Red Sox promote Pedro Castellanos to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have promoted first baseman/outfielder Pedro Castellanos from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Worcester, per the club’s minor-league transactions log.

Castellanos, 24, originally signed with Boston for just $5,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2015. So he has been with the organization for quite a while and is eligible to become a minor-league free agent this winter.

In 61 games with Portland this season, the right-handed hitter batted .279/.303/.463 (107 wRC+) with 18 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 42 RBIs, 23 runs scored, seven walks, and 56 strikeouts over 254 plate appearances. He was hitting .358/.369/.519 in 20 games this month before earning a well-deserved promotion on Friday.

Among qualified hitters in the Eastern League, Castellanos ranks fifth in hits (67), fourth in doubles, eighth in RBIs, 12th in batting average, 22nd in slugging percentage, and 28th in OPS (.766), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot-3, 195 pounder received playing time at three different positions with the Sea Dogs in 2022. He logged 257 1/3 innings at first base, 26 innings in left field, and 129 innings in right field.

Castellanos, who turns 25 in December, will be getting his first taste of action at the Triple-A level. He is not in the WooSox’ starting lineup for their contest against the Charlotte Knights Friday night at Polar Park.

(Picture of Pedro Castellanos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote prospects Alex Binelas, Stephen Scott to Double-A Portland

The Red Sox have promoted infielder Alex Binelas and catcher Stephen Scott from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland, per the club’s minor-league transactions log.

Binelas, 22, was one of three players the Sox acquired from the Brewers in the trade that sent outfielder Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee last December. The Wisconsin native was originally selected by the Brewers in the third round of last year’s draft out of the University of Louisville and is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

In 58 games with the Drive this season, the right-handed hitting Binelas batted .245/.355/.495 (127 wRC+) with 10 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 43 RBIs, 41 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 38 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 259 plate appearances.

Defensively, the 6-foot-3, 225 pounder saw playing time at both corner infield spots for the Drive this year. He logged 253 2/3 innings at first base and 196 innings at third.

Scott, on the other hand, was originally taken by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt University. Drafted and signed as an outfielder, the North Carolina native has since become a full-time catcher.

With the Drive this season, the left-handed hitting Scott slashed just .188/.305/.336 to go along with eight doubles, one triple, three homers, 14 RBIs, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 23 walks, and 28 strikeouts over 37 games spanning 154 trips to the plate.

On the other side of the ball, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound 25-year-old logged 286 2/3 innings behind the plate in Greenville and threw out 12 of a possible 42 base stealers. He will join a catching group in Portland that includes Kole Cottam and Elih Marrero.

(Picture of Alex Binelas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Pedro Castellanos, Niko Kavadas earn Eastern League, Carolina League Player of the Week honors

A pair of Red Sox first-base prospects took home weekly honors from the respective leagues they play in. Earlier Monday afternoon, Minor League Baseball announced that Double-A Portland’s Pedro Castellanos and Low-A Salem’s Niko Kavadas were named Eastern League and Carolina League Players of the Week for the week of June 13-19.

Castellanos appeared in all six games of Portland’s most-recent series against the Reading Fightin Phils. In those six contests at FirstEnergy Stadium, the right-handed hitter went 12-for-28 (.429) at the plate with two doubles, one home run, five RBIs, two runs scored, zero walks, and four strikeouts.

By recording at least one hit in all six of those games, Castellanos extended his hitting streak to 16 consecutive games. On the 2022 campaign as a whole, the 24-year-old is batting .283/.307/.465 (109 wRC+) with 16 doubles, one triple, eight homers, 42 RBIs, 22 runs scored, seven walks, and 52 strikeouts over 58 games (244 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters this season, Castellanos ranks eighth in doubles, fourth in RBIs, ninth in batting average, 22nd in slugging percentage, 29th in OPS (.773), and 34th in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot-3, 195 pounder has seen playing time at first base and both corner outfield positions this season. He has logged 257 1/3 innings at first, 26 innings in left, and 113 innings in right.

The Red Sox originally signed Castellanos for just $5,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2015. Always known for his ability to hit for average, the Carora native is eligible to become a free agent again this winter.

Castellanos, who turns 25 in December, becomes the first member of the 2022 Portland Sea Dogs to earn Eastern League Player of the Week honors this year.

Kavadas, meanwhile, had a monster week for Salem in its series against the Delmarva Shorebirds at Carillion Clinic Field. Over the course of six games, the left-handed hitting slugger went 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles, four homers, 11 RBIs, 10 runs scored, nine walks, and just seven punchouts.

Selected by Boston in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame, Kavadas has enjoyed a moderate amount of success in his first full professional season. Following a 2-for-3 performance on Sunday, the 24-year-old is now slashing a stout .279/.456/.570 (182 wRC+) to go along with 17 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 42 RBIs, 31 runs scored, one stolen base, 54 walks, and 68 strikeouts across 56 games (241 plate appearances) for the Salem Sox.

Among qualified hitters in the Carolina League this season, Kavadas ranks 15th in batting average, first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS (1.026), first in isolated power (.291), first in walk rate (22.4%), and first in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Kavadas has logged 343 innings at first base this year and has otherwise served as Salem’s designated hitter. The 6-foot-1, 235 pounder out of Granger, Ind. is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 44 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Given what he has done at the Low-A level this season, it seems like Kavadas could be on the verge of a promotion to High-A Greenville. He becomes the second member of the 2022 Salem Red Sox to earn Carolina League Player of the Week honors and joins fellow infielder Blaze Jordan by doing so.

(Picture of Pedro Castellanos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox outfield prospect Devlin Granberg leading off in debut for Triple-A Worcester

Devlin Granberg will bat leadoff and start in right field in his Triple-A debut for the Worcester Red Sox Friday night at Polar Park.

The Red Sox assigned Granberg to Worcester from Double-A Portland on Thursday. However, SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield noted that this might not necessarily be a promotion for the 26-year-old and instead a temporary move since the WooSox have a thin outfield with both Jarren Duran and Rob Refsnyder on Boston’s big-league roster.

Regardless of that, Granberg has had a fine season with the Sea Dogs to this point and one that is worthy of a promotion. In 40 games for Portland, the right-handed hitting outfielder slashed .304/.427/.467 with 11 doubles, four triples, one home run, 10 RBIs, 25 runs scored, four stolen bases, 20 walks, and 22 strikeouts over 164 plate appearances. He has not played since June 4 due to an unspecified injury that led to him being placed on the 7-day injured list.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters, Granberg ranks 23rd in walk rate (12.2%), first in strikeout rate (13.4%), fifth in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, 20th in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.893), 17th in speed score (7.1), and seventh in wRC+ (154), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Granberg has seen all his playing time this season come in the outfield. The 6-foot-2, 225 pounder has logged 35 innings in left field and 268 1/3 innings in center field. He also has prior experience at first base and unsurprisingly in right field.

The Red Sox originally selected Granberg in the sixth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Dallas Baptist University. The Colorado native signed with the club for only $40,000 and is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the 56th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Granberg, who turns 27 in September, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft later this winter if he is not added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline. An extended look at Triple-A could help with determining his future value moving forward.

(Picture of Devlin Granberg: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox pitching prospect Brendan Cellucci finding success as opener with High-A Greenville

On the morning of May 11, Red Sox pitching prospect Brendan Cellucci woke up with an 11.70 ERA through his first nine appearances (10 innings) of the season for High-A Greenville.

Since being selected by the Sox in the 12th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Tulane University, Cellucci had always been used as a reliever. But the left-hander was struggling mightily while repeating High-A to begin the 2022 campaign.

So, after the first week of May, the Drive decided to switch things up with their pitching staff. Cellucci would become an opener and make his first professional start on Wednesday, May 11, against the Asheville Tourists.

In two scoreless innings of work at McCormick Field that night, the 23-year-old faced the minimum while walking one and striking out four on 26 pitches — 19 of which were strikes.

Since then, Cellucci has thrived as an opener who pitches exclusively on Wednesdays and Sundays. In 10 starts for the Drive, the lefty has posted a miniscule 1.83 ERA and 2.82 FIP with 30 strikeouts to 14 walks over his last 19 2/3 innings of work.

As a reliever to start off the year, Cellucci produced an 18.2% strikeout rate, 18.2% walk rate, .317 batting average against, and a 2.30 WHIP. As a quote-unquote starter, he has produced a 38% strikeout rate, 17.7% walk rate, .138 batting average against, and a 1.17 WHIP, per FanGraphs.

Walks do remain an issue for Cellucci, though the Philadelphia-area native has been able to cut down on the free passes just a bit since moving to Greenville’s starting rotation.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Cellucci operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 mph, an 83-86 mph curveball, and an 85-87 mph changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Cellucci, who turns 24 at the end of the month, is currently regarded by FanGraphs as the 39th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. Back in March, FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein and Tess Taruskin described Cellucci as a southpaw with a solid foundation who “just needs to work on his ability to locate his three offerings in order to actualize his potential role as an impact reliever.”

With that being said, Cellucci can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Red Sox, of course, would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline if they intend to prevent that from happening.

In the meantime, it certainly seems as though Cellucci could be on his way to earning a midsummer promotion to Double-A Portland given that he has already logged 67 innings in Greenville dating back to the start of last season.

(Picture of Brendan Cellucci: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox promote pitching prospect Brian Van Belle to Double-A Portland

The Red Sox have promoted pitching prospect Brian Van Belle from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland, per his agent Gavin Kahn of EnterSports Management.

Van Belle, 25, has made 12 appearances (9 starts) for the Drive this season, posting a 6.14 ERA and 6.03 FIP with 55 strikeouts to eight walks over 58 2/3 innings pitched.

While those numbers may not seem all that encouraging, Van Belle has pitched better as of late. Going back to May 18, the right-hander has pitched to a 2.77 ERA to go along with 24 strikeouts to just three walks over his last five outings (2 starts) that span 26 total innings of work.

Among qualified South Atlantic League pitchers, Van Belle ranks first in walks per nine innings (1.23), first in walk rate (3.1%), and eighth in xFIP (3.90), per FanGraphs.

After not being selected in the pandemic-shortened 2020 draft, Van Belle signed with the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent that June. The University of Miami product had been viewed as one of the top college seniors who was passed over in that draft and ultimately signed with Boston for $20,000.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Van Belle — a Miami-area native himself — is equipped with a repeatable delivery and a three-pitch mix that consists of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 93 mph, an 82-85 mph changeup, and a 77-80 mph curveball that is labeled as a “work in progress,” according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Van Belle, who turns 26 in September, will presumably join a Sea Dogs’ starting rotation that has seen two of its top starters in Brayan Bello and Brandon Walter earn promotions to Triple-A Worcester within the last month.

Since he last pitched for Greenville on Friday, it feels safe to assume that Van Belle will make his Double-A debut on the road in Portland’s upcoming series against the Reading Fightin Phils.

(Picture of Brian Van Belle: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox demote struggling prospect Brandon Howlett to High-A Greenville

In order to make room for the recently-promoted Ceddanne Rafaela on Double-A Portland’s roster, the Red Sox have demoted infield prospect Brandon Howlett to High-A Greenville, per the team’s minor-league transactions log.

Howlett, 22, has struggled with the Sea Dogs this season. Coming into play on Tuesday, the right-handed hitter was batting just .167/.278/.205 (44 wRC+) with one double, one triple, no home runs, four RBIs, five runs scored, 11 walks, and 42 strikeouts over 27 games (90 plate appearances) for Portland.

Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder has unsurprisingly seen the majority of his playing time this year come at third base, though he has also made 10 appearances and logged 70 2/3 innings in right field for the first time in his professional career.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 21st round of the 2018 amateur draft out of George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, Fla., Howlett forwent his commitment to Florida State University to sign with Boston for $185,000.

Once regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 (2019) and No. 20 (2020) prospect in the Sox’ farm system, Howlett will now return to Greenville, where he enjoyed a moderate amount of success last season — particularly in the second half.

In September, for instance, Howlett slashed a stout .289/.373/.533 (140 wRC+) with two home runs and six RBIs over his final 12 games of the year with the Drive.

There is no doubt that Howlett, who turns 23 this September, will look to regain that kind of form and work his way back up to Portland at some point this summer.

(Picture of Brandon Howlett: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospects Victor Santos, Juan Daniel Encarnación earn Eastern League, Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors

Red Sox pitching prospects Victor Santos and Juan Daniel Encarnacion have respectively been named the Eastern League and Carolina League Pitchers of the Week for the week of May 30-June 5, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

Santos made two appearances (one start) for Double-A Portland in its most recent series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Delta Dental Stadium. In those two outings, the right-hander allowed one earned run on seven hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts over 12 total innings for the Sea Dogs.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, Santos has posted a 3.94 ERA and 4.63 FIP with 42 strikeouts to 12 walks across 11 appearances (10 starts) spanning 61 2/3 innings with Portland. Among qualified Eastern League pitchers, the 21-year-old ranks sixth in walks per nine innings (1.75), seventh in walk rate (4.8%), 12th in batting average against (.232), seventh in WHIP (1.07), and first in innings pitched, per FanGraphs.

Originally acquired from the Phillies last July as the player to be named later in the trade that sent C.J. Chatham to Philadelphia, Santos is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the 51st-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-1, 191 pound hurler from the Dominican Republic throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 94 mph fastball, a 77-79 mph split changeup, and a 77-81 mph slider.

Santos, who turns 22 in July, can once again become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. Because of that, he could be a prime candidate to pitch in the Arizona Fall League later this year.

Encarnacion, meanwhile, also made two appearances (one start) for Low-A Salem in its latest series against the Columbia Fireflies at Carillion Clinic Field. Over seven cumulative innings of work, the righty allowed no runs on just four hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts.

In 10 outings (nine starts) with the Salem Sox this season, Encarnacion has produced a 4.01 ERA and 3.36 FIP with 49 punchouts to 12 walks across 42 2/3 innings. Among qualified pitchers in the Carolina League, the 21-year-old ranks eighth in strikeouts per nine innings (10.34), seventh in walks per nine innings (2.53), 10th in strikeout rate (27.2%), eighth in walk rate (6.7%), eighth in FIP, and ninth in xFIP (3.84), per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally signed Encarnacion for $40,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in September 2018. The San Pedro de Macoris native is not yet regarded as one of the premier pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system, though he certainly possesses intriguing potential.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 173 pounds, Encarnacion throws from a three-quarters arm slot and works with a 90-93 mph fastball that reaches 94 mph, a 76-81 mph slider, and an 84-85 mph changeup, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Unlike Santos, Encarnacion — who does not turn 22 until next March — is not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until the conclusion of the 2023 season. So there is still a ways to go there.

(Picture of Victor Santos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox promote versatile prospect Ceddanne Rafaela to Double-A Portland

The Red Sox are promoting versatile prospect Ceddanne Rafaela from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland, as confirmed by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

Rafaela, 21, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The right-handed hitter began the 2022 season in Greenville and batted a stout .330/.368/.589 with 16 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 36 RBIs, 37 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 15 strikeouts over 45 games (209 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Among qualified South Atlantic League hitters, Rafaela ranks first in batting average, 23rd in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS (.957), fourth in isolated power (.259), and ninth in stolen bases, per MiLB.com’s leaderboards.

On May 17, Rafaela became the first player in Drive history to hit for the natural cycle, as he went 4-for-5 with a first-inning single, third-inning double, seventh-inning triple, and eighth-inning home run in an 11-6 win over the Hickory Crawdads at Fluor Field.

Originally signed for just $10,000 as an international free agent coming out of Curacao in July 2017, Rafaela began to open eyes with Low-A Salem last year because of his defense. After playing six different positions (second base, third base, shortstop, left, right, and center field) in 2021, the Willemstad native was named the Red Sox’ Minor League Defensive Player of the Year in September.

So far this season, Rafaela has gotten playing time at second base, shortstop, and center field. To be exact, the 5-foot-8, 150 pounder has logged 270 1/3 innings in center while impressing the Red Sox with his defensive ability there, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings.

Rafaela, who turns 22 in September, will join the Sea Dogs before they open a six-game series against the Hartford Yard Goats at Hadlock Field on Tuesday night.

That the Red Sox are promoting Rafaela has deeper meaning when you consider the fact that he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in December. By allowing him to face stiffer competition in Portland, Boston gets the chance to further evaluate Rafaela before deciding if he will be added to the 40-man roster by the deadline in late November.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox promote top pitching prospect Brandon Walter to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have promoted top pitching prospect Brandon Walter to Triple-A Worcester, according to multiple reports.

Walter, 25, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks second among pitchers in the organization. The left-hander was originally selected by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware.

After signing with the Sox for a modest $35,000, Walter saw his first full professional season get wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Castle native then burst onto the scene in 2021 by posting a 2.92 ERA in 25 appearances (14 starts) between Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.

This spring, Walter broke camp with Double-A Portland and continued to impress. In nine starts for the Sea Dogs, the southpaw pitched to a 2.88 ERA and 2.88 FIP with 68 strikeouts to just three walks over 50 innings of work. He allowed a total of two earned runs while striking out 19 in his final two starts.

Among qualified Eastern League pitchers, Walter ranks fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (12.24), first in walks per nine innings (0.54), third in strikeout rate (34.7%), sixth in swinging strike rate (16.8%), first in walk rate (1.5%), fifth in batting average against (.191), first in WHIP (0.78), fifth in ERA, fourth in FIP, and second in xFIP (2.42), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Walter throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out 95 mph, an 82-85 mph changeup, and an 80-83 mph slider, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Walter, who turns 26 in September, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. Given how he has performed so far this year, it seems all but certain that the Red Sox will protect and add the lefty to their 40-man roster by the November deadline.

In the meantime, Walter will join a talented WooSox rotation that already includes the likes of No. 1 pitching prospect Brayan Bello, Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford, and Connor Seabold.

Walter last pitched on May 26, so he could be in line to make his WooSox debut against the Syracuse Mets at Polar Park on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

(Picture of Brandon Walter: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)