For the second consecutive year, the Red Sox have made a selection in the Rule 5 Draft. After selecting Jonathan Araúz in last year’s draft, they went with a pitcher this time around, Picking fourth overall, Boston took Garrett Whitlock, a right-handed pitcher from the Yankees organization.
Whitlock was one of the names most expected to see drafted this year, and was included in our writeup earlier this morning of potential candidates for Boston. The righty was an 18th round pick by the Yankees out of UAB back in 2017, and he quickly moved through the minors from there. After spending that first summer in short-season ball, Whitlock made it up to Double-A by the end of his first professional season, tossing a total of 120 2⁄3 innings between A-Ball, High-A, and and Double-A, pitching to a 1.86 ERA with 122 strikeouts and 41 walks.
The following year, he was a top 20 prospect in the Yankees organization and made 14 starts at Double-A with a 3.07 ERA. His season was cut short, though, as he underwent Tommy John surgery. He was obviously not able to pitch this last summer, so that half-season in 2018 is the last we have to see with him. He has, however, begun throwing again and he has shown some of his progress on Instagram. (Hat tip to Alex Speier for that video.)
Prior to his injury, he had two pitches on which he leaned most heavily. His primary offering is a sinker that sits in the low-90s but does get up to the mid-90s at times. With a long reach, per Baseball America, the pitch plays up in stuff while also inducing a ton of ground balls. To go with the sinker, Whitlock also throws a good, slurvy slider. He does throw a changeup as well, but it is a clear third offering and needed improvement last we saw.
Long-term, there is still hope for Whitlock as a back-end starter. That was the projection for him before the injury, though that was obviously over a year ago at this point. There was also hope he could develop into a good reliever if starting did not work out as well. The Red Sox will have to keep Whitlock on the major-league roster all year in order to keep him for the long-term, and I wouldn’t expect him to be competing for a rotation spot right away. Instead, the most likely role will be for him to be a multi-inning reliever to start the year, with his role potentially changing as the year goes on based on performance.
There is also a minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft in which players do not have to meet the same kind of strict roster requirements like those selected in the major-league portion.
In this portion, the Red Sox selected Tyreque Reed, a first basemen from the Rangers system. Reed is a right-handed first base-only prospect who has big power. The former eighth round pick hit .270/.365/.487 with 18 homers in 422 plate appearances in 2019 between A-Ball, High-A and a brief stint at Rookie Ball.
They also selected right-handed pitcher Kaleb Ort, another pitcher from the Yankees organization. A pure reliever, Ort is a former undrafted free agent signed out of Indy ball. In 2019, the soon-to-be 29-year-old tossed 50 1⁄3 innings between A-Ball, Double-A and Triple-A, pitching to a 3.40 ERA with 78 strikeouts and 28 walks.
The Red Sox did not lose any players in either portion of the draft.