The return of Minor League Baseball marks a new chapter for the Boston Red Sox farm system, as the Worcester Red Sox — relocated from Pawtucket — will begin their inaugural season Tuesday night.
The WooSox, Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, on Monday announced their Opening Day roster, which should be of interest to Red Sox fans as the major league club sits atop the American League East standings.
First, here’s the full Worcester roster:
Catchers (3): Jett Bandy, Chris Herrmann, Connor Wong*
Infielders (6): Jonathan Arauz*, Michael Chavis*, Chad De La Guerra, Jeter Downs, Yairo Munoz, Josh Ockimey
Outfielders (5): Jarren Duran, Michael Gettys, Tate Matheny, Cesar Puello, Marcus Wilson*
Pitchers (16): RHP Eduard Bazardo*, RHP Seth Blair, RHP Colten Brewer*, RHP Raynel Espinal, LHP Stephen Gonsalves, RHP Daniel Gossett, LHP Matt Hall, LHP Kyle Hart, RHP Tanner Houck*, RHP Kevin McCarthy, RHP Kaleb Ort, LHP Bobby Poyner, RHP John Schreiber, RHP Caleb Simpson, RHP Marcus Walden, RHP Ryan Weber
Injured list (4): RHP Matt Carasiti (recovering from Tommy John surgery), RHP Zac Grotz (right flexor strain), RHP Connor Seabold* (right elbow inflammation), INF/OF Danny Santana (foot infection)
*denotes player is on Red Sox’s 40-man roster
Now, let’s examine several players who are worth monitoring as it relates to their major league potential for 2021, starting with five intriguing prospects.
1. Jarren Duran, OF
Duran, a speedster, already was on Boston’s radar after an impressive showing at the alternate site in 2020 and continued progress this year at major league spring training. Now, it’s fair to wonder how long the Red Sox will wait before calling him up. The 24-year-old is widely considered Boston’s center fielder of the future, but Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe have struggled offensively this season, prompting the organization to give Duran more reps in the corner outfield spots.
2. Jeter Downs, 2B/SS
Downs, acquired from the Dodgers in the trade that sent Mookie Betts to Los Angeles, isn’t the flashiest prospect, but he could become a versatile, consistent and dependable major leaguer in time. The 22-year-old has solid bat-to-ball skills, along with sneaky pop, and is capable of providing above-average defense at both middle-infield positions. He’s currently blocked at the big league level, but an injury or other unforeseen development could open the door for him in Boston later this season.
3. Connor Wong, C
Wong, like Downs and Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo, was acquired from Los Angeles in the Betts trade. His ceiling might not be quite as high, but he’s nevertheless a fascinating farmhand, as he’s a very athletic catcher — he’s also played second base and third base at the professional level — who has shown improvement behind the plate and decent power in the batter’s box. He’ll turn 25 this month and is on Boston’s 40-man roster. For now, he’s blocked at the major league level by fellow backstops Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki.
4. Tanner Houck, RHP
Houck already has established himself as part of Boston’s 2021 plans, making three appearances (two starts) earlier this season after debuting in 2020. He’s effectively the first starting pitcher the Red Sox will call upon whenever, for whatever reason, a spot opens in the rotation. The 24-year-old owns a 1.98 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and has struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings across 27 1/3 career major league frames.
5. Connor Seabold, RHP
Seabold, acquired last August from the Phillies along with Nick Pivetta in the trade that sent Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia, is dealing with minor elbow soreness. His stint on the IL to begin the season sounds precautionary, though, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him up with Boston before long, showcasing the excellent command and control that have wowed evaluators.
Others of note…
Michael Chavis, 1B/2B: Had a monster spring. Also has 540 career plate appearances in the majors. Continued production at Triple-A could force the Red Sox’s hand, with the likeliest path back to the majors being at first base, a position now occupied by rookie Bobby Dalbec
Jonathan Arauz, 2B/SS: Stuck around all of last season as a Rule 5 draft pick. Still just 22. A depth infield option who provides versatility and good all-around defense.
Yairo Munoz, IF/OF: A sparkplug during an otherwise underwhelming 2020 for the Red Sox, hitting .333 (15-fot-45) in 12 games. Very versatile. Can provide a jolt of energy.
Danny Santana, IF/OF: A seasoned veteran, at 30 years old with seven seasons of major league experience. Played in 130 games with the Texas Rangers in 2019, batting .283 with 28 home runs, 81 RBIs, 21 stolen bases and an .857 OPS. Underwent a right UCL repair and augmentation last September and dealt with a foot infection in spring training. Could be a legitimate option for the Red Sox in a couple of weeks, particularly if Cordero continues to struggle.
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