César Puello opts out of minor-league deal with Red Sox, signs minors pact with Mets

The Red Sox have lost some upper-level minor-league outfield depth, as outfielder Cesar Puello signed a minor-league contract with the Mets on Saturday, according to Newsday’s Tim Healey.

Puello, 30, triggered the June 1 opt-out clause in his minor-league deal with the Red Sox earlier this week and was subsequently granted his release on Thursday.

The right-handed hitter struggled in his first season with Triple-A Worcester, slashing .158/.370/.184 (78 wRC+) to go along with one double, no home runs, seven RBI, six runs scored, eight walks, eight strikeouts, and six stolen bases over 15 games and 54 plate appearances.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison, Puello was also having trouble getting consistent playing time with the WooSox. Releasing him also allowed the Red Sox to promote fellow outfielder Johan Mieses from Double-A Portland to Worcester.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Puello originally inked a minor-league pact with Boston in February 2020. The 6-foot-2, 217 pounder appeared in five games for the club last September after spending the majority of the summer at the alternate training site. He was later designated and outrighted by the Sox in October before re-upping on another minors deal in December.

Before joining the Red Sox, Puello spent parts of two big-league seasons (2017, 2019) with the Angels, Rays, and Marlins.

Puello originally signed with the Mets as an international free agent out of the Dominican back in 2007 and spent the first nine years of his professional career with the organization he is now returning to. He will report to Triple-A Syracuse.

(Picture of Cesar Puello: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire right-handers Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell from Royals as players to be named later to complete three-team Andrew Benintendi trade; Freddy Valdez also acquired from Mets

In addition to acquiring outfield prospect Freddy Valdez as the player to be named later from the Mets in the three-team Andrew Benintendi trade, the Red Sox have also received right-handed pitching prospects Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell as the two players to be named later from the Mets, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

De La Rosa, who turns 19 next month, was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for approximately $147,500 by Kansas City in July 2018.

While he is not listed at the top of many prospect boards, De La Rosa did impress in his professional debut in 2019.

In 12 outings (11 starts) in the Dominican Summer League, the lanky 6-foot-1, 170 pound righty posted a 2.33 ERA and 1.92 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 52 strikeouts over 38 2/3 innings of work en route to being named the Dominican Royals 1 Pitcher of the Year.

According to his Baseball America scouting report from when he first signed with the Royals three years ago, De La Rosa — a former shortstop — “has an array of positive projection indicators, with some of that projection already starting to bear out.” As of that writing, the young hurler was working with a fastball, a slider, and an “advanced changeup for his age.”

A native of Santo Domingo, De La Rosa will become Rule 5 eligible for the first time in December 2022.

Gambrell, meanwhile, was originally selected by the Royals in the third round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Oregon State University. He later signed with the club for $647,500.

The 23-year-old came into the 2021 campaign regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 21 prospect in Kansas City’s farm system even after not pitching at all the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the minor-league season.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Gambrell’s FanGraphs scouting report goes as follows (courtesy of Eric Longenhagen):

“At his best, Gambrell sits in the mid-90s with a plus breaking ball (there might be two, but if so, they’ve run together in my looks) and a tailing, mid-80s changeup that he uses in some clever ways, including as a means to jam righties. His stuff has been inconsistent and he missed considerable time with injury during college, which creates some relief risk. We’re talking about a pitcher who only worked about four innings per outing during his sophomore year, and struggled when the Royals asked him to work as a starter and blow way past his previous single-year innings total after they drafted him in 2019. 

“But Gambrell was sitting 94-96 during 2021 spring action and looked to me to be in much better shape than the last time I saw him. The 2020 layoff means the innings increase piece of Gambrell’s developmental track still feels harrowing, but he has a power-pitcher’s repertoire and a chance to really blow up this year because he came to camp with a totally different body.”

Opening the 2021 season with High-A Quad Cities, Gambrell produced a 4.37 ERA and 4.06 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 28 strikeouts through his first five starts (22 2/3 innings pitched) of the year.

Upon his integration into the Red Sox organization, it seems likely that Gambrell would report to High-A Greenville. We will have to wait and see on that.

The three-team trade between the Red Sox, Royals, and Mets, which was initially agreed to back on February 10, has now been made completely official.

Here are the full returns for all three teams:

Red Sox get: OF Franchy Cordero (from KC), RHPs Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell (from KC), RHP Josh Winckowski (from NYM), and OF Freddy Valdez (from NYM)

Royals get: OF Andrew Benintendi (from BOS)

Mets get: OF Khalil Lee (from BOS via KC)

What a journey it has been.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Red Sox could be nearing decision on which 2 players to be named later they will be acquiring from Royals to complete Andrew Benintendi trade; player to be named later from Mets due June 4, per report

UPDATE: According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox “are due to acquire the remaining three players to be named later” in the near future, while “the player from the Mets — assumed to be the best player of the three — is due by Friday,” June 4.

The Red Sox could soon decide on the two players to be named later they will be acquiring from the Royals as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, according to The Kansas City’s Star Lynn Worthy.

Per Worthy, the Sox could very well make their decision within the next week or two.

Boston originally dealt Benintendi to the Royals back in February in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero, outfield prospect Khalil Lee, and two players to be named later. They then traded Lee to the Mets in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and another player to be named later.

According to @RedSoxStats on Twitter, the two players the Sox receive from the Royals will likely be of the “lower-level” variety in regards to prospect rankings, while the player they get from the Mets “is likely to be a higher quality prospect.”

Of the five players Boston will eventually get back in this three-team swap, they have gotten mixed results from the two who have already joined the organization.

Cordero, who made the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster out of spring training, hit a disappointing .179/.228/.274 with just one home run, six doubles, nine RBI, six walks, and 37 strikeouts in 34 games before being demoted to Triple-A Worcester on May 26.

Since being sent down, though, Cordero has shown some signs of life. The 26-year-old has gone 5-for-12 with a pair of homers and three RBI in his first three games with the WooSox.

Winckowski, meanwhile, has been one of the organization’s most impressive pitching prospects to this point in the minor-league season.

Through his first five starts with Double-A Portland, the 22-year-old hurler has posted a miniscule 1.33 ERA and 0.89 WHIP to go along with a 26:9 strikeout-to-walk-ratio over 27 innings of work thus far.

His latest start was unquestionably his best, as he twirled seven scoreless frames of one-hit baseball against the Hartford Yard Goats on Saturday en route to picking up his second win of the season for the Sea Dogs.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Winckowski operates with a fastball, slider, changeup and splitter.

“There’s a good foundation there,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including Smith) when speaking about Winckowski last month. “The changeup shows a lot of promise. It’s a pretty hard changeup right now but you can still have success with that. It’s more of a power change. And that pitch is going to evolve but I think his other stuff will evolve, too. And he’s going to learn different ways to use it as he goes.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Andrew Benintendi crushes 2 homers for Royals; former Red Sox outfielder has found success since moving down in Kansas City’s lineup

Andrew Benintendi’s tenure with the Royals did not get off to the best of starts.

After being dealt from the Red Sox to Kansas City as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, Benintendi struggled throughout his first spring training in Arizona, and that coincidentally carried over into the regular season as well.

Through his first 15 games as a member of the Royals, the 26-year-old put up an underwhelming .193/.270/.246 slash line with just three extra-base hits (all doubles), four RBI, three stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 63 plate appearances.

In that time, Benintendi — primarily Kansas City’s No. 2 hitter — failed to barrel up a single ball and posted a dismal wRC+ of 51 to show for his efforts.

As of the morning of April 21, it looked as though the former first-round pick was still on the path towards regression that started during the final month of the 2019 season.

But on that day against the Rays, Benintendi did something he had not done in a while: make significantly hard contact, and he did it twice by barreling up a pair of balls in the fourth and eighth innings.

Both balls the left-handed hitter squared up went for lineouts, but the fact he made more than solid contact on more than one occasion was encouraging — and a harbinger of positive things to come.

Since then, Benintendi has been on a roll as of late. He came into Saturday’s action riding an eight-game on-base streak and undoubtedly put together his best performance of the season to this point against the Twins at Target Field.

Batting seventh and starting in left field for Kansas City, the Cincinnati native went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of home runs — his second and third homers of the season, two RBI, and three runs scored while leading his side to an 11-3 victory over Minnesota.

At the time Benintendi hit his first big fly of the afternoon (about 4 p.m. eastern time), Red Sox manager Alex Cora was fielding questions from reporters during his pregame Zoom call at Globe Life Field.

Cora had the Royals-Twins game on the television playing in his office as well.. That being the case because at one point, while talking about Eduardo Rodriguez, he paused, saw Benintendi’s home run, and said, “Look at Benny. He hit a homer.”

Following Saturday’s showing, Benintendi raised his batting average on the season to .262 and his OPS on the season to .757.

Over his last seven games alone, Benintendi is slashing an unworldly .435/.519/.870 with three homers six RBI, seven runs scored, four walks, and one stolen base dating back to April 23.

The success Benintendi has enjoyed as of late can be linked to when he was dropped from second to seventh in the Royals’ lineup on April 19.

The Red Sox moved on from Benintendi over the winter after originally taking the outfielder in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft out of the University of Arkansas.

In exchange for Benintendi, the Sox acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals as well as pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later from the Mets.

Cordero, the only player Boston got back in that trade who has seen any major-league time to this point, came into Saturday’s game against the Rangers sporting a .176/.236/.216 slash line to go along with 26 strikeouts in 55 trips to the plate (47% strikeout rate).

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Nick Pivetta works 10-pitch at-bat against Mets ace Jacob deGrom: ‘That probably changed the complexion of the game,’ Alex Cora says

During his weekly call-in appearance on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria on Wednesday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora teased that starting pitcher Nick Pivetta was a “sneaky good” hitter.

“He’s facing [Jacob] deGrom, but he has nine hits,” Cora said. “Pivetta. Nine hits. Yeah.”

Pivetta, Boston’s starter for their series finale against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday, came into the day with nine career hits in 120 career plate appearances from the 3 1/2 seasons he spent with the Phillies.

He had never faced off against deGrom before the third inning of Wednesday’s contest.

There, the 28-year-old led things off by putting together an at-bat that resulted in a strikeout, but was still impressive considering the fact that against a two-time Cy Young Award winner, he got ahead in the count at 2-1 before fouling off six consecutive pitches — four of which were 99-plus mph fastballs.

On the 10th pitch he saw from deGrom, Pivetta whiffed at a 91 mph slider to go down by way of the K. But by the time that happened, the right-handed hitter had raised deGrom’s pitch count from 32 to 42 with just one out in the top half of the third inning.

deGrom, who was fresh off a complete game shutout in his last time out against the Nationals, was only able to go six innings deep in his start against the Red Sox, and it’s safe to say Pivetta’s lengthy at-bat played a role in that.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Cora said following his team’s 1-0 victory over the Mets. “It’s a team sport, right? And everybody has to do their part. If you are hitting in a National League park, you have to do your job. And he helped himself. That was a great at-bat.”

Before his first at-bat on Wednesday, the last time Pivetta had faced any live pitching came on September 28, 2019 in a game against the Marlins. So for deGrom to be the first pitcher he sees in 19 months, that was surely no simple task.

“I was just trying to compete against him, do the best I could, trying to wear down his pitches as much as I could,” Pivetta said during his postgame media availability. “Luckily, it worked out in my favor. Just trying to compete right there. I know that I’m probably not going to get a hit there, it’s deGrom. But, if I can foul off a couple pitches, make him throw a couple balls here and there, and just wear down his pitch count, that’s probably the biggest thing for me in that start. Just wearing him down, and doing the best I can with the job that I have.”

While Pivetta was in the process of making deGrom grind for the first out of the third, Cora and the rest of the Red Sox dugout enjoyed what they were seeing from the lifetime .083/.107/.092 hitter.

“It was great,” said the Sox skipper. “Everybody knew how important that at-bat was. We kept saying, ‘Just foul off five more. Five more pitches.’ I know he wanted to get a hit, but that at-bat probably changed the complexion of the game… It was fun to watch him compete against [deGrom].”

One of those in Boston’s dugout who cheered on Pivetta was Christian Vazquez, who also caught the right-hander on Wednesday.

“That’s a hit for us,” said Vazquez. “That’s a great at-bat. He took like eight pitches, nine pitches, and it was fun. A lot of foul balls.”

Upon returning to his post for the latter half of the third, though, the veteran backstop was told by deGrom himself that the Mets ace was hoping to do to Pivetta what Pivetta did to him at the plate.

“And deGrom, the first at-bat, he told me, ‘I got to do the same thing to him,'” Vazquez recalled with a chuckle. “So it was fun to see that.”

deGrom, who entered Wednesday having gone 6-for-his-first 11 at the plate to start the season, saw a total of 11 pitches in the process of going 0-for-2 against Pivetta.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta outduels Jacob deGrom as Red Sox defeat Mets, 1-0, to finish off series sweep

Going into their series finale against the Mets on Wednesday, the Red Sox knew runs would be come to hard by with ace right-hander Jacob deGrom on the hill for New York.

Taking that into consideration, the Sox were also aware that they would not to put forth their best pitching effort to have a chance on Wednesday, and that’s just what they did en route to a 1-0 shutout victory over the Mets at Citi Field to secure the two-game series sweep.

The one run the Boston bats managed to score off deGrom came in the top half of the second inning, when Xander Bogaerts led things off with a hard-hit double and came into score moments later on a one-out RBI double off the bat of Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez’s seventh RBI of the season would prove to be all the scoring the Red Sox would need in this one as Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes combined to toss a two-hit shutout.

Pivetta, making his fifth start of the season, held the Mets to just one hit over five strong innings of work to go along with three walks, one hit batsman, and seven strikeouts on the night. He also worked a 10-pitch at-bat against deGrom in the third.

Whitlock, making his sixth appearance of the season, scattered one hit and one walk while fanning four hitters in the sixth and seventh innings, which led to Ottavino working a 1-2-3 bottom half of the eighth.

Barnes, meanwhile, came on for his second save opportunity in as many days in yet another one-run game and shut the door on the Mets by sitting down Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith on just 12 pitches to preserve the 1-0 victory for his side.

Gonzalez makes leaping play at second

While Ottavino may have faced the minimum three batters in his lone inning of work, he certainly got some defensive help from his second baseman in Marwin Gonzalez.

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Francisco Lindor laced a 96 mph line drive towards left field that would have put the tying run on base had it gone for a hit.

Instead, Gonzalez, who was playing in the shift and on the outer edge of the infield dirt, left his feet and came up with a dazzling, off-balanced catch to rob Lindor of what could have been an important hit for the Mets.

Next up: On to Texas

After taking both games of this quick interleague-set from the Mets to improve to 16-9 on the season, the Red Sox will head to Globe Life Field inTexas to open up a four-game series against the Rangers that starts on Thursday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by a former teammate in the form of right-hander Kyle Gibson for Texas.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their fourth straight win.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo (hamstring) returns to Red Sox lineup for finale against Jacob deGrom, Mets

After not starting each of his team’s last two games, Alex Verdugo is back in the Red Sox’ lineup for their series finale against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old gets the start in right field — alongside center fielder Kiké Hernández and left fielder J.D. Martinez — and will bat out of the two-hole, per usual.

Despite not starting Sunday’s game against the Mariners or Tuesday’s contest against the Mets, Verdugo was used as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of Boston’s 2-1 win over New York.

Verdugo’s brief absence stems from a hamstring cramp he suffered in the fourth inning of Saturday’s loss to Seattle at Fenway Park.

On a line drive off the bat of Sam Haggerty, Verdugo ran in from center field to catch the ball on what looked like a pretty routine play.

Upon catching the ball, though, the young outfielder appeared to be in some discomfort as he gripped the back of his left leg while going back to his position.

He was able to finish Sunday’s game — and even went 2-for-4 with a double — but had not been able to return to Boston’s starting lineup until Wednesday.

“It was actually a very weird play,” Verdugo recalled over the weekend. “Just shuffled my feet, felt something grab a little bit, and just had to make sure that I kept that in mind and loosened it up throughout the game. But no problem.”

The Red Sox will be matched up against an extremely tough opponent in Verdugo’s return to the lineup in the form of Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.

Through four starts this season, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has posted a miniscule 0.31 ERA and .426 OPS against to go along with a 50:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 29 innings pitched.

In three career starts against the Red Sox, deGrom owns a lifetime 3.32 ERA and .513 OPS against over 19 total innings of work. His most recent start against Boston came last July, an outing in which he yielded two runs over six innings in a game the Mets lost by a final score of 6-5.

Verdugo, meanwhile, has faced off against deGrom six times before in his young career and is 0-for-6 against him.

On the 2021 campaign as a whole, the left-handed hitter comes into play Wednesday sporting a .325/.371/.538 slash line to go along with three home runs and 13 RBI through 22 games and 89 plate appearances.

Here is how the rest of the 15-9 Red Sox will be lining up against deGrom and the 9-9 Mets:

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox taxi squad getting opportunity to do more in second road trip of season

As the Red Sox are one game into their second road trip of the season, the club has five players traveling with them as part of their taxi squad.

These five players — right-handers Eduard Bazardo and Daniel Gossett, catcher Chris Herrmann, infielder Jonathan Arauz, and outfielder Cesar Puello — are not just working out with the major-league team.

To further explain, the Red Sox are currently in Queens for a two-game series against the Mets at Citi Field on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At the same time, Boston’s alternate training site roster is in Brooklyn to take on the Mets’ alternate training site team in a pair of scrimmages at MCU Park.

So, not only are Arauz, Bazardo, Gossett, Herrmann, and Puello working out with the Red Sox while they are at Citi Field, they are also getting to see live pitching in a somewhat-competitive environment across town.

“That’s good for them,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Boston’s taxi squad players on Tuesday. “Get big-league money and get at-bats. That’s awesome.”

After wrapping up their two-game set against the Mets Wednesday night, the Sox will head to Texas for a four-game weekend tilt against the Rangers in Arlington.

Once the Red Sox return to Boston on Sunday, the likes of Arauz, Bazardo, Gossett, Herrmann, and Puello will all return to the team’s alternate training site in Worcester, as Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols for the 2021 season dictate.

(Picture of Jonathan Arauz: Mark Brown Getty Images)

Garrett Richards fans 10 over 7 strong innings, Bobby Dalbec hits first home run of season as Red Sox top Mets, 2-1

Garrett Richards had said last week that his “delivery was off a little bit” following an erratic outing against the Blue Jays in which he walked six batters while only 48 of his 92 pitches went for strikes.

“I just think the delivery was off a little bit tonight,” he had said. “I was kind of fighting it the whole night. And then obviously, couldn’t get my release point under control. Just kind of a combination of things. Nothing that can’t be fixed.”

On Tuesday, Richards put the adjustments he made over the past six days into action and had his best start as a member of the Red Sox to this point as a result.

Over seven strong innings of work against the Mets at Citi Field, the veteran right-hander yielded just one earned run on seven hits and no walks to go along with a season-high 10 strikeouts on the night.

The lone run Richards gave up came in the bottom of the second, when with two outs he served up a solo home run to Jeff McNeil on a heater down the heart of the plate.

Outside of that, Richards was thoroughly impressive in spite of dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths. He did wrap up his evening by retiring the final three Mets he faced in a scoreless seventh inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 — 70 of which were strikes — the 23-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 35% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing 11 swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.8 mph with the pitch.

Able to pick up his first winning decision as a member of the Sox, Richards will go for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the the Rangers in Arlington on Sunday.

Martinez records outfield assist, Vazquez thwarts steal attempt

While Richards was in the process of tossing seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday, he got a boost from his defense on two occasions in his fifth frame of work.

There, Mets catcher James McCann led things off by ripping a line drive to left field.

J.D. Martinez, starting in place of Alex Verdugo (hamstring) in left, fielded the ball on a run and with a quick throw to second base, snuffed out McCann while he was trying to extend a leadoff single into a leadoff double. Marwin Gonzalez, Boston’s second baseman on Tuesday, also made a nice effort to get the tag on McCann in the first place.

After punching out Mets starting pitcher David Peterson for the second out of the inning, Richards surrendered a single to old friend Kevin Pillar. But like McCann, Pillar did not last long on the base paths thanks to Christian Vazquez throwing him out attempting to steal second base.

Andriese and Barnes close it out

In relief of Richards, Matt Andriese — not Adam Ottavino — got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the eighth, and he needed all of 16 pitches to sit down Pillar, Francisco Lindor, and Dominic Smith in order.

From there, Matt Barnes came on for the ninth and fanned two of the three hitters he faced in a perfect inning of relief to notch his fifth save of the year and preserve the 2-1 victory for his side.

Dalbec hits long-awaited first home run of season

While Richards and Co. did an effective job of keeping the Mets off the board, the Red Sox did not find themselves in many scoring situations on Tuesday, but they took advantage of the opportunities they had.

One of those opportunities arose in the top half of the third inning, when Bobby Dalbec led things off by crushing his first home run of the season 390 feet to right-center field off Peterson.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the top of the lineup got the job done this time when Enrique Hernandez led the inning off with a double and came in to score on a Rafael Devers bloop RBI single moments later.

Devers’ 19th RBI of the season gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Next up: Pivetta vs. deGrom

Things will not get any easier for the 15-9 Red Sox on Wednesday, as they will be matched up against two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who struck out 15 in a two-hit, complete game shutout bid in his last time out for the Mets against the Nationals.

Nick Pivetta will be tasked with opposing deGrom for Boston. The 28-year-old righty took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start against the Blue Jays, but wound up allowing two runs in a game the Red Sox lost 7-3.

First pitch for Wednesday’s series finale is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski wraps up solid spring with 3 strong innings of work against Twins

In what was undoubtedly be his last start of the spring, Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski impressed against the Twins at JetBlue Park on Sunday afternoon.

Making his first start of the Grapefruit League campaign, the 22-year-old right-hander held Minnesota’s lineup — which included the likes of Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, and Byron Buxton — to one earned run on two hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout over three solid innings of work.

That lone Twins tally came on an RBI groundout off the bat of Donaldson in the top half of the third after Willians Astudillo led off the frame with a double and advanced to third on a flyout.

Other than that, Winckowski wrapped up his day by getting Cruz to ground out to short to retire the side in the third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 51, 33 of which went for strikes, the Ohio native finishes his first spring with the Sox having posted a 3.68 ERA and .154 batting average against over five total appearances spanning 7 1/3 innings pitched.

Boston acquired Winckowski — as well as outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later — in the three-team trade with the Mets and Royals that saw outfielder Andrew Benintendi land in Kansas City last month.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, Winckowski was originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Estero (Fla.) High School.

He signed with Toronto for $125,000 later that summer and proceeded to put up a 3.35 ERA over 54 appearances (50 starts) and 263 innings of work between rookie-league, Low-A, Class-A, and High-A over the next 3 1/2 seasons.

By that time, Winckowski had emerged as an intriguing prospect within the Jays’ minor-league pipeline, and even after not seeing any in-game at action at all (besides Toronto’s fall instructional league) on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he was one of three pitchers the Blue Jays traded to the Mets in January in exchange for left-hander Steven Matz.

Emerging as New York’s 26th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline in the wake of that trade, Winckowski’s time with the Mets did not last all that long.

As previously mentioned, he, again, was traded — this time to the Red Sox — on February 10, prompting him to jokingly change his Instagram bio to ‘I guess Red Sox.’

Given that he grew up and still resides in the Fort Myers-area, Winckowski going from the Mets to the Sox meant being within closer proximity to his new team’s spring training complex, which led to him captioning his Instagram post reacting to the trade with: ‘Spring training drive won’t be too bad.’

(For what it’s worth, his Instagram bio now reads: ‘Crazy few weeks but I’m pumped to be a Sox.’)

Winckowski arrived at the Red Sox’ Fenway South complex last month as one of 30 initial non-roster invitees at big-league camp. He was ultimately reassigned to the minor-leagues on March 9, but not before leaving a positive first impression on some of his new teammates, like fellow right-hander Matt Barnes.

“I was standing right next to him as he was warming up,” Barnes said about Winckowski following his scoreless outing against the Braves on March 7. “The ball was coming out good. Obviously he had a really good inning. Commanded the ball in the zone. Got ahead of guys, attacked hitters. It looks like he’s got firm, good stuff. It looks like the ball jumps out of his hand — really heavy fastball. That’s what it looks like to me. Obviously I’m not on the other end of it. But watching him from behind in the bullpen warming up and obviously the results speak for themselves in the game today, it looks like he’s got really good stuff.”

Winckowski, who does not turn 23 until June 28, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 33 prospect, ranking 17th among pitchers in the organization.

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen wrote this about Winckowski back in January, “Winckowski has a chance to pop in 2021 because he was pitching hurt in 2019 and still got guys out. He looked rusty during instructs but was also up to 97 and added a new splitter to an already decent slider.”

Equipped with a fastball, slider, changeup, and slider in total, Winckowski is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland, though he could earn a promotion to Triple-A Worcester later in the year depending on how he progresses.

The 2021 campaign could prove to be a pivotal one for Winckowski, as he becomes eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later on this winter.

The Red Sox will need to add the righty to their 40-man roster on or before November 20 of this year if they do not want to risk losing him to another club in the December draft.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/MLB Photos via Getty Images)