Red Sox’ Kyle Hart to Make First Career Major-League Start Against Rays on Thursday

Left-hander Kyle Hart will make his first career major-league start for the Red Sox on Thursday against the Rays, manager Ron Roenicke announced following Tuesday’s 8-7 loss to Tampa Bay.

Hart, 27, is regarded by SoxProspects as the No. 42 prospect in the Sox’ farm system.

Drafted by Boston in the 19th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Indiana as a fifth-year senior, Hart was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November and was subsequently assigned to the club’s alternate training site last month where he has gotten some work in during simulated games and live batting practice sessions.

With the PawSox in 2019, the former Hoosier posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.32 FIP over 18 appearances (15 starts) and 100 1/3 innings pitched. He also made nine starts for Double-A Portland before getting promoted to Triple-A last May.

Per his SoxProspects scouting report, Hart’s pitch mix included an 87-90 mph fastball, an 85-86 mph cutter, a 76-79 mph curveball, and a 81-82 mph changeup.

Based off that, it becomes apparent that the southpaw doesn’t necessarily rely on his velocity, but rather his control. Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush said as much when speaking with reporters via Zoom on Tuesday.

“His command is going to be critical,” said Bush. “It always is for him because the stuff is not going to light up a radar gun. But he’s got multiple pitches. He commands both sides of the plate.”

Over those 100 1/3 innings with Pawtucket in 2019, Hart struck out just over 19% of the hitters he faced and walked just under 9%. Put another way, he fanned 2.22 times the number of hitters he walked last season.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 200 lbs., Hart will be opposite Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow on Thursday afternoon. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

 

 

Red Sox Left-Handed Pitching Prospect Kyle Hart Retires 18 Hitters Over Five Scoreless Innings in Pawtucket

Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Kyle Hart did something at McCoy Stadium on Monday that you will probably never see in a major or minor-league game: He retired 18 batters in five innings.

Yes, the 27-year-old got some work in during an intrasquad scrimmage in Pawtucket to kick off the week, and he was dominant, working five scoreless, perfect frames while getting an extra out in each of his last three innings.

In regards to spectators who were in attendance to watch Hart’s outing, PawSox broadcaster Mike Antonellis tweeted that the Cincinnati native “threw well,” while fellow broadcaster Jim Cain tweeted, as previously mentioned, that “the lefty was so efficient that in his final three innings, he stayed out to face an extra batter, and he retired all three.”

Originally drafted by Boston in the 19th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of The University of Indiana, Hart was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last November and their 60-man roster pool last month.

The former Hoosier has never been a big-name prospect since becoming a professional four years ago, but seeing how he is already on the club’s 40-man roster, he certainly has a chance to make the jump to the majors this year.

Regarded by SoxProspects as Boston’s 42nd-ranked prospect, Hart posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.32 FIP over 18 appearances (15 starts) and 100 1/3 innings pitched with Triple-A Pawtucket last season.

The 6-foot-5, 200 lb. southpaw works with an 87-90 mph fastball that can max out at 92 mph, an 85-86 mph cutter, a 76-79 mph curveball, and an 81-82 mph changeup, per SoxProspects.

Given the current state of the Red Sox’ pitching staff at the major-league level, it certainly couldn’t hurt to give a guy like Hart a look out of the starting rotation or as a “bulk” reliever.

One thing Hart has over other minor-league pitchers in Boston’s pipeline, like Bryan Mata or Tanner Houck, is that he is already on the club’s 40-man roster, so getting him to the majors wouldn’t be too much of a hassle if that is the route chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. wanted to take.

Top Red Sox Pitching Prospect Bryan Mata Impresses in Sim Game in Pawtucket

Before the Red Sox endured more pitching troubles in a 5-1 loss to the Yankees on Friday night, one of the organization’s top pitching prospects impressed in a simulated game that took place about 180 miles northeast of Yankee Stadium at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI.

There, at the Sox’ alternate training site, Bryan Mata recorded three strikeouts (two looking, one swinging) and one walk over two scoreless innings of work against other players in Boston’s 60-man player pool.

Per SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall, the 21-year-old right-hander “faced seven hitters overall” while “mix[ing] in all of his pitches.”

Bobby Dalbec, another top prospect in Boston’s farm system and a member of the player pool, was on hand to watch Mata work. And although the 25-year-old slugger did not hit against him on Friday, he did say that Mata “had electric stuff.”

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s top pitching prospect and No. 4 overall prospect, Mata originally signed with the Sox for $25,000 out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old back in January 2016.

Between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland last season, Mata posted a 3.43 ERA and .237 batting average against over 21 games started and 105 total innings of work.

At one time Boston’s lone representative in the 2018 All-Star Futures Game in Washington, D.C., Mata has filled out considerably since then and is now listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 lbs.

Based off his SoxProspects scouting report, the righty throws from a three-quarters arm slot and works with a pitch mix that includes a 94-96 mph fastball that tops out at 98 mph, an 86-90 mph cutter, a 78-80 mph curveball, and an 84-86 mph changeup.

Given the current state Red Sox pitching is in at the major-league level, Mata is one of several potential candidates who could start games for Boston at some point this season. Of course, like fellow right-handed prospect Tanner Houck, he would need to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster before that can happen.

Still, as is the case with Houck, Mata is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft later this year, so he would need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster by late November in order to be protected from that.

With that in mind, if the Red Sox are out of contention come late August or early September, it may be in Chaim Bloom and Co.’s best interest to give guys like Mata, Houck, and even Kyle Hart, who is on the 40-man roster, looks at the big-league level.

Red Sox to Option Dylan Covey to Triple-A Pawtucket, Ron Roenicke Says

Following Saturday’s 7-2 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Dylan Covey to Triple-A Pawtucket, manager Ron Roenicke announced.

Covey, who turns 29 next month, surrendered two earned runs on two hits and three strikeouts over two innings of relief in his Red Sox debut on Saturday.

The California native was acquired by Boston in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and was subsequently added to the Sox’ 40-man roster the following day.

The goal in optioning Covey, per Roenicke, is to get him stretched out in Pawtucket. Of course, with no minor-league baseball this season, the righty will likely be limited to simulated games and live batting practices at McCoy Stadium in order for that to happen.

A corresponding move will be made by the Red Sox on Sunday and whoever is called up should get into a game in some capacity on Monday or Tuesday against the Mets, according to Roenicke.

If Boston elects to promote someone from their own 40-man roster, Kyle Hart, Chris Mazza, or Mike Shawaryn seem like logical choices. If it’s someone who is currently not on the 40-man roster, like Zack Godley or Brian Johnson, they will obviously need to be added in order to make this pending transaction possible.

There will be more to this before Sunday’s game against the Orioles, so stay tuned for that.

Red Sox Make Second Round of Spring Roster Cuts

Four days after making their first round of spring roster cuts, the Red Sox cut 15 more players before taking on the Minnesota Twins earlier Sunday.

Out of those 15 players, eight were reassigned to minor-league camp, five were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, one was optioned to Double-A Portland, and one was optioned to High-A Salem.

The players who were reassigned to minor-league camp were cathcer Roldani Baldwin, catcher/infielder Connor Wong, infielder Jeter Downs, first baseman Josh Ockimey, right-handed pitchers R.J. Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, and Tanner Houck, and left-handed pitcher Mike Kickham.

The players optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket were infielders Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham, right-handers Mike Shawaryn and Phillips Valdez, and left-hander Kyle Hart.

Outfielder Marcus Wilson was the lone player optioned to Double-A Portland, while right-hander Yoan Aybar was the lone player optioned to High-A Salem.

In total, seven players — Aybar, Chatham, Dalbec, Hart, Shawaryn, Valdez, Wilson — on Boston’s 40-man roster were cut from big-league camp on Sunday.

Out of the 14 non-roster invites still in major-league camp, the most notable are Brian Johnson, Jonathan Lucroy, Marco Hernandez, and Jarren Duran. Take away Duran and the other three are certainly vying for positions on Boston’s 26-man roster to open the season.

Some thoughts:

Seeing the two prospects the Red Sox acquired in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade get cut is not much of a surprise, but it is a bit surprising seeing names like Kyle Hart, Tanner Houck, and Mike Shawaryn be cut at this point in time.

At least in my mind, I thought Hart and Houck were candidates to fill the two vacant spots in the Sox’ starting rotation, while Shawaryn was competing for a bullpen role. Instead of beginning the year in the majors though, it looks like the trio of hurlers will start with the PawSox.

Guys like Chatham and Dalbec probably had an outside chance of making Boston’s Opening Day roster before Sunday, but if we do see them in the majors this season, it will have to come at a later date.

On a final note, I’m looking forward to seeing what Marcus Wilson does in his first full year in the Red Sox organization.

 

 

Red Sox Fail to Muster Any Offense in 5-0 Loss to Astros

After falling to the Tigers on Wednesday, the Red Sox saw their losing streak grow to three games on Thursday following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Houston Astros at JetBlue Park. They are now 4-8-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his first start and third overall appearance for Boston was Kyle Hart, coming off two scoreless innings of relief in his last time out against the Twins this past Friday.

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

Both of those Astros runs came on one swing of the bat in the top half of the third, when after retiring six of the first nine hitters he faced, Hart yielded a one-out walk to Myles Straw and followed that up by serving up a two-run home run to Kyle Tucker.

That mistake gave Houston the only lead they would need, but Hart was able to rebound by getting the final two outs of the frame in order to end his outing on a more positive note.

As one of several candidates still vying for a spot in the Sox’ rotation, Hart, 27, will probably appear in another game sometime early next week.

In relief of Hart, Brandon Workman tossed a scoreless fourth inning and yielded one run on three hits and a sacrifice fly in the fifth before minor-leaguer Tom Windle came on and finished the inning for him.

From there, Marcus Walden sat down the only three hitters he faced in order in the sixth, left-hander Brian Johnson appeared to be on top of things in the seventh and eighth, but ended up being charged with two runs on three hits and a walk in the ninth before Konner Wade relieved him, allowed an inherited runner to score, and finished up the inning by getting Grae Kessinger to fly out to left.

All in all, Red Sox pitching combined to allow five earned runs on 12 hits, three walks, and 10 strikeouts over nine total innings pitched.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured plenty of regulars in Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Michael Chavis, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar, and Jose Peraza was matched up against Astros right-hander Josh James to begin things on Thursday.

Despite having all those regulars in the lineup though, the Boston bats could not muster much against James, or any other Houston pitcher they faced for that matter.

Five hits, only one of which went for extra base hits, one walk drawn, and one HBP. That’s it.

That lone extra base hit belonged to Michael Chavis, who doubled off James with one out in the second and was subsequently picked off by Garrett Stubbs at third on a failed stolen base attempt.

Other than that, the Sox sent three batters to hit in five of their nine trips to the plate on Thursday. Not much to write home about in what wound up being a 5-0 shutout loss.

Some observations from this defeat:

This game was not televised, so I really do not have much to add here, but I will say that the Red Sox went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position on Thursday.

Xander Bogaerts in his first start at shortstop this spring: 0-for-2 with another pair of strikeouts.

Out of the 31 players the Astros sent from West Palm Beach for this contest, none were on the team in 2017, so from what I heard on the radio, there didn’t appear to be too many boos from the crowd at JetBlue Park.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head to North Port to take on the Atlanta Braves at their new spring training facility on Friday afternoon.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is set to get the start for Boston, while Atlanta has yet to name a starter.

Rodriguez impressed in his spring debut against the Yankees last Saturday, fanning six over three scoreless innings at Fort Myers.

Matt Barnes, Colten Brewer, and R.J. Alvarez are among the Sox pitchers who will follow Rodriguez.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST on ESPN.

J.D. Martinez Homers, Rafael Devers Makes Spring Debut as Red Sox Fall to Twins

After getting blown out by the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, the Red Sox fell to 3-4-1 on Grapefruit League play on Friday following a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Twins at nearby Hammond Stadium.

Making his first start and second appearance of the spring for Boston was Kyle Hart, who took the loss in his last time out against Minnesota this past Monday.

Working the first two innings of this one, the left-hander looked much better this time around, as he retired six of the seven Twins hitters he faced while walking one and striking out another.

Hart is one of several candidates vying for a spot in Boston’s starting rotation to begin the season.

In relief of Hart, fellow lefty Josh Taylor made his spring debut and punched out a pair in a clean third inning, Austin Brice worked his way around a leadoff double and fielding error in a scoreless fourth, Hector Velazquez walked two in an otherwise harmless fifth, former Twin Trevor Hildenberger yielded two runs on two hits and one walk in the sixth to eventually take the loss, Robinson Leyer allowed another pair of Twins runs on an Alex Kirilloff two-run homer in the seventh, and left-hander Matt Hall fanned two wand walked another in a rather quick bottom half of the eighth inning.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to surrender four runs on five hits and five walks to go along with seven strikeouts over eight total frames of work.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured Rafael Devers making his spring debut was matched up against veteran right-hander Homer Bailey for the Twins.

Nothing in terms of offensive production came against Bailey though, and it wasn’t until the top of fourth when the Boston bats showed some signs of life.

There, with one out in the frame, J.D. Martinez greeted new Twins reliever Cory Gearrin by unloading on a 1-2 pitch down the heart of the plate and depositing it deep to right field for his first big fly of the spring.

That solo shot actually gave Boston an early one-run lead, but Minnesota jumped out to a one-run lead of their own two innings later and would not have to look back, as they took this Grapefruit League contest by a final score of 4-1.

Some observations from this loss:

Rafael Devers in his 2020 spring debut, batting out of the two-hole: 0-for-2 with one strikeout.

J.D. Martinez on Friday: 2-for-2 with a triple, home run, and RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Yankees for the first time this spring on Saturday in a game that will be televised!

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to get the start in his spring debut for Boston, while fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery will start for New York.

Rodriguez was slated to make his spring debut last Sunday, but after slipping in a bullpen session earlier that week and twisting his left knee, that debut was pushed back until Saturday.

The 26-year-old could very well be the Sox’ Opening Day starter with Chris Sale expected to start the 2020 season on the injured list.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST on NESNplus.

 

Red Sox’ Brian Johnson Outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket After Clearing Waivers

After placing him on outright waivers on Monday, the Red Sox officially outrighted Brian Johnson to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, meaning the left-hander went unclaimed.

Johnson, who turns 29 next month, is no longer a part of Boston’s 40-man roster after posting an ERA of 6.02 and FIP of 5.32 over 21 total appearances (seven starts) and 40 1/3 innings of work in an injury-filled 2019.

A former first round pick out of the University of Florida in 2012 and a Florida native himself, Johnson can still provide the Sox with pitching depth, and he’ll still probably get an invite to major-league camp in the spring, but he is no longer one of the top two or three choices to make a spot start for Boston when needed. That much was made evident when 27-year-old left-hander Kyle Hart was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last week.

Speaking of 40-man rosters, the Red Sox currently have 38 players on theirs.

Red Sox Outright Brian Johnson off 40-Man Roster

The Red Sox have reportedly outrighted left-hander Brian Johnson, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Johnson, who turns 29 in December, can now be claimed by any other club, meaning the Sox now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

As noted in the above tweet from Rosenthal, teams have until next Monday, December 2nd, to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players who would free agents otherwise.

Johnson still has one year of team control remaining before becoming eligible for salary arbitration, but these kinds of decisions are going to be made all across baseball in the next week.

Appearing in 21 games (seven starts) for Boston in an injury-riddled 2019, the University of Florida product posted an ERA of 6.02 and FIP of 5.32 over 40 1/3 innings of work. This coming the year after Johnson proved to be a valuable member of the Sox’ pitching staff as both a starter and reliever in 2018.

With new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, the Red Sox are clearly in need of some help at the back end of the starting rotation, and maybe even more so depending on the statuses of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale, headed into next spring.

That said, the first move to address this potential issue came last week, when 27-year-old left-hander Kyle Hart was added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 deadline this past Wednesday.

Johnson being outrighted does not necessarily mean his Red Sox career is over, but his time on the club’s major-league roster is, or at least for the time being.

Red Sox Add Five Playes to 40-Man Roster, Including Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, and Marcus Wilson

The Red Sox added five players to their major league roster on Wednesday night.

Infielders C.J. Chatham and Bobby Dalbec, outfielder Marcus Wilson, and left-handed pitchers Yoan Aybar and Kyle Hart were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the 8 PM ET deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during the Winter Meetings in December.

Since they only added five players on Wednesday, the Red Sox’ active roster stands at 39, meaning they still have one available spot to work with for the time being.

Out of the five minor-leaguers added, Hart would have to be the surprise of the bunch, or at least that’s how I view it.

The former 19th-round pick out of Indiana University in 2016 is set to turn 27 on Saturday.

In 27 appearances (24 starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this past season, Hart posted a 3.52 ERA and .233 batting average against over 156 total innings pitched.

Ranked as the Sox’ No. 28 prospect on MLB.com, the left-handed Hart offers a pitch mix that includes an 87-92 MPH fastball, an 85-86 MPH cutter, a 76-79 MPH curveball, and an 81-82 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.

As for the other four, both Dalbec and Chatham are ranked within Boston’s top 10 prospects, with the former coming in at No. 2 and the latter coming in at No. 9. The pair of infielders were also both part of Team USA’s fourth-place finish in this year’s Premier12 tournament.

Wilson, meanwhile, is ranked as Boston’s No. 18 prospect in his first offseason with the Sox after coming over in the deal that sent Blake Swihart to the Arizona Diamondbacks this past April.

The 23-year-old outfielder out of Los Angeles played in just eight Arizona Fall League games this year, but slashed an impressive .333/.412/.467 with one home run, eight RBI, and two stolen bases while doing so.

With the possibilities of Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and even to an extent Andrew Benintendi, getting dealt this winter, Wilson could be someone to watch during the early stages of spring training in February.

Aybar also played in the Arizona Fall League this year, posting a 6.75 ERA and 1.38 WHIP across seven relief appearances and eight innings of work.

Initially signed as an outfielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, the 22-year-old has since converted to a left-handed reliever with a fastball that can top out at 97 MPH. He worked his way up to High-A Salem in 2019, so perhaps Double-A Portland is in the cards for the club’s No. 30 prospect in 2020.

Of course, just because these moves were made now does not mean that the Sox’ 2020 roster is set in stone. Changes will still come, and they will probably start once the Winter Meetings get underway in San Diego next month.