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Red Sox invite 12 to major-league spring training

Workouts are starting to ramp up in Fort Myers.

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Triston Casas
Kelly O’Connor

While the lockout was ongoing, the only player movement that was allowed was on the minor-league side, as in signing veterans to minor-lea, something the Red Sox did a handful of time. But veterans on minor-league deals are not the only players who can be invited to major-league camp. Teams also invite some of their current minor leaguers, including some of their top prospects, to major-league camp despite not being on the 40-man roster. Boston did just that on Saturday, announcing that they were inviting 12 players to their major-league camp. We’ll highlight each of those players below.

  • Kole Cottam (C) is one of the more underrated players in the Red Sox system, giving the Red Sox another bat-first catcher in the upper levels of their minor-league system. Cottam was a fourth round pick by the Sox back in 2018, and he’s methodically moved his way up the system since then. There are some questions about the defense, but he’s been able to hit at whatever level he’s been placed. Last season he split time between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, hitting a combined .278/.371/.500 in 71 games between the two levels.
  • Triston Casas (1B) is the biggest name on this list and arguably the top prospect in the system. That he is first base only at this point hurts his value a bit and puts more pressure on the bat, but the talent is there in that bat for him to be an All-Star caliber player either way. His big raw power gets more of the headlines, and it’s not without merit, but to me what separates him is his tremendous approach at the plate and ability to work counts and draw walks. Casas has said he models his game after Joey Votto, and the approach seems to back that up.
  • Ryan Fitzgerald (INF) is perhaps the best story in the Red Sox farm system. The infielder went undrafted out of college and went to indy ball before being picked up by the Red Sox in 2018. Since joining the system, he’s typically been a bit old for the levels at which he’s played, but the performance has been there. Spending most of last season at Double-A, he hit .271/.351/.505 in 95 game before a late-season promotion to Triple-A where he more than held his own in 13 games. Fitzgerald is a good defensive infielder who can play all over the diamond and may be able to carve out a role as a major-league utility man.
  • David Hamilton (SS) is a name that is probably familiar to many as he was one of the prospects who came back in the Hunter Renfroe/Jackie Bradley Jr. deal. Alex Binelas, the other prospect in that deal, has gotten most of the shine since the trade and probably has a higher ceiling, but Hamilton is a really interesting player in his own right. He’s got a solid floor thanks to his baserunning and defense, and if his hit tool can develop there could be a second-division starter here.
  • Christian Koss (SS) was acquired by the Red Sox prior to last season when Boston traded Yoan Aybar to the Rockies to clear 40-man space. The infielder is an intriguing player who bursted onto the scene in 2019 after being drafted, and was solid last year in his first full season taste of professional ball. In High-A Greenville, Koss hit .271/.325/.451 over 104 games. There’s probably not a huge ceiling here, but he’s a potential future bench piece.
Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Two
Franchy Cordero
Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images
  • Franchy Cordero (OF) didn’t exactly have the kind of season he or the Red Sox wanted from him in 2021, but he remains in the organization after clearing waivers at the start of the offseason. Acquired last winter in the Andrew Benintendi trade, Cordero had a strange season a year ago. In the majors, he struggled mightily with his contact issues precluding him from any sort of production at the plate. However, at Triple-A Worcester he mashed and was one of the best hitters in the league when he was there. At this point we have to see it over an extended stretch before getting too excited, but the power/speed combination is still in there somewhere waiting to come out.
  • Chris Murphy (LHP) is one of a handful of intriguing Red Sox pitching prospects who have made it up to the upper levels and are now closing in on their major-league debuts. Murphy was a sixth round pick in 2019, and he immediately broke out in that first professional season the summer he was drafted. The southpaw split last season between High-A and Double-A, struggling in terms of results with a 4.62 ERA. The peripherals were better, and his strikeout stuff is excellent, but his command issues may force him into the bullpen at some point.
  • Durbin Feltman (RHP) is my favorite post-hype player in the Red Sox system. When he was first drafted in 2018, the right-handed reliever was supposed to be on a fast track to the majors, with some speculation indicating he could debut that same summer with more modest projections pegging him for a 2019 debut. Instead, he’s still waiting to make that leap. Feltman has struggled with command at times in this career, particularly in 2019, but he looked better last year. I don’t think the ceiling is as high as it was when he was first drafted and seen as a future closer, but there’s still a major-league reliever in there.
  • Geoff Hartlieb (RHP) was acquired by the Red Sox late last season as a September waiver claim, and was subsequently designated for assignment, and decided to remain with the organization this winter as well. The righty has spent some time in the majors, mostly with the Pirates, pitching to a 7.46 ERA and a 5.42 FIP over 66 career innings. He provides some depth for the bullpen, but unless he can start throwing more strikes he’s not going to be more than that.
  • Brian Keller (RHP) was picked up this winter in the minor-league Rule 5 Draft, which did indeed take place even with the major-league portion ultimately being cancelled due to the lockout. A former Yankees farmhand, Keller has served mostly as a starter in his professional career but did start to transition to the bullpen a bit last season. He’s probably emergency depth as a swingman for the Red Sox.
  • Kaleb Ort (RHP) was a minor-league Rule 5 pick from the Yankees organization last winter, and he had an eye-opening season down at Triple-A a year ago, making his major-league debut in an emergency call-up during Boston’s COVID outbreak late last summer. He started to make an impression on the Red Sox coaching staff at spring training last year, and now has a chance to put himself firmly on the map of major-league depth.
  • John Schreiber (RHP) was a waiver claim by the Red Sox prior to last season, and is an interesting name. If you just scout the stat line, it’s amazing he hasn’t been able to stick in the majors as he’s consistently dominated minor-league hitters, including a 2.71 ERA and a 3.21 FIP over 66 innings at Triple-A last season. However, in the majors he has a career 5.97 ERA in 31 23 innings. He relies more on deception than stuff with his low arm slot, but at this point he has to prove he can get big-league hitters out before we can really buy in.