The Red Sox have announced that Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Sean Coyle, and Travis Shaw have been added to their 40-man roster, protecting the four prospects from the Rule 5 draft.
Of the four, Rodriguez and Swihart are the biggest names. Swihart, 22, is arguably Boston's top prospect, and has been tabbed as the "catcher of the future" since he was drafted in 2011. Rodriguez, the 21-year-old lefty pitcher who came over from Baltimore in return for Andrew Miller, bounced back from a rough start to the 2014 season in his time with the Red Sox, throwing 37 innings of four-run baseball. There was little question that both would be added, as both would be snapped up by any team given the opportunity in the Rule 5 draft.
Coyle and Shaw were somewhat less certain, but seemed like good bets all the same. Coyle in particular earned his spot with a strong 2014 season, hitting .295/.371/.512 in 384 plate appearances for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Drafted in the 3rd round back in 2010, he's shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, but has often been held back by injuries.
Shaw also put up big numbers in Portland before slowing down a bit in Pawtucket, but as a 24-year-old first baseman the bar is set quite a bit higher. Still, with the Red Sox valuing raw power more and more these days, and with relatively little first base depth to speak of, he's worth protecting while the space is available.
With their 40-man roster now full, there are a few prospects left on the outside looking in, vulnerable to being poached in the Rule 5 draft. That list includes pitchers Luis Diaz, Miguel Celestino, Keith Couch, and Noe Ramirez. It's easy to imagine a team trying to fit any of their arms into a bullpen role in 2015, particularly those teams without a whole lot to play for. But if the Red Sox could well lose a couple players to the draft, it's at least in the form of pitchers. The top levels of Boston's system are overstocked with arms as is.