The Red Sox have announced an exchange of right-handed relievers with the Atlanta Braves. Boston will receive major league veteran Anthony Varvaro, with Aaron Kurcz (pictured) headed to Atlanta.
Kurcz, 24, originally came to the Red Sox organization in March 2012 as part of the compensation package from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Theo Epstein. He impressed in an assignment to Double-A Portland, striking out 72 in 50 1/3 innings. However, an elbow injury suffered in July of that year required Tommy John surgery, and an extended rehab kept Kurcz off the field throughout the 2013 campaign. He returned to Portland in 2014, and again pitched well, posting a 2.14 ERA an 52 strikeouts in 42 innings across 34 appearances.
We normally run a notes column at the beginning of every month in the offseason, but with this December being completely crazy, we will break this month up into two parts. Here are the notes for the first half of December:
In a trade that took a couple days to complete, the Red Sox sent Rubby De La Rosa (pictured), Allen Webster,and Raymel Flores to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Wade Miley. SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall and Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino teamed up to analyze all four players in the trade, with Fiorino offering a detailed report on Miley for the fans who are unfamiliar with him.
In a separate trade with the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox acquiredZeke Spruill for Myles Smith. Spruill was one of the players the Braves traded to Arizona for Justin Upton, but he was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks on December 8. The right-hander still has one option left, so he may see time in Pawtucket in 2015.
The Red Sox have acquired shortstop Marco Hernandez from the Chicago Cubs. Hernandez heads to Boston as the player to be named later in the deal that sent left-handed pitcher Felix Doubront to Chicago in July. The news was first reported by Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, the 6-foot, 170-pound Hernandez made an impression in his first appearance stateside in 2011. As an 18-year-old for the Cubs Arizona Rookie League affiliate, Hernandez opened some eyes with a .333/.375/.486 and defensive skills that scouts saw as likely to stick on the left side of the diamond. Baseball America rated him the #6 prospect in the circuit and #16 in the Cubs system, saying "he has enough bat speed and strength for gap power and the plus speed to beat out bunts."
Well, that was a week wasn't it? With the Red Sox trading Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Raymel Flores, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson, Gabe Speier, and Myles Smith in deals for Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Zeke Spruill, as well as signing former SoxProspects.com number 1 prospect Justin Masterson (oh, and there was the failed pursuit of Jon Lester), Chris and Matt had plenty to talk about. Plus, your emails asked about who will lead off and about the defensive prowess of Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.
This week's roundup covers play from the period of December 8-14. For the full list of Red Sox prospects participating in off-season action, check out our Fall and Winter Leagues page, which will be updated continuously through the end of the offseason.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)
In his first game of the week on Wednesday, Rusney Castillo went 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBI against Mayaguez. Castillo proceeded to go 1 for 9 with a run scored in his final three contest of the week. In seven games for Caguas, Castillo is batting .320/.333/.440.
Joseph Monge continues to see very limited action, appearing in just one game this week, going 0 for 3. Fellow outfielder Henry Ramos went 3 for 14 with an RBI in four contests this week.
Christian Vazquez (pictured, above) made his way into five games this week, going 6 for 20 with a double and four RBI.
On the mound, Dayan Diaz made his way into three games, pitching an inning of scoreless relief in each of his appearances.
As first reported Wednesday night and made official on Friday,
the Red Sox have acquired left-handed pitcher Wade Miley from the Arizona
Diamondbacks, with right-handed pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and infielderRaymel Flores headed to Arizona in
the deal. The Red Sox dealt from a position of depth, as they have
a plethora of right-handed pitching in the upper minors and middle infield prospects in the low minors. For Arizona, it reunites De La Rosa and Webster with De Jon Watson, senior vice president of baseball operations with the Diamondbacks and the director of player development with the Dodgers while the two pitchers were members of that franchise.
Red Sox: Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino has previous
experience scouting Miley, and provides his take on the left-hander
- Miley was a supplemental first-round pick
by the Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft. The lefty starter will be entering his age-28
season with three years of remaining control through arbitration. Miley is
listed at 6-feet, 220 pounds and has a filled-out frame with a durable and
strong upper and lower half. I've seen Miley pitch live on numerous occasions, and the first thing that stands out is his fast tempo on the mound. Miley
wastes no time between pitches and likes to work extremely quickly. He keeps
hitters guessing and off-balance with little time to think between pitches. In
turn, he keeps his own defense engaged and active.
Immediately after announcing the completion of their trade for Wade Miley, the Red Sox announced a second trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday, acquiring right-hander Zeke Spruill in exchange for right-hander Myles Smith.
Spruill, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the 2008 draft, spent most of last season with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno, making 28 appearances. He posted a 6.04 ERA in 79 innings pitched, working predominantly out of the bullpen.
After signing with the Red Sox to a one-year deal worth $9.5 million, with incentives that can push it up to $12 million, Justin Mastersonreturns to the organization that drafted him and first brought him up to the big leagues. Masterson, who was the top-rated prospect on SoxProspects.com in June of 2008, has not had a linear career path after being one of the most aggressively promoted Red Sox prospects in recent memory.
Similar to our pieces on Hanley Ramirez and Jon Lester, Masterson is the focus of our latest Player Retrospective. For another interesting read on Masterson's time in the system, read SoxProspects.com Editor-in-Chief Mike Andrews interview with Masterson from July 2007.
As reported this morning, the Red Sox have acquired
right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello from the Detroit Tigers. Outfielder Yoenis
Cespedes, right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson and left-handed pitcher Gabe Speier
are headed to the Tigers in return. In dealing Cespedes, Wilson and Speier, the
Red Sox took advantage of two of the deeper positions in their system, with a surplus
of major league outfielders and pitching depth in the upper and lower minors, in
order to trade up for proven major league-quality
- Alex Wilson is well known at this point, having been in
the system since being taken in the second round out of Texas A&M back in
2009. He has a sturdy pitcher’s frame, listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, with a
well-filled out lower half. He throws from a ¾ arm slot with effort in his
delivery stemming from long arm action that includes a stab and arm loop.
Wilson relies primarily on his fastball (both four-seam and
sinker varieties) and his slider. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range
generally, touching 95-96 mph on occasion, but is on the straight side. His
sinker has slightly less velocity usually, sitting in the low-90s with late
downward action. He has average-to-better command of the offering and solid
control. Wilson’s best secondary pitch is his slider, primarily thrown in the
84-87 mph range. The pitch has tight rotation and depth that allows it to serve
as a potential plus outpitch. Wilson has feel for the slider and the confidence
to throw it in any count. In the higher end of velocity range, the pitch
shortens up and looks more like a cutter. On those occasions, he’ll throw it in
the high-80s with short, horizontal movement. Wilson’s final pitch is an 86-88
mph changeup that he throws sparingly. The pitch is below-average as it lacks velocity
separation from his fastball as well as movement.
Capping off an eventful morning, the Houston Astros selected right-hander Jason Garciafrom the Red Sox with the fourth pick of the Rule 5 draft, then trading him to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named or cash. The Red Sox selected Jandel Gustave from the Astros with the sixth pick, but reports are that he will be flipped to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations.
Garcia, currently ranked as the 36th best propsect in the system, has seen his stock rise in recent months after reports came out in the fall that he was hitting 100 and sitting in the high 90s with his fastball. The 22-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013, and came back to throw 56 1/3 innings in 2014 between Lowell and Greenville, with an ERA of 3.67. He appeared in his first game on June 13, and after shaking off some rust, he ended the season on a tear for Greenville, going 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his last 29 innings for the Drive, striking out 32.