Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata set to begin rehab assignment with Low-A Salem

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Low-A Salem and could start for the affiliate as soon as this weekend, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Mata, who underwent Tommy John surgery last April, pitched in three extended spring training games down in Fort Myers over the last few weeks. Per Speier, the right-hander “showed elite velocity in his first outing” by topping out at 101 mph over two innings, then worked at “just” 99 mph in his second outing and 98 mph in his third.

Originally signed by the Red Sox for just $25,000 out of Venezuela in January 2016, Mata is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fifth among pitchers in the organization.

After posting a 3.43 ERA in 21 starts (105 innings pitched) between then-High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019 and impressing at the alternate training site in 2020, Mata was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster that November.

Coming into spring training last year, Mata was likely going to begin the season with Triple-A Worcester. He instead tore his ulnar collateral ligament in March, which ultimately required him to go under the knife.

Now 23 years old, Mata has a chance to get to Worcester once again. Pre-surgery, the 6-foot-3, 229 pound righty worked with a five-pitch mix that consisted of a 94-96 mph four-seam fastball, a 91-93 mph two-seam fastball, an 86-90 mph slider, a 78-80 mph curveball, and an 84-86 changeup.

There were also some questions regarding Mata’s future. In other words, would he be best-suited as a starter or reliever in the long-term? These next few months could help determine that, though he should have a high ceiling regardless of which role he ultimately undertakes.

When Mata does take the mound for Salem, it will mark the first time he has pitched in an official minor-league game since August 2019. The Red Sox will be sure to exhibit patience with Mata during this process, but the hope seems to be that he will end the season in Worcester or maybe even in Boston.

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward faces live hitters for first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward took another important step in his road back from Tommy John surgery on Friday. At JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, the right-hander faced live batters for the first time since going under the knife last June.

“First Live BP today!” Ward tweeted. “Another box has been checked, we’re getting close!”

Ward came into the 2021 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 10 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He made just two starts for Double-A Portland before being shut down with a forearm strain that would ultimately require Tommy John. The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews on June 3.

As the one-year anniversary of Ward’s elbow reconstruction nears, it appears as though the 25-year-old is close to getting back into minor-league games. Since it has been more than a year since he last pitched competitively, his first assignment will likely come in the Florida Complex League.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida, Ward drew plenty of attention in his first full professional season. The Fort Myers native posted a 2.14 ERA and 3.28 FIP with 157 strikeouts to 57 walks over 25 starts (126 1/3 innings) between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem en route to being named the organization’s 2019 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

After the 2020 campaign was lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and his 2021 season was for the most part lost because of surgery, Ward is now regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks ninth among pitchers in the organization.

Prior to undergoing Tommy John, Ward operated with a repeatable delivery and worked from a pitch arsenal that included a 93-96 mph sinker, a slider, a cutter, and a changeup.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Ward can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man roster by the November deadline. Because of this, the righty — as noted by FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein and Tess Taruskin — could be a prime candidate to pitch in the Arizona Fall League later this year.

That way, the Sox would get an extended look at Ward before determining if he was worthy of a 40-man roster spot. Other teams, meanwhile, would also get the chance to evaluate Ward in the event that he was not protected from the Rule 5 Draft this fall.

While it’s extremely unlikely Ward will contribute at the big-league level in 2022, he does project as a back-end starter or multi-inning reliever in the future.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Dominic LoBrutto becomes latest Red Sox pitching prospect to undergo Tommy John surgery

Dominic LoBrutto has become the latest Red Sox pitching prospect to undergo Tommy John surgery. Per his Twitter account, the procedure was recently performed by Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Institute in Pensacola, Fla.

A native of Florida himself, LoBrutto was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 18th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Florida International University. The left-hander signed with Boston for $100,000 and made his professional debut for the Lowell Spinners that summer.

Fast forward to the 2021 season, and LoBrutto spent the entirety of the year with Double-A Portland. In 33 relief appearances for the Sea Dogs, the 25-year-old posted a 5.35 ERA — but much more respectable 3.88 FIP — with 38 strikeouts to 14 walks over 38 2/3 innings of work.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, LoBrutto operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of an 88-90 mph fastball that tops out at 91 mph, an 86-88 mph cutter, and a 79-82 mph slider, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report. He was slated to return to Portland for the start of the 2022 campaign, but was instead placed on the 7-day injured list on April 8 and transferred to the 60-day injured list on April 26.

LoBrutto, who turns 26 later this month, will now be sidelined for the next 12-15 months before returning to the mound at some point in 2023. He becomes the latest Red Sox pitching prospect to undergo Tommy John this year, joining the likes of Bradley Blalock and fellow lefty Jeremy Wu-Yelland.

(Picture of Dominic LoBrutto: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox pitching prospect Jeremy Wu-Yelland undergoes Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect Jeremy Wu-Yelland has undergone Tommy John surgery and will miss the entirety of the 2022 season as a result. The left-hander had the procedure done in Arlington, Texas on Wednesday.

Wu-Yelland, 22, came into the 2022 campaign ranked by Baseball America as the No. 31 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 12th among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally selected the Seattle-area native in the fourth round of the 2020 amateur draft out of the University of Hawaii.

In his first full professional season, Wu-Yelland posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.29 FIP to go along with 77 strikeouts to 36 walks over 20 starts (67 innings pitched) for Low-A Salem. He then earned a promotion to High-A Greenville last September and pitched to the tune of a 3.00 ERA and 4.99 FIP in three starts (9 innings of work) with the Drive.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Wu-Yelland operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 92-96 mph fastball that can reach 97 mph, an 81-85 mph slider, and an 81-83 mph changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Wu-Yelland, who turns 23 in June, was slated to return to Greenville for the start of the 2022 season but was instead placed on the 7-day injured list earlier this month. Now that he has undergone Tommy John, the lefty will be sidelined for the next 12 to 15 months and should be able to return to the mound again at some point in 2023.

(Picture of Jeremy Wu-Yelland: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata nearing return from Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect is nearing his return to the mound and will soon start throwing live batting practice, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Mata, who turns 23 next month, underwent Tommy John surgery last April after slightly tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during spring training. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Originally signed out of Venezuela for just $25,000 as an international free agent in 2016, Mata comes into the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, ranking second among pitchers in the organization behind only Brayan Bello.

While continuing to rehab from Tommy John surgery this spring, Mata was seen throwing off flat ground and going through drills on the back fields of the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers.

As noted by Speier, Mata is expected to join Triple-A Worcester’s starting rotation at some point this season. The right-hander is already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, so him contributing at the big-league level later in the year is not out of the picture, either.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds, Mata operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a 94-96 mph four-seam fastball, a 91-93 mph two-seam fastball, an 86-90 mph slider, a 78-80 mph curveball, and an 84-86 changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

That, of course, was before Mata underwent elbow reconstruction one year ago. If he can retain that arsenal to some degree, the righty — as Speier writes — could “could emerge as a mid- to late-year bullpen option” for the Red Sox.

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign reliever Dan Altavilla to two-year minor-league deal, per report; right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last June

The Red Sox have signed free-agent reliever Dan Altavilla to a two-year minor-league contract, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The 29-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last June and may miss most if not all of the 2022 season.

A former fifth-round draft selection of the Mariners out of Mercyhurst University (Erie, Pa.) in 2014, Altavilla debuted for Seattle in 2016. Four years later, the Pennsylvania native was traded to the Padres as part of a larger deal that also sent pitcher Austin Adams and catcher Austin Nola to San Diego.

In nine appearances out of the Friars’ bullpen down the stretch in 2020, Altavilla posted a 3.12 ERA and 2.61 FIP with 10 strikeouts to five walks over 8 2/3 innings of work.

Last season, Altavilla was limited to just two relief outings in April before being placed on the 10-day injured list due to right elbow inflammation. The righty was then transferred to the 60-day injured list on May 28 — approximately one month before he ultimately went under the knife.

The Padres outrighted Altavilla off their 40-man roster in November, allowing him to become a free agent in the first place.

Since Altavilla is still recovering from Tommy John, it feels safe to assume that the Red Sox made this move with either the second half of the 2022 season or the beginning of the 2023 season in mind.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 226 pounds, Altavilla is a two-pitch pitcher who works primarily with a slider and a high-octane four-seam fastball. For his big-league career, which spans six seasons between the Mariners and Padres, Altavillia owns a 4.03 ERA and 4.39 FIP in 116 innings.

(Picture of Dan Altavilla: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to one-year, $10 million deal with left-hander James Paxton, per report; contract includes two-year club option

The Red Sox are in agreement with free agent left-hander James Paxton on a one-year, $10 million contract for the 2022 season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal, which is pending a physical, includes a two-year club option and was first reported by Sportsnet 650’s Chad Dey.

Per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the total value of Paxton’s contract could reach $35 million if the Red Sox were to pick up his two-year option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Paxton, 33, underwent Tommy John surgery this past April after making just one start for the Mariners in which he allowed one earned run in 1 1/3 innings against the White Sox at T-Mobile Park.

The Canadian-born southpaw was originally selected by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Kentucky and later made his major-league debut for the Mariners in September 2013.

After spending the first six years of his big-league career with the M’s, however, Paxton was dealt to the Yankees in exchange for three players at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign.

While donning the pinstripes, Paxton enjoyed a solid inaugural season with the Yankees in 2019, posting a 3.82 ERA and 3.86 FIP to go along with 186 strikeouts to 55 walks over 29 starts spanning 150 2/3 innings of work.

The following year was a different story, though, as Paxton managed to make just six starts for New York before his season prematurely came to a close in late August due to a left flexor strain.

Despite signing a one-year deal to return to Seattle in February, the same discomfort Paxton experienced in his left elbow in 2020 clearly carried over into 2021 since it ultimately required season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Having undergone the elbow reconstruction procedure on April 14, Paxton likely won’t be able to return to in-game action until the later stages of the 2022 season at the earliest

Still, perhaps following a similar timeline they used with Chris Sale this year, the Sox elected to take a chance on Paxton. The veteran lefty operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Paxton — a native of British Columbia — is represented by the Boras Corporation and does not turn 34 until next November.

He also becomes the second significant starting pitching-related addition Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made via free agency in the last week. Over the weekend, the club announced that they had signed veteran right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year, $7 million deal for 2022.

Once he passes his physical and his signing is made official, Paxton will bring the size of Boston’s 40-man roster up to 38 players.

(Picture of James Paxton: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward plays catch for first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward posted a video on social media of himself playing catch on Wednesday, marking the first time he has done so since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Ward, 24, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking seventh among pitchers in the organization.

The right-hander was originally selected by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida and had opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland.

Just two starts and eight innings into his tenure with the Sea Dogs, however, it was revealed that Ward would require Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow after he suffered a forearm strain in mid-May. The procedure was later performed by Dr. James Andrews in Florida in early June, thus ending the righty’s year prematurely.

Fast forward six months later, though, and it appears that Ward is on the right track towards a full recovery. While it’s likely that he won’t pitch in a game again until late 2022 at the earliest, the Red Sox will still have an interesting decision to make regarding Ward’s status in the coming weeks.

Major-league clubs have until November 19 to add eligible minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, which is slated to take place during the winter meetings in December.

Along with the likes of Jeter Downs, Brayan Bello, and Gilberto Jimenez, Ward is one of several top Red Sox prospects who could become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they are not added to Boston’s 40-man roster later this month.

A native of Fort Myers, Fla., the 6-foot-3, 192 pound hurler is certainly an interesting candidate to be added. In his first full professional season in 2019, he posted a 2.14 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 157:57 over 25 starts spanning 126 1/3 innings pitched between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

This past spring, he put up a 5.63 ERA and 2.64 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to five walks in his two outings for Portland prior to getting injured.

With that being said, there would be some caveats to adding Ward on account of the fact that he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, which can take anywhere between 12-18 months to heal from.

Put another way, if the Red Sox were to add Ward to their 40-man roster before the Nov. 19 deadline, he would essentially be taking up a spot on their roster going into next season. Boston could place Ward, who turns 25 in January, on the 60-day injured list to temporarily clear a roster spot, but would subsequently be starting his service time clock as a result of doing so.

If Ward were to be left unprotected heading into next month’s Rule 5 Draft, other clubs would have the chance to select him. Any team that picks him up, though, would then ordinarily be tasked with carrying him on their active roster for a minimum of 90 days.

Since that would be unlikely to execute in Ward’s case, his new club would presumably place him on the 60-day injured list for the entirety of the 2022 campaign before being subject to the same set of rules in 2023.

Those rules being that once healthy, Ward will have to remain on his new team’s 26-man roster for the entire 2023 season or otherwise be offered back to the Red Sox.

It’s a fascinating situation, and one that can definitely be classified as unique and maybe even somewhat confusing. That said, all signs seem to point to the Red Sox not adding Ward to their 40-man roster by the Nov. 19 deadline and thus exposing him to this winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale set to make another rehab start for Double-A Portland on Sunday

Red Sox ace Chris Sale woke up Wednesday morning without issue and is in line to make his next rehab start this weekend, manager Alex Cora said Wednesday afternoon.

Sale, who is on the road back from Tommy John surgery, dominated in his rehab outing for Double-A Portland Tuesday night, striking out six and walking just one over 3 2/3 scoreless, no-hit innings against the Harrisburg Senators in front of a sold-out crowd at Hadlock Field.

It was Sale’s second rehab start of the month and his first in front of thousands of fans in nearly two years.

Of the 49 pitches the veteran left-hander threw on Tuesday, 34 went for strikes. He retired 10 of the 12 hitters he faced and topped out at 97-98 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball while also mixing in his swing-inducing slider.

“He was a little bit off mechanics-wise early on,” Cora said of Sale prior to Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo. “That’s part of the progression. Now he’s pitching in front of fans. Obviously the competition is a little better. But he settled down and he was able to repeat his delivery. His slider was really good. The fastball obviously was up velocity-wise. Everybody is very happy with the way the outing went. Warming up, he was excited. He was a little bit off. But little by little, he was able to repeat it and he was great.”

This latest milestone for Sale comes nearly 17 months after he initially underwent Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday.

Since that time, the 32-year-old hurler has reached the point where he can now face live hitters in a competitive environment on a regular schedule.

After completing his start in Portland on Tuesday, Sale was to work out with the Sea Dogs on Wednesday and is now slated to start for them once again on regular rest in Sunday’s series finale against the Senators (July 25).

Though it is not yet clear when Sale could potentially make his return to the Red Sox’ starting rotation, one thing is for certain: the day in which the seven-time All-Star takes a big-league mound again is only getting closer and closer.

“Everybody’s excited with what we saw yesterday. I’m happier with the way he reacted today,” said Cora. “Hopefully, we keep progressing the way it should be and he’ll join us whenever he’s ready.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale dominates with 6 strikeouts over 3 2/3 scoreless, no-hit innings in rehab start for Double-A Portland

Red Sox ace Chris Sale took yet another positive step in the right direction in his road back from Tommy John surgery on Tuesday night.

Five days after a successful outing for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox in Sarasota, Fla., Sale was at it again, this time suiting up for Double-A Portland in front of a sold-out crowd at Hadlock Field.

Over 3 2/3 innings of work against the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals affiliate), the veteran left-hander did not allow a single run or hit while waking just one batter and striking out six for the Sea Dogs.

Coming into the night, Sale was going to be capped at three or four innings depending on how many pitches he would need. His day ended with a five-pitch strikeout of Aldrem Corredor for the second out of the fourth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 49 (34 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler wound up retiring 10 of the 12 batters he faced, as he promptly picked off the runner he had walked — Gage Canning — in the top half of the first before Canning reached base once again three innings later on a fielding error.

Besides that, Sale, on all accounts, was nearly perfect in the process of reaching 97-98 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Tuesday’s performance marks another important milestone for Sale as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John, which he underwent nearly 16 months ago — on his 31st birthday (March 30, 2020), no less — after experiencing inflammation in his throwing elbow during the latter half of the 2019 season.

In the time since undergoing that procedure on his elbow last spring, the 6-foot-6 southpaw has now reached a point where he has been pitching every five days and has made two rehab starts between the FCL Red Sox and Sea Dogs.

Assuming he wakes up on Wednesday morning with no ill effects from his latest outing, Sale, a seven-time All-Star, could be in line to make his next start on July 25 if he remains on the schedule he has been on.

Since the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox will be on the road and the Sea Dogs will still be at home, it seems likely that Sale will once again toe the rubber at Hadlock Field for this coming Sunday’s matchup against the Senators.

In the meantime, Sale told reporters (including Cotillo) Tuesday night that he plans on working out in Portland on Wednesday, but the Red Sox have yet to give him instructions for any next steps beyond that.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)