Because Jeremy Wu-Yelland underwent Tommy John surgery in April, Shane Drohan was the only member of the Red Sox’ 2020 draft class to pitch competitively this season.
Drohan, who was taken in the fifth round out of Florida State University two years ago, broke camp with High-A Greenville this spring after spending the entirety of the 2021 campaign at Low-A Salem.
In 22 appearances (20 starts) for the Drive, the left-hander posted a 4.00 ERA and 4.21 FIP to go along with 136 strikeouts to 40 walks over 105 2/3 innings of work. He allowed just two earned runs in his final three outings with Greenville before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland on August 16.
With the Sea Dogs, Drohan pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 21 strikeouts to 11 walks over five starts (24 innings). While he gave up runs less frequently, the 23-year-old southpaw saw his strikeout rate fall and his walk rate rise, which led to a higher FIP of 5.75.
It was certainly an adjustment period for Drohan, but he at least ended the year on a strong note by fanning eight of the 20 batters he faced in a 10-9 win over the Somerset Patriots in mid-September.
Between the two stops (Greenville and Portland), Drohan produced a cumulative 3.89 ERA and 4.49 FIP with 157 strikeouts to 51 walks across 27 appearances (25 starts) and 129 2/3 innings pitched. His 28.5 percent punchout rate ranked 50th among the 311 minor-league pitchers who threw at least 100 innings this season. His 16 percent swinging-strike rate ranked 15th, per FanGraphs.
On the heels of such a productive year on the mound, Drohan was named to SoxProspects.com’s 2022 All-Star team earlier this week. The Fort Lauderdale native is now regarded by the site as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks 10th pitchers in the organization.
What makes Drohan so effective and capable of inducing whiffs in bunches? Well, he stands at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of an 88-92 mph four-seam fastball that tops out at 94 mph, a 75-77 mph curveball, and a 78-81 mph changeup.
Drohan, who turns 24 in January, will be entering an important season in 2023 as the former Seminole can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time in his career. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Portland next spring and the Red Sox will have until next November to add him to their 40-man roster.
As things stand now, Drohan has the upside to a be a back-end starter at the big-league level. Pitching his way onto Boston’s 40-man roster next season would certainly go a long way in solidifying — or maybe even surpassing — that projection.
(Picture of Shane Drohan: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)