February 3, 2014 at 8:00 AM
Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers in less than two weeks, and as spring training nears, the Red Sox have been busy making several minor league signings to help sure up their depth. Writers were also kept busy as ranking season was in full effect featuring many top 100 lists and Red Sox top 10 rankings. Overall, there was a lot of news, and in case you had trouble keeping track of it all, here are the minor league notes from January:
- While the major league roster was more or less finalized before 2014 began, the Red Sox still needed to find some added depth. One area in particular that they were looking to do this was in the bullpen, a position that is notoriously volatile. With this in mind, the Red Sox brought back Milton, Mass native Rich Hill (pictured, right), signed fellow left-hander Jose Mijares, and signed right-hander Jose Valdez.
- Outfield, especially center field, was another area that the Red Sox lacked organizational depth. They helped solve that problem this month by signing Scott Cousins, re-signing Justin Henry, and signing former first-round draft pick Corey Brown. Brown's deal is the only one of the three that includes an invitation to major league spring training.
- The Red Sox have plenty of depth at catcher, which makes it a little surprising that earlier this month they signed catcher Michael Brenly. However, the Red Sox usually bring in a veteran minor league catcher around this time of year to be ready to fill in defensively in the upper minors should an injury occur.
- Included in the article on Corey Brown's signing, there is also the note that the Red Sox have released Cody Koback and he will be facing several felony charges.
- Koback was not the only one to leave the organization this month, as news came out on Friday that 2009 third-round pick David Renfore has decided to retire from baseball.
- Organizational acquisitions continued when the Red Sox announced that they have named Joe Oliver manager of the Lowell Spinners for the 2014 season.
- Minor league players also continued to participate in a wide variety of events. Most importantly, they continued to play in various winter leagues, and you can catch up on all four SoxProspects.com fall/winter league reports from January here.
- In order to prepare for the 2014 season the Red Sox once again held their rookie development program, and 10 players were invited this year including Henry Owens, Garin Cecchini, Blake Swihart, and others.
- Players continued to give back to their community, and both prospects and major league players participated in the New Stars for Young Stars charity event. SoxProspects.com Managing Editor Matt Huegel and Executive Editor Chris Hatfield were both in attendance. You can read their overview of the event, and also listen to the most recent SoxProspects.com podcast which features audio of interviews with Swihart, Mookie Betts (pictured, right), and Drake Britton.
- After the event, Matt wrote a piece on Britton who was able to overcome struggles during spring training last year and went on to have a splendid summer, and also wrote for ESPNBoston that Betts is a player to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, Chris wrote that Swihart is staying grounded despite being in the spotlight, and that Rubby De La Rosa is eyeing a big 2014 after continuing his work with Red Sox great, Pedro Martinez.
- Some prospects got more good news when the Red Sox announced that Swihart, Owens, and Matt Barnes highlighted the list of players who were invited to major league spring training.
- Red Sox were all over the industry's rankings this month. Baseball Prospectus ranked six Red Sox in their Top 101, and listed two more on their near misses list. ESPN's Keith Law had a busy end of the month putting out his Top 100 list with seven Red Sox making the list, he also put out a Red Sox top 10 list, and finally lists the Red Sox as the fifth best farm system in all of baseball. Lastly, the Red Sox got the most praise from MLB.com, who had an amazing nine players in their top 100 list, while also listing Anthony Ranaudo on both Jim Callis' just missed list and on Jonathan Mayo's as well.
- The rankings were packed with Red Sox players, and the SoxProspects.com podcast was out to get more information on the thought process behind these rankings. This month they sat down with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus and Chris Mellen of Baseball Prospectus/SoxProspects.com to ask some questions about their list. Earlier, the podcast also had on Alex Speier of WEEI.com and Baseball America to hear more about his Red Sox top 10 list.
- Elsewhere on the internet, Garin Cecchini shows off his and teammates' sense of humor, hosting MLB.com’s ‘Conversation with Rookies’.
- Red Sox corner infielder and Australian native, Stefan Welch, has been nominated for the Australian Baseball League Fan Choice Award while playing for his hometown Adelaide Bite. Voting ends at 11:59 PM AEDT (7:59 AM EST) on Tuesday, so cast your vote here while you still can.
- Marc Normandin of SBNation's Over the Monster writes about the next wave of Red Sox prospects.
- The Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson talks with Bruce Crabbe who says that consistency is the key for young Red Sox infield prospects, including shortstop Deven Marrero and Cecchini.
- Finally, to start the year off, SoxProspects.com looked back at the top 10 posts of 2013.
Photo Credit: Rich Hill and Mookie Betts by Kelly O'Connor.
Will Woodward is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.