Not many MLB clubs can say that they’ve traded three major league ready pitching prospects and their farm system is no worse off for it, but the Red Sox are one of those few teams.
Following the most recent trade of former first round draft pick Anthony Ranaudo, Boston’s pile of discarded young pitchers was pushed to three (Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster were dealt for Wade Miley in December). While none of the arms dealt warranted a large return, all three have what major league clubs are interested in: talent and cheap control. Therefore, Boston’s ability to cut ties with three mid-20’s arms speaks to the depth of the teams farm system.
Understanding the value of Ranaudo, De La Rosa, and Webster, Boston’s two trades look like “fat trimming”, on top of getting two decent major league additions in Wade Miley and Robbie Ross. Boston now has a learn crop of starting prospects, headed by a trio of southpaws on the cusp of making it to the bigs in Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Eduardo Rodriguez. Those three arms rank second, fifth, and sixth overall in Boston’s system according to SoxProspects.com.
Owens, a first-round selection back in 2011, figures to be a top-to-mid rotation starter, and has been held onto like a precious diamond by Boston’s front office. Ownes has been all the rage in Boston since the 22-year old emerged as the ace of the Portland Sea Dogs rotation. In Owens first season in double-A last year, the California native boasted a 2.60 ERA over 20 starts, and collected 126 strikeouts. Throwing from a deceptive 3/4 arm angle, Owens posses a low 90’s fastball with tail, a mid-80’s change-up, and a work-in-progress curveball.
Fellow left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was acquired by Boston at the July 31st trade deadline from the Orioles for reliever Andrew Miller. The 21-year old Venezuela native enjoyed a brief 6 game stay in Pawtucket following the deal, and posted a 0.96 ERA over 37 innings pitched. Rodriguez has displayed a great 3 pitch arsenal including a mid-to-high 90’s fastball, and an above-average slider and change-up. While his command needs improvement, his smooth mechanics evoke a lot of promise.
Brian Johnson, a former first round pick by Boston in 2011, doesn’t project to blossom into an ace, but the team does hold the left-hander in high regards. After enjoying a moderatly successful 2013 season in double-A, the 24-year old enjoyed a breakout season last year as a member of the Portland Sea Dogs. The University of Florida alumn posted a sub-2.00 ERA over 20 starts, and boasted a 0.93 WHIP. In his 2 seasons in the Red Sox minor leagues, Johnson has shown fluid mechanics and an effective fastball, curveball mix. In the majors, the left hander projects to be a middle to back end of the rotation innings eater, which one could liken to Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle.
- The Red Sox acquired left-handed reliever Robbie Ross from the Texas Rangers in exchange for starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo on Tuesday. In 2014 Ross was ineffective as both a starter and reliever in between stints at both the minor leagues and major league levels. Prior to 2014, however, the 25-year old was a consistent pitcher over his first two seasons in the Big Leagues, posting an ERA of 2.62 in over 160 innings pitched. Ross will join Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne, and Drake Britton as left-handed options for Boston in 2015. (Red Sox, Rangers swap pitchers)
- Unlike typical southpaw relievers, Robbie Ross is at his best when facing right-handed hitters. Using an above-average cut fastball, the Nebraska native has historically kept right-handers in-check, while he’s struggled mightily against lefties. If the 25-year old is to succeed in Boston, however, he will need to develop a secondary pitch to work off of his fastball. (Why Red Sox traded Anthony Ranaudo for Robbie Ross)
- Even after losing a considerable amount of talent to promotions and trades over the course of the year, the Red Sox farm system still grades among the best in the MLB according to ESPN’s Keith Law. Blake Swihart, who was just named the best catcher in the minor leagues by MLB.com, heads Boston’s core of young talent, while names like Manuel Margot and Rafael Devers also carry a lot of promise. The team also boasts a plethora of young pitching in Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, and Brian Johnson. (Keith Law ranks Red Sox fifth-best farm system)
- Speaking of the Red Sox farm system, there will be a bunch of interesting guys to take a look at during spring training this season. Infieder Sean Coyle, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2014 and was subsequently added to the Red Sox 40-man roster, will be on display in Fort Myers. Newly acquire Zeke Spruill will also figures to gain some exposure with the Sox this spring as he’ll battle for a roster spot. (Boston Red Sox sleeper prospects to watch in Spring Training)
- Tweet of the day: Welcome, Robbie.