One of the great parts of spring training is in the early going of camp when we get to see a whole lot of players in the minors, getting both our first looks at some impact players who are coming up through the system as well as looks at guys who might be career minor leaguers. Both are exciting for their own reasons, but they only last a few weeks as players start to get ramped up. Eventually, cuts happen and those players head back to minor-league camp. Granted, some players from minor-league camp can still come up for big-league spring games, but they are no longer on the official major-league spring roster.
After Wednesday’s loss to the Twins down in Fort Myers, the Red Sox made their first round of cuts of this spring, a list that included a handful of the top prospects in the organization. Below we’ll quickly go over each player sent to minor-league camp. Players with an asterisk next to their name are on the 40-man roster, and thus burn an option by being sent down.
- Jeter Downs* was the top prospect to come back in the Mookie Betts trade, and he saw his stock take a major hit last season with a rough performance at Triple-A. It was a bit of a push considering he had only a cup of coffee as high as Double-A before it, and he struggled to make contact which led to an ugly batting line. He’s still a top 10 prospect in the system, though, and is a nice post-hype sleeper, to borrow a term from the fantasy community.
- Bryan Mata* is another one of the 10 best prospects in the system, at least by some evaluators’ rankings, but he was never going to pitch this spring anyway. The young righty is recovering from Tommy John and is unlikely to be on the mound in game action for the first few months of the season, at least.
- Connor Seabold* made his spring debut on Wednesday and had probably the worst outing we’ve seen from a Red Sox pitcher thus far, allowing five runs without recording an out. Seabold still has promise, but he has to start missing more bats. Right now he’s a depth starter, though there’s competition in that realm.
- John Winckowski* is part of that competition with Seabold, though he has less experience at Triple-A. Instead the righty, who came over as part of the package in the Andrew Benintendi return last spring, spent most of last season at Double-A Portland. There’s some intriguing stuff which has improved as his career has progressed, but right now he looks more like a future back-end starter or long reliever.
- Jay Groome* is a bit further behind than some of the other pitchers on this list, just getting up to Double-A at the end of last season. That said, this is also the second option he’s burned, so they probably would like to move him relatively quickly this year if he pitches well enough. This is a big year for the former top 10 overall pick to prove he still has enticing upside.
- Triston Casas was the biggest name to be sent down in this first round of cuts. He was never going to make the team out of camp, though I did think he may get more chances against big-league pitching. He had only one plate appearance, though again he can still play in these games. Casas should make his major-league debut at some point this summer.
- David Hamilton is a speedy infielder who came over from the Brewers in the Hunter Renfroe deal. There’s not a ton of power in his game and he doesn’t really have an All-Star ceiling, but he can put the bat on the ball, play defense up the middle on the dirt, and fly on the bases, so there’s a solid floor there at least.
- Christian Koss is one of the more underrated players in the organization but someone that is liked by those who have gotten some looks at him. Like Hamilton, we’re not talking about a future star, but rather a player who can play some sort of role on a good team a few years down the road if things continue to develop. He should be in Double-A Portland this year.
- Durbin Feltman is another guy who I’m a little surprised to see cut so early, though like Casas I’m not sure I ever saw Feltman making the roster out of camp. He’s not yet on the 40-man, which hurts him in terms of being an early call-up, but his improved command in 2021 puts him back on track to be a big-league reliever as soon as this summer.
- Brian Keller was a minor-league Rule 5 selection from this past winter (that portion of the draft still happened even with the major-league portion being canceled). He’s worked as both a starter and a reliever and is likely just up-and-down depth in case they need innings at any point through the year.
- Chris Murphy is one of the most simultaneously enticing and frustrating arms in the system. The lefty has big stuff and misses a ton of bats as he’s quickly moved up the system, but lapses in control creates too much traffic on the bases and leads to too many short outings. He’ll get a chance to work as a starter to begin the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved to shorter stints by the end of the year if he doesn’t clean up the walks.