Looking Back at Adrian Beltre’s Time With the Red Sox

10 years ago Wednesday, the Red Sox formally introduced third baseman Adrian Beltre to the media at Fenway Park four days after agreeing to a one-year, $10 million deal with the then-30-year-old infielder.

In his brief stint donning a Sox uniform, Beltre was productive, slashing .321/.365/.553 with 28 home runs, 102 RBI, and an American League-leading 49 doubles over 154 games played. Impressive enough to earn his first All-Star nod, his second career Silver Slugger Award, and a top-nine finish in AL MVP voting.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, were not as impressive as a whole that season, as the club finished 89-73, good for third place in a competitive American League East, and failed to qualify for postseason play.

Come that following January, Beltre had done well to re-establish his value as one of the better third baseman in baseball after turbulent times in Los Angeles and Seattle, eventually cashing in by agreeing to a six-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $96 million, or $16 million per season.

Because the Red Sox offered the Dominican Republic native a qualifying offer prior to his departure to Texas, the club was rewarded with two compensation picks in that year’s amateur draft. Two picks that fell in the top 40.

So, after selecting University of Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes with their first and own pick at No. 19, Theo Epstein and Co. made the choice to go with a promising high school catcher out of Rio Rancho, New Mexico in Blake Swihart with their first of the two Beltre compensation picks at No. 26.

This move may have raised eyebrows at the time, as Swihart was locked in on playing college baseball at the University of Texas at Austin, but by offering a signing bonus of $2.5 million, they convinced the 19-year-old to sign.

Fast forward to later in the first round, with high school southpaw Henry Owens already drafted with the 36th overall pick, and the Sox made a statement with their second and final Beltre pick.

Yes, with the 40th overall selection, Boston selected University of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Both Bradley Jr. and Swihart experienced their growing pains upon their promotions to the majors in April 2013 and May 2015 respectively, but to land the quality of prospects the Red Sox did for losing to Beltre to free agency was quite the accomplishment.

Think about it like this: for one season of Beltre, the Red Sox in turn received one of the best catching prospects in the game in Swihart, and one of the best outfield prospects in Bradley Jr.

Currently, it’s more like Boston acquired one of the best defensive center fielders in the American League in Bradley Jr. and, after trading Swihart to Arizona last April, outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.

That may sound a bit confusing, but in short, it was not a terrible trade-off despite Beltre going on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Rangers.

Also, I highly recommend reading Homegrown by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier if you haven’t already. A quality read for any baseball fan.

Red Sox Prospect Noah Song’s Waiver to Defer Active Duty Commitment Still Needs to Be Reviewed by Secretary of Navy, Secretary of Defense

Earlier Tuesday, it was reported that Red Sox prospect Noah Song’s petition to defer his active service time was denied by the Naval Academy and the Chief of Naval Operations. That much may be true, but it does not necessarily mean that Song will have to wait two years to pursue a career in professional baseball.

That much is the case because according to Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett, Song’s waiver must still be reviewed by the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense.

“Until we hear something definitive from them,” Crockett said in an email to MassLive.com Tuesday. “Both the Red Sox and Noah will remain hopeful that he gets a chance to play for the Red Sox AND serve.”

This comes in the wake of a November 8th order from the Department of Defense that will allow service academy graduates to pursue a career in professional sports beginning next year.

But, because Song graduated from the Naval Academy this past May, those rules do not apply to him.

The California native is expected to report to flight school in Pensacola, Fla. come late January, where he would train for two years.

With more steps needed to be taken before all is said and done though, the door for Song to resume his baseball career in 2020, compared to 2022, appears to still be open for now.

The Red Sox selected the 22-year-old right-hander in the fourth-round of this year’s amateur draft and assigned him to Low-A Lowell, where he posted a 1.06 ERA and .167 batting average against over seven starts and 17 innings pitched over the summer.

He also represented Team USA in the Premier 12 tournament in the fall, where he put together five scoreless appearances out of the bullpen.

Per MLB.com, Song is ranked as the Sox’ No. 15 prospect headed into the end of the year.

Checking in on the Six Red Sox Prospects Playing in the Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League opened up 2019 play on Wednesday, September 18th, meaning we are now officially one full week into the new season.

Through seven games played, the Peoria Javelinas, the club that all six Red Sox prospects participating in the AFL were assigned to last month, are only 3-4, but have gotten plenty of contribution from those aforementioned Boston prospects.

For starters, outfielder Marcus Wilson leads Peoria in hitting with a .500 batting average (7-for-14) and OPS (1.3297) to go along with one home run and eight RBI through four games of action.

Ranked as the Sox’ 17th-best prospect on MLB.com, the 23-year-old was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back on April 19th and saw time with both High-A Salem and Double-A Portland this year.

Next up, outfielder Jarren Duran is barely trailing Wilson for the team lead in hitting, slashing .400/.438/.400 with one RBI and one stolen base in four games played as well.

Wilson’s teammate in Portland for the latter part of this season, Duran was Boston’s lone representative in the 2019 Futures Game back in July. The recently-turned 23-year-old is ranked as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect and fourth overall prospect on MLB.com. This is his first full season in professional baseball, as he was a seventh round pick out of Long Beach State in last year’s draft.

Coming in at third, infielder C.J. Chatham trails Duran by just .025 points in Peoria’s batting race, as he owns a slash line of .375/.474/.563 to go along with two doubles, two runs driven in, and two stolen bases over his first four games.

Selected in the second round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, the 24-year-old will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before November 20th of this year in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. He is ranked as Boson’s ninth-best prospect on MLB.com

Transitioning from position players to pitchers now, Yoan Aybar and Bryan Mata are two of 10 Javelinas hurlers who have yet to surrender an earned run in AFL play.

Aybar, 22, has appeared in two games for Peoria, working a total of three innings of relief while walking three and striking out two in that span.

The Dominican Republic native put together a fascinating 2019 campaign, posting an ERA of 4.61 but a batting average against of .176 over 44 outings and 56 2/3 innings of work between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

Originally signed as an outfielder six years ago, Aybar was converted into a left-handed reliever in 2018 and has a pitch arsenal that consists of a 93-97 MPH fastball, an 86-87 MPH slider, and an 83 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.com.

Like Chatham, Aybar, the Sox’ 29th-ranked prospect, is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December if he is not added to the club;s 40-man roster before then.

Mata, meanwhile, has also appeared in two games for the Javelinas, plunking two and walking another to go along with three punchouts over three total innings pitched.

Climbing up the ranks to become Boston’s top pitching prospect this season, the 20-year-old right-hander earned a promotion from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland back on July 1st and posted an ERA 5.03 over his final 11 starts of 2019.

And finally, right-hander Tanner Houck has struggled since returning to the starting pitching role, yielding six runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits, three walks, and two HBPs to go along with three strikeouts over two starts and 5 1/3 total innings of work. That is good for an ERA of 6.75 and WHIP of 1.88.

Houck made the transition from starter to reliever shortly after making the jump to Triple-A Pawtucket in July, and it seemed as though that plan revolved around the possibility of the 23-year-old being called up the majors at some point in September.

That is not how things turned out however, as Houck is still not a member of Boston’s 40-man roster. He still has another year left before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2020, so there’s no reason to rush on that decision either. Houck is listed as the Sox’ second-best pitching prospect on MLB.com.

The 2019 installment of the Arizona Fall League runs through October 25th, with the Fall Stars Game being played on the 12th and the championship game being played on the 26th, so stay tuned for updates regarding how these six Red Sox prospects are holding up in the desert.

Six Red Sox Prospects to Play for Peoria Javelinas in Arizona Fall League

In case you missed it, the Red Sox will be sending six of their prospects to the Arizona Fall League this year, with right-handers Bryan Mata and Tanner Houck, left-hander Yoan Aybar, infielder C.J. Chatham, and outfielders Jarren Duran and Marcus Wilson all being assigned to the Peoria Javelinas on Wednesday.

Mata is listed as the top pitching prospect in Boston’s system and the third-highest overall behind only Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec, per MLB Pipeline.

Since being promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland at the beginning of July, the 20-year-old hurler has posted a 5.79 ERA and .296 batting average against over his first 10 Eastern League starts and 46 2/3 innings of work. He was the Sox’ lone representative in the All-Star Futures Game last year.

Houck, meanwhile, was converted from a starter to a reliever while with Double-A Portland in early July before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on July 13th.

In 14 appearances (one one-inning start) with the PawSox, the 23-year-old owns an ERA of 2.21 and xFIP of 5.62 over 20 1/3 innings pitched.

The former 2017 first round pick out of the University of Missouri is ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the Sox’ system.

Aybar is a bit of an interesting case, as he came up through the pipeline as an outfielder after signing as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic six years ago.

The whole hitting thing never really panned out for Aybar though, with a career .624 OPS and all through his first four minor league seasons, so he began working as a pitcher in 2018.

The now 22-year-old held opponents to a .234 batting average while posting a 4.13 ERA over his first 17 outings as a reliever between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and Low-A Lowell Spinners last year.

Fast forward to this season, and Aybar has allowed a total of 29 earned runs over 43 appearances and 55 2/3 innings between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem. He is ranked as the No. 29 prospect in Boston’s system.

As for the position players, Duran has skyrocketed up the prospect boards, moving into the No. 4 spot in just his first full professional season after being selected in the eighth round of last year’s amateur draft out of Long Beach State.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old tore up the Carolina League to begin his 2019 campaign, slashing .387/.456/.543 to go along with 49 runs scored and 18 stolen bases over 50 games played before being promoted to Double-A Portland in early June.

Duran’s numbers have cooled off since then, but as I have mentioned before, to make the Futures Game in your first full season of professional baseball is quite the feat. Not to mention he was the lone prospect to represent the Sox in Cleveland as well.

Chatham, like Duran, has worked his way up through the Sox’ system in 2019, eventually earning a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket on August 13th after posting a .297/.333/.403 slash line in 90 games with the Sea Dogs to begin the year.

Taken with the 51st overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, Chatham will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Set to turn 25 in December, the Florida native is currently the ninth-ranked prospect in the Sox’ system.

And finally, Wilson was the minor leaguer the Red Sox acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back in April in exchange for Blake Swihart, who has since been designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A by Arizona.

Wilson’s Red Sox tenure got off to a rocky start, as he went just 10-for-his-first-62 (.161) with 33 strikeouts before getting demoted to Salem on May 18th.

There, the 23-year-outfielder thrived, as he slashed .342/.413/.603 with eight home runs and 29 RBI over 45 games, which eventually earned a promotion back up to Double-A on July 14th.

Since then, Wilson has been better for the most part, as he owns an OPS of .847 and wRC+ of 146 in his last 39 games with the Sea Dogs, although he is currently in the midst of an 8-for-39 slump over his last 10 contests going back to August 15th.

The Arizona Fall League begins on September 18th. The Valejina will consist of prospects from the Red Sox’, Houston Astros’, Seattle Mariners’, Pittsburgh Pirates’ and San Diego Padres’ systems respectively.

Red Sox’ Top Prospect Triston Casas Named South Atlantic League Postseason All-Star

Red Sox infield prospect Triston Casas was named to the South Carolina League’s Postseason All-Star team on Tuesday, representing Class-A Greenville at designated hitter.

Casas, 19, is slashing .254/.350/.468 to go along 18 home runs and 76 RBI through 115 games with the Drive this season. Among all South Atlantic League position players, Casas ranks third in homers, fourth in RBI, fifth in total bases (192) and eighth in OPS (.818).

Selected by Boston with the 26th overall pick in last year’s amatuer draft out of American Heritage in High School in Plantation, Fla., Casas has quickly risen to become the top prospect in the Sox’ system and the 88th-ranked prospect in baseball overall, per MLB Pipeline.

There were periods of time this year when Casas showed some signs of struggle, as he posted a .208/.341/.383 slash line from June 21st until August 24th, but he has turned it around since, slashing an impressive .343/.425/.514 with one homer and four RBI over his last 10 games.

Including Thursday, Greenville has seven games remaining on the docket for 2019. At 23-39 on the year, they will not be in contention for postseason play.

Red Sox’ Seventh-Ranked Prospect Jay Groome Tosses Another Scoreless First Inning in Second Gulf Coast League Start

After making his first professional appearance in nearly two years on August 21st, Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Jay Groom tossed a scoreless first inning once again in his second start with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on Monday.

Facing off against the Baltimore Orioles’ GCL squad in Sarasota, Fla., the 21-year-old had a man on second with no outs following a leadoff single and stolen base, but he managed to work his way around the jam with a three-pitch strikeout and back-to-back first-pitch groundouts to retire the side in the bottom half of the first.

In total, Groome needed just six pitches, all of which were strikes, to work his second consecutive scoreless first inning in a contest the GCL Sox eventually dropped by a final score of 5-2.

Ranked as the seventh overall prospect in Boston’s system and third amongst pitchers behind right-hander Bryan Mata and left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, Groome is working his way back after undergoing successful Tommy John Surgery in May of 2018.

With the Gulf Coast League regular season wrapping up on August 31st and the Sox’ GCL club already eliminated from playoff contention, it looks as though Groome’s last in-game action of 2019 will come against the Minnesota Twins’ GCL team this coming Saturday at JetBlue Park.

Red Sox’ Second-Ranked Prospect Bobby Dalbec Crushes First Home Run for Triple-A Pawtucket

One day after outfield prospect Jarren Duran mashed his first home run for Double-A Portland on Thursday, Red Sox infield prospect did the same for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday as part of a 3-for-4 night in a 7-6 loss to the Toledo Mud Hens.

Hitting out of the six-hole and starting at first base, the 24-year-old’s first International League homer came in the top half of the eighth inning, when with two outs and a runner at second following a Rusney Castillo RBI double, Dalbec took right-hander Austin Adams deep to center off a 1-2 fastball right down the heart of the plate.

That two-run blast cut the PawSox’s deficit down to 7-6, but that would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Ranked as the number-two prospect in Boston’s farm system behind only Triston Casas on MLB.com, Dalbec is slashing .391/.417/.565 with that one homer and two RBI over his first six Triple-A contests since being promoted from Double-A Portland on August 3rd.

He has started at both first and third base and has only hit out of the six-hole with the PawSox to this point.

Perhaps now that Dalbec has crushed his first Triple-A big fly, the home runs will start coming in bunches for the power-hitting prospect.

The International League is using the same balls Major League Baseball is using this season, so many expected that Dalbec’s offensive production would increase once he got the call up to Pawtucket.