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SoxProspects News

August 30, 2022 at 12:00 PM

Minor Notes: Kelly, Ort join big league club; Mata moves to Worcester


The minor league season has entered its final month, with the three complex league teams having each been eliminated from championship contention. The full-season affiliates are fighting for postseason position, as is the big-league club, while big changes have occurred both in the major and minor leagues.

Boston Bullpen Boost?

With Boston's postseason hopes on life support, the organization has started to turn over the bullpen in hopes that new blood could provide a spark. Hirokazu Sawamura and Austin Davis were both designated for assignment on Monday, making room for Kaleb Ort and Zack Kelly.

Ort has pitched to a 9.00 ERA in 15 innings with a 2.07 WHIP at the major league level this year, but those numbers fall to a respective 2.88 and 1.13 over 40 2/3 frames in Worcester, with a solid fastball/slider mix. This will be his third stint in Boston this season.

As for Kelly, he was signed for a $500 bonus as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Newberry College and was selected to the 40-man roster on Monday. He has struck out 72 hitters in just 49 2/3 innings for Worcester this year, pitching to a 2.72 ERA featuring a fastball/changeup mix, in addition to a cutter. Boston is the 27-year-old's fourth organization, as he was originally signed by Oakland and also spent time in the Angels and Rays systems.

Transactions

Aside from Kelly and Ort, Bryan Mata also moved up a level, with the sixth-ranked prospect in the system moving from Portland to Worcester. Mata underwent Tommy John surgery and returned to game action in June. He owns a 2.11 ERA and has struck out 75 hitters in 59 2/3 innings over his 14 appearances since his return. 

Trevor Story returned from the injured list on Saturday after missing six weeks with a hand injury, pushing Jarren Duran down to Worcester. The young outfielder has slashed .220/.283/.365 in 219 plate appearances with the big club so far this year.

Brayan Bello was also activated from the injured list after a groin strain forced him to miss more than 3 weeks. Josh Winckowski, who is fifth on the Red Sox with 13 starts, was optioned to make room. He has a 5.83 ERA in 63 1/3 innings with the major league squad.

As has been the case all year, the injured list has been crowded in Boston. Nathan Eovaldi and Eric Hosmer were both placed on the injured list on Monday with right shoulder and low back inflammation, respectively. Winckowski was recalled to make Monday's start, while Hosmer was replaced by Franchy Cordero, who has played some first base. He is also sixth on the Red Sox with eight home runs, doing so in 230 at-bats.

In Worcester, Jeter Downs and Devlin Granberg each landed on the injured list. Downs has a sprained ankle while Granberg is suffering from low back inflammation. 

Three players were released from Salem on Saturday in Darel Belen, Adenys Bautista and Miguel Suero. Belen, a first baseman and outfielder, was hitting .102/.212/.214 in a bench role for Salem this year, while Bautista has pitched to a 4.19 ERA in 43 innings of relief work. Suero had logged 43 2/3 innings of work but had control issues, with a 1.72 WHIP.
 
Players of the Week
 
Connor Wong, C, Worcester Red Sox
6 G, 29 AB, 12 H, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 R 11 RBI, .414/.433/.793
 
Wong (pictured, bottom), in addition to his duties behind the plate, has played some infield, improving his defensive versatility for a potential call-up to Boston. The 26-year-old also had a great week with the bat, as he was second in the organization in batting average and slugging percentage last week. He also paced Boston minor leaguers in hits and was tied for the lead in home runs. Originally acquired in the Mookie Betts trade, Wong has consistently improved his prospect status with continued improvement both offensively and defensively, as he was not a full-time catcher during his collegiate days.
 
Jose Ramirez, RHP, FCL Red Sox
1 G, 1-0, 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K

On the final day of the regular season, Ramirez (pictured, top) helped his team avoid a tie for the wild card spot in the playoffs with a spectacular outing to advance to the postseason. He faced 19 batters over his outing and set down 10 of them on strikes, while not surrendering a hit or even a flyball out. He was one off the organizational pace in strikeouts and had the longest hitless outing in the system. It was his third consecutive outing without surrendering a base knock, representing an 11 2/3-inning streak.

Photo Credit: Connor Wong and Jose Ramirez by Kelly O'Connor