Red Sox drafted 8 pitchers in 2021; how did each of them fare during first full pro season?

The Red Sox selected and signed eight pitchers in the 2021 amateur draft. Of those eight, seven were taken out of college, one was taken out of high school, and one has yet to make his professional debut.

For the vast majority of these pitchers, the 2022 minor-league campaign represented their first full seasons in pro balls. Here is a rundown of how each of them fared this year, beginning with the highest draft pick and ending with the lowest one.

Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz, RHP (4th round, 105th overall pick)

Taken out of Leadership Christian Academy in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez-Cruz forwent his commitment to the University of Oregon by signing with Boston for $497,500. The 19-year-old right-hander made his pro debut in the Florida Complex League this summer and posted a 1.95 ERA with 36 strikeouts to 12 walks over 11 appearances (8 starts, 32 1/3 innings) before earning a promotion to Low-A Salem in late August. He then allowed one run while striking out six and walking three in two starts (6 innings) with the Salem Sox.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 160 pounds with room to grow, Rodriguez-Cruz throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 90-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 75-78 mph curveball, an 80-83 mph changeup, and a slider that is considered to be a work in progress. He is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Wyatt Olds, RHP (7th round, 196th overall pick)

Olds, 23, broke camp with High-A Greenville this spring after ending the 2021 season in Salem. The University of Oklahoma product forged a 6.01 ERA with 130 strikeouts to 50 walks over 26 outings (25 starts) and 106 1/3 innings for the Drive. He also made one start for Double-A Portland in September and allowed two earned runs across 4 2/3 innings of work.

At 6-foot and 183 pounds, Olds pitches exclusively from the stretch and possesses a 93-96 mph fastball that tops out at 98 mph, an 85-88 mph slider, and an 87-89 mph changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report. He is currently regarded by the site as the No. 56 prospect in the organization.

Hunter Dobbins, RHP (8th round, 226th overall pick)

Sliding in right ahead of Olds in SoxProspects.com’s year-end rankings is Dobbins. The Texas Tech product missed the entirety of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last March and signed with Boston for $197,500 four months later. After making a full recovery from the procedure, Dobbins debuted with the Salem Red Sox back in June. He compiled a 5.22 ERA — but much more respectable 3.76 xFIP — with 68 strikeouts to 22 walks over 17 starts spanning 69 innings pitched.

Dobbins, also 23, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. The former Red Raider works with a four-pitch arsenal that includes a 91-94 mph heater that tops out at 96 mph, a 74-78 mph curveball, an 83-85 mph changeup, and a high-80s slider that is used sparingly, according to SoxProspects.com. He is projected by the site to make the jump to Greenville next spring.

Matt Litwicki, RHP (10th round, 286th overall pick)

Litwicki is the one pitcher in this draft class who has yet to take the mound in an organized game. The 24-year-old righty was limited to just 31 1/3 innings at Indiana University (missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, missed time in 2021 because of back and shoulder injuries) and received a $47,500 signing bonus from the Sox.

Per SoxProspects.com, Litwicki suffered a setback while rehabbing earlier this year and wound up missing the entirety of the 2022 campaign as a result. When healthy, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound hurler has shown that he can reach 99 mph with his four-seamer while also mixing in a low-80s slider. As of now, it remains to be seen if Litwicki is on track to be ready for spring training.

Christopher Troye, RHP (12th round, 346th overall pick)

Troye, who turns 24 in February, received a $122,500 signing bonus from Boston after spending four years (and undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Brentwood native missed the first month or so of the 2022 season with an undisclosed injury, but he made his way to Salem by mid-May.

In 26 relief appearances for the Red Sox, Troye produced a 4.86 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 50 strikeouts to 24 walks over 33 1/3 innings of work. His 35 percent punchout rate ranked ninth among Carolina League pitchers who accrued at least 30 innings, though his 16.8 percent walk rate was the 16th-highest in the league using that same parameter.

Given that he has the ability to strike out hitters and miss bats at a high rate, it should come as no surprise that Troye possesses tantalizing stuff. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and can reach 99 mph with the pitch, according to SoxProspects.com. He also flashes a 12-6 curveball, but has shown that he can struggle with his command at times. How he works to improve that will likely play a key role in his development moving forward.

Jacob Webb, RHP (14th round, 406th overall pick)

Webb may be the furthest along of any pitcher listed here. The 23-year-old righty out of Miami University of Ohio pitched across three different levels this season and made it as far as Portland. He posted a 3.18 ERA with 88 strikeouts to 28 walks in 44 total appearances (56 2/3 innings) between Salem, Greenville, and Portland before heading out west to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. With the Scottsdale Scorpions, Webb yielded four earned runs over 10 innings of relief while fanning 12 of the 41 batters he faced.

Listed at a burly 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds, Webb is currently ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 60 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Dayton native operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 94-96 mph heater that can reach 98 mph, an 82-84 mph slider, and an 88-90 mph changeup. He is projected to return to the Sea Dogs bullpen for the start of the 2023 season.

Luis Guerrero, RHP (17th round, 496th overall pick)

The lone junior college pitcher included here, Guerrero turned in a solid 2022 campaign after not pitching professionally in 2021. The 22-year-old right-hander out of Chipola College appeared in a total of 27 games between the FCL, Salem, and Greenville. He produced a 3.23 ERA with 59 punchouts to 17 walks over 39 combined innings of work. That includes a 2.08 ERA (1.66 FIP) in seven outings with the Drive.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Guerrero is listed at 6-foot and 215 pounds. The Bani native can reach triple digits with his four-seam fastball and also possesses an 83-85 mph splitter, an 88-91 mph slider, and a 75-79 mph curveball, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report. He is currently regarded by the site as the 34th-ranked prospect in the system.

Tyler Uberstine, RHP (19th round, 556th overall pick)

A former member of the University of Southern California’s club baseball team, Uberstine transferred to Northwestern University in 2020 and has only seen his stock rise since then. This past season, the 23-year-old righty posted a 3.83 ERA with 101 strikeouts to 35 walks over 21 combined appearances (15 starts, 91 2/3 innings) between Salem and Greenville. He pitched well for the Drive (2.43 ERA) after being promoted in July, but was limited to just seven starts from that point forward due to a quad strain.

Uberstine, who turns 24 in June, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 32 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound hurler works with a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, an 85-87 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider, according to the site’s scouting report on him.

(Picture of Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox pitching prospect Hunter Dobbins makes professional debut for Low-A Salem

Nearly 11 months after getting drafted, Red Sox pitching prospect Hunter Dobbins made his professional debut for Low-A Salem on Sunday night.

Pitching in front of 2,017 spectators at Carillion Clinic Field, the right-hander got the start and allowed two earned runs on four hits, one walk, and one strikeout over three innings of work in Salem’s 7-4 win over the Columbia Fireflies.

After retiring six of the first eight batters he faced, Dobbins gave up three straight hits — two of which produced runs — to begin things in the top half of the third. Following a brief mound visit from Salem pitching coach Nick Green, he bounced back by fanning Carter Jensen and getting Guillermo Quintana to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Of the 45 pitches Dobbins threw on Sunday, 30 went for strikes and five of those were whiff-inducing. The 22-year-old now owns an ERA of 6.00 and will likely start again for Salem in its next series against the Charleston RiverDogs later this week.

The Red Sox originally selected Dobbins in the eighth round of last year’s amateur draft out of Texas Tech University and signed the native Texan for $197,500.

One of the primary reasons Dobbins fell to the eighth round was because the righty had just undergone Tommy John surgery in March, which resulted in him missing the entirety of his junior season with the Red Raiders.

As a sophomore during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Dobbins posted a 1.35 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 25 strikeouts to just five walks over six appearances (three starts) spanning 20 innings pitched.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-2, 185 pounder throws from a three-quarters arm slot and — prior to going under the knife — operated with a four-pitch mix that consisted of a 91-94 mph fastball that reached 98 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, a circle changeup that evolved from a split-fingered change, and a slider.

Dobbins, who turns 22 in August, is not yet regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. He was, however, identified by FanGraphs back in March as “enviable bullpen depth” given his ability to miss bats with both his curveball and changeup in college.

With that being said, SoxProspects.com notes that Dobbins still has a “wide range of outcomes” when it comes to his career outlook on account of the uncertainty surrounding what kind of pitcher he will be post-Tommy John.

If he can pitch similarly to the way he did in 2021, though, Dobbins represents another intriguing addition for the Red Sox’ minor-league pitching pipeline.

(Picture of Hunter Dobbins courtesy of the Salem Red Sox)