Red Sox lose pitching prospects Thad Ward, A.J. Politi, and Noah Song in Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox lost three intriguing pitching prospects in the major-league phase of the 2022 Rule 5 Draft on Wednesday.

With the first overall pick, the Nationals took right-hander Thad Ward. Moments later, the Orioles took reliever A.J. Politi at No. 17. Then, in a somewhat shocking twist, the Phillies nabbed fellow righty Noah Song with the 20th overall selection.

Ward, who turns 26 next month, had been regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 15 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally selected the 6-foot-3, 192-pound hurler in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida.

Equipped with a two-seam fastball, slider, and changeup, Ward got his professional career off to an impressive start before undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. He returned to the mound this summer and posted a 2.28 ERA in 13 starts (51 1/3 innings) with four different affiliates. That includes a 2.43 ERA in seven starts (33 1/3 innings) for Double-A Portland.

In an effort to get him more work, the Red Sox sent Ward to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. There, the righty forged a 2.84 ERA with 15 strikeouts to six walks in four appearances (three starts) spanning 12 2/3 innings of work for the Scottsdale Scorpions. His workload was limited due to a left oblique strain.

Despite the flashes of potential he showed this season, the Red Sox elected not to add Ward to their 40-man roster ahead of last month’s Rule 5 deadline. They instead added five minor-leaguers — including Wilyer Abreu and David Hamilton — knowing full well that Ward could be scooped up by another club.

The same, in a sense, can be said for Politi, who winds up going to a division rival. The 26-year-old pitched to a 2.60 ERA in 50 appearances (two starts) between Portland and Triple-A Worcester this season. That includes a 2.41 ERA with 63 strikeouts to 19 walks in 38 outings (two starts) spanning 56 innings for the WooSox.

Boston originally selected Politi in the 15th round of the 2018 draft out of Seton Hall University. He was a candidate to be called up by the big-league club at the end of the season and was ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 42 prospect in the organization.

Song is a bit of a different story. The former fourth-round draft pick last pitched professionally in 2019 and was viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in the organization before his commitment to the Navy forced him to step away from the game.

Earlier this spring, Song completed his Naval flight training and applied for a waiver that would allow him to continue his baseball career while still serving in the reserves. The Red Sox kept him on the military reserve list during that time and the Phillies will do the same, meaning he will not occupy a spot on their 40-man roster.

Phillies president of baseball operations was running the Red Sox when Song was drafted in 2019. It seems like he was excited by the opportunity to bring tha talented pitcher to Philadelphia.

“We made sure to double-check that he was available to be drafted, which he was,” Dombrowski told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo). “I knew him at the time (of the 2019 draft). We loved him. We thought he was a No. 1 Draft choice; we thought he might be the best starting pitcher in the country. We took a gamble at that point because we thought maybe he wouldn’t have to serve, but he ended up having to do that.

“Being available like this, we really had nothing to lose,” he added. “We like his talent a lot. We get to put him on the military list right off the bat, so he’s not on our 40-man roster. We figured we’d take a chance and just see what ends up happening.”

Ward and Politi will be subject to normal Rule 5 stipulations next year. In other words, the Nationals and Orioles paid $100,000 for each pitcher and must keep them on their 26-man roster for the entirety of the 2023 season. If that is not possible, Ward and Politi would have to be offered back to the Red Sox for $50,000.

Song, on the other hand, is not subject to these requirements until he is activated from the military reserve list and resumes his baseball career. The Phillies, like the Red Sox before them, are not sure if or when that will happen.

“This is a long shot by all means, but it’s worth taking a shot, we thought,” said Dombrowski. I don’t know if anybody knows exactly when he’ll be released from his service. But for the cost of the Draft, we thought it was worth taking him.”

In total, the Red Sox tied the Dodgers for the most players taken in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. While that may not be a positive as far as organizational depth is concerned, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom believes it shows that Boston has more talent in its farm system than years prior.

“I’d rather not lose players but I do think it’s a testament to where our system is going,” Bloom said, via MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “Obviously, you want to be able to make moves to get in front of these situations and you aren’t going to be able to do it with everybody. It’s something we worked on knowing there was some risk of losing some guys.”

(Picture of Thad Ward: Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox reportedly made attempt to sign Zach Eflin before right-hander agreed to three-year, $40 million deal with Rays

The Red Sox reportedly made an attempt to sign Zach Eflin before the free agent right-hander agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the division rival Rays on Thursday.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Boston offered Eflin the same three-year, $40 million deal he received from Tampa Bay. But Eflin — a native of nearby Orlando — ultimately decided to sign closer to home.

On that note, The Athletic’s Chad Jennings reports that the Red Sox were actually the highest bidder for Eflin, but the Rays were given the opportunity to match the offer and that is exactly what they did.

“The Red Sox were not given an opportunity to raise their bid,” Jennings wrote late Thursday. “They also didn’t know until the deal was done that the Rays were going to have the final opportunity to match.”

Eflin, who turns 29 in April, is slated to earn $11 million in each of the next two seasons and will then see his salary increase to $18 million in 2025, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. The $40 million in guaranteed money represents the largest free agent contract the Rays have ever given out.

A former first-round draft pick of the Padres out of high school in 2012, Eflin was dealt to the Dodgers — who then traded him to the Phillies — in December 2014. The righty broke in with Philadelphia in 2016 and spent the last seven seasons with the club before becoming a free agent for the first time last month.

Eflin has traditionally been used as a starter throughout his big-league career and that was once again the case to kick off the 2022 campaign. He posted a 4.37 ERA and 3.83 FIP with 56 strikeouts to 15 walks in his first 13 starts (68 innings) of the season before suffering a right knee contusion towards the end of May. That led to him being sidelined nor nearly two months, and so the Phillies elected to bring Eflin back as a reliever once he was healthy to pitch again in September.

In that role, Eflin pitched to a 1.17 ERA with nine punchouts to zero walks over seven appearances (7 2/3 innings) out of the bullpen. He was also the Phillies’ second-most used reliever (10 outings) in the postseason and walked just two of the 45 batters he faced during their run to the National League pennant.

While he may have enjoyed some success as a reliever, Eflin is expected to join a Rays starting rotation that includes the likes of Tyler Glasnow, Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, and Drew Rasmussen, among others. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have been in the market for starting pitching this offseason. They remain engaged with Nathan Eovaldi and have had conversations with Corey Kluber, who made 31 starts for Tampa Bay this past season.

With that being said, the Red Sox being interested in and making a contract offer to Eflin should come as no surprise. While his strikeout numbers and whiff rates do not jump off the page, Eflin was extremely effective this year when it came to limiting both hard contact and walks. Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound hurler ranked in the 96th percentile in the league in average exit velocity (85.3 mph), the 94th percentile in hard-hit rate (31.3 percent), and the 91st percentile in walk rate (4.8 percent).

Even with a somewhat concerning injury history, the Rays opted to take a gamble on Eflin in order to fortify their starting rotation depth heading into 2023. The Red Sox, on the other hand, will have to look elsewhere if they are keen on addressing that area of need in free agency.

This is not the first time this offseason Boston has lost out on a free agent they were interested in. Earlier this week, veteran slugger Jose Abreu inked a three-year, $58.5 million deal with the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros. Shortly after that news broke, The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported that Abreu was the Sox’ “No. 1 outside target” and relayed that the club met with him as soon as free agency opened.

In similar fashion to Abreu choosing the Astros, the Rays may have represented a more attractive destination for Eflin. Pitching closer to home is one thing, but Eflin will also be able to see more of his record-setting salary than he would in other places since there is no state income tax in Florida.

Either way, the Red Sox failed to sign a free agent who would have helped in filling an area of need for a team coming off a last-place finish in the American League East. For team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, who spoke with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) at Fenway Park on Wednesday, what takes place between now and Opening Day will go a long way in improving for 2023.

“There’s a lot of different irons in the fire,” said Kennedy, who acknowledged that things could pick up when the Winter Meetings begin in San Diego next week. “It’s Chaim [Bloom] and [Brian O’Halloran] and their team’s job to uncover every opportunity. That’s what’s great about hot stove season. Things could go in any number of directions.

“I think we’re going to build a club this city is going to be proud of,” he added. “There’s definitely a chip on everybody’s shoulder. Last year was disappointing and frustrating. People are fired up.”

(Picture of Zach Eflin: Elsa/Getty Images)

Should the Red Sox have made a harder push to bring back Kyle Schwarber?

After helping the Red Sox make it to the American League Championship Series last October, Kyle Schwarber has yet again taken center stage in Major League Baseball’s postseason.

Schwarber clubbed a National League-best 46 home runs and posted an .827 OPS in 155 regular season games for the 87-75 Phillies. The 29-year-old slugger then went deep three times in five games during the National League Championship Series against the Padres. He is now preparing to play in his second career World Series.

While Schwarber is set to bat leadoff against Justin Verlander and the Astros in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Minute Maid Park on Friday night, the Red Sox are left to wonder what could have been.

Boston acquired Schwarber from the Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez last July. At that time, the left-handed hitter was dealing with a right hamstring strain, but he quickly made his impact felt once he was healthy.

In 41 games with the Red Sox down the stretch last year, Schwarber batted .291/.435/.522 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBIs, 34 runs scored, 33 walks, and 39 strikeouts over 168 plate appearances. He put up those numbers while receiving a crash course on how to play first base and also saw playing time in left field, his natural position. When J.D. Martinez needed a day off or played the outfield himself, Schwarber slotted in as Boston’s designated hitter on 14 separate occasions.

Though Schwarber was undoubtedly productive in his time with the Red Sox, he also added value in other areas. Whether it be by embracing the role as a clubhouse leader or connecting with fans on a personal level, the Sox had more than one reason to be interested in a reunion with the artist formerly known as “Kyle from Waltham.”

It was a given that Schwarber would decline his mutual option for 2022, which he did in November in order to become a free agent. Around that same time, however, Martinez opted in to the final year of his contract, which essentially locked him in as Boston’s regular designated hitter for one more season.

Rostering Martinez and Schwarber — two defensively limited players — would have posed a problem for the Sox this season. In theory, first base was an option for Schwarber, but the club liked what they saw from Bobby Dalbec during the second half of 2021 and was well aware that top prospect Triston Casas was about to be knocking on the door.

That left left field as the only real possibility for Schwarber in Boston. But chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. elected to improve their outfield defense last winter by trading Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers in exchange for Jackie Bradley Jr. and two prospects.

Right after that trade happened, a league-wide lockout went into effect that prevented clubs from negotiating with free agents, let alone communicate with their own players who were already under contract. Once the work stoppage was lifted in March, it did not take long for Schwarber to find a new home.

On March 16, Schwarber agreed to a four-year, $79 million deal with the Phillies. Shortly after that news broke, Bloom took questions from reporters at JetBlue Park. He was unsurprisingly asked about Schwarber’s decision and the reported price it took for the Phillies to land him.

“We stayed in touch with him the whole way,” Bloom said, via MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “Ultimately, you want to make sure it actually aligns in terms of term, in terms of price, with other things you might be able to do not just now but over the course of the whole time you might have him. Ultimately, we just thought it was to a level that didn’t make sense.”

Earlier this week, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox’ offer to Schwarber was in the range of $39 million over three years. The Phillies, led by old friend Dave Dombrowski, offered Schwarber significantly more with an extra year attached.

Both Bloom and Schwarber have raved about the latter’s time in Boston on numerous occasions, yet the two sides could not come to an agreement before Schwarber ultimately signed with Philadelphia.

“In such a short time, he became an incredible part of this team, very beloved in the region,” Bloom said. “And he’s a great fit for Philly.”

Schwarber, for his part, told The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham on Thursday that he wanted to remain with the Red Sox., but he felt as though the feeling might not have been mutual.

“We had talks, but I wouldn’t say it got deep with the way things were shaking out,” said Schwarber. “Don’t get me wrong; I loved my time there. I loved the team; I loved [Alex Cora] and I loved the coaching staff. I still talk to them to this day. But it just didn’t happen.”

Four days after losing Schwarber, the Red Sox attempted to get some power back in their lineup with a splashy free agent signing of their own. Boston agreed to sign former Rockies shortstop Trevor Story to a six-year, $140 million deal and have him move over to second base.

Though Story provided exceptional defense at second base, injuries limited him to just 94 games in his debut season with the Sox. In those 94 games, the 29-year-old managed to hit just 16 home runs while posting a career-worst .737 OPS.

Schwarber, meanwhile, led the National League in homers and made his second straight trip to the All-Star Game. He also led all of baseball with 200 strikeouts and played poor defense in left field. But, as he showed in Boston, Schwarber’s value goes beyond how he performs on the diamond. Dombrowski and the Phillies recognized that.

“He’s got this folk hero way about him,” Philadelphia hitting coach Kevin Long told Abraham. “In Boston he was a big piece of that team and what they did last season. I knew there were chemistry issues [in Philadelphia] and I knew how important he was. He’s probably the most important piece of this whole thing because of how he’s brought the team together. I give him a lot of credit because it wasn’t easy.”

Hindsight is 20/20, but it seems the Red Sox whiffed by not pushing harder to bring Schwarber back. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here that Bloom and the rest of the front office can implement in order to have meaningful October baseball return to Boston next year and for the foreseeable future.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire right-hander James Norwood from Phillies

The Red Sox have acquired right-hander James Norwood from the Phillies in exchange for cash considerations, the team announced on Saturday.

Norwood, 28, was designated for assignment by Philadelphia last Monday after posting an 8.31 ERA — but a much more respectable 3.65 FIP — with 22 strikeouts to nine walks over 20 relief appearances (17 1/3 innings) with the club this season.

Before this move was made, Boston’s 40-man roster was at 39 players since Christian Arroyo is on the COVID-19 related injured list. They therefore did not need to make a corresponding move in order to add Norwood, who is out of minor-league options.

A native of New York City, Norwood was originally selected by the Cubs in the seventh round of the 2014 amateur draft out of St. Louis University. The righty broke in with Chicago in 2018 and has since produced a 5.48 ERA (3.73 FIP) in 48 career major-league outings between the Cubs, Padres, and Phillies.

Per Baseball Savant, Norwood operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, a splitter, and a slider. The 6-foot-2, 215 pound hurler has averaged 96.6 mph with his four-seamer this season, which ranks in the 91st percentile of qualified big-league pitchers.

Because he is out of options, the Red Sox will have to keep Norwood on their 26-man roster or will otherwise have to expose him to waivers if they wish for him to remain in the organization at Triple-A Worcester.

(Picture of James Norwood: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox slugger Kyle Schwarber to sign with Phillies, per report

Kyle Schwarber will not be returning to the Red Sox in 2022. The free-agent slugger has instead reached an agreement with the Phillies, as first reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury.

According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Schwarber and the Phillies have agreed to a four-year deal, pending a physical, with an average annual value of just under $20 million. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman relays that the total value of the contract is $79 million.

Schwarber came to the Red Sox from the Nationals last July in a trade that sent pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez back to Washington. At that time, the then-28-year-old was on the injured list due to a right hamstring strain he suffered earlier that month.

It took until August 13 for Schwarber to make his Red Sox debut, but he certainly made his impact felt and endeared himself to the fanbase quickly. Over 41 regular season games with Boston, the left-handed hitter slashed .291/.435/.522 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBIs, 34 runs scored, 33 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 168 plate appearances.

Traditionally an outfielder throughout his big-league career, Schwarber made 15 appearances in left field for the Sox and 10 appearances at first base, marking the first time he had played the infield position since 2017.

All told, Schwarber was a member of the Red Sox for just over three months before hitting free agency by declining his mutual option in November. It was reported several times throughout the off-season that Boston was interested in a reunion with the 29-year-old, though nothing came to fruition on that front.

Earlier Wednesday morning, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke with reporters from JetBlue Park just after Salisbury reported the details of Schwarber’s agreement with Philadelphia.

“I don’t need to tell you guys what he did here, what he meant here, how he fit here. We stayed in touch with him the whole way,” Bloom said of Schwarber. “Just ultimately, like I said, you want to make sure it actually aligns in terms of term, in terms of price with other things you might be able to do — not just now but over the whole time you might have him.

“Ultimately, we just thought it was to a level that didn’t make sense. As much as we love him, and we do,” he added. “In such a short time, he became an incredible part of this team. Very beloved in the region. And he’s a great fit for Philly.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox first baseman Josh Ockimey signs minor-league deal with hometown Phillies

Former Red Sox first baseman Josh Ockimey has signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies, he announced on Twitter. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Ockimey, who hails from the Philadelphia-area.

The Red Sox originally selected Ockimey in the fifth round of the 2014 amateur draft out of Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League that summer and made it as far as the Triple-A level.

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season, Ockimey re-signed with Boston that December and opened the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester.

In 98 games for the WooSox, the left-handed hitter batted .225/.358/.416 with 11 doubles, 15 home runs, 45 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 62 walks, and 117 strikeouts over 360 plate appearances. He became a minor-league free agent in November.

Since the time he was drafted nearly eight years ago, Ockimey has established himself as a power threat from the left side of the plate. His 40 home runs since the start of the 2019 season are tied for the 15th-most in Triple-A over that stretch.

Off the field, Ockimey quickly became a fan favorite in Worcester for his community service last year and was named the WooSox Foundation’s inaugural “Heart of the Heart” winner as a result. Even after becoming a free agent in the fall, the 26-year-old still took the time to join the WooSox Foundation on their Holiday Caravan in December.

On the heels of spending seven seasons with the Red Sox organization, Ockimey will now look to make it to the major-leagues for the first time with his hometown team in the Phillies in 2022.

It’s unclear at this point in time if Ockimey’s deal with Philadelphia includes an invite to big-league spring training, thought it feels safe to assume it probably does.

As for the Red Sox, it seems like the idea of a reunion with Ockimey was ruled out when they signed fellow first baseman Roberto Ramos to a minors pact last week. Ramos and top prospect Triston Casas hit from the left side of the plate and both figure to begin the upcoming season in Worcester.

(Picture of Josh Ockimey: Katie Morrision/MassLive)

Former Red Sox infielder Yairo Muñoz signs minor-league deal with Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed former Red Sox infielder Yairo Munoz to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, according to the team’s transaction log. It’s likely the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Munoz, who turned 27 last month, spent the last two seasons with the Sox after originally inking a minors pact with the club in March 2020, just a few weeks after he was released by the St. Louis Cardinals.

With Boston, Munoz appeared in 12 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and five games last season when the Red Sox were in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak. He batted .286/.286/.429 with five doubles, one home run, four RBIs, six runs scored, two stolen bases, zero walks, and 13 strikeouts over 17 games (56 plate appearances) in that stretch.

More notably, Munoz enjoyed quite the year at the plate for Triple-A Worcester in 2021. There, the right-handed hitter slashed an impressive .308/.340/.444 (109 wRC+) with 18 stolen bases across 88 games. From July 1 through August 14, Munoz notched a hit in 35 consecutive contests to set a new Red Sox organizational record. That historic hitting streak surely helped him take home the WooSox’ Most Valuable Player Award in September.

Since Munoz was outrighted off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in October, he was eligible to become a minor-league free agent. The Phillies are his fourth organization after he first signed with the Oakland Athletics out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

Over the course of his professional career, Munoz has proven to be a versatile defender. Last year alone in Worcester, the 5-foot-11, 200 pounder logged 70 innings at first base, 33 innings at second base, 437 2/3 innings at third base, 92 innings at shortstop, 15 innings in left field, 21 innings in center field, and 22 innings in right field.

The Phillies have assigned Munoz to their Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley, so it should be interesting to see if the 27-year-old can make it back to the majors for a fifth consecutive season in 2022.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, have lost a somewhat significant amount of infield depth in minor-league free agency when you consider the fact that both Munoz and Jack Lopez (Tigers) have signed elsewhere this off-season.

That being said, the Sox did gain some experienced infield depth when they signed former Gold Glove Award winner Yolmer Sanchez to a minors pact earlier this week.

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Victor Santos’ debut season with Double-A Portland was a solid one

It was one year ago Tuesday (January 18) when the Red Sox traded infielder C.J. Chatham to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

The trade allowed the Sox to create an opening on their 40-man roster, which enabled them to acquire veteran reliever Adam Ottavino and pitching prospect Frank German from the Yankees the following week.

Nearly four months after the initial trade between Boston and Philadelphia was finalized, it was revealed on July 17 that the Red Sox would be acquiring another pitching prospect in Victor Santos from the Phillies to complete the Chatham deal.

Santos, 21, originally signed with Philadelphia as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. The young right-hander opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Jersey Shore before earning a promotion to Double-A Reading in late June.

In 13 appearances (five starts) between Jersey Shore and Reading to begin the year, Santos posted a 2.20 ERA and 3.69 FIP to go along with 40 strikeouts to nine walks over 41 innings of work.

Upon getting assigned to Double-A Portland in mid-July, the 6-foot-1, 191 pound hurler proceeded to put up a 2.58 ERA and 3.49 FIP with 45 strikeouts and six walks across 10 outings (eight starts) spanning 45 1/3 innings pitched to close out his 2021 campaign.

Among all pitchers who accrued at least 60 innings in the Double-A Northeast last year, Santos ranked 33rd in strikeouts per nine innings (8.18) second in walks per nine innings (1.36), 29th in strikeout rate (22.2%), second in walk rate (3.7%), 16th in batting average against (.233), seventh in WHIP (1.06), sixth in ERA (2.73), 10th in FIP (3.62), and 14th in xFIP (4.00), per FanGraphs.

A native of Villa Tapia, Santos works from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 94 mph, a 77-79 mph split-changeup, and a “slurvy” 77-81 mph slider, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

This off-season, Santos returned to his home island to pitch for Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. Working strictly as a reliever, he pitched to the tune of a 2.45 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 17 strikeouts and six walks over 14 appearances (18 1/3 innings) out of the bullpen for Escogido.

Santos, who turns 22 in July, is still technically eligible for the 2021 Rule 5 Draft since the Red Sox did not add him to their 40-man roster by last November’s deadline. However, due to the nature of the MLB lockout, the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft has been postponed indefinitely and a makeup date has not yet been determined.

If there is eventually a Rule 5 Draft and Santos goes unselected, the Dominican-born righty is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season in the starting rotation for the Sea Dogs. If that winds up being the case, an eventual promotion to Triple-A Worcester cannot be ruled out depending on how he performs in the spring.

(Picture of Victor Santos: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold dominates for Triple-A Worcester on one-year anniversary of trade from Phillies

August 21 continues to be a memorable date for Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold.

At this time one year ago, Seabold — then a member of the Phillies organization — was traded to the Red Sox alongside fellow right-hander Nick Pivetta in exchange for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.

365 days later, and Seabold’s name is in the headlines once more, though it has to do with what he did on the mound for Triple-A Worcester this time around.

Making his sixth start of the season for the WooSox in Saturday’s contest against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees affiliate), the young right-hander put together quite the outing in front of 7,432 spectators at Polar Park.

Over seven quality innings of work, Seabold kept the RailRiders off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts on the afternoon.

After retiring the first five batters he faced in order, Seabold issued a two-out walk to Socrates Brito in the top half of the second. He followed that up by getting Kyle Holder to line out to first base for the final out of the inning before truly settling in.

That being the case because from the beginning of the third inning on, Seabold did not allow a single hitter to reach base as he took a no-hitter into the top of the seventh before giving up a one-out single to Donny Sands.

Seabold was, however, able to induce a ground ball off the bat of Trey Amburgey to set up an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, thus ending his outing on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (61 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler wrapped up his day having induced 11 total swings-and-misses in the process of picking up his very first win of the year to improve to 1-3. He also lowered his ERA on the season down to 3.73 in what would go down as a 2-0 victory for the WooSox.

“I’m going to be honest, I’m fighting a cold right now,” Seabold, who sat around 90-93 mph with his fastball, told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison. “That wasn’t fun for the first few innings, but then it got fun once the adrenaline kicked in. I was sweating like a dog out there. A couple of times when I threw it, I saw beads of sweat coming off. But outside of that, I felt pretty good.”

Seabold, who does not turn 26 until January, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

After coming over to the Red Sox in that trade with the Phillies last summer and being added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November, the former third-round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton opened the 2021 minor-league season on the injured list.

Right elbow inflammation sidelined Seabold for approximately 2 1/2 months, but he was able to make his return to the mound for the Florida Complex League Red Sox on July 12 before doing the same for the WooSox on July 23.

In addition to posting a 3.73 ERA through his first six starts of the year for Worcester, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound righty has also held opposing hitters to a .209 batting average against while putting up a WHIP of 1.02 over 31 1/3 total innings pitched.

Because he is fully healthy and pitching at a high level (2.35 ERA in the month of August), Seabold may be a name to keep an eye on when it comes time for major-league rosters to expand from 26 to 28 players at the start of September.

This is not to say a promotion this season is imminent, but if the occasion were to arise where the Red Sox needed a spot start or multiple innings out of the bullpen at some point in September, calling up Seabold would seem sensible considering the fact that he is already on the 40-man roster.

In the meantime, though, Seabold — who operates with a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a deceptive 80-82 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report — should be in line to make his next start for the WooSox during their upcoming series against the Buffalo Bisons at Sahlen Field.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire pitching prospect Victor Santos from Phillies to complete C.J. Chatham trade

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitching prospect Victor Santos from the Phillies to complete the trade that sent infielder C.J. Chatham to Philadelphia.

Boston dealt Chatham to Philadelphia in exchange for a player to be named later back on January 18 in order to clear a spot on their 40-man roster that would later allow them to acquire reliever Adam Ottavino from the Yankees.

As the six-month deadline for both sides to agree on which player the Red Sox would be acquiring was approaching, that PTBNL turns out to be a pitching prospect in the form of Santos.

Santos, who turned 21 on July 12, was originally signed by the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic for $150,000 back in November 2016.

Since that time, the 6-foot-2, 220 pound hurler has risen through the ranks and opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Jersey Shore, where he posted a 1.33 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over nine appearances (one start) spanning 20 1/3 innings pitched before earning a promotion to Double-A Reading on June 24.

In four starts with the Fightin Phils, Santos put up a 3.05 ERA, a 3.90 FIP and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 15:4 over 20 2/3 total innings of work.

Santos’ last outing as a member of the Phillies organization actually came against Double-A Portland this past Wednesday, as the young righty yielded four runs on six hits, one walk, and three strikeouts in five innings against the Sea Dogs in Reading, Pa. on July 14.

Back in early March, FanGraphs’ Eric Longengagen wrote that Santos has “a good changeup” and “slings in average stuff, some of which plays up because of his funky, long arm action. His realistic ceiling is that of a fifth or sixth starter.”

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Santos has displayed exceptional control over the course of his professional career considering the fact that “he has averaged 8.2 strikeouts and 1.3 walks per nine innings in 254 ⅔ innings in the minors.”

According to his transactions page on MLB.com, Santos has been assigned to Portland, so it’s likely he will join the Sea Dogs’ starting rotation and could, in theory, make his organizational debut at some point next week. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of C.J. Chatham: Miles Kennedy/MLB Photos via Getty Images)