Fields –’s Kelly O’Connor

The major-league phase of the Rule 5 draft has just been completed, and the first pick was by the Astros. They used the pick on Red Sox right-hander Josh Fields, a 27-year-old relief pitcher.

There was no doubt Fields was going to be taken, but there was simply a lack of space on Boston’s 40-man roster to accommodate Fields, especially with the depth Boston has in the bullpen. He has great strikeout numbers, reaching Triple-A and not giving up a run in 13 2/3 innings at that level. Between Pawtucket and Double-A, Fields threw 58 1/3 innings, punching out 78 and walking 18. While his control seemed fine in 2012, he’s historically had trouble with it. If he’s turned a corner with his control, he could be a solid reliever for Houston, otherwise, he won’t be anyone Boston misses. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 draft by the Mariners but was sent to Boston in the July 2011 trade that also netted the team Erik Bedard.

The purging of the Sox system then continued with the Twins snapping up Ryan Pressly. Converted to relief this past season, Pressly reached Double-A this year and turned heads in the Arizona Fall League, pumping up with a big fastball. Drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 draft, Pressly struggled for High-A Salem in the rotation before the shift to the pen, where it looks like he may have discovered a career. The Twins really need young hard throwers on the team, and while Pressly’s future is still uncertain, his stock is certainly up.

The Sox thenĀ  struck back, taking second baseman Jeff Kobernus from the Nationals and immediately traded him to the Tigers for a prospect. It helps the Red Sox restock their farm depth after losing Fields and Pressly. He showed no power in Double A and will turn 25 in June, but did struggle with injury this past season. He has a shot to stick as a backup infielder.

By the way, former Red Sox farmhand Chris McGuinness, dealt in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade, was tabbed by the Indians. He seems to be emerging as a solid first baseman and will contend for the starting job in spring training.

In the minor-league phase, the Red Sox took Jack McGeary from the Nationals Double-A team. He’s a local product, hailing from Roxbury Latin high school. A left-handed reliever, McGeary tossed just 25 1/3 innings the last two years, struggling with injury. He has yet to advance beyond A-ball and his future is in question. Notable: He earned a degree from Stanford, attending classes in the offseason. He still has promise, as the Nats gave him $1.8 million to sign in the 2007 draft and should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery to start the year. A former first-round supplemental pick, Jonathan Bachanov from the White Sox via the Angels, was also taken by the Sox. He’s a right-handed reliever who posted a 4.82 ERA in 74 2/3 total innings, mostly at high-A but with some Double-A time.