Red Sox release prospect acquired in Andrew Benintendi trade

The Red Sox have released minor-league outfielder-turned-pitcher Freddy Valdez, per the club’s transactions log.

Valdez, 21, was one of five players Boston acquired as part of the three-team trade with the Royals and Mets that sent outfielder Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City in February 2021. The Red Sox initially obtained outfielder Franchy Cordero and right-hander Josh Winckowski and then received three more prospects (Valdez, and righties Grant Gambrell and Luis De La Rosa) as players to be named later that June.

At the time of the trade, Valdez was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 14 prospect in the Mets’ farm system after originally signing with the club for $1.450 million as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018.

As a then-19-year-old outfielder, Valdez had impressed scouts by flashing intriguing power potential and athleticism. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had high praise for the right-handed hitter after acquiring him from New York.

“Corner outfielder, power-profile,” Bloom said of Valdez when speaking with reporters (including’s Christopher Smith) back in June 2021. “ery young. For a guy who is as power-oriented as he was as an amateur — and who has a lot of the strengths and weaknesses that come with that profile — to get into pro ball and perform the way he did initially was really impressive. Got him on our radar. And we got to see him a little bit in extended (spring training).”

Despite the high praise from Bloom, Valdez struggled at the plate in each of the last two seasons and never graduated past rookie ball. He batted just .229/.356/.33 with no home runs and 16 RBIs over 31 Florida Complex League games in 2021 and then slashed .192/.286/.289 with one homer and nine RBIs across 22 games while repeating the same level last year.

On the heels of back-to-back disappointing campaigns, Valdez was converted into a pitcher earlier this season. But the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder never made it out of extended spring training before being cut loose by the Red Sox on Thursday.

Valdez joins Cordero, who was non-tendered over the winter after spending two seasons in Boston, as two pieces from the Benintendi trade who are no longer with the organization. The three players who remain are all pitchers. Winckowski, 24, has posted a 2.15 ERA in 17 appearances (29 1/3 innings) out of the Red Sox bullpen so far this year. Gambrell, 25, was recently promoted from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland and has put up a 1.69 ERA in his first two starts (10 2/3 innings) with the Sea Dogs. De La Rosa, 20, owns a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings of work for Low-A Salem.

As noted by’s Chris Cotillo, though, neither Gambrell or De La Rosa are ranked among the top 60 prospects in the Red Sox’ farm system by

(Picture of Freddy Valdez: Bryan Green/Flickr)


Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis shows flashes of his potential in first Grapefruit League start

Red Sox outfield prospect Miguel Bleis made his impact felt on both sides of the ball in what was his first career Grapefruit League start on Monday afternoon.

Though the Red Sox were trounced by the Blue Jays by a final score of 16-3 in Dunedin, Bleis made the most of his opportunity while serving as Boston’s starting right fielder.

Right out of the gate, Bleis was put on the spot with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning. Red Sox starter Chris Murphy had just given up an RBI single to Addison Barger. Alejandro Kirk easily scored from third on the play, but Brandon Belt was also trying to come in from second to triple his side’s lead.

Bleis, who was playing in deep right field, quickly charged at Barger’s 104.4 mph base hit. With his momentum carrying him towards the infield, Bleis collected himself and unleashed an accurate dart to catcher Stephen Scott that arrived in plenty of time to snuff out Belt at home plate and the end inning.

In the top of the second, Bleis found himself coming to the plate with two outs, the bases loaded, and All-Star starter Alek Manoah on the mound for Toronto. Unfazed by the moment, the right-handed hitter took a 1-2 sinker that was in by his hands and promptly slapped it to the opposite field for what was then a game-tying two-run single.

Bleis was able to put his speed on display by going from first to third on an Enmanuel Valdez RBI single. In the latter half of the second, he made a running grab to rob Whit Merrifield of a hit. But the 19-year-old also showed his lack of experience when he allowed another single off the bat of Barger to get under his glove in the third, which led to three more Toronto runs crossing the plate. He then struck out swinging against Manoah in the fourth.

“That’s why I don’t get too excited, especially in the market where we play,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Bleis when speaking with reporters (including’s Joey Johnston). “He has a lot of great tools, no doubt. It seems like everybody knows everybody … and there’s a passion about the kids. But at the same time, I played with guys who were the second coming of whoever — and they never panned out.

“In my mind, I have to be the one who stays calm and keeps it neutral instead of getting too excited,” he added. “When they become big leaguers, they’re big leaguers. But there’s a process. … Just be patient. You’re going to go through ups and downs. When you’re up high, how will you act? When you’re down [low], how will you act? Be patient.”

Bleis, who just turned 19 earlier this month, originally signed with the Red Sox for $1.05 million as a highly-touted international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in January 2021. The San Pedro de Macoris native has been tabbed by outlets such as MLB Pipeline as Boston’s top international prospect since Rafael Devers.

Though he certainly possesses five-tool potential, Bleis has yet to play above the rookie-ball level. He is coming off a 2022 campaign in which he slashed .301/.353/.543 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 10 walks, and 45 strikeouts in 40 games (167 plate appearances) for the Florida Complex League Red Sox in Fort Myers. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder also registered a team-high five outfield assists while seeing the majority of his playing time come in center.

As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Bleis will break minor-league camp in April with Low-A Salem, where he will get his first taste of full-season ball. There could be a transition period of sorts as Bleis refines his approach while going up more advanced competition, but his ongoing development will nevertheless be something to monitor moving forward.

Because he is still just 19 years old, Bleis is obviously a ways away from the big-leagues. However, when speaking with Speier on Monday, he indicated that he would like to make his major-league debut by the end of his age-21 season, which is not until 2025.

“I have a goal,” Bleis said through translator Carlos Villoria-Benitez. “In my mind, at the end of my 21­-year old season, that will be a nice thing to do if I make my debut in the big-leagues. “I’m going to play hard and show the team I’m getting ready in all the aspects they want me to.”

(Picture of Miguel Bleis: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox outfield prospect Wilyer Abreu strains left hamstring

Red Sox outfielder Wilyer Abreu suffered a left hamstring strain in the seventh inning of Sunday’s 4-1 League win over the Marlins at JetBlue Park.

Abreu entered the game in the top of the seventh as a defensive replacement for starting right fielder Alex Verdugo. The left-handed hitter led off the bottom half of the frame with a line-drive single off Marlins reliever Devin Smeltzer, but he rounded the first base bag awkwardly and was in clear discomfort as a result.

After getting checked out by Red Sox manager Alex Cora and a member of the team’s training staff, Abreu was lifted for pinch-runner Stephen Scott. The 23-year-old finished his day going 1-for-1 with a base hit in his lone plate appearance.

“Right before he stepped on the bag, he felt it,” Cora told reporters (including’s Ian Browne. “He felt it. He stopped right away, so that’s good. But he’ll be out for a while.”

Abreu becomes the third member of the Red Sox to sustain some sort of hamstring injury within the last week, joining catcher Connor Wong (Thursday) and left-hander James Paxton (Friday). Both Wong and Paxton have since been diagnosed with low-grade strains. It’s likely that more information regarding the severity of Abreu’s strain will become available on Monday.

The Red Sox originally acquired Abreu (and fellow prospect Enmanuel Valdez) from the Astros in the trade that sent catcher Christian Vazquez to Houston last August. Abreu closed out the 2022 season with Double-A Portland and batted .242/.399/.375 with five doubles, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 25 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 36 walks, and 45 strikeouts across 40 games (168 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs while seeing playing time at all three outfield positions.

After playing in the Arizona Fall League, Abreu was added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft. The native Venezuelan is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Prior to getting injured on Sunday, Abreu had gotten his first spring with the Red Sox off to a solid start by going 4-for-12 (.333) with a triple, a home run, four runs driven in, five runs scored, two walks, and four strikeouts in seven Grapefruit League games. He crushed a grand slam in Thursday’s 15-3 rout of the Phillies.

As of now, it remains to be seen just how much time Abreu will miss because of this hamstring strain. Abreu, who turns 24 in June, only has 129 career games at the Double-A level under his belt and is expected to return to Portland for the start of the 2023 minor-league season. Because he is on the 40-man roster, though, any sort of absence could have an affect on Boston’s outfield depth in the upper-minors to begin the year.

(Picture of Wilyer Abreu: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox infield prospect Nick Sogard did a lot of traveling in 2021

It was one year ago Thursday when the Red Sox acquired catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard from the Rays for recently-designated relievers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs.

Hernandez, 24, had a solid 2021 season with Double-A Portland and wound up finishing the year with Triple-A Worcester. For the purposes of this article, though, we will strictly be focusing on the year Sogard had.

The younger cousin of veteran big-league infielder Eric Sogard, Nick was originally selected by the Rays in the 12th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out what would have been his first full season of pro ball in 2020, Sogard was traded from Tampa Bay to Boston and opened the 2021 minor-league campaign with High-A Greenville.

In his first 47 games (208 plate appearances) with the Drive, the switch-hitter batted .262/.339/.473 (109 wRC+) with 10 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, five stolen bases, 20 walks, and 36 strikeouts through July 22.

The following day, Sogard traveled from Greenville, S.C. to Portland, Maine to make his Double-A debut for the Portland Sea Dogs in their contest against the Harrisburg Senators at Hadlock Field. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI single and then remained with the Sea Dogs to fill in for players who left for the Summer Olympics. .

For the next two-plus weeks, Sogard appeared in a total of 15 games for Portland and hit .280/.345/.320 (84 wRC+). 13 of his 14 hits went for singles and he was sent back down to Greenville when Triston Casas returned from Tokyo on August 10.

Sogard’s second stint with the Drive began when he was inserted back into Iggy Suarez’s lineup on Aug. 11. This time around, the California native impressed to the tune of a .341/400/.568 (155 wRC+) over 11 games and exactly 50 trips to the plate. He clubbed three homers and collected 12 RBI during that stretch before receiving another call-up to Portland on the final day of August.

With the Sea Dogs for a second time, Sogard appeared in just two games and went 1-for-5 with a single during a doubleheader against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Manchester on September 3. He was again sent down to Greenville and returned to the Drive’s lineup on Sept. 15.

From there, Sogard closed out his first season in the Red Sox organization on a solid note, going 4-for-13 (.308) with a pair of home runs and four RBI in four games against the Aberdeen IronBirds.

To summarize, Sogard — who turned 24 in September — posted a .279/.349/.500 (123 wRC+) slash line with 12 doubles, one triple, 13 homers, 40 RBI, 44 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 27 walks, and 48 strikeouts across 62 games (275 plate appearances) at the High-A level last year.

At the Double-A level, he slashed .263/.333/.298 (76 wRC+) to go along with one triple, two runs driven in, eight runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and 11 strikeouts across 18 games spanning 63 plate appearances.

Defensively, Sogard saw playing time at three different infield positions between Greenville and Portland over the course of the 2021 campaign. In total, the 6-foot-1, 180 pounder logged 309 innings at second base, 192 innings at third base (all at High-A), and 138 innings at shortstop.

Per his scouting report, Sogard has an “advanced feel for the game and strong instincts.” It also notes that he has average arm strength, but still has the ability to make throws from all over the infield, thus allowing him to stick at shortstop and play second and third base.

As things currently stand, Sogard is not regarded by any major publication (like Baseball America or MLB Pipeline) as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system.

That being said, Sogard is projected by to begin the 2022 season with Double-A Portland. The 24-year-old speedster can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter, meaning he would need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November deadline if the club wants to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Nick Sogard: Greenville Drive/Twitter)