Red Sox pitching prospect Chase Shugart ‘had a lot of success in Puerto Rico’ this winter, Brian Abraham says; ‘It was a really good experience for him’

Chase Shugart was one of several Red Sox minor-leaguers who spent part of their off-season playing winter ball outside of the United States.

Suiting up for Indios de Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Winter League, Shugart posted a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with nine strikeouts to two walks over five relief appearances spanning 6 1/3 innings of work during the regular season.

In the postseason, Shugart’s star shined even brighter. The right-handed pitching prospect allowed a total of one run on five hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts across six outings (6 1/3 innings pitched) out of the bullpen for Mayaguez. That’s good for an ERA of 1.42.

Prior to making the trek to Puerto Rico in December, Shugart had only been used as a starter since being drafted by the Red Sox in the 12th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Texas.

Last season alone, the 25-year-old pitched to the tune of a 4.78 ERA and 4.34 FIP to go along with 93 strikeouts to 24 walks over 22 starts (105 1/3 innings) for High-A Greenville.

Upon returning from Puerto Rico earlier this month, Shugart was one of 28 Red Sox minor-leaguers to receive an invite to the team’s weeklong Winter Warm-Up minicamp in Fort Myers.

That minicamp commenced at the Fenway South complex on Monday, and it also gave reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) an opportunity to speak with Sox director of player development Brian Abraham.

When asked about the long-term role of certain pitchers in the organization such as Shugart, Abraham seemed to indicate that Boston will attempt to maintain as much flexibility as they can moving forward.

“I think there’s still an opportunity to start, but I think ultimately we see him more as a bulk reliever type role,” Abraham said of Shugart. “He had a lot of success in Puerto Rico in the short amount of time he had down there. It was a really good experience for him based on the conversations we had with him today.”

Shugart, who is listed at 5-foot-10 and 198 pounds, is a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a fastball that hovers around 93-95 mph and tops out at 97 mph, a 74-80 mph curveball, an 81-84 mph slider, and an 84-87 mph changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

While he may have only been used as a starter to this point in his professional career, Shugart does have experience in the bullpen that goes beyond what he did in Puerto Rico.

To begin his career at Texas, the Bridge City native pitched out of the bullpen during both his freshman and sophomore seasons before moving to the Longhorns’ starting rotation in 2018.

As Abraham alluded to in his conversation with the media on Monday, the Red Sox value relievers who can provide the club with multiple innings out of the bullpen when needed.

Given his history as a starting pitcher, Shugart could potentially fit that mold if he is going to become a reliever on a full-time basis. With that being said, Shugart is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league season in Double-A Portland’s bullpen.

(Picture of Chase Shugart via his Instagram)

Red Sox’ Brayan Bello recognized by MLB Pipeline as top international prospect in Boston’s farm system

With the 2021-2022 international signing window officially opening this weekend, MLB Pipeline recently identified each team’s top international prospect across Major League Baseball.

For the Red Sox, that was none other than pitching prospect Brayan Bello, who signed with Boston out of the Dominican Republic for just $28,000 back in July 2017.

Then just 18 years old, Bello has since emerged as one of the premier young hurlers in the Sox’ farm system at the age of 22.

This past season, the right-hander began the year in the starting rotation High-A Greenville and quickly made strides there. He posted a 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to seven walks over six starts (31 2/3 innings pitched) for the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in early June.

With the Sea Dogs, Bello picked up where he left off by pitching to the tune of a 4.66 ERA — but much more respectable 3.12 FIP — with 87 strikeouts and 24 walks across 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work.

During his run in Portland, Bello was selected to represent the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field alongside infielder Jeter Downs. He allowed one run on one hit while recording the final two outs of the third inning of that contest on July 11.

At the conclusion of the 2021 minor-league season, Bello was recognized by the Sox and was named the organization’s starting pitcher of the year. The fiery righty was subsequently added to the club’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Bello operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball that touches 98 mph, a changeup, and a slider. He is also in the midst of developing a two-seamer, according to Baseball America.

In terms of prospect ranks, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks tops among pitchers in the organization. The Samana native is also ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top pitching prospect the Red Sox have in the fold.

Bello, who turns 23 in May, is presently projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the upcoming 2022 campaign with Portland. That being said, an early promotion to Triple-A Worcester certainly seems possible depending on the kind of start he gets off to in the spring.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox pitching prospect Cesar Ruiz could be primed for breakout in 2022

Baseball America’s Ben Badler recently identified Red Sox pitching prospect Cesar Ruiz as a potential breakout candidate for 2022 among pitchers who spent the 2021 season in the Dominican Summer League and “are under the radar now but could make bigger names for themselves next year.”

Ruiz, 18, originally signed with Boston for $200,000 out of Venezuela in July 2019. After the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the young right-hander got his first taste of pro ball this summer.

In eight starts for the Red Sox Red DSL affiliate, Ruiz posted a 4.50 ERA and 4.14 FIP to go along with 17 strikeouts to 11 walks over 20 total innings of work. He held opposing hitters to a .197 batting average against, but did so while putting up an 18.9% strikeout rate and 12.2% walk rate.

While those numbers may not be all that eye-popping, Badler notes that despite his lower profile, Ruiz — who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds — is still filling out and has even more room to grow in 2022.

“Signed in 2019 touching 88 mph, Ruiz touched 90 mph later that year after signing, then this year was sitting 89-93 mph and touched 95 mph as an 18-year-old,” Badler wrote on Monday. “Ruiz has good arm action, a relatively smooth delivery and has more strength projection left in his 6-foot-3 frame, so there’s a chance he could still add more velocity. He has added more power to his breaking ball since signing, showing feel to spin a pitch with average or better upside.”

Back in September, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall echoed the same sort of sentiment, writing that Ruiz “showed some of the best present stuff of any arm on the DSL Red Sox while still possessing plenty of projection.

“His delivery is on the stiff side, but his fastball already gets up to 93 mph and sits 89-92 mph,” added Cundall. “He also throws a slider at 81-83 mph and changeup at 80-83 mph.” 

Since he was used in relatively short bursts in the Dominican this year, Ruiz is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league campaign in the bullpen for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox.

The Red Sox, as noted by Badler, have had recent success when it comes to scouting and signing pitchers from Venezuela, with right-handers Jedixson Paez, Alvaro Mejias, Luis Perales, and Wilkelman Gonzalez standing out among the rest.

Perhaps Ruiz will join this promising group of Venezuelan-born hurlers and establish himself even more beginning in the spring.

(Picture of Cesar Ruiz via his Instagram)

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward plays catch for first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward posted a video on social media of himself playing catch on Wednesday, marking the first time he has done so since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Ward, 24, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking seventh among pitchers in the organization.

The right-hander was originally selected by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida and had opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland.

Just two starts and eight innings into his tenure with the Sea Dogs, however, it was revealed that Ward would require Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow after he suffered a forearm strain in mid-May. The procedure was later performed by Dr. James Andrews in Florida in early June, thus ending the righty’s year prematurely.

Fast forward six months later, though, and it appears that Ward is on the right track towards a full recovery. While it’s likely that he won’t pitch in a game again until late 2022 at the earliest, the Red Sox will still have an interesting decision to make regarding Ward’s status in the coming weeks.

Major-league 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, which is slated to take place during the winter meetings in December.

Along with the likes of Jeter Downs, Brayan Bello, and Gilberto Jimenez, Ward is one of several top Red Sox prospects who could become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they are not added to Boston’s 40-man roster later this month.

A native of Fort Myers, Fla., the 6-foot-3, 192 pound hurler is certainly an interesting candidate to be added. In his first full professional season in 2019, he posted a 2.14 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 157:57 over 25 starts spanning 126 1/3 innings pitched between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

This past spring, he put up a 5.63 ERA and 2.64 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to five walks in his two outings for Portland prior to getting injured.

With that being said, there would be some caveats to adding Ward on account of the fact that he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, which can take anywhere between 12-18 months to heal from.

Put another way, if the Red Sox were to add Ward to their 40-man roster before the Nov. 19 deadline, he would essentially be taking up a spot on their roster going into next season. Boston could place Ward, who turns 25 in January, on the 60-day injured list to temporarily clear a roster spot, but would subsequently be starting his service time clock as a result of doing so.

If Ward were to be left unprotected heading into next month’s Rule 5 Draft, other clubs would have the chance to select him. Any team that picks him up, though, would then ordinarily be tasked with carrying him on their active roster for a minimum of 90 days.

Since that would be unlikely to execute in Ward’s case, his new club would presumably place him on the 60-day injured list for the entirety of the 2022 campaign before being subject to the same set of rules in 2023.

Those rules being that once healthy, Ward will have to remain on his new team’s 26-man roster for the entire 2023 season or otherwise be offered back to the Red Sox.

It’s a fascinating situation, and one that can definitely be classified as unique and maybe even somewhat confusing. That said, all signs seem to point to the Red Sox not adding Ward to their 40-man roster by the Nov. 19 deadline and thus exposing him to this winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter.

Walter, 25, was originally selected by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware.

A native of Delaware himself, the left-hander is a few weeks removed from a breakout 2021 season in which he enjoyed much success with Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.

All told, Walter posted a 2.92 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 132:20 over 25 appearances (14 starts) spanning 81 1/3 innings pitched between the two levels this season.

Among the topics Brandon and I discussed are what he attributes to his stellar 2021 campaign, what he did during the COVID-19 layoff last year, how he has changed as a pitcher since undergoing Tommy John surgery in college, what his draft experience was like coming out of the University of Delaware in 2019, how he has exceeded expectations as a 26th-round selection, what his plans for the offseason look like, where he would like to begin the 2022 season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thank you to Brandon for taking some time out of his Monday to have a conversation with yours truly. You can follow Brandon on Twitter (@b_walt_) by clicking here and on Instagram (@b_walt_) by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Brandon Walter courtesy of the Greenville Drive)

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford impressive in first Dominican Winter League start

It may be the offseason for some, but Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford saw his first in-game action in nearly a month on Thursday night.

Crawford started for Las Estrellas Orientales as they went up against Tigres del Licey in their second game of the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo.

Over four impressive innings of work, Crawford kept the Tigres off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on 55 pitches — 34 of which were strikes.

After retiring each of the first five batters he faced, Crawford issued a two-out single to Dawel Lugo in the bottom half of the second that saw his no-hit bid come to an end. He then stranded Lugo by getting Mets prospect Ronny Mauricio to pop out to second base.

A one-out walk of Diamondbacks minor-leaguer Nick Heath in the third put another base runner on for Tigres, but Crawford again responded by sitting down each of the final five hitters he faced in order going into the top of the fifth inning.

While Estrellas ultimately fell to Tigres by a final score of 9-1 on Thursday, Crawford was certainly solid in what may have very well been his first outing outside of the United States.

The 25-year-old right-hander is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 11th among pitchers in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Crawford was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and missing all of 2020 while recovering from it and an additional procedure on his right elbow, the Florida native opened the 2021 season with Double-A Portland.

In 10 starts for the Sea Dogs, Crawford posted a 3.30 ERA and 2.80 xFIP to go along with 64 strikeouts to just five walks over 46 1/3 innings pitched before earning a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July.

Less than two months into his stint with the WooSox, Crawford had his contract selected by the Red Sox on September 5 while the big-league club navigated its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.

On that same day, Crawford made his first career major-league start against the Indians at Fenway Park, allowing five runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two-plus innings in an eventual loss.

The Red Sox promptly optioned Crawford back down to Worcester the following day, and the righty closed out the season having put up a 5.21 ERA (but much more respectable 3.73 xFIP) and 67:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 10 appearances (nine starts) spanning 48 1/3 innings pitched at the Triple-A level.

On Sept. 21, Crawford was recognized as the team’s Lou Gorman Award recipient, which is given to a Red Sox minor-leaguer “who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the major-league team.”

As of the offseason progresses, it should be kept in mind that Crawford is one of several Red Sox minor-leaguers who can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if they are not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by a certain date: November 20.

Crawford previously spent time on the Sox’ 40-man roster earlier this summer, but only for COVID-19-related purposes as he was removed from the 40-man without having to be exposed to waivers.

This time around, however, the Red Sox could risk losing Crawford via this December’s Rule 5 Draft if they choose not to protect him by adding the hurler to their 40-man roster.

When speaking with The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey recently, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham seemed confident that Crawford would remain in the organization heading into major-league spring training next year. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Estrellas Orientales/Twitter)

Red Sox scratch pitching prospects Kutter Crawford, Connor Seabold from starts with Triple-A Worcester amid club’s COVID-19 issues: ‘We got to be prepared,’ Alex Cora says

Two of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system have each been scratched from their respective starts for Triple-A Worcester within the last two days.

Kutter Crawford had been slated to make his sixth start of the season for Worcester in their contest against the Rochester Red Wings on Thursday night, while Connor Seabold was in line to do make his eighth start on Friday.

Instead, the pair of right-handers have been pulled aside as somewhat of a contingency plan in the event that a shorthanded Red Sox team finds themselves in need of more pitching depth if additional COVID-19-related issues arise.

Since last Friday, Boston has placed four pitchers on the COVID-19 related injured list, as Matt Barnes, Martin Perez, and Hirokazu Sawamura have all recently tested positive for the virus while Josh Taylor was identified as a close contact.

Because of all those hurlers being sidelined at the moment, the Sox have had to call up the likes of Raynel Espinal, Stephen Gonsalves, John Schreiber, and Brad Peacock — who was recently acquired from the Indians for cash considerations — within the last week in order to stabilize its starting rotation and bullpen depth.

That being said, the reinforcements from the minor-league side may not stop there, as both Crawford and Seabold have essentially been put on standby for the time being.

“We got to be prepared,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday when asked about the reasoning behind the two prospects being scratched from their starts. “We got to be prepared. Yes.”

Crawford, 25, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 11th among pitchers in the organization.

The former 16th-round draft selection out of Florida Gulf Coast University initially began the 2021 season at Double-A Portland, but earned a promotion to Worcester in late July.

Since that time, Crawford has posted a 5.52 ERA and 3.80 xFIP to go along with 39 strikeouts to eight walks over six appearances (five starts) and 29 1/3 innings of work for the WooSox.

Seabold, on the other hand, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, placing 10 spots above Crawford.

Unlike Crawford, the 25-year-old righty is on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster after being added to it last November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

One of two right-handers (the other being Nick Pivetta) the Sox acquired from the Phillies in exchange for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree last August, Seabold missed the first several weeks of the 2021 campaign due to elbow inflammation.

After rehabbing in the Florida Complex League debut for a spell, the former third-round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton made his highly-anticipated WooSox debut on July 23.

In seven starts with Worcester, Seabold has pitched to the tune of a 4.29 ERA and 4.62 xFIP while striking out 26.5% of the batters he has faced and walking just 6.6% of them over 35 2/3 innings pitched.

Between the two of them, Seabold has more experience as a reliever, though five of his six career relief appearances in the minors came in 2017.

Earlier this week, Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that the club has not discussed promoting Seabold to use him as a multi-inning reliever, though they have been impressed with what he’s done with Worcester.

“We have talked about him,” Cora said on Wednesday. “We know he’s very talented. He’s throwing the ball well. I do believe that September is going to be very interesting as far as like maneuvering our roster and trying to maximize our roster. It’s only two more spots. It’s not a few years ago when you could go up to 40.

As noted by Smith, major-league rosters now expand from 26 to 28 players at the beginning of September — not all the way up to 40 as they did previously.

“He’s throwing the ball well,” added Cora. “We know that probably he can contribute. How? We’ll talk about it and when/if we need him. But as of now, he’s still down there (in Worcester). He’s still getting better. And we’re very happy that he’s performing the way he’s performing.”

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Red Sox pitching prospects Jeremy Wu-Yelland, Shane Drohan strike out 9 batters in respective starts for High-A Greenville, Low-A Salem

The two pitching prospects the Red Sox selected in last year’s amateur draft certainly showed out for their respective affiliates on Thursday night.

Jeremy Wu-Yelland, taken by the Sox in the fourth round out of the University of Hawaii, and Shane Drohan, taken in the fifth round out of Florida State University, each struck out a season-high of nine batters in their starts — which took place at the same time, but approximately 260 miles away from one another.

Wu-Yelland, who was just promoted to High-A Greenville earlier in the day, made his debut for the Drive a memorable one by tossing five scoreless, no-hit innings against the Asheville Tourists (Astros affiliate) at Fluor Field.

In addition to not allowing a run or hit, the left-hander worked his way around four walks and a hit batsman while striking out those nine batters.

Two of those four walks — and the HBP — issued by Wu-Yelland came in consecutive order to begin things in the top half of the third inning, thus loading the bases with no outs for Asheville.

The 22-year-old southpaw did not buckle under the pressure, however, and instead locked in by punching out Freudis Nova on three pitches before getting Shay Whitcomb to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

From there, Wu-Yelland struck out the side for the second time in the fourth and followed that up by retiring the final three hitters he faced in the fifth to end his outing on an encouraging note.

Of the 72 pitches Wu-Yelland threw on Thursday, 43 went for strikes. Six of his strikeouts were swinging, two were looking, and one was on a foul tip.

The Greenville bullpen took over for Wu-Yelland in the sixth and ensured that the lefty’s efforts would not go to waste as relievers Jose Espada, Oddanier Mosqueda, and Jacob Wallace saw the combined no-hit bid through to its completion.

In helping the Drive throw their fourth no-hitter in team history, Wu-Yelland was able to earn his first victory at the High-A level in his very first start there.

Prior to getting promoted on Thursday, the Seattle-area native had spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem, where he had posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP to go along with 77 strikeouts to 36 walks over 20 starts spanning 67 innings pitched.

Listed at an imposing 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Wu-Yelland — who was signed as a junior out of Hawaii by J.J. Altobelli — is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 12th among pitchers in the organization.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wu-Yelland “is one of the most explosive, powerful pitchers in Boston’s system” as he operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-octane fastball, a slider, and a changeup.

30 picks after taking Wu-Yelland in the fourth round of last summer’s draft, the Red Sox selected a fellow left-hander in the fifth round in the form of Drohan, who was also sharp for Low-A Salem on Thursday in the first game of their seven-inning doubleheader against the Fredericksburg Nationals at Haley Toyota Field.

Over five quality innings of work, Drohan surrendered just one earned run while scattering just four hits and no walks with a season-high nine strikeouts on the night.

Drohan, also 22, faced all of 14 batters — just two over the minimum — through his first four frames, but ran into some trouble in the top half of the fifth when he yielded back-to-back one out doubles to Jaden Fein and Jose Sanchez, resulting in Fredericksburg plating their first run.

A wild pitch allowed Sanchez to move up to third, though Drohan managed to strand him there by sitting down the final two hitters he faced to retire the side in the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (53 strikes), the Florida State product was able to pick up his sixth winning decision of the season while also lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.89.

Through 20 starts with Salem now, Drohan has pitched to the tune of a 3.89 ERA, a .241 batting average against, and a 1.40 WHIP to go along with 75 strikeouts to 40 walks in 78 2/3 total innings of work.

A former 23-round draft pick of the Phillies out of high school who opted to honor his commitment to Florida State in 2017, Drohan is not regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system.

The 6-foot-3, 195 pound Florida native is, however, regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 32 prospect in the Red Sox organization, as his pitch arsenal is currently comprised of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and 80-83 mph changeup.

Both Wu-Yelland and Drohan can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after the 2023 season, so there is no rush for the Red Sox to add either hurler to their 40-man roster at the moment.

(Picture of Jeremy Wu-Yelland: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox pitching prospect Chris Murphy allows just 1 hit and strikes out 7 over 7 scoreless innings in latest start for Double-A Portland

Red Sox pitching prospect Chris Murphy put together quite the outing for Double-A Portland at Hadlock Field on Tuesday night.

Matched up against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets affiliate) in what was his third start of the season for the Sea Dogs, Murphy kept the opposition off the scoreboard while scattering all of one hit and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over seven dominating innings of work.

Early on, it did not appear as though Murphy was at his sharpest considering he allowed two of the first three batters he faced to reach base via a one-out single and walk.

After escaping that jam, however, the left-hander settled in and proceeded to mow the Rumble Ponies down in order on more than just one occasion.

From the beginning of the second inning on, Murphy retired all of the final 18 hitters who came to the plate against him in the process of stringing together those seven scoreless, one-hit frames.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (56 strikes), Murphy ended his night having induced eight groundouts and three fly outs.

He later made way for relievers Jose Disla and Tyler Olson, who both slammed the door on the Rumble Ponies in the eighth and ninth innings to secure an 11-0 shutout victory for the Sea Dogs.

Through his first three starts with Portland dating back to August 4, Murphy has posted a 2.12 ERA and 3.90 xFIP with 21 strikeouts and just five walks over 17 total innings pitched thus far.

The Red Sox originally selected the 23-year-old in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego. He was scouted by J.J. Altobelli and later signed with Boston for $200,000.

After beginning his professional career in Lowell that summer and only having the fall instructional league to fall back on last year on account of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown, Murphy opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville.

In 14 starts with the Drive, the California native put up a 4.21 ERA and less favorable 4.59 xFIP over the course of 68 1/3 innings pitched, but nevertheless earned a promotion to Portland on July 31.

In the three starts he has made with the Sea Dogs to this point, Murphy has proven to be more effective in regards to limiting traffic on the base paths. After averaging more than three walks per nine innings in Greenville, the lefty has trimmed that number down to 2.65 in Portland.

On top of that, Murphy has increased his strikeout rate since his promotion (28.3% to 32.3%) while also holding opposing hitters to a miniscule .183 batting average against.

As things stand at the moment, Murphy is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among pitchers in the organization.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-1, 175 pound hurler throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 90-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph, an 80-82 mph changeup, a 73-75 curveball with a 1-to-7 break, and an 80-84 mph slider.

As noted by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Murphy’s fastball has touched 97-98 mph this season, while his other pitches have proven capable of inducing plenty of swings-and-misses.

That being said, Cundall did point out that the “key for [Murphy] going forward is refining [his] command.”

Murphy, who does not turn 24 until next June, does not become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until December 2022, so there is still some time before the Red Sox need to make a decision in regards to adding him to their 40-man roster.

(Picture of Chris Murphy: Portland Sea Dogs)

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold strikes out 10 over 6 scoreless innings for Triple-A Worcester

Eduardo Rodriguez was not the only pitcher in the Red Sox organization who struck out a season-high 10 batters on Wednesday night.

Pitching prospect Connor Seabold, making his just his third start of the year for Triple-A Worcester, dazzled against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees affiliate) at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa.

Over six dominant innings of work, Seabold kept the RailRiders off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and one walk to go along with those 10 punchouts.

Setting the tone by fanning the first five hitters he faced out of the gate, the right-hander saw his bid for a perfect game end when he issued a two-out walk to Thomas Milone in the bottom of the third, but followed that by taking a no-hitter into the fifth before he gave up a one-out single to veteran catcher Rob Brantly.

Seabold was able to strand Brantly at first by retiring the next two RailRiders who came up to the plate against him, and he put the finishing touches on his stellar night by punching out two more in a scoreless sixth inning.

Of the 85 pitches the 25-year-old hurler threw on Wednesday, 59 — or 69.4% — of them went for strikes. He also induced 20 swings-and-misses, per Red Sox Stats on Twitter.

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.

The Southern California native was slated to open the 2021 season in Worcester’s starting rotation, bur was placed on the injured list in early May due to right elbow inflammation.

After missing approximately 2 1/2 months because of that ailment, Seabold began a rehab assignment with the Florida Complex League Red Sox and made two starts with them before being activated off the IL last month.

Including Wednesday night’s strong showing, Seabold has allowed a grand total of 10 runs (seven earned) on 12 hits, five walks, and 16 strikeouts across three starts (14 1/3 innings pitched) with the WooSox. That’s good for an ERA of 4.40, a WHIP of 1.19, and a batting average against of .226.

The Red Sox originally acquired the 6-foot-3, 195 pound righty — as well as fellow pitcher Nick Pivetta — in a trade with the Phillies last August that sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia.

Seabold spent the remainder of the summer at the Sox’ alternate training site before being added to the club’s 40-man roster in November in order to be protected from that winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

Since he was added to the 40-man during the offseason, the former third-round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton seemed prime to serve as topline rotation depth for the Red Sox at the Triple-A level to start the year, but injuries instead altered those plans.

Now that he is back and pitching at a seemingly high level, though, it should be interesting to see if the Sox have any plans to utilize Seabold at the major-league level once rosters expand from 26 to 28 players at the beginning of September.

For now, 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 — is in line to make his next start for the WooSox when they take on the Syracuse Mets at Polar Park on Tuesday, August 10.

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