Former Red Sox prospect Jay Groome named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week; left-hander has posted 3.48 ERA since being traded to Padres

Former Red Sox pitching prospect Jay Groome was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for the week of September 12-18 on Monday.

In his last start for Triple-A El Paso, Groome scattered three hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts across six scoreless innings in a 13-0 win over the Round Rock Express.

Since joining the Chihuahuas’ rotation last month, Groome has posted a 3.48 ERA and 4.52 FIP with 36 strikeouts to 18 walks over eight starts spanning 41 1/3 innings of work. Opposing batters are hitting .277 with a .777 OPS off the left-hander.

A former first-round selection of the Red Sox in 2016, Groome was dealt to the Padres in exchange for veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer and fellow prospects Max Ferguson and Corey Rosier at the trade deadline.

At that time, Groome was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The 24-year-old southpaw is now ranked by the publication as the No. 10 prospect in San Diego’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 262 pounds, Groome operates with a 90-94 mph fastball that touches 95-96 mph, a 76-80 mph curveball, a 79-82 mph changeup, and an 85-87 mph slider. The New Jersey native is already on the Padres’ 40-man roster and will have just one minor-league option remaining after this season.

Taking that into account, MLB Pipeline notes that the Padres could elect to use Groome out of the bullpen if they no longer believe he has starter potential.

(Picture of Jay Groome: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox send power-hitting prospect Nick Northcut to Reds to complete Tommy Pham trade

The Red Sox have sent infield prospect Nick Northcut to the Reds to complete last month’s trade for outfielder Tommy Pham, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Boston acquired Pham from Cincinnati in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations on August 1. It turns out that player to be named is Northcut.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of the 2018 amateur draft, Northcut is a Cincinnati-area native who attended William Mason High School in nearby Mason, Ohio. He forwent his commitment to Vanderbilt University by signing with Boston for $565,000.

Now 23 years old, Nortchut opened the 2022 season with High-A Greenville. The right-handed hitter batted 223/.286/.530 with 13 doubles, 26 home runs, 58 RBIs, 43 runs scored, 21 walks, and 118 strikeouts in 77 games (322 plate appearances) with the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in late July.

From there, Northcut slashed .208/.245/.376 with five doubles, four home runs, 17 RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, four walks, and 37 strikeouts over 26 games (106 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. His 30 homers are currently the most in the organization.

Despite the impressive power numbers, Northcut was not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. That likely has to do with a .276 on-base percentage, a 35.3% strikeout rate, and a 5.8% walk rate between Greenville and Portland.

On the other side of the ball, Northcut has seen the majority of his playing time on the field this season come at either first or third base. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder has logged 518 1/3 innings at third, 276 innings at first, and six innings at shortstop.

Northcut, who does not turn 24 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Reds will have until late November to add him to their 40-man roster if they intend on protecting him from it.

Pham, meanwhile, has slashed .262/.321/.416 with eight doubles, five home runs, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, one stolen base, nine walks, and 50 strikeouts in 36 games (162 plate appearances) with the Red Sox since the trade.

(Picture of Nick Northcut: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Enmanuel Valdez takes home International League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox infield prospect Enmanuel Valdez was named the International League Player of the Week for the week of August 29-September 4, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In Triple-A Worcester’s last series against the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park, Valdez appeared in all six games and went 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and four strikeouts. He finished a single shy of the cycle on Sunday.

Since making his WooSox debut on Aug. 3, Valdez has batted .236/.325/.500 (114 wRC+) to go along with six doubles, one triple, seven homers, 27 runs driven in, 22 runs scored, two stolen bases, 15 walks, and 31 strikeouts over 28 games (127 plate appearances). Among those in the International League who have made at least 120 trips to the plate this season, the left-handed hitter ranks 51st in slugging percentage and 16th in isolated power (.264), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Valdez has seen playing time at three different positions in his time with the WooSox. After starting at second base on Sunday, the 5-foot-9, 191-pounder has logged 213 innings at second, 15 innings at third, and 17 innings in left field.

Valdez, 23, was originally signed by the Astros for $450,000 as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The Red Sox acquired the San Juan de la Maguana native and fellow prospect Wilyer Abreu from Houston in exchange for catcher Christian Vazquez ahead of last month’s trade deadline.

Now, Valdez is regarded by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. The publication describes him as “a bat-first infielder with a good combination of power and contact.” While there are some defensive concerns, he is “a tough out that grinds out at-bats, can hit for contact and punish mistakes.”

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, can become eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline. Unlike Eddinson Paulino, who has yet to play above Low-A, Valdez seems like more of a lock to be added given his experience and level of production at Triple-A.

“If he were going to get called up tomorrow, I think his ability to play [multiple] positions would be very valuable for a major-league clubhouse and a major-league bench,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Valdez in a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “He can play infield. He can play a corner (outfield) spot. And he can run into baseballs with power. So, I think the skillset lends itself really well to being an impactful major-league player. We’ve seen athleticism, and we’ve seen some areas that can be improved upon. I know our Triple-A staff already feel they’ve made some strides ins some of the smaller motor learning skills that he can improve upon while being in the infield, whether that be first-step quickness or the way he moves from left to right. And same thing in the outfield, some of the first step and quickness, I think he’s shown improvement on.”

“But, I think we’ve got a twitchy guy who has power, who drives the baseball, and the better he’s able to have an understanding of the strike zone and what he needs to do to consistently drive the baseball to all fields will allow him to be more impactful,” added Abraham. “But I think in a lot of ways he’s someone who’s incredibly unique, who can do all of those things (that profile well as a utility man) and still be someone who can play one position and play there for a consistent amount of time. I think that’s incredibly valuable these days. As we know, our Major League team has a bunch of those guys, our Triple-A team has a bunch of those guys. Getting yourself in the lineup to make an impact is really important.”

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox prospect Max Ferguson homers for first time since being acquired from Padres

Max Ferguson hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox organization in High-A Greenville’s 9-4 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Sunday afternoon.

Batting ninth and starting at shortstop for the Drive, Ferguson went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored. His homer came off right-hander Anthony Molina with two outs in the fifth inning and was good for three runs.

That performance wrapped up a solid weekend for Ferguson, who — over the course of three games — went 3-for-10 with two singles, the three-run home run, and two runs scored. He also drew three walks while not striking out at all.

Since being acquired from the Padres earlier this month, the versatile left-handed hitter has batted .225/.392/.325 (110 wRC+) to go along with one double, one home run, six runs driven in, 10 runs scored, three stolen bases, and 11 walks to 11 strikeouts in his first 12 games (51 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Defensively, Ferguson has seen playing time at three different positions while in Greenville. The 6-foot-1, 180 pounder has logged 25 innings at second base, 51 innings at shortstop, and 27 innings in center field.

Ferguson, who turns 23 on Tuesday, was originally selected by the Padres in the fifth round of last year’s amateur draft out of the University of Tennessee. The Jacksonville, Fla. native signed with the club for approximately $324,100.

At that time, Baseball America ranked Ferguson as the No. 168 prospect in the 2021 draft class. The publication noted that The Bolles School product is “a good athlete and a plus runner who has always stolen bases at a high success rate.”

Since making his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League last July, Ferguson has stolen 73 bases in 79 attempts across 140 minor-league games. The speedster began his first full season with Low-A Lake Elsinore before earning a promotion to High-A Fort Wayne in late June. He then proceeded to slash .162/.270/.343 in 27 games with the TinCaps through the end of July.

Shortly after the calendar flipped from July to August, Ferguson and teammate Corey Rosier were traded to the Red Sox along with veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer. In return for those three, the Padres acquired pitching prospect Jay Groome.

So, between Fort Wayne and Greenville, Ferguson has appeared in 39 games at the High-A level this season. Among the 338 hitters who have made at least 170 trips to the plate across the three different High-A leagues, Ferguson ranks 25th in speed score (8.1) and 75th in weighted stolen base runs (0.6), per FanGraphs.

While his speed and athleticism certainly stand out, Ferguson is not yet regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system. SoxProspects.com, on the other hand, ranks Ferguson one spot below Rosier at No. 57.

(Picture of Max Ferguson: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox acquire Reese McGuire from White Sox in exchange for Jake Diekman

The Red Sox have acquired catcher Reese McGuire and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the White Sox in exchange for left-hander Jake Diekman, the club announced Monday evening.

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Sox have parted ways with one of their highest-paid relievers in order to bolster their catching depth in the wake of reportedly trading Christian Vazquez to the Astros.

Diekman, 35, was just four-plus months into his Red Sox tenure after signing a two-year, $8 million deal with Boston that also included a $4 million team option for 2024 back in March.

In 44 relief appearances for the Sox, Diekman posted a 4.23 ERA and 4.97 FIP with 50 strikeouts to an unsettling 30 walks over 38 1/3 innings of work. The native Nebraskan proved effective when he had command of the strike zone, but that often was not the case.

According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the White Sox will pay the remainder of Diekman’s salary through 2023. So the Red Sox will be off the hook for $4 million in terms of average annual value next season.

McGuire, meanwhile, is a former first-round draft pick of the Pirates who broke in with the Blue Jays in 2018 and spent the first four seasons of his major-league career in Toronto. He was dealt to the White Sox in exchange for fellow backstop Zack Collins back in April.

On the south side of Chicago, the left-handed hitting 27-year-old batted .225/.261/.285 with nine doubles, 10 RBIs, 12 runs scored, six walks, and 33 strikeouts over 53 games (166 plate appearances). He also threw out 11 of a possible 36 base stealers while splitting time behind the plate with Yasmani Grandal and Seby Zavala.

A Seattle-area native, McGuire is earning $722,400 this season and is slated to become eligible for arbitration for the first time next year. He is therefore under club control through the end of the 2025 campaign.

(Picture of Reese McGuire: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Victor Santos’ debut season with Double-A Portland was a solid one

It was one year ago Tuesday (January 18) when the Red Sox traded infielder C.J. Chatham to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

The trade allowed the Sox to create an opening on their 40-man roster, which enabled them to acquire veteran reliever Adam Ottavino and pitching prospect Frank German from the Yankees the following week.

Nearly four months after the initial trade between Boston and Philadelphia was finalized, it was revealed on July 17 that the Red Sox would be acquiring another pitching prospect in Victor Santos from the Phillies to complete the Chatham deal.

Santos, 21, originally signed with Philadelphia as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. The young right-hander opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Jersey Shore before earning a promotion to Double-A Reading in late June.

In 13 appearances (five starts) between Jersey Shore and Reading to begin the year, Santos posted a 2.20 ERA and 3.69 FIP to go along with 40 strikeouts to nine walks over 41 innings of work.

Upon getting assigned to Double-A Portland in mid-July, the 6-foot-1, 191 pound hurler proceeded to put up a 2.58 ERA and 3.49 FIP with 45 strikeouts and six walks across 10 outings (eight starts) spanning 45 1/3 innings pitched to close out his 2021 campaign.

Among all pitchers who accrued at least 60 innings in the Double-A Northeast last year, Santos ranked 33rd in strikeouts per nine innings (8.18) second in walks per nine innings (1.36), 29th in strikeout rate (22.2%), second in walk rate (3.7%), 16th in batting average against (.233), seventh in WHIP (1.06), sixth in ERA (2.73), 10th in FIP (3.62), and 14th in xFIP (4.00), per FanGraphs.

A native of Villa Tapia, Santos works from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 94 mph, a 77-79 mph split-changeup, and a “slurvy” 77-81 mph slider, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

This off-season, Santos returned to his home island to pitch for Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. Working strictly as a reliever, he pitched to the tune of a 2.45 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 17 strikeouts and six walks over 14 appearances (18 1/3 innings) out of the bullpen for Escogido.

Santos, who turns 22 in July, is still technically eligible for the 2021 Rule 5 Draft since the Red Sox did not add him to their 40-man roster by last November’s deadline. However, due to the nature of the MLB lockout, the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft has been postponed indefinitely and a makeup date has not yet been determined.

If there is eventually a Rule 5 Draft and Santos goes unselected, the Dominican-born righty is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season in the starting rotation for the Sea Dogs. If that winds up being the case, an eventual promotion to Triple-A Worcester cannot be ruled out depending on how he performs in the spring.

(Picture of Victor Santos: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Is Tanner Houck’s future with the Red Sox as a starter or reliever?

Earlier this month, Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter identified Tanner Houck as a potential breakout candidate for 2022, citing that the Red Sox right-hander has “proven he has the stuff to miss bats at the MLB level” and it is now “just a matter of doing it over a full season” in Boston’s starting rotation.

After a stellar — albeit brief — three-start debut in 2020, Houck embarked upon his first full big-league season earlier this year. The 25-year-old made the Sox’ Opening Day starting rotation out of spring training and made his impact felt immediately by striking out eight while allowing just three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk over five innings of work against the Orioles on April 3.

Houck was used out of the bullpen in a game against the Rays two days later and was then optioned to the Red Sox’ alternate training site. He was recalled from the alternate site to serve as the 27th man and start Game 1 of a doubleheader against the White Sox on April 18, but that would mark his last major-league outing for quite some time.

Upon getting sent back down to the alternate site, Houck was lined up to start the first game of the minor-league season for Triple-A Worcester against the Buffalo Bisons on May 4. He did just that, but wound up suffering a sore flexor muscle in his right arm that resulted in him getting shut down.

It took a little more than a month for Houck to return to the mound, and he ultimately found his way back to the Red Sox’ pitching staff on July 16. From that point forward, the 6-foot-5, 230 pound righty was used as a starter 11 times and as a reliever four times across five separate stints with Boston to close out the regular season.

All told, Houck posted a 2.58 ERA and 3.52 FIP to go along with 87 strikeouts to 21 walks over 18 appearances (13 starts) and 69 innings pitched in 2021. He also put up a 5.23 ERA (5.30 FIP) in 10 1/3 innings of relief in the postseason.

Houck’s first full season in the majors may have been a productive one, but it was also one that left us with some lingering questions. For starters, can Houck make it in the big-leagues as a starting pitcher?

This has been a prevalent topic since the Red Sox selected Houck with the 24th overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft out of the University of Missouri, and it is one that remains relevant today.

In the 13 starts Houck made for Boston this past season, he averaged less than five full innings per start and only made it to the sixth inning on two occasions. The primary reason Houck was held back in his starts had to do with his struggles when facing the same lineup multiple times.

When going through a lineup for the first time as a starter in 2021, Houck pitched to the tune of an impressive 1.50 ERA and 2.04 ERA across 30 innings. When going through a lineup for a second time as a starter, he still produced a respectable 3.81 ERA and 2.09 FIP across 26 innings.

Once Houck faced the same lineup a third time through is where things started to get dicey, though. In a small sample size of 2 2/3 innings pitched, the young hurler got lit up for nine runs (eight earned) on seven hits, no walks, and two strikeouts. That’s good for an ERA of 27.00 as well as a FIP of 9.01 and OPS against of 1.489.

What led to the difficulties Houck encountered when going through a lineup multiple times? Well, the answer to that question may lay within Houck’s pitch usage.

Since debuting for Boston last September, Houck has very clearly favored his fastball and slider, but has also been working to incorporate a splitter as a third pitch that he first began throwing last year.

This past season alone, the Missouri native threw 443 four-seam fastballs, 426 sliders, 195 sinking fastballs, and 85 split-finger fastballs, per Baseball Savant. Of those offerings, Houck’s slider was undoubtedly his best pitch as he held opposing hitters to an expected batting average of .144 while producing a 42.4% whiff rate with it.

As far as the splitter is concerned, Houck relied on the pitch in 2021 (7.4%) more than he did in 2020 (3%) and yielded positive results with it by allowing just one hit in 19 attempts while inducing a swing-and-miss 36.8% of the time.

“It’s a pitch that I feel confident in, and I’ve grown very much with it, so I’m excited to see where it takes me in the future,” Houck said of his splitter when speaking with FanGraphs’ David Laurila back in September. “I’ve had success with it as of late, throwing it off my slider, my two-seam, and my four-seam. I’m continuing to develop it, so I imagine that the usage will go up over time.”

Despite the success Houck enjoyed with his splitter and other pitches this year, the question remains as to whether he can stick with the Red Sox as a rotation regular or is rather best suited for a bullpen role.

During last month’s GM meetings, Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was — as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith wrote — noncommittal to Houck or fellow righty Garrett Whitlock as members of the team’s 2022 starting rotation.

“I would say possibilities,” Bloom said when asked about Houck and Whitlock starting in 2022. “I have said this before, I think the ceiling (is for them) to be really good major-league starters. There are steps on the way to establishing themselves as that. I think it’s great that they have that upside. They’ve done it. They’ve came up as starters. … It gives us options and flexibility heading into the winter. So we’ll see how it all shakes out. We certainly want to have more depth either way. I have no doubt that if that ends up being their role, they would be very capable. It just might not be the best alignment for our team.”

Since that time, the Red Sox have obviously been busy in free agency when it comes to stockpiling rotation depth. In the wake of Eduardo Rodriguez departing for the Tigers, Bloom and his staff have added veteran pitchers with starting experience such as Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and James Paxton leading up to Major League Baseball’s lockout taking effect in early December.

Once the lockout eventually ends and MLB’s transaction freeze is lifted, the Sox figure to be active in free agency and the trade market for starting pitchers yet again.

“I think the big thing for us is that we do know we want a number of capable arms, but it didn’t necessarily have to fall the way that it did,” Bloom recently said in regards to the additions of Wacha, Hill, and Paxton. “We love the guys we got, but we were in touch with the whole market. I think the key for us is to use our resources as best we can. We want to make sure we’re making what, in our mind, are good deals. Those can be small deals or they can be big deals.”

If the Red Sox were to sign another free-agent starter such as Carlos Rodon or deal for a controllable arm like Frankie Montas, that would only push Houck further down the club’s rotation depth chart.

Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, and Hill should be penciled in to be Alex Cora’s top four starters next spring. After that, it gets a bit murky since Paxton is coming off Tommy John surgery and Wacha may wind up in the bullpen.

With that, Houck will presumably have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Sox’ 2022 Opening Day starting rotation once spring training arrives in a few months. Whether he comes out on top in that competition has yet to be determined.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire right-hander Yacksel Rios from Mariners, add him to 40-man roster

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed reliever Yacksel Rios from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash considerations, the team announced before Monday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rios, who turns 28 later this month, will be added to Boston’s 40-man roster after the club designated fellow righty Ryan Weber for assignment to create an opening on its major-league roster for Michael Chavis earlier Monday afternoon.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “it appears Rios may take Chavis’ active roster spot when he is ready to join the team.”

The 27-year-old hurler allowed an earned run in each of his three appearances out of Seattle’s bullpen this month before he, too, was designated for assignment on June 11 despite having a minor-league option remaining.

A former 12th-round draft pick of the Phillies back in 2011, Rios made his major-league debut for Philadelphia during the 2017 campaign.

Since then, the 6-foot-3 hurler has made a total of 69 appearances in parts of four big-league seasons between the Phillies, Pirates, and Mariners. He owns an ERA of 6.47, a FIP of of 4.82, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 70:36 in those outings dating back to August 2017.

After being let go by Pittsburgh over the winter, Rios inked a minor-league pact with the Rays in February, though his time in Tampa Bay did not last long considering the fact he was dealt to the Mariners for cash considerations on June 4.

With that being said, Rios’ tenure in Seattle lasted all of a week.

Per Baseball Savant, Rios works with a sinker, a four-seam fastball, a slider, a split-finger fastball, and a rarely used curveball.

A native of Puerto Rico, Rios — a former catcher — hails from the same home town as Red Sox manager Alex Cora in Caguas.

(Picture of Yacksel Rios: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire right-handers Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell from Royals as players to be named later to complete three-team Andrew Benintendi trade; Freddy Valdez also acquired from Mets

In addition to acquiring outfield prospect Freddy Valdez as the player to be named later from the Mets in the three-team Andrew Benintendi trade, the Red Sox have also received right-handed pitching prospects Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell as the two players to be named later from the Mets, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

De La Rosa, who turns 19 next month, was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for approximately $147,500 by Kansas City in July 2018.

While he is not listed at the top of many prospect boards, De La Rosa did impress in his professional debut in 2019.

In 12 outings (11 starts) in the Dominican Summer League, the lanky 6-foot-1, 170 pound righty posted a 2.33 ERA and 1.92 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 52 strikeouts over 38 2/3 innings of work en route to being named the Dominican Royals 1 Pitcher of the Year.

According to his Baseball America scouting report from when he first signed with the Royals three years ago, De La Rosa — a former shortstop — “has an array of positive projection indicators, with some of that projection already starting to bear out.” As of that writing, the young hurler was working with a fastball, a slider, and an “advanced changeup for his age.”

A native of Santo Domingo, De La Rosa will become Rule 5 eligible for the first time in December 2022.

Gambrell, meanwhile, was originally selected by the Royals in the third round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Oregon State University. He later signed with the club for $647,500.

The 23-year-old came into the 2021 campaign regarded by FanGraphs as the No. 21 prospect in Kansas City’s farm system even after not pitching at all the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the minor-league season.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Gambrell’s FanGraphs scouting report goes as follows (courtesy of Eric Longenhagen):

“At his best, Gambrell sits in the mid-90s with a plus breaking ball (there might be two, but if so, they’ve run together in my looks) and a tailing, mid-80s changeup that he uses in some clever ways, including as a means to jam righties. His stuff has been inconsistent and he missed considerable time with injury during college, which creates some relief risk. We’re talking about a pitcher who only worked about four innings per outing during his sophomore year, and struggled when the Royals asked him to work as a starter and blow way past his previous single-year innings total after they drafted him in 2019. 

“But Gambrell was sitting 94-96 during 2021 spring action and looked to me to be in much better shape than the last time I saw him. The 2020 layoff means the innings increase piece of Gambrell’s developmental track still feels harrowing, but he has a power-pitcher’s repertoire and a chance to really blow up this year because he came to camp with a totally different body.”

Opening the 2021 season with High-A Quad Cities, Gambrell produced a 4.37 ERA and 4.06 xFIP to go along with seven walks and 28 strikeouts through his first five starts (22 2/3 innings pitched) of the year.

Upon his integration into the Red Sox organization, it seems likely that Gambrell would report to High-A Greenville. We will have to wait and see on that.

The three-team trade between the Red Sox, Royals, and Mets, which was initially agreed to back on February 10, has now been made completely official.

Here are the full returns for all three teams:

Red Sox get: OF Franchy Cordero (from KC), RHPs Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell (from KC), RHP Josh Winckowski (from NYM), and OF Freddy Valdez (from NYM)

Royals get: OF Andrew Benintendi (from BOS)

Mets get: OF Khalil Lee (from BOS via KC)

What a journey it has been.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Red Sox could be nearing decision on which 2 players to be named later they will be acquiring from Royals to complete Andrew Benintendi trade; player to be named later from Mets due June 4, per report

UPDATE: According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox “are due to acquire the remaining three players to be named later” in the near future, while “the player from the Mets — assumed to be the best player of the three — is due by Friday,” June 4.

The Red Sox could soon decide on the two players to be named later they will be acquiring from the Royals as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, according to The Kansas City’s Star Lynn Worthy.

Per Worthy, the Sox could very well make their decision within the next week or two.

Boston originally dealt Benintendi to the Royals back in February in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero, outfield prospect Khalil Lee, and two players to be named later. They then traded Lee to the Mets in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and another player to be named later.

According to @RedSoxStats on Twitter, the two players the Sox receive from the Royals will likely be of the “lower-level” variety in regards to prospect rankings, while the player they get from the Mets “is likely to be a higher quality prospect.”

Of the five players Boston will eventually get back in this three-team swap, they have gotten mixed results from the two who have already joined the organization.

Cordero, who made the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster out of spring training, hit a disappointing .179/.228/.274 with just one home run, six doubles, nine RBI, six walks, and 37 strikeouts in 34 games before being demoted to Triple-A Worcester on May 26.

Since being sent down, though, Cordero has shown some signs of life. The 26-year-old has gone 5-for-12 with a pair of homers and three RBI in his first three games with the WooSox.

Winckowski, meanwhile, has been one of the organization’s most impressive pitching prospects to this point in the minor-league season.

Through his first five starts with Double-A Portland, the 22-year-old hurler has posted a miniscule 1.33 ERA and 0.89 WHIP to go along with a 26:9 strikeout-to-walk-ratio over 27 innings of work thus far.

His latest start was unquestionably his best, as he twirled seven scoreless frames of one-hit baseball against the Hartford Yard Goats on Saturday en route to picking up his second win of the season for the Sea Dogs.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Winckowski operates with a fastball, slider, changeup and splitter.

“There’s a good foundation there,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including Smith) when speaking about Winckowski last month. “The changeup shows a lot of promise. It’s a pretty hard changeup right now but you can still have success with that. It’s more of a power change. And that pitch is going to evolve but I think his other stuff will evolve, too. And he’s going to learn different ways to use it as he goes.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)