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Red Sox invite five to spring training

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Four already in the organization and one new signing

Miami Marlins v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Red Sox are starting to report to spring training with the entire team expected to be there by week’s end. The team obviously still has a few questions to answer, chief among them being who their manager will be. That said, they are also filling out their roster, and that included one of the new names added to the spring training roster today. There were five players total, with four already being in the system and one having just signed. César Puello, an outfielder, is the new signee, and he’s joined as new invitees by Juan Centeno (C), Jeter Downs (IF), Connor Wong (C/INF), and Denyi Reyes (RHP).

César Puello, OF

Puello was signed on Tuesday to a minor-league deal with this invitation to spring training, and according to Alex Speier he’s set to make $625,000 if he makes the major-league roster. Puello was a long-time Mets prospect at the start of last decade but was never quite able to make it over the hump into the majors with them. Since then he’s been bouncing around, spending most of his time in the minors. He did get some time in the majors in 2017 and 2019, latching on with two teams in each of those years. In all, the right-handed hitter has played in 61 career major-league games and has 186 career plate appearances, hitting .239/.346/.346 for a 93 wRC+. Defensively, he can play all three outfield spots, though he’s better in a corner. The 28-year-old (he’ll turn 29 shortly after the regular season begins) has a decent shot of making the roster due to the team’s lack of outfield depth as well as his right-handedness and the fact that the entire starting outfield now hits from the left side. Ultimately, along with his performance in camp, it will likely come down to how much outfield time they want from J.D. Martinez.

Juan Centeno, C

Centeno is a fairly familiar name having spent all of last season in the organization as well, serving as the third catcher after Blake Swihart was traded. He didn’t come up at mid-season when they needed a short-term replacement, but that was because they didn’t want to risk losing him on waivers. Centeno will serve in that role again this year behind Christian Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki. He’s a defensive-minded catcher with years of experience, but there’s also a reason he’s not on a major-league deal.

Jeter Downs, INF

Downs is arguably the new top prospect in the system (we’ll put that to a vote later on today) and is relatively close to the majors. After a big year at High-A last year and a taste of Double-A to finish off the season, he will presumably be in Portland to start 2020. A late-season debut isn’t out of the question for the infielder who is likely to get most of his time at second base, though the real focus for him is more likely to be 2021.

Connor Wong, C/INF

Wong was the other prospect, along with Downs, to come over from Los Angeles in the Mookie Betts trade. He is not nearly as highly-rated as Downs, but Wong does immediately become the best catching prospect in a system that was lacking depth at that spot. Also like Downs, Wong is probably going to start the year in Portland, though he’ll be a bit behind in terms of MLB ETA, with mid-2021 being more likely here.

Denyi Reyes, RHP

Reyes has had an interesting offseason. After he was added to the 40-man last winter to avoid being taken in the Rule 5 Draft, he had a disappointing, but not terrible, 2019 season. He then wasn’t invited to the Rookie Camp held by the team this winter, a strange decisions since he was, ya know, on the 40-man. Shortly after those invitations went out he was placed on waivers, went unclaimed and now remains in the organization. I still think there’s a chance he could be a rotation depth arm, but that’s more likely as a seventh or eighth guy on a depth chart rather than a true rotation member. He’s likely to head back to Double-A to start the 2020 season.