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SoxProspects News

April 12, 2022 at 12:00 PM

Minor Notes: We've got games, Whitlock signs extension


For the last time in 2022, baseball is officially back. Spring training is over and the minor league affiliates opened up their seasons, with Worcester starting on April 5, followed by the rest of the full-season squads on April 8. The big club has also gotten underway, with Opening Day on April 8, as a rainstorm in New York postponed the festivities in The Bronx.
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Transactions

Whitlock signs four-year extension
Garrett Whitlock, a Rule 5 pick from the Yankees in 2020, signed a four-year, $18.75 million contract extension, which was announced on Sunday. The agreement buys out the remainder of his pre-arbitration and arbitration seasons, while also including two club options for the 2027 and 2028 seasons to buy out his first two free agent years, as well. Those would pay $8.25 million and $10.5 million, respectively.

Whitlock was one of the team's most effective relievers in 2021, seeming like he hardly missed a beat after undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2019, going nearly two years between organized appearances. He threw 73 1/3 innings across 46 appearances in the bullpen, pitching to a 1.96 ERA. He also struck out 81 batters against 17 walks, utilizing sinker, slider and change-up mix. While he was used carefully after missing so much time with an elbow injury in 2021, it seems as though he will continue in the bullpen to begin 2022, but has the build and repertoire to be extended to a starter, should the organization choose to do so. In the interim, Whitlock will likely be used as a multi-inning, high-leverage reliever.


Eduard Bazardo outrighted to Worcester

Hansel Robles was ready to make the Opening Day roster after being signed to a minor-league deal, which required a roster move. Bazardo was Robles' countermove on the 40-man roster, as he was designated for assignment April 7. The Venezuela native has pitched only 18 1/3 innings since the 2019 Fall Instructional League, which could have contributed to this move, as scouts have had limited looks at him. As a result, it was easier for him to slide through waivers, as he was outrighted to Worcester April 10.

Opening Day rosters set

With the new season, each of the new affiliates set their rosters for the 2022 season. SoxProspects' graphics and social media team did great work on the Opening Day rosters for Worcester, Portland, Greenville and Salem. The Single-A teams lead the organization with eight ranked position players each, while the Sea Dogs have eight ranked pitchers, including Brayan Bello (pictured, top) and Jay Groome.

Early season moves

Even though the season is merely a week old, there have been a couple roster moves of note. Jordan DiValerio was promoted from Salem to Greenville, while Maceo Campbell was the corresponding move on April 10. Each right-handed pitcher was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020, DiValerio from St. Joseph's and Campbell out of Longwood. Only DiValerio has appeared in a game this year, surrendering four runs on four hits in just one inning for Salem April 10.

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Key Links

The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, as Jarren Duran knows. He tested positive for the virus and has not appeared in a game since April 6. According to Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, no other Worcester players have tested positive. 

With the new season, the new SoxProspects Top 60 rankings have been revealed. Triston Casas (pictured, right), Marcelo Mayer and Nick Yorke represent the top three, while Noah Song has been removed from the rankings, as he has not thrown since fall 2019. These rankings are the focus of the latest episode of the SoxProspects podcast, which was released April 9. Chris and Ian go long on the rankings and answer listener questions, as well.

It's also preseason awards season. Part 1 of the site's preseason awards, which highlights nine of the organization's best hitters, was released on April 11, while the seven pitchers to make the list were honored on April 12. Five of the seven pitchers are on Portland's roster, including local product Jacob Wallace, while Ryan Fitzgerald, who was signed in 2018 out of independent baseball, was on the hitter's list, which features three members each from the Greenville and Worcester clubs.

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Players of the Week

David Hamilton, SS/2B, Portland Sea Dogs

3 G, 10 AB, 5 H, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 R, 7 RBI, 4 SB, 3 BB, 2 K, .500/.615/1.300

Hamilton (pictured, left) joined the organization just before the lockout in December 2021, coming to Boston as part of the Jackie Bradley Jr. trade. The undersized middle infielder has certainly made a solid impression with his new teammates with a splash on Opening Day. He was 4 for 5 with a triple and a pair of home runs, accounting for all seven of his RBI for the week, while also finding the time to steal a base. Despite not registering a hit the following day, the Texas native was able to register a steal in each of his three games, showing off the impressive speed that allowed him to swipe 41 bags in just 68 games for High-A Wisconsin in 2021.

Power is not a major part of his game, with just eight home runs 403 at-bats across High-A and Double-A in his professional debut last year, but if Hamilton can improve his raw power, despite his diminutive frame, his ceiling could grow strongly.

Brandon Walter, LHP, Portland Sea Dogs

1 G, 0-0, 5 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 7 K

A pair of Sea Dogs teammates swept the weekly awards, as Walter had the strongest start of the pitchers over the young season. Only Kyle Hart and Darwinzon Hernandez, each of whom have two appearances, have more innings pitched than Walter so far this year, with only Hernandez besting the Delaware native in strikeouts. Walter is also the pitcher with the most innings pitched that has yet to allow a run. With the aid of a double play, following the only hit he surrendered, Walter faced the minimum through 4 2/3 innings, broken only by a hit batsman.

Walter has a solid three-pitch mix, anchored by his change-up, while it also features a two-seam fastball and a slider. This helps him turn over lineups and could give him the opportunity to start, but a more unconventional delivery may force him to the bullpen.

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello, Triston Casas, David Hamilton and Brandon Walter by Kelly O'Connor