Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández could receive fourth minor-league option next season

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez was called up from Triple-A Worcester on two separate occasions this season, yet he never got into a game and has yet to make his major-league debut.

Instead, Hernandez spent one day on the big-league roster in late April after Christian Vazquez was briefly placed on the COVID-19 related injured list. He then spent an additional day with the club in early August after Vazquez was traded to the Astros. But he was quickly optioned following the acquisition of Reese McGuire from the White Sox.

When Worcester’s season ended in late September, Hernandez made the trek to Boston and was added to the Red Sox’ taxi squad for their final road trip of the year in Toronto.

Despite not making his impact felt in the majors this season, Hernandez still enjoyed a relatively productive year at the plate in Worcester. The right-handed hitting backstop batted .261/.297/.451 with 27 doubles, 17 home runs, 63 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 21 walks, and 92 strikeouts in 105 games (439 plate appearances) with the WooSox.

From behind the plate, Hernandez logged 577 1/3 innings and threw out 16 of 65 possible base stealers. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder out of Colombia also allowed 13 passed balls and committed six errors.

Hernandez, who turns 25 next month, was originally acquired from the Rays with minor-league infielder Nick Sogard in a February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay.

At that time, Hernandez was already a member of the Rays’ 40-man roster after being added in November 2019. His status did not change after being traded, so he has used minor-league options in each of the last three seasons.

Under normal circumstances, players typically receive three minor-league options. As MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith reported earlier this month, though, Hernandez — who did not play above rookie ball until 2018 — is expected to be eligible for a fourth option next year since “he has fewer than five full seasons of pro ball while using three options.”

If Hernandez receives a fourth option like the Red Sox expect him to , they would once again be able to send him to Worcester next season to continue to develop and provide depth. Without that option, Hernandez would need to make Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training if the club did not want to trade him or expose him to waivers.

“The main goal is to be here in the big-leagues,” Hernandez told Smith (through interpreter Carlos Villoria Benítez) last weekend. “If they have that option next year, that’s fine. That’s not a big deal for me. My main goal is to keep improving every day and try to be better so I can make it to the big-leagues and stay here. So my focus doesn’t change whether I have the extra option or not.”

Beyond Hernandez, McGuire and Connor Wong are the only other catchers on the Sox’ 40-man roster. During the team’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park on Thursday, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated that catcher would be one position group the Red Sox explore making external additions at over the winter.

“This is one of the areas I fully expect that we’re going to explore additions,” Bloom said. “It’s nice to know that we have two guys that are familiar with how we do things, that showed a lot of good things. But we owe it to ourselves and everybody who cares about this team to look to get better and catcher is certainly not going to be an exception to that.”

McGuire and Wong split time behind the plate for the Sox after Vazquez was traded in August and Kevin Plawecki was designated for assignment in late September. Even though they were out of it at that point, Hernandez never received a promotion. As noted by Smith, this reflects that the Red Sox “still feel like he has improvements to make and he’s not in the immediate plans for 2023. ”

Depending on how the offseason plays out, however, Hernandez could solidify his case for an Opening Day roster spot if he is able to impress club officials and put together a strong showing in spring training.

“Obviously, if I can make the team and stay here with Boston, it would be great,” said Hernandez. “That’s what I’m working for. But I can’t focus on things that I can’t control. I’m going to work hard this offseason. I’m going to work hard and improve in all the aspects of my game and we’ll see what happens in spring training. But I’m confident that my skillsets will be good enough to play in the big-leagues.

“And hopefully, it’s with the Red Sox,” he added. “But we’ll see what happens. I can’t control the decisions they are going to make. But the things I can control, which is preparing for next season and preparing to be ready for spring training, that’s what I’ll do.”

Hernandez told Smith that if the Red Sox were to go in a different direction, there would be “a lot of options and a lot of opportunities out there with other organizations.

“I know the type of player that I am,” he said. “I know what I can do. And that’s why I’m not too worried about what’s going to happen in the future.”

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

After being released by Red Sox, Kevin Plawecki drawing interest from Rangers

Two days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox have released catcher Kevin Plawecki, the club announced on Monday.

Plawecki, who was informed of the decision following Friday night’s 2-1 win over the Royals at Fenway Park, is already drawing interest from other teams. According to FanSided’s Robert Murray, the Rangers “are expressing serious interest” in the free-agent backstop.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News adds that outfielder Nick Solak will be placed on the injured list with a season-ending foot fracture, so Plawecki could take his spot on Texas’ roster. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, however, notes that Plawecki can’t officially sign with a new team until 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Plawecki, 31, spent the last three seasons in Boston after originally signing with the Red Sox in January 2020. The right-handed hitter was brought on to be Christian Vazquez’s backup and served that role well in 2020-2021 by batting .305/.364/.414 over 88 total games.

This year has been a different story for Plawecki, who has struggled to a .217/.287/.287 slash line to go along with eight doubles, one home run, 12 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 14 walks, and 28 strikeouts across 60 games and 175 plate appearances.

Though he emerged as a clubhouse leader and a quality game-caller from behind the plate, Plawecki only threw out four of 44 base stealers with the Red Sox this season.

Given those offensive and defensive struggles, Boston elected to move on from Plawecki — who is slated to become a free-agent this winter — now so that it could a more extended look at Connor Wong and Reese McGuire — both of whom are under team control beyond 2023 — before the regular season ends.

Designating Plawecki also allowed the Red Sox to clear a spot on both their 28- and 40-man roster for rookie reliever Franklin German, who made his major-league debut on Saturday.

It may not have been a popular move from within the Red Sox clubhouse, but it appears as though Plawecki has already landed back on his feet. And because he was released, the Sox will remain on the hook for the remainder of his $2.25 million salary this year.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox designate Kevin Plawecki for assignment, call up Franklin German from Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox designated catcher Kevin Plawecki for assignment prior to Saturday’s 9-0 loss to the Royals. In a corresponding move, reliever Franklin German had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester.

Plawecki, 31, spent the last three seasons in Boston after first signing with the Red Sox in January 2020. While primarily serving as a backup to Christian Vazquez, the right-handed hitter slashed .305/.364/.414 with four home runs and 32 RBIs over 89 games in his first two seasons with the club.

While that sort of production earned Plawecki additional playing time during the Sox’ postseason run last October, his numbers have taken a hit this year. Coming into play on Saturday, Plawecki was batting just .217/.287/.287 to go along with eight doubles, one home run, 12 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 14 walks, and 28 strikeouts across 60 games spanning 175 trips to the plate.

On the other side of things, Plawecki had established himself as a quality game-caller who was well-liked among the Red Sox pitching staff. That being said, he only managed to throw out four of 44 base stealers this season.

Taking those factors, as well as the fact that he is slated to become a free-agent this off-season, into consideration, the Red Sox elected to move on from Plawecki now since he is not in their future plans.

With only 17 games remaining on the schedule, the Sox want to give younger backstops such as Connor Wong and Reese McGuire as many opportunities to catch as possible. Wong, 26, is under club control through 2027 while McGuire, 27, is under club control through 2025.

“We’ve got to be thinking about the future,” manager Alex Cora said Saturday. “Reese and Connor, they’re going to be catching a lot the rest of the season.”

German can now also be considered part of Boston’s future plans after making his big-league debut and being added to the Sox’ 40-man roster on Sunday. The right-hander allowed four runs on two hits and two walks without recording an out in the sixth inning, but he is still viewed as one of the more intriguing relief prospects in the organization.

The Red Sox acquired German and Adam Ottavino from the Yankees last January. The former fourth-round draft selection began the 2021 campaign in Double-A Portland’s starting rotation but has not looked back since becoming a full-time reliever.

Upon making the jump from Portland to Worcester in late May, German posted a 2.58 ERA and 3.36 FIP with 46 strikeouts to 16 walks over 32 relief appearances (38 1/3 innings) for the WooSox. He held opposing hitters to a .153 batting average against.

German, who turns 25 later this month, becomes the sixth different Red Sox player to make their major-league debut this season, joining the likes of Brayan Bello, Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, Zack Kelly, and Josh Winckowski. He will wear the No. 71.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Kevin Plawecki from COVID-19 related injured list, option Connor Wong to Triple-A Worcester; Matt Barnes transferred to 60-day injured list

Another day, another series of roster moves for the Red Sox.

Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox announced that backup catcher Kevin Plawecki had been reinstated from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In order to make room for Plawecki on the major-league roster, fellow backstop Connor Wong was optioned to Triple-A Worcester. In order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, right-hander Matt Barnes was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Plawecki returns to action after missing the last two games on the COVID-related injured list. The 31-year-old exhibited COVID-like symptoms but never tested positive for the virus. He will be active for Wednesday’s contest at Tropicana Field.

Wong filled in for Plawecki in the first two games of this four-game set. The 26-year-old made his third appearance of the season while pinch-hitting for Jarren Duran in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay. He went 0-for-1 with a strikeout and finished the game behind the plate.

While on the COVID-related injured list, Plawecki did not count against Boston’s 40-man roster. So the club created a spot for him by moving Barned to the 60-day injured list. Barnes was originally placed on the 15-day injured list because of right shoulder inflammation on June 1, though the move was made retroactively to May 31.

With that, the soonest Barnes could return to the Red Sox would be Saturday, July 30. The 32-year-old reliever began a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Saturday. In two starts with the Fort Myers-based affiliate, he has allowed four runs on five hits, one walk, and three strikeouts over two innings.

Prior to getting injured in late May, Barnes had struggled to the tune of a 7.94 ERA and 5.29 FIP with 14 strikeouts to 12 walks across 20 relief appearances (17 innings) with the Red Sox this season.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Kevin Plawecki on COVID-19 related injured list, recall Connor Wong From Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have placed catcher Kevin Plawecki on the COVID-19 related injured list. In a corresponding move, fellow backstop Connor Wong was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced prior to Monday’s game against the Rays.

It is unclear if Plawecki, who is vaccinated, has tested positive for COVID-19. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that the 31-year-old is exhibiting COVID-like symptoms and is currently awaiting test results. He was previously sidelined from April 18-25 after testing positive for the virus.

By placing Plawecki on the COVID-related injured list, the Red Sox have cleared a spot on their 40-man roster, which now sits at 39 players. As noted by Cotillo, that is significant since it means they will not have to create an opening when they activate left-hander Chris Sale from the 60-day injured list ahead of his 2022 debut on Tuesday.

Boston will, however, need to make room on its 40-man roster for Plawecki once he is cleared to return to action. Plawecki came into play Monday slashing .156/.267/.221 with one home run and five RBIs in 30 games (91 plate appearances) this season.

Wong, meanwhile, will serve as the Sox’ backup catcher while Plawecki is out. He is active for Monday’s series opener at Tropicana Field.

This will mark Wong’s second stint of the season with the big-league club. The 26-year-old appeared in two games back in April and went 1-for-6 with an RBI. In 57 games with the WooSox this season, the right-handed hitting Wong has batted .267/.340/.404 (101 wRC+) to go along with 13 doubles, six home runs, 20 RBIs, 29 runs scored, and seven stolen bases across 250 trips to the plate.

By recalling Wong, the Red Sox now have all three players they acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade on their major-league roster. Wong joins the likes of Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs in Tampa Bay.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Christian Vázquez leaves Sunday’s win early due to groin tightness

Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez was removed from Sunday’s 12-2 win over the Orioles due to groin tightness, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham) at Fenway Park.

Vazquez was replaced behind the plate by Kevin Plawecki in the eight inning on Sunday after going 2-for-3 with two doubles, one RBI, and one run scored out of the six-hole. Plawecki drew two walks and scored an additional run in his place.

While he was taken out of the game and will be further evaluated on Monday, Vazquez is confident he will be back in Boston’s lineup for the series finale against Baltimore.

It is understandable why Vazquez would want to return to action as soon as possible. Over his last 15 games, the right-handed hitting backstop has slashed a scorching .412/.455/.569 with one home run, 14 RBIs, and six runs scored.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, he has thrown out six of the 23 base runners who have attempted to steal against him while logging 282 2/3 innings behind the plate.

Vazquez, who turns 32 in August, can become a free-agent for the first time this winter. The native Puerto Rican has spent the entirety of his professional career with the Red Sox since being selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2008 amateur draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in Gurabo.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox reinstate Kevin Plawecki from COVID-19 related injured list, option Connor Wong to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have reinstated catcher Kevin Plawecki from the COVID-19 related injured the list, the team announced before Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto. In a corresponding move, fellow backstop Connor Wong was optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

Plawecki, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, initially tested positive for the virus last Monday and was placed on the COVID-related IL as a result. Since he is vaccinated, the 31-year-old was eligible to return sooner than 10 days so long as he registered two negative PCR tests, showed no signs of a fever, and received approval from the joint COVID medical committee.

In total, Plawecki missed seven games while sidelined due to COVID-19. Before that, the right-handed hitter appeared in four games for Boston and went 1-for-10 with one RBI, one run scored, one walk, and four strikeouts. He will be batting ninth and catching Nathan Eovaldi to begin things on Monday at Rogers Centre.

Wong, meanwhile, was called up for the first time this season when Plawecki tested positive on April 18. The 25-year-old caught two games in the Sox’ last series against the Jays at Fenway Park and went 1-for-6 with one RBI and one strikeout.

With Plawecki being reinstated, the only Red Sox player who remains on the COVID-19 related injured list is infielder Jonathan Arauz, who tested positive one day after Plawecki did.

Elsewhere, Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to re-join the team after testing positive last Thursday. Acting manager Will Venable told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) earlier Monday that Cora is feeling better and has not been ruled out for the Blue Jays series, though he has not yet been cleared to return either.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Red Sox reinstate Christian Vázquez from COVID-19 related injured list, option Ronaldo Hernández to Triple-A Worcester

Before Wednesday’s contest against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, the Red Sox reinstated Christian Vazquez from the COVID-19 related injured list. In a corresponding roster move, fellow backstop Ronaldo Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

The Red Sox originally placed Vazquez on the COVID IL on Tuesday after he tested positive for the virus. Because the 31-year-old is vaccinated, though, he was able to return as soon as he cleared Major League Baseball’s protocols, which include registering two negative PCR tests and not showing signs of a fever.

Even with Vazquez back in the fold and active, Connor Wong is still slated to start behind the plate for Boston and catch right-hander Nick Pivetta on Tuesday night.

By reinstating Vazquez on Wednesday, the Sox now have just two players on the COVID-19 related injured list in catcher Kevin Plawecki and infielder Jonathan Arauz.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox call up top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández, place left-hander Rich Hill on bereavement list

In addition to the moves they made earlier Tuesday, the Red Sox also recalled catcher Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester and placed left-hander Rich Hill on the bereavement list before taking on the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The move to call up Hernandez was expected and comes in the wake of fellow catchers Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list within the last two days.

When Boston placed Plawecki on the COVID IL on Monday morning, they recalled Connor Wong from Worcester. Wong will start behind the plate and catch Nathan Eovaldi in Tuesday night’s series opener against the Jays. Hernandez, meanwhile, will serve as the Sox’ second catcher.

The two backstops will likely split time behind the plate in the absence of Vazquez and Plawecki. Since both Vazquez and Plawecki tested positive for the virus, they could be out for the next 10 days. That said, Major League Baseball’s health and safety policy for 2022 dictates that players who test positive can return to action sooner if they clear certain protocols.

As for Hernandez, the Colombian-born catcher was originally acquired by the Red Sox from the Rays in the February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay. He came into the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among backstops in the organization.

After spending the majority of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, Hernandez earned a late-season promotion to Worcester and posted an .844 OPS in seven games with the affiliate.

Coming off an off-season in which he played six games in the Dominican Winter League, Hernandez broke camp this spring with the WooSox and has batted .143/.143/.214 with two doubles, four RBIs, and three runs scored across seven games spanning 28 plate appearances.

The 24-year-old right-handed hitter was already on Boston’s 40-man roster and is now in line to become the first member of the 2022 Red Sox to make their major-league debut as he takes Hill’s roster spot for the time being.

Hill — who was placed on the bereavement list — lost his father, Lloyd, at the age of 94 last week. The veteran left-hander made his second start of the season just three days after his father’s passing on Monday and is still slated to make his next scheduled start against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

That being said, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that he is not yet committing to Hill, who will be away from the team for the next few days while attending his father’s services in Milton.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox expected to call up top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández from Triple-A Worcester, per report

The Red Sox are expected to call up catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester, reports Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. As noted by Cotillo, Hernandez has been active on Instagram, sharing stories of people congratulating him on getting promoted.

The timing of Hernandez’s call-up is certainly interesting, as the Red Sox just recalled fellow catcher Connor Wong from Worcester after placing Kevin Plawecki on the COVID-19 related injured list due to a positive test ahead of Monday afternoon’s loss to the Twins at Fenway Park.

With that, it seems likely that Hernandez — who is already on Boston’s 40-man roster — could be replacing either Wong or Christian Vazquez on the major-league squad before Tuesday’s series opener against the Blue Jays.

Hernandez, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among catchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally acquired the native Colombian (and infielder Nick Sogard) from the Rays in exchange for right-handers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs last February.

After spending the majority of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, Hernandez was promoted to Worcester in late September. He played winter ball in the Domincan Republic and broke camp this spring with the WooSox.

In seven games for the WooSox thus far, the right-handed hitter has gone 4-for-28 (.173) at the plate with two doubles, four RBIs, three runs scored, no walks, and eight strikeouts. He has also thrown out one of three base runners who have attempted to steal off him.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds, Hernandez is known more for his abilities as a slugger than a defensive stalwart behind the plate, though he does possess plus arm strength. Still, with just one minor-league option year remaining, this could prove to be a worthwhile opportunity for Hernandez, who is in line to become the first member of the 2022 Red Sox to make their big-league debut.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)