The Red Sox are still not doing too much on the major-league side of things as the slow-moving free agent and trade markets are looking like they’ll push most of the major moves around the league into January. Boston is still staying busy on the peripheries of the organization, though. They brought Hunter Renfroe in on a cheap deal, and they were busy during the Rule 5 Draft. And now, over the weekend, they have added two more pitchers to the organization on minor-league deals.
We’ll start with Zack Kelly, a right-handed pitcher whose signing seems to have been initially announced by his agency.
Kelly was one of the many minor-league roster casualties last spring when teams starting trimming their organization while the league was on hiatus. For Kelly in particular, as mentioned above, he had surgery and that recovery process likely played into the Angels’ decision to cut him loose.
The righty was originally undrafted out of Newberry College, but he signed with the Athletics in that first summer and pitched out of relief in their complex. Despite pitching to a 3.77 ERA with 23 strikeouts and only six walks over 28 2⁄3 innings, he was released after just the one season of work. Once again, though, he was not unemployed long, getting signed by the Angels. He pitched entirely out of the bullpen to the tune of a 2.93 ERA over 43 innings in that first season, pitching in Rookie Ball as well as A-Ball and High-A. More recently, in 2019, he made 13 starts to go with eight relief appearances between High-A and Double-A. That season he pitched to a 3.63 ERA over 79 1⁄3 innings with 85 strikeouts and 29 walks.
Those are pretty good numbers for a guy who was readily available as a minor-league free agent with only three years of professional experience under his belt. Kelly will turn 26 before the start of the 2021 season, so it should be mentioned he is a bit older than much of his competition is likely to be. Look for him to serve in some sort of swingman role at either Triple-A or Double-A, wherever the depth is more needed.
Disla is a familiar player to Chaim Bloom, as the right-handed pitcher came up in the Rays organization before becoming a minor-league free agent this winter. Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2013, he has not pitched for another organization over his career. He has missed some time over his career, including back in 2013 when he was suspended for a positive PED test. He missed 50 games in that first season in affiliated baseball. More recently, he hit the injury list twice in 2019 including one stint that lasted from early May through the end of the season. MiLB.com does not note the nature of the injury.
When he has been able to pitch, he has done so mostly out of the bullpen in recent years. Although Disla did start some early in his career, he has made only one start going back to 2017. Since that shift to a mostly full-time relief role, the righty struggled with consistency with his stuff, while struggling with his command. In 2018, in which he tossed a career-high 59 innings, he struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings, but that is easily a career-high. In the previous season, he struck out fewer than five per nine, and the same goes for 2019, albeit in relatively small samples. Disla has pitched as high as Double-A, and like Kelly will likely be placed at whichever level between Worcester and Portland that needs more depth.