Exactly 14 months ago Saturday, the Red Sox traded veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres in exchange for a pair of prospects in Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario.
At the time, Potts, an infielder, and Rosario, an outfielder, were regarded by Baseball America as the No. 16 and No. 24 prospects in a loaded San Diego farm system, respectively. The two spent the remainder of the 2020 season at Boston’s alternate training site and participated in fall instructs before being added to the club’s 40-man roster in November.
To open the 2021 campaign, both Potts and Rosario received invites to major-league spring training in Fort Myers, though neither saw much action in Grapefruit League play due to separate injuries.
On March 13, Potts and Rosario were both optioned to the alternate training site and were later assigned to Double-A Portland to kick off the minor-league season. Potts, however, did not make his Sea Dogs debut until June 10 on account of the oblique injury he had been dealing with throughout the spring.
To that point in the year, Rosario was hitting a modest .243/.333/.279 (77 wRC+) with four doubles, 10 RBI, 13 runs scored, two stolen bases, 15 walks, and 40 strikeouts across his first 28 games (126 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.
The two teammates appeared in the same lineup for the first time on June 11 as the Sea Dogs went up against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Hadlock Field. Potts, batting fifth and starting at third base, went 1-for-4 with a two-run double, a walk, and three strikeouts. Rosario, batting leadoff and starting in center field, went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a walk, and two strikeouts.
From the following day on, Potts appeared in seven more games (76) for Portland than Rosario (69) did, though neither were really able to produce at the plate on a consistent basis.
Potts, who turned 23 on Thursday, finished the season ranked as the No. 24 prospect in the Sox’ farm system, per Baseball America. All told, the 6-foot-3, 229 pound right-handed hitter slashed .217/.264/.399 (76 wRC+) to go along with 18 doubles, 11 home runs, 47 RBI, 33 runs scored, 16 walks, and exactly 100 strikeouts over 78 games (307 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.
Rosario, on the other hand, recently had a birthday as well as he turned 22 last Friday. Similarly enough to Potts, Rosario at the moment is regarded by Baseball America as the 26th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, the left-handed hitter out of the Dominican Republic batted .232/.335/.307 (84 wRC+) with 15 doubles, one triple, three homers, 36 runs driven in, 48 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 50 walks, and 113 strikeouts across 98 games spanning 405 trips to the plate for Portland.
While neither Potts or Rosario exactly lit it up at the Double-A level, they both showed some flashes of their potential while being amongst the younger position players who accrued at least 300 plate appearances in the Double-A Northeast this season.
That being said, the futures of both prospects starts to become interesting when looking ahead to the next few weeks of the Major League Baseball offseason.
Clubs have until November 19 to add eligible minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. The Red Sox have a plethora of prospects (such as Jeter Downs, Brayan Bello, Gilberto Jimenez, and Josh Winckowski) they will need to protect before then, so they will need to clear some space in order to do so.
Approximately six members of the 2021 Red Sox are slated to file for free agency at the conclusion of the World Series, though that number could increase on account of contract options attached to other players like J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, and Christian Vazquez.
By the time the dust settles from that, the Red Sox will likely have the room on their 40-man roster to add the prospects they deem necessary to protect from the Rule 5 Draft, which typically takes place during the winter meetings but could be altered this year since the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires at the beginning of December.
Still, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has not hesitated to part ways with prospects on Boston’s 40-man roster in the past if it means creating avenues for other moves. Last December, the Sox dealt pitching prospect Yoan Aybar, then on the club’s 40-man, to the Rockies in exchange for infield prospect Christian Koss.
This past July, outfield prospect Marcus Wilson was designated for assignment in the wake of the trade deadline and was later claimed off waivers by the Mariners.
The same sort of thing can be said about fellow outfielder Franchy Cordero, a former top prospect acquired by the Red Sox in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February who was recently designated for assignment himself so that right-handed reliever Phillips Valdez could be re-added to the 40-man.
Cordero may have cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester last week, meaning he remains under team control with Boston, but it just goes to show that Bloom and Co. do not mess around when it comes to 40-man roster depth.
This is not to say that Potts or Rosario — or other prospects on the 40-man roster such as Connor Wong, Ronaldo Hernandez, Jarren Duran, or Jay Groome — are destined for a fate similar to that of Aybar, Cordero, or Wilson. It’s just something to consider.
Taking that point into consideration, though, it is worth mentioning that Rosario is one of a handful of Red Sox minor-leaguers playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He has yet to start a game for Tigres del Licey.
(Picture of Hudson Potts: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)