet and then hit a line drive to right-center field. Big, strong kid. He showed a little bit of defensive versatility, too. We played him some at second base. The lion’s share of his work was at third base.”

Originally drafted by San Diego as a shortstop out of high school in the first round of the 2016 amateur draft, Potts is listed at 6-foot-3 and 218 lbs. Those measurements seemed to remind McMillon of a former Red Sox prospect who could play third base.

“If you look at him physically, body type, he kind of reminds you of a Will Middlebrooks,” the Pawtucket skipper added. “That’s the first person I thought about when I saw him. Good kid. Very, very hard worker. I like him. He’s going to be an interesting person when we try to slot him in next year with a full year of Double-A under his belt. We got something from San Diego with him.”

Potts, who along with outfielder Jeisson Rosario was dealt to Boston in the trade that saw Mitch Moreland go to the Padres, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 20 prospect in the Sox’ farm system.

As McMillon mentioned, Potts played a full season’s worth of Double-A baseball last year. In 107 games for the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the Southlake, Texas native posted a .227/.290/.406 slash line to go along with 16 home runs and 59 RBI over 448 plate appearances.

Going back to 2017, Potts has clubbed at least 15 homers in each of his last three minor-league seasons, so he has rightfully earned the reputation of being a power-hitting prospect. On top of that, FanGraphs regards the young infielder’s power tool as one of the best in the organization.

Despite those accolades, Potts is striving to improve his approach at the plate to show that he is capable of being an all-around hitter opposed to just a power hitter.

“I know that’s probably one of the things that has been one of my better things throughout my career,” he said in regards to his slugging abilities back in September. “But, once I learn and make adjustments to my approach that I need to make, I feel like I can be a lot more than just a power guy. I feel like I can be a complete hitter and I just need to work on that and get to that spot I know I’m capable of doing. That’s what I’m striving to be, an all-around hitter, not just a power hitter.”

Because he signed with the Padres as a 17-year-old back in 2016, Potts is now eligible for this year’s Rule 5 Draft in December. In order to not expose him to that, the Red Sox will have to add Potts to their 40-man roster by late November.

Red Sox Trade Mitch Moreland To Padres in Exchange for Prospects Hudson Potts, Jeisson Rosario

The Red Sox have traded first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres in exchange for infield prospect Hudson Potts and outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario, the club officially announced Sunday.

Moreland, who just reached 10 years of major-league service time on Saturday, is currently slashing .328/.430/.746 with eight home runs and 21 RBI through his first 22 games of the 2020 season.

The soon-to-be 35-year-old signed a one-year deal with Boston back in January and his contract includes a $3 million club option for 2021.

With San Diego, Moreland will presumably see time at first base and DH, although he likely will not be playing everyday or close to everyday like he was doing with the Sox.

As for who the Red Sox got back in this deal, let’s start with Potts.

The 21-year-old third baseman was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 16 prospect in the Padres’ farm system.

A former first-round selection of San Diego in 2016, Potts most recently posted a .227/.290/.406 slash line to go along with 16 homers and 59 RBI over 107 games with Double-A Amarillo in 2019.

Rosario, meanwhile, was signed by the Padres as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in 2016.

In 120 games for High-A Lake Elsinore last season, the 20-year-old outfielder drew 87 walks, posted a .686 OPS, and swiped 11 bags while working his way to become San Diego’s 19th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

In acquiring both Potts and Rosario, the Red Sox appear to have added two quality prospects to their ranks. And one of the two will likely be added to the club’s 60-man player pool seeing how infielder Marco Hernandez was also released on Sunday.