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June 21, 2022 at 12:14 PM

Minor Notes: Downs promoted, Norwood acquired from Philly


A top player reported for a rehab assignment, a highly regarded prospect got his call to the show, and a pitcher was brought into the fold this week.

Jeter Downs promoted to Boston

A rash of injuries has caused the big league club to dip into its depth in the minor leagues. Additionally, teams were capped at 13 pitchers beginning on Monday. As Boston was carrying 14 arms, this required a roster move. Newly acquired James Norwood was designated for assignment, as he is out of options, while Jeter Downs was the countermove.

Ranked No. 13 in the system, Downs has struggled offensively, with a .180/.297/.397 slash line in 189 at-bats. However, the Colombia native has strong defense and has raw power, but trouble with velocity has prevented him from tapping into such power. However, as a top-100 prospect entering 2020 and 2021 and still merely 23 years old, Downs still has time to improve his approach against velocity, which has caused some of these issues with the hit tool.

With this promotion, all three players acquired from Los Angeles in the Mookie Betts trade have now reached the major leagues, as Connor Wong has been an up-and-down catcher and Alex Verdugo has carved out a consistent role as an outfielder the past few seasons.

Transactions

James Norwood acquired from Philadelphia
The right-handed pitcher was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for cash considerations June 18. The 28-year-old can miss bats, with 22 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings this season, but also has 24 hits in that span, resulting in a 1.90 WHIP and 8.31 ERA. As he was out of options, he was designated for assignment June 20 when the 13-pitcher cap on the active roster was imposed.

Chris Sale placed on rehab assignment
After a rib injury before the season, Sale has started his rehabilitation assignment June 20, signaling he may return to Boston soon. Sale pitched one inning with the FCL Red Sox, surrendering a run on one hit and one walk, though he did strike out young Rays star Wander Franco, who was also on a rehab assignment.

Devlin Granberg, Eduardo Lopez activated from injured list; Phillip Sikes placed on IL
Granberg, who went on the injured list June 7, returned June 16 and was promoted to Worcester. It is unclear whether he will remain in Triple-A or is merely filling depth for those up in Boston. The Dallas Baptist product hit .304/.427/.467 in 135 at-bats in Portland before hitting the injured list.

Lopez also returned June 16 after being placed on the list June 5. In his first full season of Single-A ball, the outfielder is hitting .212/.316/.381 in Salem across 113 at-bats. Sikes has hit .233/.383/.451 over 133 at-bats for Salem.

Kutter Crawford optioned to Worcester
The right-hander continues his journey back and forth on the Mass Pike, as he was optioned to Worcester on June 19 to make room for Norwood. Crawford has 10 appearances at the big-league level this year, including two starts.

Tyler Esplin sent to Greenville, Ricardo Cubillan promoted to Portland
In corresponding moves, a day after Cubillan was added from the development list, Esplin and Cubillan swapped places in Greenville and Portland June 16. An infielder, Cubillan has just 17 at-bats this year, while Esplin has returned to the Drive after a week in Double-A. The 22-year-old Esplin has hit .250/.344/.370 over 108 at-bats between the two levels in 2022.

Josh Winckowski, Jarren Duran recalled to Boston
Christian Arroyo was placed on the COVID-19 list June 15 and in a corresponding move, Duran and Winckowski were called up to Boston. Duran is 9 for 29 at the major league level, though he has struck out nine times. Winckowski has made three starts this season, pitching to a 3.68 ERA.

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As Monday is an off day for minor league teams, Jeter Downs was catching up on some sleep and had his phone on do-not-disturb mode, missing several calls from team officials who intended to break the good news, as told to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe.

The organization's top-ranked prospect, Triston Casas, has not played since May 17 and there is still no timetable for his return. He is not participating in baseball activities but is running.

Hitting 12 for 28, adding a home run, a pair of doubles and an RBI, Pedro Castellanos was named the Eastern League Player of the Week. He is also riding a 16-game hitting streak and has a .283/.307/.465 line so far this year.

Salem feasted on the Delmarva pitching staff last week and as a result, Eddinson Paulino was named to MLB Pipeline's prospect team of the week. He slashed .480/.581/.960 with six extra-base hits, equally divided between doubles, triples and home runs, with two strikeouts against five walks.

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Players of the Week

Niko Kavadas, 1B, Salem Red Sox
6 G, 17 AB, 9 H, 3 2B, 4 HR, 10 R, 11 RBI, 9 BB, 7 K, .529/.667/1.412

If a player reaches base in two-thirds of his plate appearances, that makes him a lock for player of the week. Kavadas (pictured, bottom) had a tremendous time, like many other of his teammates, against Delmarva, but an OPS over 2.000 sealed the deal for the Notre Dame product. This is good news, as most of his value is in his bat, with a first-base only defensive profile. Kavadas' first full professional season has gone as good as can be expected, with a .279/.456/.570 line over 179 at-bats in Salem. He also has socked 11 home runs, four of which were this week. 

Connor Seabold, RHP, Worcester Red Sox
2 G, 2-0, 11 IP, 1 R, 9 H, 1 BB, 10 K

Seabold (pictured, top) was able to get two starts in against Toledo this week and made the most of them. He scattered three hits over five shutout innings on Tuesday, striking out six, while the run came over a six-frame outing on Sunday. He struck out four and gave up six hits, walking one. Seabold seems to have been passed by some of his teammates on the depth chart for major league call-ups, but he has an ERA below 2.00 and a WHIP below 1.00 so far in 2022 with 49 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings, a strong year by any standard.

Photo credit: Niko Kavadas and Connor Seabold by Kelly O'Connor