The Boston Red Sox’s minor league depth took a hit after the acquisitions of Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox and Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers. After the madness of the Winter Meetings calmed down, the Rule 5 Draft began, and the minor league setup of the organization began to take shape.
Red Sox Lose Two
Starting pitcher Justin Haley was taken 10th overall in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft by the Los Angeles Angels, before being traded to the San Diego Padres, then flipped to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for a PTBNL. Haley went 8-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 15 appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket after receiving an in season promotion. Haley could serve as the long man for the Twins, or get rotational time, should he manage to stick in Minnesota.
Outfielder Aneury Tavarez was selected 23rd overall by the Baltimore Orioles. Tavarez had a breakout year in Double-A Portland, hitting .335 with seven home runs and 47 RBIs. Tavarez also hit .303 in 11 games at the AAA level with one home run and five RBIs. The 24-year old will likely serve as a fourth outfielder and profiles as a back of the order bat for the Orioles.
Red Sox Bring Back Rutledge
The Red Sox made up for their losses by picking Josh Rutledge, 26th overall from the Colorado Rockies. Rutledge’s story is a unique one. Drafted by the Rockies in 2010, he played three seasons with the team, before being traded to the Los Angeles Angels. He played at the AAA level there, before being sent to the Red Sox in exchange for Shane Victorino. After hitting .276 with one home run and 13 RBIs during 67 games with the team, he was designated for assignment, elected free agency and re-signed with the Rockies. Now, the 27-year old infielder is on his way back to Boston, and could serve as a bench bat with the team.
Red Sox Draft 2 at AAA Level
The Red Sox also added some depth to their minor league relief corps at the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft. The first selection was Harrison Cooney, 24, who was a former sixth round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in the 2010 MLB Draft. Cooney underwent Tommy John Surgery last April, and is expected to be available in May of this season. He has a 1-15 record with a 6.72 ERA at High-A Inland Empire, but that has mostly been as a starter. Cooney has touched 98 mph on his fastball out of the bullpen and appears destined for this role.
The next pick of the Red Sox was reliever Josh Smith from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 27-year old was a 25th round pick of the Pirates in the 2012 MLB Draft, and has been a reliever for his entire minor league career. Smith went 2-4 with a 6.54 ERA between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis last season. Despite the poor numbers, lefties slugged just .303 against him. He could also be used as a specialist in either Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Red Sox could receive another infusion of youth with rumors swirling about the team shopping one of their starting pitchers. After two large trades at the Winter Meetings, the team’s farm system is considerably weaker than it once was.