Earlier today, we discussed some of the possible names who could either be protected from the Rule 5 draft later this winter or possibilities to be selected in said draft. As stated in the linked post, the Red Sox had three open spots on their 40-man, meaning they could protect up to three players if no other moves were made. It was also possible that they’d protect fewer than three in order to keep some flexibility for future moves, but they elected against that. Instead, they protected three pitchers and added each to the 40-man roster. The three were Jalen Beeks, Chandler Shepherd and Ty Buttrey. All three were always the most likely to be protected, so there are no major surprises here. Each of those pitchers are discussed some in the post above, but I’ll provide a little more background on each.
Beeks was a 12th round selection out of the University of Arkansas in the 2014 draft and is a former college teammate of Andrew Benintendi’s. The lefty took a huge leap forward this year, splitting the year between Portland and Pawtucket and posting a 3.29 ERA across the two levels over 26 starts an 145 innings. Due to his size, there are some who see his future in the bullpen, but my amateur opinion is that he can stick in the rotation for at least a little bit. As the roster stands now, Beeks would be ninth on the starting pitcher depth chart behind Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright, Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson.
Shepherd was the team’s 13th round pick in that same 2014 draft, coming out of the University of Kentucky. The righty was drafted as a reliever, and though he’s made a couple of starts here and there over his minor-league career, he has mainly thrown out of the bullpen. Interestingly, he has pitched in Mexico since the season ended and has been starting in that league. I’d be surprised if the team wants to use him in that role moving forward, but this could perhaps open the door for him to become a multi-inning reliever. His stuff isn’t so good that he has a chance to become a back-end arm, so this would be a good way to put him ahead of others of similar talent levels. He struggled a bit with his ERA last year, pitching to a 4.07 mark over 34 appearances (one start) and 59 2⁄3 innings. He did, however, strike out 68 batters (10.3 per nine) and walking only 18 (2.7 per nine). He should be firmly in the mix to earn some call-ups to the major-league bullpen next season, though an Opening Day roster spot is unlikely without some injuries.
Finally, there is Buttrey, who was the biggest question mark to be added among this trio. The righty was selected out of Providence High School in North Carolina back in 2012, being taken in the fourth round. He was drafted as a starter and pitched primarily out of the rotation through the 2015 season, and was converted to relief midway through 2016. He spent 2017 bouncing between Portland and Pawtucket, posting a cumulative ERA of 4.81 over 40 appearances and 62 2⁄3 innings with 74 strikeouts (10.5 per nine) and 33 walks (4.7 per nine). He struggled with his control in Pawtucket in particular, and will need to show improvement in that area before threatening for a major-league roster spot.