Has Jonathan Arauz Earned Himself a Spot on the Red Sox’ Opening Day Roster?

When the Red Sox acquired infield prospect Jonathan Arauz from the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 Draft last December, it was seen as a move that could potentially bolster the club’s bench.

As it goes for all players taken in the major-league portion of the annual Rule 5 Draft, they must remain on their new team’s 26-man roster or injured list throughout the duration of the following season. If they do not, said player has to be offered back to the club he was drafted from.

The Red Sox paid the Astros $100,000 to take Arauz off their hands back in December, and as things currently stand, the 21-year-old looks like a favorite to earn a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster as a utilityman.

He’s had a pretty decent spring to this point, slashing .261/.292/.435 with one home run and five RBI through his first 11 games and 24 plate appearances.

The thing is though, Arauz is still just 21 years old and he has only played in 28 minor-league games above the High-A level.

To put it simply, making the jump from little experience in Double-A to the big leagues could be quite a challenge for a talented, but still raw prospect.

“He’s a dynamic player with an idea at the plate and bat speed,” The Athletic’s Keith Law wrote of Arauz. “But his production has lagged because he’s always been young for his levels and he’s missed time due to a suspension for a positive test for a banned stimulant.”

That suspension, which was good for 50 games, took place in April 2017 when the Panama native tested positive for methamphetamine.

The Red Sox seem to like Arauz. That much is clear. But do they like him enough where they would give him an everyday role in the majors? Probably not. And as a 21-year-old who is still developing his game, I would say that Arauz needs to be playing everyday to reach his full potential.

That potential will not be reached if he is limited to a reserve role with Boston to open the 2020 season.

As much as I would like to see Arauz stick around, I think I rather see him develop and continue to grow as a player, which would likely have to come back in the Astros’ organization if the Sox were to offer him back to Houston for $50,000.

Eduardo Rodriguez Fans Four Over Four Innings as Red Sox Drop Fourth Straight

After getting shut out by the Astros on Thursday, the Red Sox were able to muster some offense against the Atlanta Braves on Friday, but still saw their losing streak grow to four games following a 9-7 defeat. They are now 4-9-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his second start of the spring for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, coming off an impressive debut in which he struck out six Yankees over three scoreless frames last Saturday.

Working the first four innings this time around, the left-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on three hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first of those two Braves tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first on a two-out pop fly of an RBI single from Marcell Ozuna that probably should have been caught, but instead fell between Jose Peraza and Jarren Duran in shallow left-center field.

A pair of shutdown innings in the second and third preceded more two-out trouble for Rodriguez in the fourth when he served up a solo shot to Austin Riley that knotted things up at two runs apiece.

Riley would wind up being the penultimate hitter Rodriguez faced Friday, as he got the next man he faced in Dansby Swanson to ground out to third to retire the side in the fourth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 59, the 26-year-old’s next outing should come sometime late next week.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes got the first call out of the Sox bullpen, and he yielded some hard contact while keeping the Braves off the scoreboard in the fifth before walking two of the first three hitters he faced in the sixth, making way for Colten Brewe to come on for him.

Brewer cleaned up Barnes’ mess with the help of an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, and he also allowed one run on two hits in the seventh.

From there, minor-leaguer R.J. Alvarez entered in the middle of the eighth with his side having just taken a 4-3 lead, and he saw that one-run advantage turn into a three-run deficit following a four-run, four-hit effort from the Braves before Hunter Haworth came on for Alvarez to end the inning on a strikeout.

Over eight total innings of work, Red Sox pitching combined to give up seven earned runs on 10 hits, five walks, and seven strikeouts.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Duran, Peraza, Michael Chavis, Kevin Plawecki, Bobby Dalbec, Chad De La Guerra, John Andreoli, Nick Longhi, and Roldani Baldwin was matched up against Braves top pitching prospect Kyle Wright to begin things on Friday.

Longhi got the scoring started for Boston in the top half of the third, as he led off with a single, advanced to third on a one-out hit from Duran, and came in to score from third on a throwing error while Duran stole second and also advanced to third.

Duran scored himself on an RBI groundout off the bat of Peraza, and just like that, the Red Sox had jumped out to a 2-1 edge over the Braves.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after Atlanta had claimed their second one-run lead of the afternoon, the Sox bats answered right back, with Jonathan Arauz driving in a pair on a two-out, two-run single to right field off Braves reliever Chris Nunn.

That put the Sox ahead by one run once more at 4-3, but a four-run rally from the Braves in their half of the inning made it a 7-4 contest.

Still, they at least made things interesting in the ninth, as Rusney Castillo plated one and put the tying run on base with a one-out RBI single off Tucker Davidson. 7-5.

Jantzen Witte followed by drawing a walk to put the go-ahead run at first, but neither Joey Meneses or Johan Mieses could do anything with that, as the former grounded into a force out and the latter struck out to end this one with a final score of 7-5 in favor of the Braves.

Some observations from this loss:

Matt Barnes walked three of the eight hitters he faced on Friday.

Kevin Plawecki went 1-for-1 with two walks and a stolen base while starting behind the plate on Friday. Through 16 plate appearances this spring, he has an OPS of 1.230. Jonathan Lucroy did not play.

Jarren Duran also stole a base on Friday. He is very fast.

This game was on ESPN and both Plawecki and Michael Chavis were mic’d up.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s some split-squad action against the Phillies and Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.

One group of players, headlined by top pitching prospect Tanner Houck, will travel to Clearwater to take on the Phils, while another group, headlined by right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, will stay behind at JetBlue Park to host the Jays.

Eovaldi has thoroughly impressed through his first two starts of the spring, as he has yet to surrender a run while fanning eight over his first five innings of work.

Houck, meanwhile, also owns an ERA of 0.00 through his first two appearances (one start) of the spring. The 23-year-old right-hander has struck out four over five scoreless frames so far.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. The game against Toronto will be on NESN, while the game against Philadelphia will be on MLB.TV.

Bryan Mata Hurls Two Scoreless Innings, Jonathan Arauz Homers as Red Sox Fall to Phillies

After powering themselves to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the Red Sox fell to 3-3-1 on Grapefruit League action on Thursday following a 12-5 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start and second appearance of the spring was Bryan Mata, who is now ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in the Sox’ system headed into the 2020 season.

Working the first two innings Thursday, the 20-year-old right-hander kept the Phillies off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon. Those two punchouts came against the final two hitters he faced in the second.

In relief of Mata, Chris Mazza got hit hard for three runs on a two-run home run and RBI double in the third, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez allowed one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, newcomer Phillips Valdez fanned two in an impressive, scoreless fifth, Bobby Poyner yielded a two-run homer to Delvy Grullon in the sixth, Daniel McGrath surrendered one run on three singles and a walk in the seventh, R.J. Alvarez allowed six of the nine hitters he faced in the eighth to reach base, resulting in four more Phillies runs, Eduard Bazardo yielded another run while only being able to record the first out of the ninth, and Matthew Kent wrapped things up by retiring the only two hitters he faced.

All in all, Red Sox pitching on Thursday combined to give up 12 runs on 20(!) hits and six walks. It’s still only late February, but I would not call those numbers ideal.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Kevin Pillar, Tzu-Wei Lin, Bobby Dalbec, and Jonathan Arauz was matched up against Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta to begin things in this one.

Moreland got the scoring started for Boston in the bottom half of the third, driving in Benintendi, who had walked, from second with two outs on an RBI single through the right side of the infield off new reliever Seth McGarry to make it a 3-1 contest.

An inning later, back-to-back one-out knocks from Lin and Dalbec against reliever Cole Irvin brought Arauz to the plate with runners at second and third.

Arauz took full advantage of the scoring opportunity on the third pitch he saw from Irvin, as the 21-year-old laced a three-run homer over the wall in left field to pull his team back even with Philadelphia at four runs apiece.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh though, and the Phillies had jumped out to a three-run advantage at 7-4. Marcus Wilson reached base on a one-out single off Deolis Guerra, advanced to second on a Jonathan Lucroy two-out double, and scored on a wild pitch with Tommy Joseph at the plate.

That mishap brought the Sox back to within two runs, but the Phillies again jumped out to another commanding lead to eventually take this Grapefruit League contest by a final score of 12-5.

Some observations from this loss:

This game was not televised, but I do believe that it is important to note that Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-1 with a single, walk, and run scored out of the leadoff spot, and as I just mentioned, Jonathan Lucroy came off the bench in the seventh and ripped a double to left. He also struck out in the ninth.

Not that it means much this early in the year, but Jeter Downs, the team’s new top prospect according to MLB Pipleine, did commit another fielding error at second base in the sixth inning.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to Hammond Stadium to take on the Twins on Friday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start for Boston, while veteran right-hander Homer Bailey will do the same for Minnesota.

Hart is one of several hurlers competing for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation, and there may even be two openings now that Chris Sale will start the season on the injured list.

The 27-year-old left plenty to be desired in his most recent outing against the Twins on Monday, as he surrendered three runs on three hits and a walk in the third inning of an eventual 3-2 loss.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.

 

 

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Dealing With Sore Left Ankle

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is currently dealing with a sore left ankle, according to interim manager Ron Roenicke. The 27-year-old apparently aggravated it while going through offseason drills in his home country of Aruba last month.

“His ankle is a little bit sore,” Roenicke said of Bogaerts’ ankle. “So these couple, three days we’re probably going to go a little bit easy on him. It’s nothing alarming. But it is a little sore. So we’re going to back off on him a little bit.”

When speaking with reporters for the first time Sunday, Bogaerts echoed the same sort of sentiment, saying, “There’s no reason for us to force it [at spring training]. Just trying to make sure we get it right and when I start, I can finish.”

Entering his seventh full season in the majors, Bogaerts has emerged as an important veteran leader in the Red Sox clubhouse, and he may even be the face of the franchise now that Mookie Betts is a Dodger.

The two-time All-Star slashed .309/.384/.555 with a career-best 33 home runs and 117 RBI over 155 games last season en route to a Silver Slugger award and a top-five finish in American League MVP voting.

While obviously a bit concerning, this sore left ankle for Bogaerts does not seem to be all that worrisome. It will be interesting to see how he is holding up later next week.

Other Red Sox players on the 40-man roster that could play shortstop include Jonathan Arauz, C.J. Chatham, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Jose Peraza.

Looking at Red Sox Players Who Are out of Minor-League Options

With Red Sox spring training underway and full-squad workouts scheduled to begin next week, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the players who need to make Boston’s Opening Day roster this year.

Granted, these following players on the Sox’ 40-man roster don’t HAVE to make the Opening Day roster, but if they do not, they will be exposed to waivers since they are out of minor-league options.

The following players have been excluded from this list despite also not having any minor-league options remaining on their current contracts.

Juan Centeno
Jett Bandy
Cesar Puello
Brian Johnson
Mike Kickham

That is the case because they are not on the 40-man roster. On to the main event…

Kevin Plawecki

Signed to a one-year, $900,000 major-league deal last month, the soon-to-be-29-year-old backstop will primarily serve as Christian Vazquez’s backup this season.

Thanks to a lack of significant catching depth, Plawecki should be a lock to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster regardless of how he performs this spring.

The ex-Met and Indian slashed .222/.287/.342 with three home runs and 17 RBI over 59 games for Cleveland last season.

Heath Hembree

The 31-year-old right-hander has been a consistent mainstay in the Sox’ bullpen for the past three seasons, yet injury concerns last year seemed to peg Hembree as a potential non-tender candidate back in December.

The Red Sox decided not to go that route though, and instead paid him $1.61 million in his penultimate season of arbitration eligibility.

With plenty of other names vying for a spot in Boston’s bullpen out of spring training, Hembree could see himself competing for a spot depending on how he fares in the coming weeks.

Austin Brice

Acquired from the Marlins for infield prospect Angeudis Santos last month, Brice is not yet arbitration eligible.

The 27-year-old right-hander posted an ERA of 3.43 and FIP of 4.87 over 36 relief appearances and 44 2/3 innings pitched last season before being designated for assignment by Miami in January.

With a pitch mix that heavily relies on a curveball and four-seam fastball, Brice could offer the Sox with a unique look out of the bullpen at a relative bargain.

Tzu-Wei Lin

Perhaps the most fascinating name on this list, Lin went from a surprise call-up during the middle stages of the 2017 season to someone who is now on the outskirts of the Sox’ 40-man roster.

Lin, who turns 26 on Saturday, dealt with a left knee sprain and a concussion last season, leading to the Taiwan product playing in just 13 games at the big-league level in 2019.

The former international signee offers versatility as both an infielder and outfielder, but with plenty of depth in both areas abound, Lin may struggle to find a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster this year.

Bonus: Jonathan Arauz

Arauz may not be out of minor-league options like the names listed above, but as a Rule 5 Draft pick out of the Astros organization back in December, the 21-year-old has to stick on the Sox’ 26-man roster throughout the entirety of the 2020 season.

If he does not, he will be offered back to the Astros. So, not exactly the same circumstances as the others, but still someone who would probably like to break camp on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster.

Thanks to RosterResource for providing the information used in this piece.

Red Sox Select Jonathan Arauz in Rule 5 Draft

In their only major move of this past week’s Winter Meetings, the Red Sox selected Astros infield prospect Jonathan Arauz with their lone pick in the major-league portion of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft.

Arauz, 21, had been part of the Astros organization since December 2015, when he came over from the Philadelphia Phillies in the trade that sent Ken Giles to Houston exactly four years ago Thursday.

The selection of Arauz marks the first time since 2016 that Boston took a player in the Rule 5 Draft. That player? Josh Rutledge, who had signed a minor-league deal with the Colorado Rockies that November before making his return to the Sox’ active roster.

As it goes for all players selected in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, Arauz must stay on Boston’s 26-man roster or injured list throughout the 2020 season. If he does not, then he would have to be offered back to Houston.

According to the Red Sox’ vice president of professional scouting Gus Quattlebaum, Arauz, a native of Panama, will be given the chance to compete for a utility role with Boston come the spring.

Other infielders the switch-hitting Arauz could be competing with include C.J. Chatham, Marco Hernandez, and Tzu-Wei Lin.

Previously ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the Astros farm system, Arauz’s tenure in the minors has not been all smooth sailing. In fact, he was handed down a 50-game suspension in April 2017 for testing positive for the banned stimulant methamphetamine.

As the first tweet above from the Red Sox mentions, the club now has 37 players on their 40-man roster.

Turning to the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft now, the Sox also selected 22-year-old Jose Espada from the Toronto Blue Jays and 28-year-old Raynel Espinal from the New York Yankees, both of whom are right-handed pitchers who will more than likely begin 2020 with Triple-A Pawtucket.