The rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox pitching staff combined for an unprecedented 22 strikeouts in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the FCL Braves at CoolToday Park in North Port.
Nathanael Cruz got the start and struck out four of the six batters he faced over two scoreless, no-hit innings. The 19-year-old right-hander began the 2022 season with Low-A Salem but made just one start for the affiliate before being placed on the 7-day injured list on April 21.
Last Saturday, Cruz was officially sent out on a rehab assignment with the FCL Red Sox and has since allowed one earned run on three hits, no walks, and five strikeouts across two starts and three total innings of work.
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $200,000 as an international free agent in July 2019, Cruz is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 48 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-2, 175 pound hurler works with a 93-95 mph fastball, an 85-87 mph changeup, and an 80-82 mph changeup.
Jose Ramirez, not to be confused with the Guardians All-Star, pitched in relief of Cruz. The 21-year-old righty yielded three earned runs on three hits, no walks, and two hit batsman. He also fanned 12 of the 20 batters he faced over five innings to set a new career-high in that category.
In four appearances (three starts) for the FCL Red Sox this season, Ramirez has posted has posted a 5.14 ERA and 1.43 WHIP with 18 strikeouts to eight walks across 14 frames. He is, however, holding opposing hitters to a .642 OPS against.
The Red Sox originally signed Ramirez out of Santo Domingo in May 2018. While not regarded as one of the team’s top pitching prospects, the 6-foot-2, 170 pounder and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 90-95 mph fastball, a mid-70s curveball, and a late, fading changeup.
Lastly, Henry Nunez closed things out and earned the win by punching out six and walking only one over two more scoreless, no-hit innings. The 21-year-old right-hander has yet to allow a run through his first three relief outings (6 2/3 innings) of the 2022 season. He has done so while holding the opposition to a .248 OPS against.
Like Ramirez, Nunez is not regarded as one of the Red Sox’ premier pitching prospects. The native Puerto Rican originally signed with the club as an undrafted free agent coming out of Escuela Central High School in June 2020.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Nunez — who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, sits at 90-93 mph with his fastball and also works with a breaking ball and changeup that sit in the mid-70s and low-80s, respectively.
With Thursday’s victory over the Braves, the FCL Red Sox are now 8-4 on the young season. They will play two against the FCL Twins in Fort Myers on Friday.
(Picture of Nathanael Cruz: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)