Red Sox drafted 8 pitchers in 2021; how did each of them fare during first full pro season?

The Red Sox selected and signed eight pitchers in the 2021 amateur draft. Of those eight, seven were taken out of college, one was taken out of high school, and one has yet to make his professional debut.

For the vast majority of these pitchers, the 2022 minor-league campaign represented their first full seasons in pro balls. Here is a rundown of how each of them fared this year, beginning with the highest draft pick and ending with the lowest one.

Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz, RHP (4th round, 105th overall pick)

Taken out of Leadership Christian Academy in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez-Cruz forwent his commitment to the University of Oregon by signing with Boston for $497,500. The 19-year-old right-hander made his pro debut in the Florida Complex League this summer and posted a 1.95 ERA with 36 strikeouts to 12 walks over 11 appearances (8 starts, 32 1/3 innings) before earning a promotion to Low-A Salem in late August. He then allowed one run while striking out six and walking three in two starts (6 innings) with the Salem Sox.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 160 pounds with room to grow, Rodriguez-Cruz throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 90-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 75-78 mph curveball, an 80-83 mph changeup, and a slider that is considered to be a work in progress. He is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Wyatt Olds, RHP (7th round, 196th overall pick)

Olds, 23, broke camp with High-A Greenville this spring after ending the 2021 season in Salem. The University of Oklahoma product forged a 6.01 ERA with 130 strikeouts to 50 walks over 26 outings (25 starts) and 106 1/3 innings for the Drive. He also made one start for Double-A Portland in September and allowed two earned runs across 4 2/3 innings of work.

At 6-foot and 183 pounds, Olds pitches exclusively from the stretch and possesses a 93-96 mph fastball that tops out at 98 mph, an 85-88 mph slider, and an 87-89 mph changeup, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report. He is currently regarded by the site as the No. 56 prospect in the organization.

Hunter Dobbins, RHP (8th round, 226th overall pick)

Sliding in right ahead of Olds in SoxProspects.com’s year-end rankings is Dobbins. The Texas Tech product missed the entirety of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last March and signed with Boston for $197,500 four months later. After making a full recovery from the procedure, Dobbins debuted with the Salem Red Sox back in June. He compiled a 5.22 ERA — but much more respectable 3.76 xFIP — with 68 strikeouts to 22 walks over 17 starts spanning 69 innings pitched.

Dobbins, also 23, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. The former Red Raider works with a four-pitch arsenal that includes a 91-94 mph heater that tops out at 96 mph, a 74-78 mph curveball, an 83-85 mph changeup, and a high-80s slider that is used sparingly, according to SoxProspects.com. He is projected by the site to make the jump to Greenville next spring.

Matt Litwicki, RHP (10th round, 286th overall pick)

Litwicki is the one pitcher in this draft class who has yet to take the mound in an organized game. The 24-year-old righty was limited to just 31 1/3 innings at Indiana University (missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, missed time in 2021 because of back and shoulder injuries) and received a $47,500 signing bonus from the Sox.

Per SoxProspects.com, Litwicki suffered a setback while rehabbing earlier this year and wound up missing the entirety of the 2022 campaign as a result. When healthy, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound hurler has shown that he can reach 99 mph with his four-seamer while also mixing in a low-80s slider. As of now, it remains to be seen if Litwicki is on track to be ready for spring training.

Christopher Troye, RHP (12th round, 346th overall pick)

Troye, who turns 24 in February, received a $122,500 signing bonus from Boston after spending four years (and undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Brentwood native missed the first month or so of the 2022 season with an undisclosed injury, but he made his way to Salem by mid-May.

In 26 relief appearances for the Red Sox, Troye produced a 4.86 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 50 strikeouts to 24 walks over 33 1/3 innings of work. His 35 percent punchout rate ranked ninth among Carolina League pitchers who accrued at least 30 innings, though his 16.8 percent walk rate was the 16th-highest in the league using that same parameter.

Given that he has the ability to strike out hitters and miss bats at a high rate, it should come as no surprise that Troye possesses tantalizing stuff. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and can reach 99 mph with the pitch, according to SoxProspects.com. He also flashes a 12-6 curveball, but has shown that he can struggle with his command at times. How he works to improve that will likely play a key role in his development moving forward.

Jacob Webb, RHP (14th round, 406th overall pick)

Webb may be the furthest along of any pitcher listed here. The 23-year-old righty out of Miami University of Ohio pitched across three different levels this season and made it as far as Portland. He posted a 3.18 ERA with 88 strikeouts to 28 walks in 44 total appearances (56 2/3 innings) between Salem, Greenville, and Portland before heading out west to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. With the Scottsdale Scorpions, Webb yielded four earned runs over 10 innings of relief while fanning 12 of the 41 batters he faced.

Listed at a burly 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds, Webb is currently ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 60 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Dayton native operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 94-96 mph heater that can reach 98 mph, an 82-84 mph slider, and an 88-90 mph changeup. He is projected to return to the Sea Dogs bullpen for the start of the 2023 season.

Luis Guerrero, RHP (17th round, 496th overall pick)

The lone junior college pitcher included here, Guerrero turned in a solid 2022 campaign after not pitching professionally in 2021. The 22-year-old right-hander out of Chipola College appeared in a total of 27 games between the FCL, Salem, and Greenville. He produced a 3.23 ERA with 59 punchouts to 17 walks over 39 combined innings of work. That includes a 2.08 ERA (1.66 FIP) in seven outings with the Drive.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Guerrero is listed at 6-foot and 215 pounds. The Bani native can reach triple digits with his four-seam fastball and also possesses an 83-85 mph splitter, an 88-91 mph slider, and a 75-79 mph curveball, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report. He is currently regarded by the site as the 34th-ranked prospect in the system.

Tyler Uberstine, RHP (19th round, 556th overall pick)

A former member of the University of Southern California’s club baseball team, Uberstine transferred to Northwestern University in 2020 and has only seen his stock rise since then. This past season, the 23-year-old righty posted a 3.83 ERA with 101 strikeouts to 35 walks over 21 combined appearances (15 starts, 91 2/3 innings) between Salem and Greenville. He pitched well for the Drive (2.43 ERA) after being promoted in July, but was limited to just seven starts from that point forward due to a quad strain.

Uberstine, who turns 24 in June, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 32 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound hurler works with a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, an 85-87 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider, according to the site’s scouting report on him.

(Picture of Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox select Oklahoma right-hander Jaret Godman with 19th-round pick in 2022 MLB Draft

With the 579th overall pick in the 2022 MLB first-year player draft, the Red Sox selected University of Oklahoma right-hander Jaret Godman.

Godman, 22, is not regarded by Baseball America as one of the top pitching prospects in this year’s draft class. This past season for the Sooners, the Las Vegas native posted a 6.98 ERA and 1.91 WHIP to go along with 17 strikeouts to seven walks over 20 relief appearances spanning 19 1/3 innings of work.

Standing at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Godman operates with a 92-95 mph fastball and an 81-82 mph slider. The senior hurler also spent part of his summer last year pitching for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Godman, who does not turn 23 until next May, was college teammates with fellow righty Wyatt Olds, whom the Red Sox took in the seventh round of last year’s draft. He becomes the 12th college pitcher to be selected by Boston this time around.

The allotted slot value for the 579th pick in the 2022 draft comes in at $125,000. The Red Sox will have until August 1 to ink Godman, who could sign for less than that amount.

(Picture of Jaret Godman: University of Oklahoma Athletics)

Should Red Sox view pitching prospect Wyatt Olds as starter or reliever moving forward?

Over the summer, the Red Sox selected 20 players in the revamped version of the 2021 amateur draft.

Of the 16 draftees Boston wound up signing, eight were pitchers. This piece in particular will focus on University of Oklahoma right-hander Wyatt Olds and the year he put together.

Taken in the seventh round (and with the 196th overall pick) in the draft, Olds signed with the Sox for $239,000 in late July and was promptly sent out to the club’s spring training complex in Fort Myers.

After making just one appearance for the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox, Olds was promoted to Low-A Salem on August 20. The 22-year-old closed out his first professional season by posting a 2.45 ERA and 2.52 FIP to go along with 20 strikeouts to six walks over five outings (three starts) spanning 11 innings of work.

Among the 334 pitchers who accrued at least 10 innings on the mound last season, Olds ranked 11th in strikeouts per nine innings (16.4), 23rd in strikeout rate (40%), 26th in FIP, and 43rd in xFIP (3.26), per FanGraphs.

Olds, who was signed out of college by area scout Lane Decker, was used as both a starter and reliever in his three seasons with the Sooners. Most recently, the Oklahoma native opened the 2021 campaign in the team’s starting rotation, but he was moved back to the bullpen in mid-April.

Coming into the draft, Olds was regarded by Baseball America as the 422nd-ranked draft-eligible prospect. According to his Baseball America scouting report from that time, the righty’s “lower arm slot can make it hard for hitters to pick up the ball, and he misses bats, but he also misses the strike zone. He has a long arm action that he has struggled to repeat consistently, especially in longer stints. His fastball picked up a tick after his move to the bullpen, as he went from sitting 91-94 mph to sitting 93-96 mph and touching 97 mph.

In addition to his high-octane fastball, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall writes that Olds works with an 85-88 mph slider and a changeup that still has room for improvement.

Listed at 6-foot and 183 pounds, Olds does not turn 23 until August. He “has definite major-league potential” as a reliever, per Cundall. But he needs “to improve his changeup and show he can stay healthy over a full season as a starter to be considered in that role.”

On that note, Olds is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-league season in Salem’s starting rotation. Cundall suggests that this would force the young hurler “to use all of his pitches and refine his fastball command.”

(Picture of Wyatt Olds: Edward Reali/OU Daily)

Red Sox select University of Oklahoma right-hander Wyatt Olds with No. 196 pick in 2021 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected University of Oklahoma right-hander Wyatt Olds with their seventh-round pick in the 2021 MLB first-year player draft at No. 196 overall.

Olds, who turns 22 next month, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 420 prospect coming into the draft. He is the first and only college pitcher the Red Sox have selected so far.

Listed at 6-foot and 183 pounds, the Oklahoma native just wrapped up a junior season with the Sooners in which he posted a 5.23 ERA and 1.36 WHIP while recording 101 strikeouts and 37 walks over 19 appearances (11 starts) spanning 75 2/3 innings of work this spring.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Olds — who was not drafted out of high school — began the 2021 campaign in Oklahoma’s starting rotation, but ultimately moved to the bullpen on account of prolonged struggles.

“Olds’ lower arm slot can make it hard for hitters to pick up the ball, and he misses bats, but he also misses the strike zone,” his scouting report reads. “He has a long arm action that he has struggled to repeat consistently, especially in longer stints. His fastball picked up a tick after his move to the bullpen, as he went from sitting 91-94 mph to sitting 93-96 and touching 97.

“Evaluators already saw Olds as a likely reliever in pro ball and his 2021 season only further confirmed that suspicion. As a reliever, Olds can rely on his fastball/slider pairing, both of which play as above-average offerings in shorter stints. His slider is a power pitch (85-88 mph) with some tilt. As a reliever, he doesn’t have to use his well below-average changeup that he threw as a starter.”

While it certainly appears as though Olds projects to be a reliever at the pro level as opposed to a starter, the young righty does have the option to return to campus if he so chooses.

That said, the recommended slot value for the 196th overall selection in this year’s draft is $239,000, so perhaps he and the Red Sox can get a deal done based off that figure.

(Picture of Wyatt Olds: Paxson Haws/The Daily)