This period of time after the draft has been a bizarre one in multiple ways. Most notably has been the state of negotiations for the return of play, which has included a 100 percent guarantee from the commissioner to play baseball, to the ending of negotiations from players that would allow owners to set a schedule, to owners now fearing a grievance that they would lose and now there being real danger that there will be no 2020 season. What a ride.
Amid all of this, we also just finished an unprecedented draft that is being followed by an unprecedented period of free agency for players who went undrafted. The Red Sox signed six such players on Sunday and continued adding players to the organization on Monday, signing four more. You can read about Sunday’s additions here, and below I will provide introductions to the newest four. As a reminder, Baseball America is tracking these signings all around the league here.
Cole Milam, RHP, University of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
Milam fits the mold of the other pitchers drafted and signed so far by the Red Sox in that he profiles as a reliever — in fact, that’s the role in which he served as a college player — and has big stuff with control problems. The 22-year-old — he turns 23 next March — left high school as the 395th right-handed pitcher in his high school class per Perfect Game and first went to Jefferson College, a community college in Missouri. He’d spend two years at USIE, in total pitching to a 6.34 ERA over 38 1⁄3 innings with 71 strikeouts (16.7 per nine) and 34 walks (eight per nine). He was a bit better in 2020 with a 3.24 ERA, but it was only 8 1⁄3 innings and the strikeout and walk numbers were similar. Milam also pitched in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer league in the Midwest/Great Lakes area, but struggled a bit there with his strikeout rate falling a bit. Listed at 6’4, 250 pounds, he has a big fastball that can get up to the mid 90s as well as a slider and a curveball.
Henry Nunez-Rijo, RHP, Puerto Rico High School, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
There’s not a whole lot of information on Nunez-Rijo right now, which is common of non-elite prospects coming out of Puerto Rico. Perfect Game indicates he was committed to San Jacinto Community College in Texas and they say he has a fastball that had topped out at 88 mph with some sink as well as a good curveball. Ian Cundall, of Sox Prospects, gives a little bit of a more optimistic view with his scouting report on the fastball. The Latin baseball site Beisbol101 had Nunez-Rijo as number seven on their list of top prospects from Puerto Rico this year. For what it’s worth, because I did not see this list yesterday, Sunday signing Juan Montero is number nine on that list.
Merfy Andrew, RHP, St. Thomas University
Andrew was born in the Dominican Republic, and it seems as though he was there through high school with his community college page listing his high school as Escuela Eugenia Maria De Hostos, though it doesn’t say it was in the Dominican. There is a school with that name outside of Santo Domingo in the DR. Regardless, he did end up in a Division I JuCo program at ASA College in Miami, spending a couple of seasons in their bullpen before moving on to Division II NCAA school St. Thomas University. He was starting for them this season before the year was scrapped, tossing a total of 25 1⁄3 innings over five appearances with a 3.55 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 18 walks.
Brian Van Belle, RHP, University of Miami
Van Belle is the highest profile player to sign with the Red Sox thus far having served as the ace of the staff for the University of Miami, a school that had a couple of early picks from their rotation in this very draft. Van Belle doesn’t have the upside of his rotation mates, but the senior was ranked as the number 16 college senior that went undrafted by Baseball America. He’s not a guy who relies on big stuff, though he was dominant in a small sample in 2020, pitching to a 0.68 ERA over 26 1⁄3 innings with 38 strikeouts and four walks. In 2019, he pitched to a 3.30 ERA over 95 1⁄3 innings with 84 strikeouts and 24 walks.