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June 28, 2022 at 12:00 PM

Minor Notes: Downs debuts, Seabold starts in Toronto, plethora of prospects promoted

It was a busy week for promotions within the Red Sox farm system. While several top prospects moved from one minor-league level to another, one made his major-league debut and another made the second start of his major-league career. Rehab assignment have been a hot topic as well. 


Downs debuts against Detroit

After receiving his first call-up last Monday, Jeter Downs (pictured, right) made his highly-anticipated major-league debut in Wednesday's series finale against the Tigers at Fenway Park. With his older brother Jerry among those in attendance, Downs went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts while making his first-ever professional start at third base. He fielded both of the balls that were hit his way cleanly. 

The No. 13 prospect in the system, Downs was optioned to Worcester following Wednesday's contest so that Boston could make room on its 26-man roster for Christian Arroyo, who missed eight games while out on the COVID-19 related injured list. In 57 games with the WooSox this season, the 23-year-old has batted .186/.312/.392 (90 wRC+) with 11 home runs and 23 RBIs over 237 plate appearances.


Seabold makes season debut in Toronto 

With Garrett Whitlock still on the injured list, the Red Sox needed a starter for Monday's series opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto. They got one by calling up Connor Seabold from Worcester to make his season debut and the second start of his big-league career. Over 4 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander allowed seven runs on nine hits (3 home runs), one walk, one hit batsman, and seven strikeouts. 

Of the 86 pitches Seabold threw on Monday, 54 went for strikes. The results were not all that encouraging, but he did induce 21 swings-and-misses with his fastball, slider, and changeup. The 26-year-old is currently regarded as Boston's No. 10 prospect, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization. 



Jarren Duran and Tanner Houck placed on restricted list; Seabold and Yolmer Sanchez called up
Because they are not vaccinated against COVID-19, neither Jarren Duran or Tanner Houck traveled with the Red Sox to Canada for their series in Toronto. They have instead been placed on the restricted list and have returned to Boston. Both are expected to re-join the team in Chicago later this week. 

In place of Duran and Houck, Seabold and veteran infielder Yolmer Sanchez were officially called up from Worcester on Monday. Sanchez, 29, has slashed .254/.381/.424 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 68 games with the WooSox this season. The native Venezuelan spent the first seven years of his big-league career with the White Sox and won the American League Gold Glove Award for second baseman in 2019.

Chris Murphy, Pedro Castellanos promoted to Worcester; Pannone and Ramos granted release
Fresh off being named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week, Chris Murphy earned a promotion from Portland to Worcester on Monday. The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 2.58 ERA with 91 strikeouts to 31 walks over 15 appearances (13 starts) and 76 2/3 innings for the Sea Dogs this season. The ninth-ranked prospect in the organization can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this winter.

On Friday, first baseman/outfielder Pedro Castellanos was promoted from Portland to Worcester. Always known for his ability to hit for average, Castellanos went deep to left field for his first Triple-A home run at Polar Park on Saturday. The 24-year-old Venezuelan originally signed with Boston in 2015 and can become a minor-league free-agent at the end of the 2022 season.

Also in Worcester, left-hander Thomas Pannone and first baseman Roberto Ramos were granted their release from the Red Sox organization on Monday. Both players joined the club on minor-league pacts over the winter had spent the entirety of the 2022 season with the WooSox. Pannone, a native of Rhode Island, is going to sign with the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization. Ramos is also expected to pursue opportunities in Korea after spending the 2020-2021 seasons with the LG Twins.

Alex Binelas and Stephen Scott promoted to Portland; Nathan Hickey and Niko Kavadas to Greenville
In a series of minor-league promotions made last Friday, infielder Alex Binelas and catcher Stephen Scott were moved up to Portland from Greenville. Binelas, one of three players acquired from Milwaukee in the Hunter Renfroe trade, has drawn three walks in his first eight trips to the plate for the Sea Dogs. Scott, drafted out of Vanderbilt University in 2019, joins a catching group in Portland that includes Kole Cottam and Elih Marrero

To effectively take the place of Binelas and Scott in Greenville, catcher Nathan Hickey and first baseman Niko Kavadas were promoted from Salem. A pair of 2021 draft selections, Hickey is the top catching prospect in the organization while Kavadas has registered three multi-hit games in his first three games with the Drive.

Rehab assignments galore
Chris Sale will take his rehab assignment to Portland on Thursday and start for the Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field. The seven-time All-Star has made two starts in the Florida Complex League thus far. Fellow lefty Josh Taylor and right-hander Bryan Mata will both pitch for Portland on Tuesday. Thaddeus Ward could also begin a rehab assignment soon.

Other moves
Top left-handed pitching prospect Brandon Walter was placed on Worcester's 7-day injured list on Friday due to a neck strain. The 25-year-old southpaw last pitched on June 8. Right-hander James Norwood cleared waivers and was outrighted to Worcester on Saturday after being designated for assignment last Monday. Outfielder Phillip Sikes was activated from Salem's 7-day injured list on Sunday. The speedy 23-year-old went 3 for 4 with a home run and two doubles in his return to Salem's lineup. 


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Top prospect Triston Casas has not appeared in a minor-league game since May 17 due to a sprained right ankle. After a lengthy layoff, the 22-year-old first baseman has resumed baseball activities as he is now hitting off a Tee in Fort Myers, reports Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. 

The WooSox own a 37-35 record under first-year manager Chad Tracy. The Boston Globe's Alex Speier recently detailed how Tracy has been leading a Worcester coaching staff that veteran outfielder Rob Refsnyder describes as "a big-league staff in Triple-A."

In addition to earning Carolina League Player of the Week honors for the second time this season, Blaze Jordan was named to MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week on Monday. The 19-year-old went 12-for-24 (.500) at the plate with two doubles, two home runs, five RBIs, five runs scored, three walks, and just one strikeout in Salem's latest series against Fredericksburg.


Players of the Week 

Niko Kavadas, 1B, Salem Red Sox/Greenville Drive
In between earning a promotion from Salem to Greenville, Kavadas had quite the week for Boston's Carolina League and South Atlantic League affiliates. The Notre Dame product slashed a ridiculous .478/.500/1.261 (355 wRC+) with five home runs and 11 RBIs over six games en route to earning Player of the Week honors for the second straight week. 

Chris Murphy, LHP, Portland Sea Dogs
Murphy (pictured, left) showed why he was worthy of a promotion to Worcester in his latest -- and perhaps final -- start for Portland against Richmond on Saturday. The California-born southpaw yielded just one hit and three walks to go along with eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work. Murphy will join the WooSox having punched out 91 of the first 305 batters he has faced this season.

Photo Credit: Jeter Downs, Chris Murphy by Kelly O'Connor