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SoxProspects News

November 9, 2020 at 4:00 PM

October notes: Roster reshape begins; former top prospect earns ring

Here are October's minor league notes:

  • The Red Sox announced on Friday that former manager Alex Cora will return as manager in the 2021 season after a one-year hiatus. He'll come on to the job with a much different team than the one he first inherited three years ago and in the midst of  notable overhaul.
  • That roster rebuild was the main topic of our most recent SoxProspects.com podcast, as Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall discussed the coming roster and the numerous moves Chaim Bloom has already made to restock and retool the upper minors. 
  • The Red Sox cleared 11 spots off of the 40-man roster. Reliever Domingo Tapia was claimed by the Seattle Mariners when Boston attempted to slide him through waivers. The team outrighted eight others: pitchers Robinson Leyer, Mike Kickham, Zack Godley, Andrew Triggs, and Dylan Covey, utilityman Tzu-Wei Lin, infielder Jose Peraza, and outfielder Cesar Puello. The team declined its 2021 option on pitcher Martin Perez, and long-time center fielder Jackie Bradley declared free agency. Additionally, pitcher Collin McHugh and Rusney Castillo, neither of whom were on the current 40-man roster, became free agents. McHugh opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns after signing as a free agent last winter, while Castillo spent much of the last several years with Pawtucket after signing a lucrative contract in 2014.
  • The team re-upped nine pending free agents to minor-league deals. Roldani Baldwin, Seth Blair, Raynel Espinal, Stephen Gonsalves, Joey Meneses, Johan Mieses, Josh Ockimey, Jhonny Pereda, and Caleb Simpson will all return next season. 
    • Ockimey peaked as the fourth-ranked prospect in the system, reached Triple-A at age 22, and blasted 25 home runs with the Pawtucket in 2019. However, he struggled with strike outs and maintained only a .204 batting average, leaving him off the team's 60-man roster pool this season.
    • Baldwin reached the Top-30 rankings as a catcher with some pop, hitting 14 homers with Greenville in 2017. Injuries and questions about his future behind the plate have limited his development, though he has earned praise for his work ethic. 
  • In addition to the aforementioned Leyer, Lin, and Covey, several players became minor league free agents: Stetson Allie, Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, Enmanuel De Jesus, Jhonathan Diaz, Yoel Espinal, Trevor Hildenberger, Ryder Jones, Tommy Joseph, Kevin Lenik, Nick Longhi, Daniel McGrath, Jeremy Rivera, Andrew Schwaab, Kevin Steen, Cole Sturgeon, Konner Wade, Tom Windle, and Jantzen Witte.
    • Notable among this group are Longhi and McGrath. Longhi returned to the organization as a minor league free agent in the offseason. He was traded to the Reds in 2017 in exchange for international bonus pool money, and figured to serve as a first baseman and right fielder for Pawtucket. McGrath, meanwhile, had an outstanding season in 2019, posting a 1.68 ERA in 112 1/3 innings with Portland. The veteran lefty returned in 2020 on a minor league deal after struggling with a mystery illness which caused weight loss, blurry vision, and balance problems while at home in Australia last winter. 
  • The Arizona Fall League was canceled, but other fall and winter leagues continue in some capacity. The SoxProspects.com Fall/Winter page is the best place to stay up to date on all the goings on. Here are some highlights: 
    • The Mexican Pacific League got underway in October. Recently re-signed third baseman Joey Meneses has seen regular playing time for Culiacan, hitting .328/.366/.516. Marcus Wilson, an outfielder ranked 31st in the system, signed with Mexicali last week and is likely to debut soon.
    • The Dominican Winter League gets underway on Sunday, November 15. Hard-throwing right-hander Joan Martinez has joined the Aguilas CibaeƱas, while infielder Yairo Munoz and outfielder Johan Mieses will play for Toros del Este.
    • The top-ranked prospect playing in the Caribbean will be outfielder Jarren Duran. He has been picked up by Criollos de Caguas of Puerto Rico's Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League. While the 2020-21 schedule has not yet been released, that league traditionally gets started in early December.
    • Outfielder Colin Willis returns to the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League where he turned in a dominant .427/.520/.612 slash line last winter. Willis was signed by the Red Sox in October 2019 but did not have a chance to make his debut in affiliated ball. The Gary, Indiana native starred for four years in the independent American Association.  
  • Infielder Josh Tobias has retired as a player but will remain in the organization. The 28-year-old has taken a job as a pro scout. Tobias was acquired  from the Phillies in 2016 in exchange for Clay Buchholz and appeared in 251 games over three seasons in the Boston system. 
  • Former Red Sox minor leaguer Markus "Mookie" Betts (pictured, above), the top prospect in the system for two months in mid-2014, earned a World Series ring as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Betts was dealt to the Dodgers as part of a five-player trade late in the offseason that went mostly under the radar. The 28-year-old had seven hits in the series and, for the second time in three years, won America a taco by swiping the first base in the World Series. 

Photo Credit: Mookie Betts by Kelly O'Connor