Is Red Sox pitching prospect Franklin German primed for a full-time relief role in 2022?

It’s been a little more than 53 weeks since the Red Sox shockingly pulled off a trade with the division rival Yankees.

On January 25 of last year, Boston acquired veteran reliever Adam Ottavino and pitching prospect Franklin German from New York in exchange for nothing but cash considerations.

The Yankees made such a move so that they could free up a roster spot for Corey Kluber. The Sox, on the other hand, pulled the trigger so that they could bolster their big-league bullpen while also acquiring a potentially intriguing piece for the future.

While Ottavino proved to be a key member of Boston’s relief corps in 2021, German had to endure his fair share of struggles in the minor-leagues last year.

At the time the trade was made, Red Sox chief officer Chaim Bloom described German as an interesting prospect with a power arm who could work as either a starter or reliever down the line.

To that point in his career, German — a fourth-round draft pick of the Yankees out of the University of North Florida in 2018 — had primarily worked out of the starting rotation while progressing through New York’s farm system.

Coming into his first season with a new organization, German received an invite to major-league spring training and got some run in the Grapefruit League before being reassigned to minor-league camp.

In early May, the right-hander broke camp with Double-A Portland as a member of the Sea Dogs’ starting rotation. He made his organizational debut on May 6 and proceeded to post a 5.45 ERA (5.02 FIP) to go along with 65 strikeouts to 29 walks through his first 19 appearances (18 starts) and 79 1/3 innings pitched of the season.

Following his start against the Reading Fightin Phils at Hadlock Field on August 25, German was permanently moved to Portland’s bullpen for the remainder of the year. As a reliever, he flourished by not allowing a single run on just one hit, one walk, and seven strikeouts over five outings spanning five innings of work.

It’s a small sample size, but German was able to increase his strikeout rate from 17.9% to 41.2% and lower his walk rate from 8% to 5.9% upon moving to the Sea Dogs’ bullpen on a full-time basis late last summer.

In the fall, German was a candidate to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster since he was eligible for the 2021 Rule 5 Draft. Boston opted not to add German as the November 19 deadline came and went, but that has worked in the righty’s favor thus far.

That being the case because German was one of 28 Red Sox minor-leaguers who participated in the club’s Winter Warmup program in Fort Myers, Fla. last week. The 24-year-old, who would not have been able to participate had he been added to the 40-man on account of the ongoing lockout, was among 12 pitchers on hand at the Fenway South complex.

When speaking with reporters last Monday, Sox director of player development Brian Abraham was asked about the seasons German — and others in the organization who struggled as starters but thrived as relievers (like A.J. Politi) had.

More specifically, Abraham was asked by’s Christopher Smith if the Red Sox view German and Politi as relievers now heading into 2022.

“I think towards the end of the year, they (German and Politi) were able to get acclimated to that role and it’s something we’ll probably focus with both of them on moving forward,” Abraham said. “Certainly as we’ve all seen with various pitchers throughout Red Sox history, we’d never say never to potentially going back to more of an extended role or a starter role.

“I think pitching out of the ‘pen, even multiple innings, is really valuable these days,” he added. “To transition to the bullpen and have success was a nice introductory opportunity into the relief role. So, we would see them as that.”

German, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-97 mph fastball that tops out at 98 mph, a changeup, and a slider, per his scouting report.

A native of Tampa, German is currently regarded by as the No. 52 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 21st among pitchers in the organization. He is projected by the site to begin the 2022 season in the bullpen with Triple-A Worcester.

On that note, German is still technically eligible for the major-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft, which was postponed indefinitely in early December because of the ongoing lockout.

If the lockout ends soon and the Rule 5 Draft is held before Opening Day, German could be scooped up by another club. The likelihood of that happening seems slim, but should still nonetheless be considered a possibility.

(Picture of Franklin German: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox)


Red Sox infield prospect Christian Koss could provide Double-A Portland with much-needed versatility in 2022

Red Sox infield prospect Christian Koss celebrated his 24th birthday on Thursday. He was among 28 minor-leaguers who spent the week participating in the team’s Winter Warmup program in Fort Myers.

One of nine infielders on the Sox’ minicamp roster, Koss was acquired from the Rockies in exchange for pitching prospect Yoan Aybar in December 2020.

That move was primarily made so that the Sox could clear a spot on their 40-man roster, but it also provided the club with an intriguing, versatile infielder.

Upon acclimating himself to a new organization, Koss spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Greenville, where he batted .271/.325/.451 (106 wRC+) with 18 doubles, seven triples, 15 home runs, 55 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, 31 walks, and 100 strikeouts over 104 games spanning 468 plate appearances.

On the surface, it would appear that Koss had a solid, above-average year at the plate. However, it is worth mentioning that the right-handed hitter actually got off to a slow start before picking things up over the summer.

From July 1 on, in fact, Koss slashed a more impressive .297/.340/.529 (127 wRC+) while cutting his strikeout rate down from 25.7% to 18.6% over the final 64 games (285 plate appearances) he played in.’s director of scouting Ian Cundall had the chance to see Koss during this stretch, and observed that the then-23-year-old “may not have the highest ceiling, but he was solid enough at shortstop and should add positional versatility as he moves up the system. He does not have a standout tool, but has a bunch of average tools in his locker.” 

Defensively, Koss saw the majority of his playing time with the Drive come at shortstop. The 6-foot-1, 182 pounder logged 842 1/3 innings and committed 15 errors at that position while accruing 73 innings and committing no errors as a second baseman.

Following the conclusion of the regular minor-league season, Koss spent his fall in the Arizona Fall League after replacing catcher Connor Wong on the Scottsdale Scorpions’ roster.

Appearing in 14 games for Scottsdale, Koss posted a .525 OPS and swiped a pair of bags while playing every infield position besides first base.

Originally selected by the Rockies in the 12th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of University of California, Irvine, Koss’ most appealing tool is undoubtedly his speed. He was named the Red Sox’ minor-league Baserunner of the Year for 2021, after all.

A native of Riverside, Calif. who spent two summers (2017, 2018) playing for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League, Koss ended the 2021 season ranked by as the No. 31 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected by the publication to begin the 2022 campaign with Double-A Portland.

Given his ability to play multiple defensive positions, Koss could provide the Sea Dogs with a shifty, utility infielder who has the ability to play three different positions on any given night.

As is the case with many Red Sox minor-leaguers heading into the 2022 season, Koss can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career come December. Boston would need to add the 24-year-old to their 40-man roster by late November in order to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Christian Koss: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Double-A Portland development coach Katie Krall joins the show

On this week’s episode of Podding the Red Sox: A Podcast, I am joined by new Red Sox player development coach Katie Krall.

In case you missed it, the Red Sox made history earlier this winter by becoming the first major-league franchise to employ two female coaches after they hired Krall. They previously hired minor-league coach Bianca Smith in December 2020.

Krall will be working with the Red Sox’ Double-A affiliate in Portland, Maine this coming season.

On this episode of Podding the Red Sox, Krall discusses how she first got into baseball during her childhood, working in the Commissioner’s Office upon graduating from Northwestern University, spending two years in the Cincinnati Reds’ front office, her brief time at Google as a member of their global strategy team, and what led to her accepting a coaching gig with the Red Sox.

She also delves into her previous connections to New England, meeting Red Sox prospect Triston Casas at the 2018 MLB Draft, her takeaways from the Sox’ Winter Warmup program in Fort Myers this week, the role she will undertake as a member of the Portland Sea Dogs’ coaching staff this season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other podcast platforms.

My thanks to Katie for taking some time out of her busy schedule to have an in-depth conversation with yours truly.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Katie Krall: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox)