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March 9, 2020 at 2:30 PM

Fort Report: Duran keeps rolling; Houck, Mata, Dalbec reassigned

There are only 17 days to go until Opening Day and there is plenty of news coming out of Fort Myers that doesn't involve Chris Sale and his elbow. The roster is beginning to take shape, with several players moving over to minor league camp and the departure of a valuable member of the 2018 championship team.

  • The first rounds of cuts from major league camp began this week as 19 players--including five of the top 10 prospects in the system--were optioned or reassigned:
    • Five players on the 40-man roster were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket: infielders Bobby Dalbec and CJ Chatham and pitchers Kyle Hart, Mike Shawaryn, and Phillips Valdez. Dalbec ranks sixth in the system in the SoxProspects.com Top 60, with Chatham checking in at number 10. 
    • Outfielder Marcus Wilson was optioned to Portland and lefty Yoan Aybar to Salem. 
    • Those not on the 40-man reassigned to minor league camp were pitchers Daniel McGrath, Bobby Poyner, Bryan Mata, Denyi Reyes, RJ Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, Tanner Houck (pictured), and Mick Kickham, infielders Tommy Joseph, Jeter Downs, Josh Ockimey, and catchers Connor Wong and Roldani Baldwin.
  • Before getting reassigned, Houck had opened some eyes in spring training, even generating buzz about making the major league squad in a swingman or hybrid role to start the season. The 2017 first-round pick has been devastating on right-handed batters throughout his minor league career but has struggled to find consistency against lefties. Houck faced more batters in camp this spring than every Red Sox hurler except Martin Perez, and Ian Brown for MLB.com listed him among those who had most impressed his teammates. One of the more interesting stories of the early season will be how Houck is used on the PawSox staff.
  • Pitcher Hector Velazquez was designated for assignment as the countermove to the Collin McHugh signing. Velazquez was subsequently claimed off of waivers by Baltimore. The right-hander was Boston's only notable international signing during the 2016-17 period when they were sanctioned for improper funneling of bonus money the previous season. Given a $30,000 bonus, Velazquez ended up providing an excellent return on that investment, appearing in 89 games, including making 19 starts, over parts of three major league seasons. He was a key depth component on the 2018 championship squad, posting a 3.18 ERA in 85 innings and spending nearly the full season in the major leagues. 
  • Jarren Duran continues to be the talk of the town in Fort Myers. Alex Speier posted for Baseball America about Duran's adjustment to Double-A after a hot start with Salem, and the difficulties he had as Eastern League pitching pounded him with inside fastballs. The 2018 draftee worked with hitting consultant Doug Latta in the offseason to simplify his movements in the batter's box, enabling him to turn on those pitches. Duran has appeared in 10 games as a non-roster invitee, going 6 for 19 with a triple, a homer, and a team-leading five runs scored. 
  • Also from Speier, Roniel Raudes (pictured) returned to the mound in an intrasquad game, his first time facing live batters since getting shut down with an elbow issue in June 2018 and then undergoing Tommy John surgery the following January. 
  • Though it happened in February, we learned this week through the Baseball America MiLB transactions update that the Red Sox signed former Top 100 prospect Stetson Allie to a minor league deal. The fire-throwing righty was ranked 79th in baseball by Baseball America before the 2011 season after getting nabbed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 2010 draft. Allie's command quickly abandoned him, as he walked 29 batters in 26 innings in his first pro season, followed by a descent into full-blown Steve Blass disease, walking 8 of the 12 batters he faced the following year before getting shut down. After an attempted conversion to a position player, Allie returned to the mound in 2017 while in the Dodgers organization. He still reportedly has the velocity that allowed him to sit 99 mph and touch 102 with his four-seam fastball and has continued to struggle with his control. 
  • Also noted in the transactions were that catcher Justin Quiangba and utilityman Keibert Petit were released. Petit, who signed for $200,000 in March of 2015, had a solid 2017 in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .270/.367/.354 with 16 stolen bases. 
  • Twenty-three minor league players not in major league camp got called over to appear in games for the big club, including several during Thursday's split-squad action: pitchers Durbin Feltman, Eduard Bazardo, Hunter Haworth, Matt Kent, Matthew Gorst, Adam Lau, Tom Windle, and Konnor Wade; outfielders Tate Matheny, Cole Sturgeon, Tyler Esplin, Gilberto Jimenez, Johan Mieses, and Keith Curcio; infielders Jerry Downs, Josh Tobias, Brett Netzer, Nick Lovullo, Ryan Fitzgerald, Ryder Jones, Pedro Castellanos, and Joey Meneses; and catcher Charlie Madden.
  • We are continuing the countdown of our top 60 prospects on our social media sites. Follow @SoxProspects on Twitter and like our Facebook page and get your daily dose. 
  • In advance of the annual SoxProspects staff trip to the Fort on March 18, Chris and Ian will be recording a preview podcast. Have questions? Comments? any questions you have to Podcast@soxprospects.com

Photo Credit: Tanner Houck, Roniel Raudes by Kelly O'Connor