Red Sox ‘uninterested’ in exploring four-year deals for free-agent pitchers this winter, prefer ‘shorter-term deals of up to to two or three years in length’

Before coveted Japanese right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano returned to the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization on Thursday, it appeared as though the Red Sox had at least some interest in signing the 31-year-old hurler before his posting period ended.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, “the Sox had some interest in Sugano – who possesses excellent command of a four-pitch mix anchored by a low-90s fastball along with a slider and splitter – but his asking price exceeded the team’s level of interest.”

This is mainly the case because Sugano was reportedly seeking out a contract of four years or more from interested clubs, which apparently goes against Boston’s philosophy when it comes to signing free-agent pitchers this offseason.

In other words, the Red Sox “have been uninterested in exploring deals of that length for pitchers” and “have been focused on shorter-term deals of up to two or three years in length this winter,” per Speier.

Free-agent righty Jake Odorizzi would seemingly fit that mold after The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Wednesday that the 30-year-old “expects to land a three-year contract in the $36 million to $42 million range” at some point this winter.

Aside from Odorizzi, who is familiar with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom from their time together in Tampa Bay, Speier notes that while top free-agent pitcher Trevor Bauer likely won’t garner interest from the Red Sox on account of his hefty price tag, the club is still very much in need of starting pitching help following a dismal 2020 campaign from its shorthanded rotation.

With that in mind, Boston may look into signing other veterans still on the market such as Corey Kluber or Rich Hill, both of whom reside in Massachusetts during the offseason.

Kluber, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, is expected to hold a workout — one in which the Red Sox will attend — for interested teams in Florida on January 13.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign former Athletics right-hander Daniel Gossett to minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Daniel Gossett to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Gossett, 28, was originally drafted by Boston out of high school in the 16th round of the 2011 amateur draft, but he opted to honor his commitment to Clemson University as opposed to signing with the club.

Later drafted out of Clemson by the Athletics in the second of the 2014 amateur draft, the South Carolina native made 23 big-league starts with Oakland between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

He posted a 5.91 ERA and 5.67 FIP over 115 2/3 total innings of work in those outings before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2018.

Since going under the knife, Gossett may have missed the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019, but he did make five starts for the Mesa Solar Sox in last year’s Arizona Fall League.

In those five starts, the 6-foot, 185 lb. hurler yielded just four earned runs on 10 hits and three walks to go along with 12 strikeouts over 14 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 2.57 and .204 batting average against.

Following that impressive showing in the desert, Gossett opened up the shortened 2020 campaign on the Athletics’ 40-man roster and at the team’s alternate training site in San Jose. But, the once-highly touted pitching prospect was designated for assignment and subsequently released in late July.

According to The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard, Gossett “is healthy and ready for a full season in 2021.”

If anything, Gossett could provide intriguing starting rotation depth to a Red Sox team in need of it at the moment.

Working primarily with a four-seam fastball, slider, changeup, curveball, and sinker, the former A’s righty owns a lifetime 3.36 ERA over 23 appearances (21 starts) and 128 2/3 innings spanning parts of three seasons, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

With that in mind, Gossett could begin the 2021 season in Triple-A Worcester’s rotation depending on how well he performs in spring training. We will have to wait and see on that.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed — Gossett included — or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett

Red Sox sign veteran right-hander Matt Andriese to one-year deal that includes a club option for 2022

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year contract, the club announced Wednesday afternoon. The deal also includes a club option for 2022.

Andriese, 31, spent the 2020 season with the Angels, posting a 4.50 ERA and 4.06 xFIP over 16 appearances (one start) and 32 innings of work. He was non-tendered by Los Angeles on December 2, effectively making him a free agent.

Prior to his time with the Halos, Andriese spent a season and a half with the Diamondbacks as well as three and a half seasons with the Rays.

With Tampa Bay, whom acquired him from the Padres in January 2014, the former third-round draft selection appeared in a total of 99 games from the start of the 2015 season until July 2018, at which point he was dealt to Arizona.

In those 99 outings, 48 of which were starts, as a member of the Rays for nearly four seasons, Andriese yielded 176 runs (162 earned) over 339 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 4.30 and a FIP of 4.13.

Now, Andriese is once again reunited with former Rays executive and current Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in Boston. It’s likely Bloom played a role in the trade that sent Andriese from San Diego to Tampa Bay in the first place nearly seven years ago.

With the Sox, Andriese could provide value as a swingman capable of both starting and pitching out of the bullpen when needed. Given the current state of Boston’s starting rotation, the addition of the California native comes at a sound time.

Per Baseball Savant, the UC Riverside product operates with a five pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, a changeup, a curveball, a cutter, and a sinker. He relied on his four-seamer and changeup the most this past season

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Andriese, who is entering his third year of arbitration eligibility, will earn a base salary of $1.85 million in 2021. The club option for 2022 is worth $3.5 million and includes a $250,000 buyout.

All in all, Andriese will make $2.1 in guaranteed money, though incentives and escalators, which will be based on number of innings pitched, could bring the total value of this contract up to $7.35 million over two years.

On another note, the Red Sox were able to sign Andriese to a major-league deal in the first place because the club placed catcher Deivy Grullon on waivers.

The 24-year-old backstop has since been claimed by the Reds, meaning the Sox’ 40-man roster is currently at full capacity.

Red Sox pitching prospect Durbin Feltman intends to be more aggressive in the strike zone in 2021

Right-hander Durbin Feltman entered the 2019 season as the Red Sox’ No. 11 prospect according to Baseball America.

Fresh off an inaugural 2018 campaign in which he split time between short-season Lowell, Low-A Greenville, and High-A Salem and posted a miniscule 1.93 ERA over 22 total appearances, the third-round draft pick out of Texas Christian University was facing rather lofty expectations as he embarked on his first full professional season.

Spending the entirety of the 2019 season with Double-A Portland, Feltman struggled to the tune of a 5.26 ERA and 5.02 FIP over 43 outings and 51 1/3 innings of work.

This summer, after the 2020 minor-league season had already been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sox decided against including Feltman in its 60-man player pool while a number of the organization’s top pitching prospects, such as Tanner Houck, Bryan Mata, and Jay Groome were.

These prospects spent their summers working out and playing in intrasquad games at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket. Prospects such as Feltman, meanwhile, remained at their respective homes.

The 23-year-old recently spoke with BloggingtheRedSox.com about this experience.

“I was frustrated, upset,” Feltman said of not being included in the 60-man pool. “Just not being invited [after] thinking I was going to go — I was frustrated the whole time because I figured ‘Hey, I’m going to use this time the best I can.’ I’m not going to get time like this again, barring another pandemic, to be able to do whatever I want and work on things. So, I used it the best I could and figured out some stuff. I feel like I figured out a lot.”

Having seemingly turned a corner on his own time, Feltman went into the Red Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers and thoroughly impressed thanks to some added motivation.

“I came in there with a chip on my shoulder and was like ‘Hey, this is what you missed out on at the alternate site,'” he added. “Hopefully I showed enough, I felt like I did. And I’m carrying that into 2021 as well.”

While he had to wait a little bit to report to fall instructs in early October, Feltman was able to hone his craft while at home as opposed to the alternate training this summer. The Red Sox even gave him some things to work on.

“I was in a sticky situation,” said Feltman. “They were taking MLB depth and they didn’t see me as MLB depth yet because I’m obviously really young. They gave us stuff to work on, stuff I had been working on — having a repeatable delivery and just getting back to what I used to do in 2018. I feel like I’m closing in, and I’m not trying to revert back to [2018], but I’m also trying to get better. So, I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now, going down there and working with them and then working on my own.”

An aspect the Red Sox would like to see Feltman improve upon, as he mentioned, was having a more repeatable delivery. The flame-throwing righty went into more depth with that.

“I worked a lot on making things easier — more repeatable and easier,” the Houston-area native said. “I got into the mindset of trying to create more with everything, just trying to create more, and that’s not what I needed to do. So now, it’s just being easy and letting it go. The velocity’s ticking back up, it’s not quite where I want it to be yet, but it’s getting back up there. The ball’s coming out better now just playing catch than it was in instructs and even during the summer.

“Just continuing to work and figuring out those little things,” Feltman continued. “Just making it smooth and basically just being an athlete on the mound instead of worrying about every little thing.”

One thing Feltman does have to worry about while on the mound is which pitch he is going to throw and where said pitch is going to end up. The former Horned Frog’s pitch arsenal currently consists of a fastball, a slider, and a curveball. He discussed how he can use each of those pitches to his advantage.

“Obviously I have my fastball,” Feltman stated. “It has a little bit of a cut to it sometimes when I throw it to the glove side, so I try to throw it up in the zone and then to my glove side. Then I have my slider. I’m finally getting back to how I throw my upper-80s power-slider and just getting a feel for that, being able to throw it in any count. And then, I switched back my grip to my old curveball, just a 12-6 to play off that high fastball or drop it in when I need a get-me-over strike to show them something else. I don’t throw any changeups or anything that moves arm-side, so just being able to show a change of speed from hard to power breaking ball and then flip in a low-80s curveball. It just puts that in the back of the mind that ‘Hey, you got to watch out for that, too.'”

Despite this sound strategy, there were instances last year in Portland where Feltman would regularly fall behind in counts, which in turn led to 13.9% walk rate. He attributed this to a tendency to nibble the corners of the strike zone after falling behind in counts, and is now aiming to be more aggressive in the strike zone moving forward.

“I feel like it was just a snowball effect of one thing led to another led to another led to another,” Feltman said. “I go up there and it’s cold, so my velo’s down a little bit, so I’m trying to create more. Obviously, I’m getting in hitter’s counts because I’m not commanding like I should and then you’re obviously going to have higher batting averages in hitter’s counts. So, I’m giving up hits here and there, so I’m like ‘Okay, they’re hitting me.’ Well, no, you’re doing it to yourself, getting in 3-0, 3-1 counts. That kind of led to ‘I’ve got to nibble here, nibble there.’ I can’t let him hit it early in the count and that’s just getting away from what I do.

“I’ve gone back to ‘Hey, get ahead early in the count, don’t try to nibble, just be aggressive in the strike zone. My stuff’s going to play in the strike zone,'” he added. “It’s amazing what happens, you get swings and misses left and right if you’re confident throwing it in the strike zone. That’s kind of the mentality I’ve gone back to: Get ahead early. You get ahead early, it’s a whole different ballgame. It makes it so much easier… The odds are in your favor if you’ve got two strikes.”

With this more aggressive approach in mind, Feltman is going to take what he learned from 2019 and work to throw more strikes earlier in counts in 2021.

“That’s going to help two things,” he said. “It’s going to help increase strikeouts, so your strikeout rate, and it’s also going to help decrease my walk rate. What I’m working on is being able to throw all three of my pitches for strikes — and not just strikes — quality strikes, and then just keeping that same mentality: Be aggressive early, be aggressive early. I feel like if I do that, everything will take care of itself.”

Feltman, who turns 24 in April, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 28 prospect. The TCU alum, listed at 6-feet and 205 lbs., will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next December, but he has not thought about that too much and is more focused on getting to the big-leagues as soon as possible.

“Obviously, I don’t want to have to go through the Rule 5 Draft, because if you’ve been in the big-leagues you’re not getting Rule 5 drafted,” he said.

(Top photo of Feltman: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of Japanese right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano, per report

The Red Sox are expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of Japanese right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano, according to Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Sugano, 31, has been posted by the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, effective Tuesday morning at 8 am eastern time, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

The veteran hurler is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he posted a 1.97 ERA and recorded 131 strikeouts over 20 outings and 137 1/3 innings of work for Yomiuri.

In his eight-year professional career, Sugano has taken home two Sawamura Awards — the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award — in 2017 and 2018 as well as the Central League MVP Award in 2014.

A six-time All-Star in Japan, Sugano is projected to be a No. 3 or No. 4 starter stateside as he becomes one of the better starting pitchers available on the free agent market.

As you may already be aware, the Red Sox are a team in need of starting pitching this offseason. General manager Brian O’Halloran said as much when addressing reporters via Zoom earlier Monday.

“There are certainly a number of starting pitching options out there of various stripes, and also, of course, there’s a trade market,” said O’Halloran. “Several of those pitchers have signed but there are plenty of opportunities to delve into that market further, either via free agency or trade. Starting pitching and pitching in general is an area we’d like to improve and add depth to. We continue to work on that.”

Sugano would certainly fit that need given his accomplished career in Japan. But, as McAdam notes, “the Red Sox won’t be alone in their bidding” for him.

More specifically, per McAdam, “While multiple industry sources confirm the Red Sox have extensive scouting reports on the righthander and intend to be aggressive in their pursuit, other teams — including many big market teams, have similar levels of interest.”

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel predicted over the weekend that a two-year, $24 million deal could be enough for a team to land Sugano’s services as a result of the revenue losses Major League Baseball and its clubs suffered in 2020.

Of course, any club interested in pursuing Sugano, such as the Red Sox, will beginning on Tuesday have until January 7 at 5 pm eastern time to negotiate a contract with the 6-foot-1, 183 lb. hurler.

Should be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

Fall instructs allowed Red Sox prospect Chih-Jung Liu to get ‘into more of a professional routine,’ Ben Crockett says

Chih-Jung Liu’s first exposure to professional baseball in the United States has been hindered by unprecedented circumstances.

The 21-year-old right-handed pitching prospect was originally signed by the Red Sox out of Taiwan for $750,000 last October, and the 2020 season was supposed to serve as his springboard into the organization

Instead, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused plans to change in a variety of ways, as Liu had to quarantine in his Fort Myers hotel room upon arriving from Taipei for spring training in late February.

While the pandemic continued to roll on in the United States as the calendars flipped to March, Major League Baseball was eventually forced to shut down all spring training camps on March 12.

With the majority of players returning to their homes as a result of that decision, Liu, too, decided to go back to Taiwan so he could work out in a familiar environment given all the uncertainties the U.S. was facing at that time.

Liu would remain in his home country until late September, when he made the trek back to Florida after receiving an invitation to participate in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league.

Once fall instructs began the following week, the Red Sox finally had the chance to see what exactly Liu brought to the table over an extended period of time.

Based off what vice president of player development Ben Crockett told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, the club was quite impressed with what they saw from the right-hander.

“He was in spring training for such a short period of time,” Crockett said of Liu. “[It was] great to actually see him. [He was] really interesting. Showed good stuff. Good fastball with carry. Showed pitch-ability. Showed an ability to use multiple pitches that will ultimately help him. It was definitely nice to kind of get him into more of a professional routine.”

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 18 prospect, the 6-foot, 180 lb. hurler operates with a three-pitch mix that includes a 92-96 mph that can top out at 98 mph, an 86-88 mph slider, and a low-80s changeup “with some fade,” per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Because so little has been seen of him to this point, it’s difficult to project what Lui’s 2021 season will look like in terms of which minor-league level he starts at.

Wherever he does start out next spring, Liu does figure to work as a starting pitcher for the time being despite the fact he was a two-way player in high school and excelled as a switch-hitting infielder in college while taking a two-year break from pitching.

(Top photo of Liu: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospects: right-hander Aldo Ramirez, outfielder Gilberto Jimenez among top performers at fall instructs

Among the 62 minor-leaguers who attended the Red Sox’ fall instructional league from October 5 through November 12, right-hander Aldo Ramirez and outfielder Gilberto Jimenez stood out the most, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

Per Cundall, evaluators who had the chance to attend fall instructs reported that Ramirez “showed advanced feel and should stick as a starter,” while Jimenez “has filled out considerably” and “has started to drive the ball at the plate.

Ramirez, 19, is regarded by SoxProspects as Boston’s sixth-ranked right-handed pitching prospect and 17th-ranked prospect overall.

The native of Mexico was signed from Rieleros de Aguascalientes of the Mexican League for $550,00 back in April 2018, with Sotero Torres, Eddie Romero, and Todd Claus being the scouts responsible for his signing.

Since that time, Ramirez most recently got a full season’s work in 2019 while spending time at short-season Lowell.

In 14 appearances (13 starts) for the Spinners, Ramirez posted a 3.94 ERA and a 2.95 xFIP over 61 2/3 innings of work. The 2020 minor-league season was, of course, a wash due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Per his SoxProspects scouting report, the 6-foot, 180 lb. righty works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 91-95 mph fastball, a 77-80 mph curveball, and a 86-88 mph changeup with “splitterish movement.”

Typically pitching from a three-quarters arm slot, Ramirez currently projects to be a back-end of the rotation starting pitcher at the big-league level. At such a young age, though, he still has plenty of time to improve and further develop his craft before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2022.

Jimenez, meanwhile, stood out as the best position player at fall instructs, and it’s easy to see why considering the 20-year-old is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect.

The speedster was signed out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000 by Romero and Manny Nanita back in August 2017.

That investment has proven to pay off for the Red Sox in a tremendous way thus far, as Jimenez is without a doubt one of the more exciting players in the club’s minor-league pipeline.

On top of his 80-grade speed tool, the highest mark in the system according to FanGraphs, Jimenez has proven to be an on-base machine.

With short-season Lowell in 2019, the switch-hitting outfielder won the New York-Penn League batting title by slashing .359/.393/.470 to go along with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 14 stolen bases over 59 games played.

The one downside to Jimenez’s performance last year was that he primarily relied on his speed to turn groundballs into base hits, meaning he did not get the ball in the air all that much.

Despite that lone deterrent, Jimenez does have quick hands and plus bat speed to show for it. As mentioned above, he has also apparently filled out this year to the point where he is “now built like a running back.”

With that additional muscle, Jimenez has begun to show some flashes of power from the right side of the plate, which is the side of the plate he primarily hit from until converting into a switch-hitter in 2017.

Jimenez will become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next winter, meaning there is a very good chance he will be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster within the next 12-plus months.

As you may have already guessed upon reading this report, Jimenez has plenty of potential, and like Ramirez, plenty of room to grow as a player, too.

Neither Ramirez nor Jimenez were included in the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool this past season, so the fall instructional league provided the club with its first real opportunity since March to check in on many of its coveted prospects.

Information from FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline, and SoxProspects.com was used in this article.

Red Sox among teams who have expressed ‘initial interest’ in free-agent right-hander Matt Shoemaker, per report

The Red Sox are one of several teams to express ‘initial interest’ in free-agent right-hander Matt Shoemaker, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported late Sunday night.

Shoemaker, who turned 34 in September, is coming off a 2020 season in which he posted a 4.71 ERA and 5.95 FIP over six starts and 28 2/3 innings pitched for the Blue Jays.

The Michigan native was limited to just six outings this year on account of hitting the injured list in late August due to right shoulder inflammation, but he was able to return to the mound a month later. He even got the nod for Toronto in Game 1 of the Wild Card series against the Rays in which he scattered two hits over three scoreless frames.

A former undrafted free agent who signed with the Angels in 2008, Shoemaker has proven to be a solid middle to back-end of the rotation caliber starting pitcher when healthy. That’s the thing, though. He has struggled to stay on the field these past few years.

Prior to the 2020 season, the veteran righty got off to a roaring start with the Jays in 2019, allowing just seven runs (five earned) through his first four outings and 25 2/3 innings of the year (1.75 ERA).

In what was his fifth start of the year against the Athletics on April 20, Shoemaker got caught in a rundown and wound up spraining his left knee. Nine days later, he underwent ACL reconstruction as well as medial meniscus repair, and his season was over just like that.

Again, when he is healthy, Shoemaker, who works with a split-finger fastball, sinker, four-seam fastball, slider, and curveball, has proven to be effective at the major-league level.

The Red Sox are a club in desperate need of starting pitching help, so taking a flier, if you want to call it that, on someone of Shoemaker’s caliber certainly makes sense. Even more so when you consider the fact that the Jays recently locked up left-hander Robbie Ray on a one-year, $8 million deal earlier this week.

Red Sox Option Dylan Covey to Pawtucket in Order to Make Room on Roster for Chris Mazza

Before making his first career major-league start on Sunday night, right-hander Chris Mazza needed to be added to the Red Sox’ active roster. In order to make that happen, the Sox optioned fellow righty Dylan Covey to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket prior to Sunday’s contest against the Yankees.

In his second stint with Boston after initially getting recalled from Pawtucket back on August 8, Covey, who just turned 29 on Friday, surrendered three earned runs on five hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over three relief appearances and 4 1/3 total innings pitched.

All three of those runs came in Friday’s loss to the Yankees, as the California native now owns a 7.11 ERA and .692 OPS against through his first four outings as a member of the Red Sox dating back to July 25. He will likely be up with the big-league club again before the end of the 2020 season.

As for Mazza, the 30-year-old will make his second appearance with the Red Sox a little more than two weeks after making his team debut at Yankee Stadium on August 1.

Mazza limited New York to just one hit and two walks while fanning three over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in that outing, and he will now get the chance to start a game for the first time as a major-leaguer.

Prior to coming over to the Sox in December, the Bay Area native made 13 starts for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse last season and posted a 3.77 ERA and .234 batting average against over 74 innings pitched.

That being said, expect Mazza to get anywhere between three to five innings of work in on Sunday depending on how he looks early on. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI.

Red Sox Option Robert Stock to Pawtucket in Order to Make Room on Roster for Kyle Hart

As you may already be aware, left-hander Kyle Hart will be making his major-league debut for the Red Sox on Thursday evening. In order to make that happen, however, the Sox had to option right-hander Robert Stock to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Stock, 30, was initially recalled by Boston on August 11, a little over two weeks after he was claimed off waivers from the Phillies on July 27.

In his brief first go-around with the Red Sox, the University of Southern California product allowed one unearned run on two hits, three walks, and three strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings of relief this past Tuesday against the Rays.

Stock threw 42 pitches, just 18 of which were strikes, in his Red Sox debut and topped out at 98.9 mph with his four-seam fastball. It would not be a surprise to see the flamethrower up with the big-league club once again sometime in the near future.

As for Hart, the former 19th-round draft pick out of the University of Indiana will be making his long-awaited major-league debut Thursday exactly four years after making his first professional start for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on August 13, 2016.

The 27-year-old southpaw had been limited to just working in intrasquad games against his teammates at McCoy Stadium since last month, but he will now have the chance to make a strong first impression against the Rays at Fenway Park.

For Hart, command over velocity will be key.

“If you’re not dialed in, locating, then for me, I’m probably not going to be in the game very long if I’m not locating because that’s almost not an option for me,” he told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith on the Fenway Rundown podcast. “But if you’re not locating, then you have to attack with whatever you have that day in the zone. And that kind of goes with trusting your catcher and trusting your defense. We’ve got a pretty darn good defense up here. When in doubt, I want to try to let them make a play. My philosophy is pretty simple on pitching. I want to get a guy out on the first three or four pitches. So I’m trying to miss their barrel early on. When I get to two strikes, I’m trying to miss the bat. That’s kind of how I think about it. If I get to two strikes, I’m going to give you my best punch-out pitch and miss your whole bat. Early in the count, I want to miss your barrel and get you out.”

Hart will take the mound for the Red Sox for the very first time at approximately 4:30 p.m. eastern time on Thursday. The series finale against Tampa Bay will be broadcast on NESN and WEEI.