Red Sox Prospect Jarren Duran Belts Two Doubles, Shows off Speed in Fenway Park Debut

Despite not seeing any live pitching during the pandemic-induced shutdown period, Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran had himself quite the night in the Red Sox’ final intrasquad game of Summer Camp at Fenway Park on Monday.

Making the trek up from Pawtucket along with Jeter Downs and Josh Ockimey, Duran started in center field and hit out of the nine-hole for the Home Sox in Monday’s contest and went 2-for-3 with a pair of hard-hit doubles, the first of which drove in two runs off left-hander Jeffrey Springs in the second inning.

On the defensive side of the ball, Duran was just as impressive, as the Sox’ eighth-ranked prospect put his speed on full display while robbing Marco Hernandez of an extra-base hit off Martin Perez in the top half of the sixth.

That flash of the leather prompted Perez to tell reporters after the game that “[Duran’s] really good, man.”

As for what Duran himself thought about his performance, the 23-year-old led off by saying that it was “just surreal” to play at Fenway Park and that “he couldn’t stop looking around” the ballpark.

“I wasn’t really thinking,” Duran added when speaking to reporters via Zoom. “I missed baseball so much. It was an honor just to be here.”

Before spring training was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Duran was opening up eyes around Red Sox camp as it looked like he was going to start the year with Double-A Portland.

Instead, the 2020 minor-league season was eventually cancelled last month, and Duran, like so many other prospects across baseball, lost the chance to continue to hone his craft in actual games.

Still, the southern California did not view that cancellation as a massive road block and instead opted for a more optimistic outlook on things.

“I think it just depends on how bad you want it,” he said. “We have the resources to push ourselves.”

For Duran, those resources were made available at Long Beach State, his alma mater, where he hit during the layoff before the Angels took over the facility for their own workouts.

Because there will be no organized minor-league baseball at all in 2020, Duran will likely spend his second professional season as a member of the Red Sox organization in Pawtucket at the club‘s alternate training site, otherwise known as McCoy Stadium. 

The former Dirtbag was taken by Boston in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft and is regarded by FanGraphs as the second-fastest prospect in the Sox’ farm system behind only Gilberto Jimenez.

Like Duran, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke is also a native of southern California. The Sox skipper liked what he saw from the speedster during spring training earlier in the year, and he certainly liked what he saw from him at Summer Camp on Monday.

“How do you do that?” Roenicke asked rhetorically. “You sit for 3 1/2 months and you come back right where you left off. If he figures it out he’s going to be some kind of player.”

 

 

Red Sox Sign Fifth-Round Draft Pick Shane Drohan for $600,000

The Red Sox have signed fifth-round draft pick Shane Drohan, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, Drohan, a 21-year-old left-hander out of Florida State University, signed with Boston for $600,000, which is well above the $364,400 in recommended slot value assigned to the 148th overall pick ($364,400).

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 147th-ranked draft-eligible prospect headed into this year’s draft, Drohan posted a 4.08 ERA over four starts and 17 2/3 innings pitched for the Seminoles in his junior season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the college baseball season.

Based off his SoxProspects scouting report, Drohan, a native of Fort Lauderdale, has a pitch mix that includes a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and an 80-83 mph changeup.

By signing Drohan, the Red Sox have now inked all four of their 2020 draft picks to professional contracts.

First-rounder Nick Yorke signed for $2.7 million, third-rounder Blaze Jordan signed for $1.75 million, fourth-rounder Jeremy Wu-Yelland signed for $200,000, and as already mentioned, fifth-rounder Shane Drohan signed for $600,000.

In total, Boston spent $5.25 million in order to sign their draftees, an amount that just barely surpasses their $5,129,900 bonus pool. As noted by SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall, this means that the club will “have to pay a 75% tax on the extra $120,100” they spent on their picks.

Also worth mentioning, the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, have signed 14 undrafted free agents, the most in baseball.

Red Sox Reportedly Sign Fourth-Round Draft Pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland for $200,000

The Red Sox have signed fourth-round draft pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, the former University of Hawaii left-hander signed for $200,000, a bonus well under the recommended slot value assigned to 118th overall pick in this year’s draft ($487,900).

A 6-foot-2 southpaw out of Spokane, Wash., Wu-Yelland was the first of two college pitchers taken by Boston in Chaim Bloom’s first draft as chief baseball officer.

The 21-year-old junior posted a nice 0.69 ERA and .200 batting average against over seven relief appearances and 13 innings pitched for the Rainbow Warriors before the 2020 college baseball season was shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 261st-ranked prospect in this year’s draft, Wu-Yelland’s pitch mix, courtesy of SoxProspects, includes a 91-95 mph fastball that can top out at 97 mph, a 79-83 mph slider, and a 81-83 mph changeup. All while the lefty throws from a three-quarters arm slot.

Upon drafting Wu-Yelland last month, Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni said the Central Valley High School product has the chance to to be a starter despite his success as a reliever in college.

“We listed him as a starter,” Toboni told reporters via Zoom. “I think there’s a chance that might be the case. Long-term, still a little bit unsure. But once again, we think the strikes are good enough. We think that he’s able to get his pitches moving in a number of unique directions. Command, I think there’s enough there right now. But we’re hoping he can take a little bit of a jump in that regard, too. Just how big of a jump he makes, which once again, we’re super optimistic, I wouldn’t rule starting out. But I think we can always fall back on the plan of being up to 97 (mph) from the left side out of the pen.”

By reportedly getting Wu-Yelland signed, the only draftee the Sox have left to sign is fifth-round selection Shane Drohan, a 21-year-old junior right-hander out of Florida State University.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston can sign Drohan for up to $479,900 without being penalized. That being the case because the club has already spent $4.65 million of their $5,129,900 bonus pool in signing first-round pick Nick Yorke, third-round pick Blaze Jordan, and now Wu-Yelland.

Only one of those signings (Yorke) have been finalized by the Sox to this point, so expect more official announcements relatively soon.

 

Red Sox Sign Top Draft Pick Nick Yorke for $2.7 Million

The Red Sox officially signed top draft pick Nick Yorke on Tuesday, per Yorke himself.

According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the 17-year-old Yorke signed with Boston for $2.7 million, which is about $900,000 below the slot value assigned to the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft.

By doing this, the Red Sox were able to sign third-round selection Blaze Jordan for $1.75 million, which is well past the 89th pick’s recommended slot value of $667,900.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 96th-ranked draft-eligible prospect ahead of this year’s draft, Yorke went as early as he did because, as Callis notes, the Sox “legitimately loved” his bat.

The prep second baseman out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs and 77 RBI over four seasons and 94 games played for the Monarchs’ varsity baseball team.

Many were surprised that Boston went in the direction of taking Yorke with their top pick, but as previously mentioned, they had legitimate reasoning to do so.

When speaking with reporters after the 2020 draft, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said that Yorke “has a chance to be a special bat who is going to play the infield.”

On top of that, amateur scouting director Paul Toboni added, “We feel like if there would have been a full spring, there probably would have been industry consensus that this kid was a first-round pick.”

Yorke was committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona. He will instead become a professional and will likely have to wait a while to actually start playing in organized minor-league games due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On another note, as brought up by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox now have approximately $679,900 to work with to sign fourth-round pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland and fifth-round pick Shane Drohan.

Red Sox Prospect Jay Groome and the 2020 Rule 5 Draft

Jay Groome is one of 49 Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. That means that he will have to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before the November deadline in order to avoid being eligible for said draft.

On upside alone, the former 2016 first-round pick will presumably make the cut, and will likely be part of the Sox’ 30-man taxi squad in Pawtucket for the upcoming, truncated 2020 season.

That being said, with it looking more and more likely that there won’t be any organized minor-league baseball at all this year, Groome loses the opportunity to further develop coming off an injury-shortened 2019 campaign.

Recovering from Tommy John surgery underwent in May 2018, the New Jersey native was not able to see any in-game action until last August, where he made a total of three starts between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners before the minor-league season came to a close.

A small sample size, the left-hander allowed one run on five hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over four innings of work in those three outings.

Since signing with the Sox out of Barnegat High School in July 2016, Groome has made just 20 starts and pitched 66 innings between three minor-league levels over that time period.

As mentioned earlier, injuries have played a factor in that. Not only did Groome undergo Tommy John surgery in 2018, but before that, he missed time in 2017 due to a strained lat muscle and forearm strain.

Before Major League Baseball shut down spring training in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed as though Groome was looking forward to the full season of work ahead of him at the time.

He told WEEI’s Rob Bradford earlier in the year, “I have my family pushing me because they know I’m back where I need to be. I’m healthy. They just want to see me finally start up a full season again. It has been a long time.”

Things have obviously changed since then, though, and it would appear that the only in-game action the 21-year-old will see this year will be of the intra-squad variety.

Clubs across MLB have until 4 PM eastern time on Sunday to submit their 60-man player pools, half of which will make up the active roster to begin the season while the other half will serve as a taxi squad that will essentially remain on standby.

Many teams have already announced that a number of their top prospects will make up their respective taxi squads.

Although no official announcement has come from the Red Sox yet, expect Groome, Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to be one of the club’s touted youngsters to make the cut.

Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck, Bryan Mata, Thad Ward, and Marcus Wilson are among the other Sox prospects who could also make up the club’s taxi squad.

Red Sox Reportedly Reach Agreement With Third-Round Draft Pick Blaze Jordan

The Red Sox and third-round draft pick Blaze Jordan have reportedly agreed to a deal that includes a $1.75 million signing bonus, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, “Jordan will fly to Boston next week to take a physical and make his deal official.”

Selected by Boston with the 89th overall pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft, the 17-year-old Jordan will receive a bonus that surpasses the $667,900 in slot value that was assigned to his draft position.

The slugging corner infielder out of DeSoto Central High School in Mississippi is the first of four Red Sox draft selections to reportedly sign with the club. First-round pick Nick Yorke, fourth-round pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and fifth-round pick Shane Drohan have until August 1st to sign.

Red Sox Placing Plenty of Emphasis on Undrafted Free Agent Market

The window for teams to sign undrafted free agents opened up a week ago Sunday. Since that time, the Red Sox have signed 13 undrafted free agents for no more than $20,000, according to Baseball America. That’s the most of any club thus far.

Not only that, but Boston, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, are making sure they get the guys they want.

That being the case because two of the 13 UDFAs the Sox have signed so far have been recruited by a pair of All-Stars.

St. Joseph’s University (Philadelphia) right-hander Jordan DiValerio, a senior, already had the Red Sox at the top of his list after he realized he was not going to get drafted. A call from Chirs Sale last Sunday morning all but solidified which club the Nescopeck product was going to sign with.

“I was definitely nervous,” DiValerio said of his conversation with the Red Sox ace. “But he’s just a normal dude. When it boils down to it, he’s really normal, easy to talk to. We talked about Pennsylvania a little bit. He said he’s excited to have me as part of the club.”

On that same Sunday, Boston reached out to another undrafted college player in the form of Grand Canyon University’s Cuba Bess.

A first baseman by trade, the redshirt junior out of Fruita, Colo. received a call from Red Sox area scout Vaughn Williams that was accompanied by a recruitment video pitch from Xander Bogaerts.

One day later, Bess made the decision to forego his senior season and sign with the Sox.

“I took about a day to discuss it with family and coaches and even some of my teammates and former teammates,” Bess told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “It was a tough decision, especially having eligibility back. It took about a day to say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to sign with you guys.'”

Along with DiValerio and Bess, the Red Sox have reportedly signed Jacinto Arredondo, Graham Hoffman, Jake MacKenzie, Juan Montero, Cole Milam, Henry Nunez-Rijo, Jose Garcia, Merfy Andrew, Brian Van Belle, Maceo Campbell, and Robert Kwiatkowski to undrafted free agent contracts.

Red Sox Sign University of Miami Ace Brian Van Belle

Since the window to sign undrafted free agents opened on Sunday morning, the Red Sox have signed 10 undrafted free agents, the most among all clubs, according to Baseball America.

The most notable of these additions to this point, at least in terms of BA’s draft-eligible prospect rankings, was made earlier Monday in the form of University of Miami (Fla.) right-hander Brian Van Belle.

Van Belle, 23, was regarded by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked senior in this year’s draft class.

The former JuCo product out of Pembroke Pines posted a 0.68 ERA and .168 batting average against over four starts and 26 1/3 innings of work as the Hurricanes’ ace in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listed at 6’2″ and 187 lbs., Van Belle underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 while a freshman in junior college and wound up missing his entire sophomore season because of it.

He transferred to Miami from Broward College in October 2017, and emerged as the Hurricanes’ Friday night starter on a team that featured two 2020 early-round draft picks in the form of Slade Cecconi and Chris McMahon.

Per SoxProspects‘ Ian Cundall, Van Belle’s pitching arsenal includes a fastball that can top out at 93 MPH as well as a quality circle changeup.

As is the case with all undrafted free agents, the most the Red Sox can sign Van Belle for is $20,0000.

Here are the other nine undrafted prospects the Red Sox have signed since Sunday.

 

Red Sox Third-Round Draft Pick Blaze Jordan Not Taking Anything for Granted

Newest Red Sox draftee Blaze Jordan has been in the spotlight since he was in the eighth grade, if not earlier. He was a consensus top-100 prospect headed into this year’s draft, but that did not stop the 17-year-old from feeling some angst this past week.

Speaking with MassLive.Com’s Chris Cotillo on The Fenway Rundown podcast, Jordan went over how things went on Wednesday and on Thursday.

“I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty stressful process,” he said. “Especially that first night, because I knew there was a shot I could go that night. I was just waiting it out and seeing when it happens.

“The next day came and Boston called, and when I heard my name get called I actually started crying a bit because all that stress and stuff that was built up. It’s always been one of my dreams and I was just really fortunate to get picked by a great organization like the Red Sox. It was truly a great experience.”

Selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick, Jordan was one of the most well known draft-eligible prospects as previously mentioned. He was even dubbed ‘the next Bryce Harper’ as a 15-year-old. All that attention was tough to deal with at first, but the Mississippi native was eventually able to turn it into a positive.

“It was kind of hard, especially being that young,” Jordan said of being recognized at such a young age. “I would walk into a travel ball tournament and every team would know who I am and other teams would start to pitch me different and when they would get me out, they would get really excited.”

He added, “It made it a lot harder to play because it was stressful sometimes, but over time, I started to enjoy it because once that many people start to know you, a lot of kids would love to be in the situation I was in. Once all that pressure started getting put on me, I felt like it was helping me for the future and I felt like it helped me get to where I am today.”

Going back to that Bryce Harper comparison, Jordan says at first, it was “crazy” to be compared to a player of that caliber at such a young age. However, he added that, “I would definitely want to be in the position he’s in, but I also feel like I’m a different type of player. My goal is not just to be as good as him, but better. That’s what your goal has to be, to be the best one out there day in and day out.”

Another aspect of the Harper comparison can be attributed to Jordan’s personality and social media presence. With over 85,000 followers on Instagram, Jordan has already established quite the social media following for himself. He says he wants to use his platform in a positive manner and be a player fans can gravitate towards.

“I really hope I can be one of those guys fans know on a personal level,” the Mississippi State commit said. “I’m hoping that I can just have some good fan interactions and bring people back to the ballpark with excitement.”

Regarding the social media aspect, Jordan says, “The biggest thing for me is just trying to keep everything positive and try not to post anything negative. I know a lot of kids look up to me and I try to keep it to stuff kids would enjoy looking at.

“It’s really cool to interact with people through social media so they can see what I do in my life. I didn’t really mean for it to blow up, it just kind of happened and I went with it. It’s a true blessing because it’s a good platform to be on and share my life.”

The Red Sox drafted Jordan as a third baseman, but with 23-year-old Rafael Devers entrenched in the position at the big-league level for the foreseeable future, that may create a roadblock for the 2020 draftee to get to the majors. Still, he sees himself as a third baseman in the long term.

“I definitely feel like I should stay at third base,” he said. “Because I feel like I’ve put my body in the position to be able to play third base and I know my arm is definitely strong enough to play third.”

Although he can play first base, Jordan wants to continue to develop at third and “continue to work hard” because he knows he has things he can improve upon, such as his strength and conditioning.

Due to the current circumstances in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no timetable for when minor-league baseball will return. It likely won’t be this year, but that’s not stopping Jordan from looking ahead to his eventual minor-league debut if he does sign with Boston.

“Once I get there, I’m just going to be that average guy that’s going into the park,” Jordan said. “I’m going to have to fight for a spot and continue to work my butt off and try to go out there and have fun and continue to play my game.”

You can follow Jordan on Instagram here.

Following 2020 Draft, How Should Red Sox Approach Pursuing Undrafted Free Agents?

The 2020 MLB first-year player draft has come and gone, and beginning the morning of June 14th, clubs will have the opportunity to sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for no more than $20,000.

Under normal circumstances, the Red Sox have signed anywhere between 25-35 players in past draft, but since the 2020 edition was limited to just five rounds and Boston was limited to just four picks, only four new additions were made over the past two days in the forms of Nick Yorke, Blaze Jordan, Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and Shane Drohan.

Because this year’s draft was cut to five rounds rather recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems likely that the Red Sox had an idea of who would be available over the course of a typical 40-round draft before that announcement was made.

It also helps that, since not much baseball was played at the high school or college level this spring, the Sox’ draft board probably hasn’t changed all that much since the 2019 season came to an end.

Only 160 players were drafted this year, meaning there is still plenty of mid-to-late-round level talent out there on the free agency market.

With chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni at the helm, the Red Sox are in a position where they are trying to revamp things on the player development side of the game. They should not limit themselves to just the four players they drafted this week.

Some local products Boston could pursue during this unique free agency period, as noted by SoxProspects‘ Mike Andrews, include:

  • Wake Forest outfielder Chris Lanzilli (Stoneham, MA)
  • Boston College outfielder Chris Galland (Sudbury, MA)
  • Northeastern catcher Teddy Beaduet (Franklin, NH)
  • Buckingham Browne & Nichols shortstop Jake Berger (Boston, MA)
  • Avon Old Farms outfielder/catcher Jake Deleo (Norwalk, CT)
  • Braintree High School right-handed pitcher Myles McDermott (Braintree, MA)
  • Halifax High School right-handed pitcher Michael Quigley (Halifax, MA)
  • East Greenwich High School right-handed pitcher/infielder Brad Lombardi (East Greenwich, RI)
  • Gilmanton High School right-hander Adrian Siravo (Gilmanton, NH)
  • South Portland High School left-handed pitcher Hunter Owen (South Portland, ME)

Some of these prospects, more specifically the ones graduating from high school, will likely opt to honor their college commitments rather than go pro, but for the college seniors with no eligibility left, this could be the opportunity they have been looking for after going overlooked in the draft.

When asked last week about what the Sox’ approach to recruiting undrafted free agents will look like, Toboni said, “The Red Sox brand carries weight itself,” so it will certainly be fascinating to see just how many additional prospects they sign in the coming weeks.

The deadline to sign both drafted and undrafted players is August 1st.