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Red Sox Notes: Kevin McCarthy signed to a minor-league deal

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Plus, Baseball America’s top prospects

New York Mets v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy signed to a minor-league deal

There are a couple of things to hit on this morning that I’m combining to one post to save virtual paper. To start, the Red Sox have made their first signing of the winter, bringing in a reliever on a minor-league deal. According to a report from Bob Nightengale of the USA TODAY, Boston has inked former Royals reliever Kevin McCarthy to a minor-league pact. He will earn $825,000 if he makes it onto the major-league roster.

McCarthy had been arbitration-eligible this winter and the Royals decided to put him on waivers rather than pay the raise there. As Nightengale notes, McCarthy then opted to become a free agent. It is not clear from the report, but presumably the righty received an invitation to spring training and will be fighting for an Opening Day job. For now, however, he does not need to be added to the 40-man roster, which currently sits at 37 players.

McCarthy has spent his entire career to this point with the Royals after originally being drafted by them in the 16th round out of Marist College back in 2016. He only made five appearances totaling six innings this past summer before being demoted in mid-August and not coming back up. He allowed three runs over those six innings with two walks and two strikeouts. In 2019, he pitched 60 13 innings with a 4.48 ERA (107 ERA+) with 38 strikeouts and 21 walks. Over his entire career, which includes parts of five seasons, the 28-year-old (he turns 29 in February) has a 119 ERA+ with a little under six strikeouts per nine innings and just under three walks per nine.

Historically, McCarthy is clearly not a strikeout arm, instead relying on ground balls to get out of trouble and limit damage. According to Baseball Savant, he has a career ground ball rate just under 60 percent. Unsurprisingly given that fact, he leans most heavily on his sinker, which sits in the low-90s, while also throwing a changeup. He’s mixed in a variety of third pitches through his career as well, though those are the two main offerings.

There isn’t a huge ceiling here, of course, but it’s also just a minor-league deal. McCarthy adds more depth to a pitching staff that desperately needs it, and as things stand now he would have a legitimate chance of making the roster out of camp.

Baseball America released top ten Red Sox prospects list

It’s officially prospect season as the various sites around this here interwebs are starting to release individual team lists, and Baseball America got to the Red Sox early this time around. As has been the case for a few years now, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe handled things for the Boston list. You can see the full writeups and scouting reports here. Speier also wrote a companion piece for the Globe, which you can see here. Those are both behind paywalls so you can follow those links for scouting reports and writeups, which I won’t mention in this space. But is here is how the list shook out.

  1. Triston Casas (1B)
  2. Jeter Downs (2B/SS)
  3. Bobby Dalbec (1B/3B)
  4. Bryan Mata (RHP)
  5. Jarren Duran (CF)
  6. Jay Groome (LHP)
  7. Gilberto Jimenez (CF)
  8. Tanner Houck (RHP)
  9. Nick Yorke (2B)
  10. Thad Ward (RHP)

There are a few things that stand out to me about this list and the system in general as I start to formulate my own rough rankings in my head. First of all, I think I’m ready to just give in and be the high guy on Duran. I would have him third on my list, though it’s close between him and Dalbec. The only other major differences is that I would still have Noah Song somewhere in here, probably in the 5-7 range, and I’d also have Jeisson Rosario at the bottom. So, I’d knock out Yorke and Ward, though I’d also note that is less about them and more about me being high on the other two.

The Song absence is probably the most interesting part of this list to me. It’s not unfair considering he didn’t get to pitch at all in 2020 and will miss a good chunk of 2021 as well due to his military service, though I think that impact is lessened when so many other guys — including Ward on this list — missed most of 2020 as well. Ward did get to throw at instructs this fall, though. It could also be notable to some that Casas is ahead of Downs. I think it’s pretty easy call, personally, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not unanimous this winter largely due to the positional values.