Red Sox purchase contract of right-hander Joe Jones from Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks

The Red Sox have purchased the contract of right-hander Joe Jones from the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the independent American Association, the team announced on Wednesday.

Jones, 27, posted a 3.72 ERA with 66 strikeouts to 44 walks in 43 relief appearances (55 2/3 innings) for the league champion RedHawks last yea. The righty has past experience in affiliated ball, as he spent most of the 2021 minor-league season in the Diamondbacks organization before being released by Arizona that August.

A native of Tennessee, Jones went undrafted out of Division III Maryville College in 2017. He then made several stops on the indy ball circuit, pitching for the Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association (2017), Martinez Clippers of the Pacific Association (2018), York Revolution of the Atlantic League (2019), Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League (2019), and Road Warrior Black Sox of the Washington League (2020) before signing a minor-league deal with the Diamondbacks in February 2021.

Jones broke camp with High-A Hillsboro that spring. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound hurler pitched to a 3.46 ERA (4.44 FIP) with 15 strikeouts to 10 walks in 13 appearances (13 innings) for the Hops before being promoted to Double-A Amarillo in late June. He then struggled to a 9.31 ERA (9.58 FIP) to go along with 10 strikeouts to nine walks over his next 10 outings (9 2/3 innings) before getting cut loose by the Sod Poodles on Aug. 20.

Four days later, Jones signed with Fargo-Moorhead. He did not allow a run in his first six appearances for the RedHawks down the stretch in 2021, which resulted in the club exercising his option for the 2022 season.

Jones, who turns 28 in July, throws from a three-quarters arm slot and features a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball that can top out in the high-90s, a sinker, a slider, and a newly-implemented changeup, according to Eric Peterson of the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

At this point in time, it remains to be seen which minor-league affiliate the Red Sox will assign Jones to for the start of the 2023 campaign, though it will presumably come down to either High-A Greenville or Double-A Portland. Before that happens though, it should be interesting to see what Jones brings to the table at minor-league camp down in Fort Myers.

Speaking of interesting, Jones has a unique pregame routine in which he does walking handstands in an effort to improve shoulder strength and stability.

“It’s a pretty big stimulus for me to walk on my hands,” he told Peterson last August. “I like it to get the blood flowing in the shoulders. My record this season is 66 steps continuously on my hands.”

(Picture of Joe Jones: Savannah Lussier/Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks)

Bianca Smith, Katie Krall leave Red Sox organization to pursue other opportunities

Bianca Smith has left the Red Sox organization after spending the last two seasons as a minor-league coach in Fort Myers, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Smith was originally hired by Boston in January 2021, making her the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball history. She first served in a part-time capacity before being promoted to a full-time role with the rookie-level Florida Complex League last year.

Per Speier, Smith’s contract expired at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign. The Red Sox offered her a multi-year deal to continue coaching in the organization, but she turned it down to pursue other opportunities.

“[The offer] was still a coaching position; it just wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Smith told Speier recently. “I just decided that it was a better fit for me to try to find something else. I absolutely loved my time there. I even told them, I would love to come back if the position was a good fit.

“I know any time [another] team calls and asks about me, [the Red Sox] have been saying positive things,” she continued. “Of course, teams have been asking why I’m leaving. It’s pretty much the same thing. Just looking for a different opportunity.”

Prior to joining the Red Sox organization, Smith served as an assistant athletic director, assistant baseball coach, and hitting coordinator at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisc. She also has past experience interning with the Reds and Rangers.

“During her time here, it was exciting to see her continually grow as a staff member,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said. “She was a pleasure to work alongside. Her constant energy, passion to help players, improve our organization, and overall knowledge of the game will be missed.”

In addition to Smith, Katie Krall also declined an offer to return to Boston’s minor-league coaching ranks. The Red Sox hired Krall last January to serve as a development coach with Double-A Portland, making them the first organization to have two women on coaching staffs.

Krall made history in her own right last April by becoming the first female coach to make an on-field appearance in a Double-A game. Towards the end of the season, she was named the Sea Dogs’ Charlie Eshbach Citizen of the Year for her involvement within the Portland community.

“She did a really good job for us,” Abraham said of Krall, who is expected to pursue front office opportunities elsewhere.

While Smith and Krall have left the organization, the Red Sox have added another woman to a minor-league coaching staff in Taylor Jackson. Jackson, who served as a video intern for High-A Greenville in 2022, will transition to a coaching role with the Drive under manager Iggy Suarez.

(Picture of Bianca Smith: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox select pitchers Joe Jacques, Ryan Miller in minor-league phase of Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox may have passed on taking a player in the major-league phase of Wednesday’s Rule 5 Draft, but they did make two selections in the minor-league phase.

Boston added left-hander Joe Jacques from the Pirates and right-hander Ryan Miller from the Yankees. The two hurlers have been assigned to Triple-A Worcester.

Jacques, 27, was originally selected by Pittsburgh in the 33rd round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Manhattan College in New York City. The New Jersey native received a mere $2,000 signing bonus and made his professional debut in the Appalachian League.

After beginning this past season on the 60-day injured list, Jacques spent most of the 2022 campaign with Triple-A Indianapolis. There, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound southpaw posted a 3.62 ERA and 4.74 FIP with 27 strikeouts to 12 walks over 29 relief appearances (37 1/3 innings) for the Indians. He also fared far better against left-handed hitters (.257 OPS against) compared to right-handed hitters (.845 OPS against).

Jacques, who turns 28 in March, throws from a unique sidearm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a changeup, according to Pittsburgh Baseball Network.

Miller, 26, was originally taken by the Diamondbacks in the sixth round of the 2018 draft out of Clemson University. The Florida native signed with Arizona for $25,000, but was released less than two years later at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He latched on with the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League in 2021 and began the 2022 season with the Sioux Falls Canaries of the American Association before having his contract purchased by the Yankees in late May.

In his return to affiliated ball, Miller produced a a 5.75 ERA — but much more respectable 4.11 xFIP — with 50 strikeouts to 18 walks across 25 relief appearances (36 innings) for High-A Hudson Valley. He did not pitch at all in the month of September due to an undisclosed injury.

Listed at 6-feet and 180 pounds, Miller put up reverse splits this year, as he held opposing left-handed hitters to a .622 OPS against but allowed right-handed hitters to slash .275/.374/.522 off of him.

Miller, who — like Jacques has a birthday in March, becomes the sixth different pitcher the Red Sox have taken from the Yankees in the major- or minor-league phase of a Rule 5 Draft dating back to 2018. Boston took Anyelo Gomez in 2018, Raynel Espinal in 2019, Garrett Whitlock and Kaleb Ort in 2020, and Brian Keller in 2021.

Red Sox lose Cameron Cannon to Phillies

In addition to picking up two pitchers, the Red Sox also lost an infielder in the minor-league phase of Wednesday’s Rule 5 Draft as Cameron Cannon was scooped up by the Phillies.

Cannon, now 25, was Boston’s second-round pick in 2019. The University of Arizona product was once regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in the Red Sox farm system but had since fallen off the list completely. He spent the majority of the 2022 season with Double-A Portland before being promoted to Worcester in August. Like fellow 2019 draftee Noah Song, Cannon is now reunited with Dave Dombrowski to some degree in Philadelphia.

Former Red Sox infielder Jonathan Arauz, who was claimed off waivers by the Orioles in June, went from Baltimore to the Mets organization on Wednesday.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox release Brandon Howlett

The Red Sox have released minor-league third baseman/right fielder Brandon Howlett, according to the team’s transactions log.

Howlett, who turns 23 next month, was originally selected by Boston in the 21st round of the 2018 amateur draft out George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, Fla. He forwent his commitment to Florida State University by signing with the Sox for $185,000.

After putting together a decent season (117 wRC+ in 96 games) with High-A Greenville in 2021, Howlett broke camp this spring with Double-A Portland. But the right-handed hitter struggled to the tune of a .167/.278/.205 slash line in 27 games (90 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs before getting demoted back to Greenville in early June.

Following that demotion, Howlett fared better in his return to the Drive by batting .194/.378/.379 with 10 doubles, three home runs, 12 RBIs, and 16 runs scored over 34 games (135 plate appearances). Although he managed to get on base more via ball four, Howlett was still striking out at a near-35 percent clip, which is among the highest marks for South Atlantic League Hitters who have made at least 130 trips to the plate to this point in the season.

Between the strikeout issues and the recent promotions of fellow infielders Marcelo Mayer and Blaze Jordan from Low-A Salem, Howlett’s future with the Red Sox became bleak enough to the point where he was officially cut loose on Wednesday.

In the four-plus years he spent with Boston, Howlett peaked as the organization’s 14th-ranked prospect in 2019, per Baseball America. He was also Baseball America’s 20th-ranked Red Sox prospect in 2020 before being dropped from the list altogether last year.

(Picture of Brandon Howlett: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Don’t forget about Red Sox prospect Devlin Granberg

Even with the ongoing lockout delaying the start of the 2022 Major League Baseball Season, the 2022 minor-league season remains unaffected. And while prospects on the 40-man roster are still impacted by the work stoppage, all other Red Sox minor-leaguers begin their version of spring training this Sunday.

Out of the dozens of players who have been and who will be pouring into the Fort Myers-area in the coming days, one name to watch for is first baseman/outfielder Devlin Granberg.

Granberg, 26, is admittedly older for your prototypical prospect. The Sox originally drafted the Dallas Baptist University senior in the sixth round of the 2018 amateur draft and later signed him for just $40,000.

After beginning his professional career with the Lowell Spinners and splitting the 2019 campaign between Boston’s two Class-A affilates, Granberg was met with somewhat of a roadblock when the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He did not receive an invite to the Red Sox’ alternate training site that summer, nor did he participate in the team’s fall instructional league. Still, according to director of player development Brian Abraham, Granberg was one of several players who came into camp last year and “immediately impressed with the strides they’d made during a year away.”

On the heels of such an impressive spring, Granberg opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville. The right-handed hitter got off to a scorching start for the Drive, batting .326/.416/.642 (174 wRC+) with seven doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 29 RBIs, 21 runs scored, one stolen base, 12 walks, and 16 strikeouts over 27 games (113 plate appearances) before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland on June 16.

Upon arriving in Portland, Granberg picked up right where he left off in terms of offensive production. He cooled down for a bit in August, but rebounded in September to end his year by slashing .286/.331/.469 (117 wRC+) with 16 doubles, one triple, 10 homers, 45 RBIs, 48 runs scored, four stolen bases, 11 walks, and 54 strikeouts across 69 games (281 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs.

In a conversation with FanGraphs’ David Laurila last July, Granberg described himself as “immobile” and his short, compact swing as “one of the more interesting swings out there” since it is unconventional.

“I would say it’s pretty rotational, yet not totally rotational,” he said. “It’s kind of like those combo swings — not too crouched, maybe a little bit open, and then I stride into it. I’m trying to hit the ball middle/opposite field most of the time.”

Defensively, Granberg saw playing time at four different positions between Greenville and Portland in 2021. The 6-foot-2, 224 pounder logged 138 innings at first base, 194 innings in left field, nine innings in center field, and 303 1/3 innings in right field while recording a total of two outfield assists.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Granberg “has more defensive upside at first base” than he does in the outfield since he possesses fringe-average arm strength and average range.

Granberg, who does not turn 27 until September, is not regarded by SoxProspects.com as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. The Colorado native is currently projected by the site to begin the 2022 season where he left off in 2021: Portland.

That being said, Granberg is still eligible for the Rule 5 Draft since he was left off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November. On Friday, Baseball America’s Josh Norris reported that the Rule 5 Draft “is expected to take place a week after a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place,” though it could end up getting cancelled if the lockout continues to drag on.

(Picture of Devlin Granberg: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Who is Miguel Ugueto? Red Sox outfield prospect batted .331 in Florida Complex League last year

Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Ugueto was among the organization’s top performers in the Florida Complex League last year.

Nicknamed “The Machine” like Albert Pujols, Ugueto appeared in 35 games for the Sox’ rookie-level affiliate. Over that stretch, the right-handed-hitting 19-year-old batted a stout .331/.370/.528 (135 wRC+) to go along with 15 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 20 RBIs, 26 runs scored, seven stolen bases, seven walks, and 26 strikeouts across 135 plate appearances.

He posted a .949 OPS against right-handed pitching compared to a .733 OPS against left-handed pitching.

Among FCL hitters who made at least 130 trips to the plate in 2021, Ugueto ranked 13th in strikeout rate (19.3%), third in batting average, 15th in on-base percentage, sixth in slugging percentage, fifth in OPS (.898), 15th in isolated power (.197), eighth in speed score (8.6), and seventh in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot-2, 185 pounder saw playing time at all three outfield positions last year in Fort Myers. He logged 99 2/3 innings in left, 56 innings in center, and 104 in right while not committing a single error and recording three outfield assists.

A native of Venezuela, Ugueto originally signed with Boston for just $10,000 as an international free agent in August 2019. His first full professional season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he certainly made up for lost time in 2021.

With that being said, though, there does seem to be some concern regarding Ugueto’s outlook in spite of the success he enjoyed last summer. As highlighted by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall in September, “scouts are skeptical of his ability to hit more advanced pitching. His swing is ugly and he is a free swinger with poor pitch recognition and no approach at the plate. Unless his approach improves drastically, he will struggle to make contact as he moves up the system.

“Defensively, his profile also puts a lot of pressure on his bat, as he is slow-footed with a corner outfield profile,” added Cundall. “While he has played a significant amount of center field this year, he has moved to the corners in his last eight games.”

Ugueto, who does not turn 20 until this coming September, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox’ farm system. He was, however, one of 11 outfielders to participate in the team’s fall performance program this past October.

On that note, Ugueto is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league season where he left off in 2021: the Florida Complex League. Of course, under that scenario, it would not be surprising if Ugueto were to earn a promotion to Low-A Salem at some point this summer.

(Picture of Miguel Ugueto: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox release minor-league infielder Brett Netzer

The Red Sox have released minor-league infielder Brett Netzer, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings.

Per Jennings, the Sox elected to release Netzer “following a series of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic posts on Twitter.”

Netzer, 25, was originally selected by Boston in the third round of the 2017 amateur draft out of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The South Carolina native signed with the club for $475,000.

After debuting with the Lowell Spinners and closing out the 2017 season with the Greenville Drive, Netzer spent the entirety of the 2018 campaign with the Salem Red Sox and the entirety of the 2019 campaign with the Portland Sea Dogs.

In 130 games for Double-A Portland, the left-handed hitting second baseman batted .247/.320/.357 with eight home runs and 50 RBIs over 512 plate appearances. He also played for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League in 2019.

With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down Minor League Baseball in 2020, Netzer did not appear in any sort of organized action that summer, nor was he invited to participate in the Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

Shortly before the 2021 minor-league season was set to begin last May, the Red Sox placed Netzer on the restricted list for an undisclosed reason. He spent the entire year there despite being listed on Portland’s roster.

Now that he has been released, Netzer has subsequently become a free agent. The 6-foot, 195 pounder topped out as the No. 18 prospect in Boston’s farm system in 2018, per Baseball America’s rankings.

In response to what went down with Netzer on Saturday, Red Sox pitching prospect Brendan Cellucci took to Twitter to express his feelings on the matter.

“It’s safe to say Red Sox fans have been shocked by the comments of a former player,” Cellucci tweeted. “I don’t speak for the organization, however I will say that player’s comments don’t reflect the reputation and standard we uphold. Our organization promotes respect and love for all, period.”

(Picture of Brett Netzer: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández has been red-hot at the plate for Double-A Portland

After a torrid month of July, Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez got his August off to a solid start for Double-A Portland on Sunday.

Though the Sea Dogs ultimately fell to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats by a final score of 7-6 at Hadlock Field, Hernandez certainly did his part to prevent that from happening.

Starting at designated hitter and batting out of the six-hole, the 23-year-old went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored on the afternoon.

The tw0-run homer, which came off Fisher Cats reliever Graham Spraker, was Hernandez’s 11th big fly of the year and it cut Portland’s deficit down to two runs at 7-5. Tanner Nishikoa followed with a solo shot of his own to make it a one-run game, but New Hampshire was ultimately able to hold and take the series finale in a close contest.

Hernandez’s two-hit outing raised his batting line on the season to a respectable .252/.296/.467 (103 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, 11 home runs, 25 RBI, 24 runs scored, eight strikeouts across 59 games (223 plate appearances) on the year.

The Red Sox originally acquired Hernandez — as well as infield prospect Nick Sogard — from the Rays back in February in exchange for relievers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs as well as cash considerations.

Hernandez, who does not turn 24 until November, signed with Tampa Bay for $225,000 as an international free agent out of Colombia during the 2014 signing period.

After five years in the organization, the Rays added Hernandez to their 40-man roster in November 2019 in order to protect him from that winter’s Rule 5 Draft, though he did not play another game in their system after that (but spent time on the club’s taxi squad and postseason player pool) with the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since he was a member of Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster at the time of the four-player trade from this past February, Hernandez immediately joined Boston’s 40-man roster and received an invite to major-league spring training as a result.

The right-handed hitting backstop was optioned to the Sox’ alternate training site in early March and later began the 2021 minor-league campaign with Portland.

Through his first several weeks as a member of the Sea Dogs, Hernandez — for the most part struggled — as he hit just .210/.248/.384 (67 wRC+) over 138 trips to the plate from the beginning of May until the end of June.

As soon as the calendar flipped to July, however, Hernandez seemed to turn a corner offensively, and it started with a three-hit performance against the Fisher Cats in Manchester on July 4.

Over the next four weeks, Hernandez simply lit it up at the plate. In five games between the Reading Fightin Phils from July 13-18, he amassed a total of eight hits while boasting an OPS of 1.318 thanks to putting together three multi-hit outings.

By the time the month of July came to a close over the weekend, not only had Hernandez not been traded, but he also posted a stellar .324/.378/.588 slash line (158 wRC+) in addition to clubbing four homers, driving in 13 runs, and scoring 11 of his own over his last 22 games and 68 plate appearances dating back to July 1.

Among Double-A Northeast catchers with at least 50 at-bats over the course of July, Hernandez ranked first in batting average, first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS, tied-first in hits (22), second in doubles (6), tied-second in home runs, and second in RBI.

On the other side of the ball, it appears as though Hernandez still has room to develop when it comes to what he does defensively. So far this season, the 6-foot-1, 237 pound backstop has committed six errors while allowing 10 passed balls to elude him while behind the plate. He has also thrown out 13 of 49 (26.5%) runners attempting to steal off him.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, “Hernandez has a plus arm behind the plate and moves well for a big catcher, but his receiving is fringe-average and needs to continue to improve.”

Regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system — which ranks tops among catchers in the system, Hernandez is currently one of four backstops on the Sox’ 40-man roster alongside veterans like Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki and fellow prospect Connor Wong.

Given his standing on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, one has to wonder if Hernandez could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Worcester before season’s end if he continues to produce at a consistent level.

Not only would promoting Hernandez to the WooSox give the Red Sox a chance to evaluate how the young backstop adjusts to a new level of competition and new pitching staff, it would also grant them the opportunity to see if Hernandez is worthy of his 40-man spot, or if it would be better suited for another prospect in need of protection from December’s Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Garrett Richards impressed by the way 18-year-old prospect Nick Yorke carries himself: ‘You don’t see that very often’

Red Sox infield prospect Nick Yorke was just nine years old when Garrett Richards made his major-league debut for the Angels in August 2011.

Now 18, Yorke — the youngest player at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers — was one of a handful of hitters to face off against the veteran right-hander during a live batting practice session inside JetBlue Park on Thursday morning.

“Pretty impressed,” Richards said when asked about his thoughts on Yorke. “Not only with the talent, but with the way he carries himself. I just found out probably a few days ago that he was 18 years old. And I happened to just be walking by and that was the only sentence that I heard. He was talking to somebody and mentioned that he was 18 years old.

“Me being an older guy, it made me stop in my tracks a little bit,” added the 32-year-old hurler. “Because I had no idea this kid was that young. But very, very impressive with the maturity level and how he carries himself. You don’t see that very often. He’s obviously young and he’s going to be in this game for a lot of years. So I’m excited to watch him develop and adjust to this level of baseball.”

The Red Sox selected Yorke with their top pick in the first round the 2020 amateur draft out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif.

The right-handed hitting second baseman — listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds — was one of 22 non-roster invitees to receive an invite to big-league spring training last month before being reassigned to minor-league camp last Friday.

Through his first four Grapefruit League contests of 2021, Yorke is 1-for-5 at the plate with a single, three walks, and two strikeouts.

Despite being the youngest player at the Fenway South complex, Yorke is holding his own, and he is impressing the likes of Red Sox manager Alex Cora while doing so.

“He’s in a better place physically,” Cora said of the California native last month. “He’s a tall, strong kid. That was impressive. I look and I’m like, ‘Who’s this kid?’ They told me and I was like, ‘Wow, he’s impressive.’”

Yorke, who turns 19 next month, is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season at Low-A Salem. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the Sox’ No. 9 prospect.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox option right-hander Tanner Houck to alternate training site

Following their 9-1 victory over the Twins on Wednesday, the Red Sox made their fifth round of spring roster cuts and, perhaps most significantly, optioned right-hander Tanner Houck to their alternate training site in Worcester.

The lone member of Boston’s 40-man roster involved in these moves, Houck was seen as a potential candidate to crack the team’s Opening Day starting rotation, but that no longer appears to be the case.

The 24-year-old righty impressed upon getting called up by the Sox last September, posting a 0.53 ERA and 3.25 FIP over his first three starts and 17 innings pitched in the majors.

Spring training thus far has been a different story for Houck, though, as the former first-round draft pick has struggled with his command to the tune of a 4:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He has also yielded six earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings of work through his first three appearances of the spring.

Given those struggles, as well as the fact that the club has adequate, upper-level rotation depth in the form of Matt Andriese and Garrett Whitlock, the Sox will let Houck continue to develop at the alternate site to start the new season.

This does not mean that Houck — currently regarded by Baseball America as the Red Sox’ No. 7 prospect — won’t pitch in Boston this year; it just means that his 2021 debut may come later than some may have expected.

In addition to Houck being optioned, the Sox also reassigned seven players — right-hander Daniel Gossett, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, catcher Kole Cottam, first basemen Triston Casas and Josh Ockimey, and outfielders Jarren Duran and Yairo Munoz — to minor-league camp.

This flurry of transactions leaves the Red Sox with 35 players on their major-league spring training roster. That number does not include Chris Sale or Franchy Cordero, who both remain on the injured list.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Mark Brown/Getty Images)