3 Florida Complex League Red Sox pitchers combine for 22 strikeouts in 4-3 win over FCL Braves

The rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox pitching staff combined for an unprecedented 22 strikeouts in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the FCL Braves at CoolToday Park in North Port.

Nathanael Cruz got the start and struck out four of the six batters he faced over two scoreless, no-hit innings. The 19-year-old right-hander began the 2022 season with Low-A Salem but made just one start for the affiliate before being placed on the 7-day injured list on April 21.

Last Saturday, Cruz was officially sent out on a rehab assignment with the FCL Red Sox and has since allowed one earned run on three hits, no walks, and five strikeouts across two starts and three total innings of work.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $200,000 as an international free agent in July 2019, Cruz is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 48 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-2, 175 pound hurler works with a 93-95 mph fastball, an 85-87 mph changeup, and an 80-82 mph changeup.

Jose Ramirez, not to be confused with the Guardians All-Star, pitched in relief of Cruz. The 21-year-old righty yielded three earned runs on three hits, no walks, and two hit batsman. He also fanned 12 of the 20 batters he faced over five innings to set a new career-high in that category.

In four appearances (three starts) for the FCL Red Sox this season, Ramirez has posted has posted a 5.14 ERA and 1.43 WHIP with 18 strikeouts to eight walks across 14 frames. He is, however, holding opposing hitters to a .642 OPS against.

The Red Sox originally signed Ramirez out of Santo Domingo in May 2018. While not regarded as one of the team’s top pitching prospects, the 6-foot-2, 170 pounder and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 90-95 mph fastball, a mid-70s curveball, and a late, fading changeup.

Lastly, Henry Nunez closed things out and earned the win by punching out six and walking only one over two more scoreless, no-hit innings. The 21-year-old right-hander has yet to allow a run through his first three relief outings (6 2/3 innings) of the 2022 season. He has done so while holding the opposition to a .248 OPS against.

Like Ramirez, Nunez is not regarded as one of the Red Sox’ premier pitching prospects. The native Puerto Rican originally signed with the club as an undrafted free agent coming out of Escuela Central High School in June 2020.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Nunez — who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, sits at 90-93 mph with his fastball and also works with a breaking ball and changeup that sit in the mid-70s and low-80s, respectively.

With Thursday’s victory over the Braves, the FCL Red Sox are now 8-4 on the young season. They will play two against the FCL Twins in Fort Myers on Friday.

(Picture of Nathanael Cruz: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox relief prospect Cody Scroggins has strung together 9 straight scoreless appearances for High-A Greenville

It has been exactly one month since Red Sox relief prospect Cody Scroggins first embarked upon a lengthy scoreless appearances streak with High-A Greenville.

In his last nine outings dating back to May 21, Scroggins has allowed five hits and six walks to go along with 14 strikeouts over nine cumulative scoreless frames.

The impressive run has lowered Scroggins’ ERA on the season down to 4.03. The 25-year-old right-hander has also gone 5-for-5 in save opportunities while posting a 3.10 FIP and 3.66 xFIP with 33 punchouts to 15 walks across 21 appearances (22 1/3 innings) for the Drive in 2022.

Among South Atlantic League pitchers who have accrued at least 20 innings on the mound so far this season, Scroggins ranks 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (13.30), 28th in strikeout rate (31.4%), 20th in FIP, and 26th in xFIP, per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally selected Scroggins in the ninth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Arkansas. The Oklahoma-born righty signed with the club for $100,000 and began his pro career with the Lowell Spinners.

After his first full professional season was wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scroggins pitched to a 3.33 ERA in 48 2/3 innings between Low-A Salem and Greenville in 2021. All told, he currently owns a 4.91 ERA in 39 appearances at the High-A level since being promoted to Greenville last July.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot, 195 pound hurler throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-95 mph fastball that has some sink to it, an 84-86 mph slider, and an 85-87 mph changeup.

While not regarded by publications such as SoxProspects.com as one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, Scroggins did receive somewhat of a shoutout from FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein and Tess Taruskin back in March. They described the former Razorback as “a slider monster who sits 92-95 and has very poor control,” which would explain the high number of walks.

Scroggins, who turns 26 in August, would appear to be a prime candidate to earn a mid-season promotion to Double-A Portland if a spot becomes available in the Sea Dogs’ bullpen at some point this summer.

Until then, Scroggins will look to keep his scoreless appearances streak rolling as the Drive open a six-game series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods at Fluor Field on Tuesday night.

(Picture of Cody Scroggins: 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 promote relief prospect Jacob Webb to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted relief prospect Jacob Webb to High-A Greenville, per the team’s minor-league transactions log. A spot on Greenville’s roster became available when fellow right-hander Brian Van Belle was promoted to Double-A Portland on Monday.

Webb, 23, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 14th round of the 2021 amateur draft of Miami University and signed with the club for $122,500 last July. The Ohio native is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 57 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 26th among pitchers in the organization.

After closing out the 2021 campaign in Salem, Webb returned to the Red Sox for the start of his first full professional season. Leading up to Tuesday, the righty posted a 2.19 ERA and 3.33 FIP with 39 strikeouts to 19 walks over 18 relief appearances spanning 24 2/3 innings of work. He also converted three of a possible six save opportunities.

Among Carolina League pitchers who have accrued at least 20 innings on the mound so far this year, Webb ranks seventh in strikeouts per nine innings (14.23), 16th in strikeout rate (33.6%), 11th in swinging strike rate (18.3%), 18th in ERA, and 26th in FIP, per FanGraphs.

As indicated by his 16.4% walk rate, command has been an issue at times for Webb. Still, the stuff is there and it clearly played a factor into his promotion. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the burly 6-foot-5, 245 pound hurler works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball, an 81-85 mph slider, and a changeup.

Now that he has been promoted to Greenville, Webb will join a Drive bullpen that includes the likes of Ryan Fernandez, Cody Scroggins, Casey Cobb, Devin Roedahl, Michael Gettys, Jacinto Arredondo, Robert Kwiatkowski, and Austin Lambright.

(Picture of Jacob Webb: 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 prospect Nick Northcut named South Atlantic League Player of the Week

Red Sox infield prospect Nick Northcut has been named South Atlantic League Player of the Week for the week of June 6-12, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In High-A Greenville’s latest series against the Asheville Tourists at Fluor Field, Northcut went 7-for-22 (.318) with two doubles, four home runs, 11 RBIs, seven runs scored, three walks, and nine strikeouts over six games. All four of those homers were hit within a two-day stretch on Friday and Saturday.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, the right-handed hitter is batting .231/.286/.574 with seven doubles, a team-high 20 home runs and 46 RBIs, 30 runs scored, 12 walks, and 79 strikeouts over 50 games (210 plate appearances) for the Drive. He has put up those numbers while primarily playing both corner infield positions.

Among qualified South Atlantic League hitters, Northcut ranks first in home runs, second in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.860), first in isolated power (.344), and 17th in wRC+ (124), per FanGraphs.

Northcut, who is celebrating his 23rd birthday on Monday, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the 60th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Ohio native was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Mason High School.

While power has been his standout tool this season, Northcut is working to become more selective at the plate. His 37.6% strikeout rate and 5.7% walk rate are among the worst marks in the Sally League, but the Red Sox have otherwise been pleased with what they have seen from the young slugger.

As he inches closer towards setting a new single-season home run record in Greenville, Northcut becomes the first member of the Drive to earn South Atlantic League Player of the Week honors since Ceddanne Rafaela did so on April 18.

Rafaela has since been promoted to Double-A Portland. Perhaps Northcut is not too far behind him.

(Picture of Nick Northcut: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox promote hard-throwing relief prospect Franklin German to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have promoted relief prospect Franklin German from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Worcester, per the team’s transaction log.

German, 24, has posted a 3.18 ERA and 2.21 FIP with 18 strikeouts to three walks over 11 relief appearances spanning 11 1/3 innings of work out of Portland’s bullpen this season. The right-hander’s sixth and seventh outings of the year were separated by more than two weeks (April 26 to May 13) due to a non-baseball related issue.

Among Eastern League pitchers who have accrued at least 10 innings on the mound in 2022, German ranks 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (14.29), 11th in strikeout rate (39.1%), 13th in swinging strike rate (18.6%), 21st in batting average against (.154), 11th in WHIP (0.79), and 17th in FIP, per FanGraphs.

Originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of North Florida, German was dealt to the Red Sox in the same trade that sent veteran reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston last January.

Traditionally a starting pitcher throughout his professional career to that point, German opened the 2021 campaign in Portland’s starting rotation. But he struggled to the tune of a 5.45 ERA across his first 19 appearances (18 starts) of the season before moving to the Sea Dogs’ bullpen on a full-time basis in late August.

Since then, German has found success as a reliever that can mainly be attributed to an uptick in velocity. Last year, the 6-foot-2, 195 pound righty sat in the low-to-mid 90s as a starter. Upon transitioning to the ‘pen, he began reaching 97-98 mph while topping out at 99-102 mph with his fastball.

Because of this, German has caught the attention of Alex Cora and is firmly on the Red Sox manager’s “watchlist,” according to The Athletic’s Peter Gammons.

German, who turns 25 in September, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. In addition to his high-octane fastball, the hard-throwing hurler also works with a changeup and slider.

By being promoted to Triple-A, German will join a WooSox bullpen that includes the likes of Eduard Bazardo, Silvino Bracho, Ryan Brasier, Taylor Cole, Michael Feliz, Durbin Feltman, Geoff Hartlieb, Zack Kelly, Kaleb Ort, A.J. Politi (who was promoted last week), and Phillips Valdez.

German’s promotion comes at an interesting time when you consider the fact that he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline in order to proect him, so they could be using this as an opportunity to give German an extended look at the next level before making a decision regarding his future.

(Picture of Franklin German: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Pedro Castellanos riding 13-game hitting streak as part of recent hot stretch with Double-A Portland

After a rough start to the 2022 season with Double-A Portland, Red Sox prospect Pedro Castellanos has turned a corner offensively during the month of May.

In Portland’s 4-2 win over the Harrisburg Senators at Hadlock Field on Sunday, Castellanos went 2-for-4 with two run-scoring hits and a strikeout out of the cleanup spot. The two-hit showing extended his hitting streak to 13 consecutive games.

Dating back to the third of May, Castellanos has slashed a stout .323/.338/.597 with five doubles, four home runs, 21 RBIs, six runs scored, two walks, and 15 strikeouts over his last 16 games and 65 trips to the plate. This comes after the left-handed hitter posted a dismal .388 OPS across 18 games in April.

Among qualified Eastern League hitters this month, Castellanos ranks 10th in hits (20), 11th in doubles, 10th in home runs, tied for first in RBIs, 11th in batting average, eighth in slugging percentage, 13th in OPS (.935), 14th in isolated power (.274), per MiLB.com’s leaderboards.

If there is one thing Castellanos could be doing more of at the plate, it would be taking ball four. The 24-year-old has walked in just 3.5% of his plate appearances this season, which is among the worst marks in the Eastern League and the primary reason why his on-base percentage has remained relatively low despite the recent hot streak.

Defensively, Castellanos has seen the majority of his playing time with the Sea Dogs this year come at first base, though he has played both corner outfield positions as well. The 6-foot-3, 224 pounder may have a limited defensive profile, but has thus far only committed two errors over 222 innings between his three positions in 2022.

Originally signed by the Red Sox for just $5,000 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2015, Castellanos came into the season ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 57 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Castellanos is repeating Double-A this year, meaning he could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Worcester before long. With that being said, Castellanos — who turns 25 in December — is in line to become a minor-league free-agent this winter, so getting the opportunity to play at the next level could prove beneficial for him in regards to his future.

In the meantime, Castellanos will look to extend his hitting streak to 14 straight games when the Sea Dogs open a six-game series against the Somerset Patriots in Portland on Tuesday morning.

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

Red Sox relief prospect A.J. Politi continues to impress out of the bullpen with Double-A Portland

Red Sox relief prospect A.J. Politi picked up his third save of the season in Double-A Portland’s 4-0 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats on Wednesday night.

Politi, 25, recorded the final four outs of Wednesday’s contest at Dunkin’ Donuts Park while allowing one hit and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on 25 pitches — 15 of which were strikes.

Through 10 relief appearances for the Sea Dogs this year, the right-hander has posted a miniscule 1.50 ERA and 2.76 FIP with 18 strikeouts to just three walks over 12 innings of work.

Among Eastern League pitchers who have accrued at least 10 innings to this point in the season, Politi ranks tied for 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (13.5), tied for 21st in walks per nine innings (2.25), tied for 13th in strikeout rate (38.3%), 20th in swinging strike rate (17.4%), tied for 22nd in walk rate (6.4%), 20th in batting average against (.143), tied four fourth in WHIP (0.75), tied for 20th in ERA, 29th in FIP, and 10th in xFIP (2.43), per FanGraphs.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Seton Hall University, Politi has been used as both a starter and reliever throughout his professional career.

Last year, for instance, the New Jersey native opened the 2021 season in Portland’s starting rotation but struggled to the tune of a 7.01 ERA over 15 starts spanning 61 2/3 innings. He was moved to the Sea Dogs’ bullpen on a full-time basis in September, made 11 relief appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, and really has not looked back since.

Listed at 6-feet and 195 pounds, Politi operates with a max-effort delivery and works with four different pitches: a mid-90s fastball, a high-80s slider, a lower-80s curveball, and a changeup. His fastball is his best pitch.

Politi, who turns 26 next month, is currently regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 46 prospect and by SoxProspects.com as the No. 54 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Given his age, it seems like Politi should be primed for a mid-season promotion to Triple-A Worcester if he keeps pitching the way he has been for Portland. The righty can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter and could be a prime relief target for other clubs if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline.

(Picture of A.J. Politi: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox relief prospect Jacob Webb has struck out 24 of the first 56 batters he has faced with Low-A Salem this season

Red Sox relief prospect Jacob Webb picked up his second save of the season in Low-A Salem’s 1-0 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds on Tuesday afternoon.

Getting the call for the ninth inning, Webb needed just nine pitches — seven of which were strikes — to retire the side in order while also recording two punchouts.

Through 10 relief appearances for Salem this year, the right-hander has posted a 2.84 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and .191/.321/.234 slash line against to go along with 24 strikeouts to eight walks over 12 2/3 innings of work. In other words, he has struck out nearly 43% of the batters he has faced thus far, but is doing so while issuing walks at a 14.3% clip.

Webb, 23, was taken by the Red Sox in the 14th round of last year’s amateur draft out of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The Dayton-area native signed with Boston for $122,500 and made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League that August.

After just two outings in the FCL, Webb earned a promotion to Salem and has since produced a 1.99 ERA in 16 cumulative appearances (22 2/3 innings pitched) for the Sox’ Low-A affiliate.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Webb is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 56 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks 24th among pitchers in the organization. Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the righty throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball, an 81-85 mph slider, and a rarely-used changeup.

If Webb, who does not turn 24 until next March, can continue to string together impressive outings out of the bullpen for Salem, then another promotion to High-A Greenville at some point this summer would certainly seem to be within his grasp.

(Picture of Jacob Webb: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)