Red Sox Make Second Round of Spring Roster Cuts

Four days after making their first round of spring roster cuts, the Red Sox cut 15 more players before taking on the Minnesota Twins earlier Sunday.

Out of those 15 players, eight were reassigned to minor-league camp, five were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, one was optioned to Double-A Portland, and one was optioned to High-A Salem.

The players who were reassigned to minor-league camp were cathcer Roldani Baldwin, catcher/infielder Connor Wong, infielder Jeter Downs, first baseman Josh Ockimey, right-handed pitchers R.J. Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, and Tanner Houck, and left-handed pitcher Mike Kickham.

The players optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket were infielders Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham, right-handers Mike Shawaryn and Phillips Valdez, and left-hander Kyle Hart.

Outfielder Marcus Wilson was the lone player optioned to Double-A Portland, while right-hander Yoan Aybar was the lone player optioned to High-A Salem.

In total, seven players — Aybar, Chatham, Dalbec, Hart, Shawaryn, Valdez, Wilson — on Boston’s 40-man roster were cut from big-league camp on Sunday.

Out of the 14 non-roster invites still in major-league camp, the most notable are Brian Johnson, Jonathan Lucroy, Marco Hernandez, and Jarren Duran. Take away Duran and the other three are certainly vying for positions on Boston’s 26-man roster to open the season.

Some thoughts:

Seeing the two prospects the Red Sox acquired in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade get cut is not much of a surprise, but it is a bit surprising seeing names like Kyle Hart, Tanner Houck, and Mike Shawaryn be cut at this point in time.

At least in my mind, I thought Hart and Houck were candidates to fill the two vacant spots in the Sox’ starting rotation, while Shawaryn was competing for a bullpen role. Instead of beginning the year in the majors though, it looks like the trio of hurlers will start with the PawSox.

Guys like Chatham and Dalbec probably had an outside chance of making Boston’s Opening Day roster before Sunday, but if we do see them in the majors this season, it will have to come at a later date.

On a final note, I’m looking forward to seeing what Marcus Wilson does in his first full year in the Red Sox organization.

 

 

Michael Chavis, Jarren Duran, and Josh Ockimey All Homer as Red Sox Top Pirates 6-3 in Rain-Shortened Contest

After blowing out the Orioles at Fort Myers on Tuesday, the Red Sox traveled to Bradenton for the first time this spring and improved to 3-2-1 in Grapefruit League action with a rain-shortened 6-3 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday.

Making his first start in a Red Sox uniform for Boston was Martin Perez, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal back in December to fill out the back half of the club’s rotation.

Working the first two innings Wednesday, the left-hander surrendered one unearned run on one hit and one walk to go along with three walks on the afternoon.

That one Pittsburgh tally came in the bottom half of the second, when after tossing a 1-2-3 first, Perez allowed three of the first four hitters he faced in the frame to reach base on a walk, single, and fielder’s choice combined with a throwing error committed by Marco Hernandez.

With the bases full of Pirates, J.T. Riddle came through with a sacrifice fly hit plenty deep enough to right field to drive in Josh Bell from third and make it a 2-1 contest.

Fortunately, Perez was able to avoid any further damage by fanning Andrew Susac to retire the side and end his outing on a more positive note.

From there, left-hander Josh Osich struck out three, walked another, and allowed one run on a Jose Osuna RBI double in the third while also recording the first two outs of the fourth.

Pitching prospect Durbin Feltman wrapped up the frame by getting Riddle to ground out to first, which would turn out to be the only action the 22-year-old would see.

Colten Brewer followed suit with two innings of one-run ball to eventually become the pitcher of record, while another prospect in Yoan Aybar wound up with his first save of the spring by punching out the side in the seventh, which turned out to be the final full inning due to rain.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that did not feature many regulars outside of Jose Peraza, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki was matched up against Pirates top prospect Mitch Keller to begin things on Wednesday.

After going down quietly in the first, the Boston bats picked it back up in the top half of the second, when a one-out double off the bat of Nick Longhi brought a red-hot Jarren Duran to the plate for the first time.

Duran, the Sox’ No. 5 prospect, did not waste any time in staying hot, as he took the the third pitch he saw from Keller and deposited a mammoth two-run shot over everything in left field for his first home run of the spring. 2-0.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, after the Pirates had responded with two runs of their own, and it was another monster home run that gave the Red Sox the lead.

This time, it came with two outs and off the bat of Michael Chavis, who greeted Pirates reliever Robbie Erlin with his first big fly of the spring to make it a 3-2 contest.

In the sixth, Pittsburgh answered yet again to pull themselves back even at three runs a piece, but that did not stop the Sox from putting this one away an inning later.

Yes, thanks to back-to-back walks drawn by Jeter Downs and John Andreoli off of Sam Howard to lead off the frame, Jett Bandy was able to drive in the go-ahead run, Downs, from third on a sacrifice fly to deep center.

Just a few moments later, the slugging Josh Ockimey put the finishing touches on his side’s win by clobbering his second homer of the spring, a line-drive two-run shot pulled down the right field line.

That homer gave the Red Sox a 6-3 advantage, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score after 7 1/2 completed innings due to inclement weather in Bradenton.

Some observations from this win:

After beginning spring training 0-for-his-first-5 with four strikeouts, Michael Chavis went 2-for-2 with a home run and a walk on Wednesday while playing second base.

Kevin Plawecki went 1-for-2 with a walk. Since Jonathan Lucroy has yet to appear in a game, I would say Plawecki has the upper hand in the competition for the backup catcher spot for the time being.

Through three games and eight plate appearances this spring, Jarren Duran owns an OPS of 1.880. Like I have been saying, the most exciting prospect to watch on this team right now.

Speaking of prospects, it was interesting to see Durbin Feltman get a little work on Wednesday. Too bad he didn’t come back out for the fifth.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Philadelphia Philles at JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

Right-hander Bryan Mata will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Nick Pivetta will do the same for Philadelphia.

Ranked as the Sox’ No.4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Mata, 20, worked a scoreless second inning against the Rays this past Saturday.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.

Josh Ockimey Homers as Red Sox Fall to Orioles in First Loss of Spring

After opening up Grapefruit League play with a 4-3 win over the Rays on Saturday, the Red Sox took to the road for the first time this spring and fell to the Orioles in Sarosata by a final score of 11-5.

Making his first start of the spring for Boston was Chris Mazza, who was originally scheduled to pitch in relief of Eduardo Rodriguez, but because Rodriguez was pushed back a day due to left knee soreness, Mazza got the nod from interim manager Ron Roenicke.

Working the first two innings of this one, the right-hander yielded one earned run on three hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout on the afternoon.

That one O’s run came in the bottom half of the second, when after working his way around a bases-loaded jam in the first, Mazza allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, setting up Stevie Wilkerson to knock in his side’s first tally on an RBI groundout to short.

The 30-year-old Mazza did manage to escape the second without giving anything else up, but it was far from a solid first impression for someone vying for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation.

From there, pitching did not get any easier for Boston, as newly-acquired left-hander Matt Hall surrendered a pair of runs in the third, Emmanuel De Jesus tossed a scoreless fourth, Bobby Poyner and Yoan Aybar gave up another pair of runs each in the fifth and sixth, Jhonathan Diaz was only able to record the first two outs of the seventh while being walloped for four runs (three earned), Adam Lau retired the only hitter he faced to record the final out of the seventh, and Konner Wade worked a perfect eighth to at least end things on a somewhat positive note.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to surrender 11 runs on 15 hits and eight walks over eight total innings of work. It’s only the beginning stages of spring training, but that does not make those numbers any easier to look at.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured several regulars on Saturday did not look quite the same on Sunday.

A familiar foe in left-hander Wade LeBlanc started things out for the Orioles by working two scoreless frames, and it wasn’t until the top half of the fourth when the Boston bats finally got going.

There, top outfield prospect Jarren Duran led things off against new O’s reliever Brandon Bailey by lacing a leadoff triple to the deepest part of the yard in center field, mere feet away from his first home run of the spring.

That brought Kevin Plawecki to the plate with the chance to make an impact as he vies for the backup catcher spot, and he did just that by driving in Duran from third on an RBI groundout to first. 3-1.

Fast forward all the way to the top half of the ninth, with this one already well out of reach, and the Sox staged a rally similar to the one the Rays put on against them the day prior.

A leadoff double off the bat of Cole Sturgeon, followed by a walk drawn by Ryan Fitzgerald put runners in scoring position with no outs for Tate Matheny.

Matheny may have struck out, but a wild pitch from Orioles hurler Evan Phillips during his at-bat allowed Sturgeon and Matheny to advance 90 feet for Nick Longhi.

Phillips’ wildness persisted, as Sturgeon crossed the plate on another wild pitch and Fitzgerald scored on a run-scoring groundout from Longhi. 11-3.

A walk drawn by the pinch-hitting Keith Curcio marked the conclusion of Phillips’ day for Baltimore, and in came right-hander Francisco Jimenez to replace him.

Jimenez was promptly greeted by slugging first baseman Josh Ockimey, who unloaded on a 2-0 fastball down the heart of the plate and deposited it deep over the fence in right field for the Red Sox’ first home run of the spring.

That two-run blast cut Boston’s deficit to six runs at 11-5, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score after the rally was cut short.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox will not go the entire year without a loss.

Jarren Duran is emerging as one of the more exciting players to watch on this team this spring. With his speed and athleticism, it’s easy to see why he was selected to the Futures Game last year.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s some split-squad action on Monday against the Rays and Twins.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the start against Minnesota at the nearby CenturyLink Sports Complex, while top right-handed pitching prospect Tanner Houck will do the same against Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte.

Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, will throw a simulated game on one of the Fenway South back fields on Monday.

For the Twins, it will be right-hander Kenta Maeda getting the start. And for the Rays, it will be righty Yonny Chirinos.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST, although neither game will be on NESN.

Red Sox Add Five Playes to 40-Man Roster, Including Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, and Marcus Wilson

The Red Sox added five players to their major league roster on Wednesday night.

Infielders C.J. Chatham and Bobby Dalbec, outfielder Marcus Wilson, and left-handed pitchers Yoan Aybar and Kyle Hart were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the 8 PM ET deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during the Winter Meetings in December.

Since they only added five players on Wednesday, the Red Sox’ active roster stands at 39, meaning they still have one available spot to work with for the time being.

Out of the five minor-leaguers added, Hart would have to be the surprise of the bunch, or at least that’s how I view it.

The former 19th-round pick out of Indiana University in 2016 is set to turn 27 on Saturday.

In 27 appearances (24 starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this past season, Hart posted a 3.52 ERA and .233 batting average against over 156 total innings pitched.

Ranked as the Sox’ No. 28 prospect on MLB.com, the left-handed Hart offers a pitch mix that includes an 87-92 MPH fastball, an 85-86 MPH cutter, a 76-79 MPH curveball, and an 81-82 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.

As for the other four, both Dalbec and Chatham are ranked within Boston’s top 10 prospects, with the former coming in at No. 2 and the latter coming in at No. 9. The pair of infielders were also both part of Team USA’s fourth-place finish in this year’s Premier12 tournament.

Wilson, meanwhile, is ranked as Boston’s No. 18 prospect in his first offseason with the Sox after coming over in the deal that sent Blake Swihart to the Arizona Diamondbacks this past April.

The 23-year-old outfielder out of Los Angeles played in just eight Arizona Fall League games this year, but slashed an impressive .333/.412/.467 with one home run, eight RBI, and two stolen bases while doing so.

With the possibilities of Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and even to an extent Andrew Benintendi, getting dealt this winter, Wilson could be someone to watch during the early stages of spring training in February.

Aybar also played in the Arizona Fall League this year, posting a 6.75 ERA and 1.38 WHIP across seven relief appearances and eight innings of work.

Initially signed as an outfielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, the 22-year-old has since converted to a left-handed reliever with a fastball that can top out at 97 MPH. He worked his way up to High-A Salem in 2019, so perhaps Double-A Portland is in the cards for the club’s No. 30 prospect in 2020.

Of course, just because these moves were made now does not mean that the Sox’ 2020 roster is set in stone. Changes will still come, and they will probably start once the Winter Meetings get underway in San Diego next month.

 

Checking in on the Six Red Sox Prospects Playing in the Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League opened up 2019 play on Wednesday, September 18th, meaning we are now officially one full week into the new season.

Through seven games played, the Peoria Javelinas, the club that all six Red Sox prospects participating in the AFL were assigned to last month, are only 3-4, but have gotten plenty of contribution from those aforementioned Boston prospects.

For starters, outfielder Marcus Wilson leads Peoria in hitting with a .500 batting average (7-for-14) and OPS (1.3297) to go along with one home run and eight RBI through four games of action.

Ranked as the Sox’ 17th-best prospect on MLB.com, the 23-year-old was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back on April 19th and saw time with both High-A Salem and Double-A Portland this year.

Next up, outfielder Jarren Duran is barely trailing Wilson for the team lead in hitting, slashing .400/.438/.400 with one RBI and one stolen base in four games played as well.

Wilson’s teammate in Portland for the latter part of this season, Duran was Boston’s lone representative in the 2019 Futures Game back in July. The recently-turned 23-year-old is ranked as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect and fourth overall prospect on MLB.com. This is his first full season in professional baseball, as he was a seventh round pick out of Long Beach State in last year’s draft.

Coming in at third, infielder C.J. Chatham trails Duran by just .025 points in Peoria’s batting race, as he owns a slash line of .375/.474/.563 to go along with two doubles, two runs driven in, and two stolen bases over his first four games.

Selected in the second round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, the 24-year-old will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before November 20th of this year in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. He is ranked as Boson’s ninth-best prospect on MLB.com

Transitioning from position players to pitchers now, Yoan Aybar and Bryan Mata are two of 10 Javelinas hurlers who have yet to surrender an earned run in AFL play.

Aybar, 22, has appeared in two games for Peoria, working a total of three innings of relief while walking three and striking out two in that span.

The Dominican Republic native put together a fascinating 2019 campaign, posting an ERA of 4.61 but a batting average against of .176 over 44 outings and 56 2/3 innings of work between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

Originally signed as an outfielder six years ago, Aybar was converted into a left-handed reliever in 2018 and has a pitch arsenal that consists of a 93-97 MPH fastball, an 86-87 MPH slider, and an 83 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.com.

Like Chatham, Aybar, the Sox’ 29th-ranked prospect, is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December if he is not added to the club;s 40-man roster before then.

Mata, meanwhile, has also appeared in two games for the Javelinas, plunking two and walking another to go along with three punchouts over three total innings pitched.

Climbing up the ranks to become Boston’s top pitching prospect this season, the 20-year-old right-hander earned a promotion from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland back on July 1st and posted an ERA 5.03 over his final 11 starts of 2019.

And finally, right-hander Tanner Houck has struggled since returning to the starting pitching role, yielding six runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits, three walks, and two HBPs to go along with three strikeouts over two starts and 5 1/3 total innings of work. That is good for an ERA of 6.75 and WHIP of 1.88.

Houck made the transition from starter to reliever shortly after making the jump to Triple-A Pawtucket in July, and it seemed as though that plan revolved around the possibility of the 23-year-old being called up the majors at some point in September.

That is not how things turned out however, as Houck is still not a member of Boston’s 40-man roster. He still has another year left before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2020, so there’s no reason to rush on that decision either. Houck is listed as the Sox’ second-best pitching prospect on MLB.com.

The 2019 installment of the Arizona Fall League runs through October 25th, with the Fall Stars Game being played on the 12th and the championship game being played on the 26th, so stay tuned for updates regarding how these six Red Sox prospects are holding up in the desert.

Six Red Sox Prospects to Play for Peoria Javelinas in Arizona Fall League

In case you missed it, the Red Sox will be sending six of their prospects to the Arizona Fall League this year, with right-handers Bryan Mata and Tanner Houck, left-hander Yoan Aybar, infielder C.J. Chatham, and outfielders Jarren Duran and Marcus Wilson all being assigned to the Peoria Javelinas on Wednesday.

Mata is listed as the top pitching prospect in Boston’s system and the third-highest overall behind only Triston Casas and Bobby Dalbec, per MLB Pipeline.

Since being promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland at the beginning of July, the 20-year-old hurler has posted a 5.79 ERA and .296 batting average against over his first 10 Eastern League starts and 46 2/3 innings of work. He was the Sox’ lone representative in the All-Star Futures Game last year.

Houck, meanwhile, was converted from a starter to a reliever while with Double-A Portland in early July before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on July 13th.

In 14 appearances (one one-inning start) with the PawSox, the 23-year-old owns an ERA of 2.21 and xFIP of 5.62 over 20 1/3 innings pitched.

The former 2017 first round pick out of the University of Missouri is ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the Sox’ system.

Aybar is a bit of an interesting case, as he came up through the pipeline as an outfielder after signing as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic six years ago.

The whole hitting thing never really panned out for Aybar though, with a career .624 OPS and all through his first four minor league seasons, so he began working as a pitcher in 2018.

The now 22-year-old held opponents to a .234 batting average while posting a 4.13 ERA over his first 17 outings as a reliever between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and Low-A Lowell Spinners last year.

Fast forward to this season, and Aybar has allowed a total of 29 earned runs over 43 appearances and 55 2/3 innings between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem. He is ranked as the No. 29 prospect in Boston’s system.

As for the position players, Duran has skyrocketed up the prospect boards, moving into the No. 4 spot in just his first full professional season after being selected in the eighth round of last year’s amateur draft out of Long Beach State.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old tore up the Carolina League to begin his 2019 campaign, slashing .387/.456/.543 to go along with 49 runs scored and 18 stolen bases over 50 games played before being promoted to Double-A Portland in early June.

Duran’s numbers have cooled off since then, but as I have mentioned before, to make the Futures Game in your first full season of professional baseball is quite the feat. Not to mention he was the lone prospect to represent the Sox in Cleveland as well.

Chatham, like Duran, has worked his way up through the Sox’ system in 2019, eventually earning a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket on August 13th after posting a .297/.333/.403 slash line in 90 games with the Sea Dogs to begin the year.

Taken with the 51st overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, Chatham will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Set to turn 25 in December, the Florida native is currently the ninth-ranked prospect in the Sox’ system.

And finally, Wilson was the minor leaguer the Red Sox acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back in April in exchange for Blake Swihart, who has since been designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A by Arizona.

Wilson’s Red Sox tenure got off to a rocky start, as he went just 10-for-his-first-62 (.161) with 33 strikeouts before getting demoted to Salem on May 18th.

There, the 23-year-outfielder thrived, as he slashed .342/.413/.603 with eight home runs and 29 RBI over 45 games, which eventually earned a promotion back up to Double-A on July 14th.

Since then, Wilson has been better for the most part, as he owns an OPS of .847 and wRC+ of 146 in his last 39 games with the Sea Dogs, although he is currently in the midst of an 8-for-39 slump over his last 10 contests going back to August 15th.

The Arizona Fall League begins on September 18th. The Valejina will consist of prospects from the Red Sox’, Houston Astros’, Seattle Mariners’, Pittsburgh Pirates’ and San Diego Padres’ systems respectively.