There was good news today for prospects Bryce Brentz, Garin Cecchini and Anthony Ranaudo as the Red Sox decided to protect the trio from the Rule 5 draft by adding the trio to their 40-man roster.
Ranaudo moved up to Triple-A Pawtucket late last season with a 2.95 ERA in 19 starts at Double-A Portland. It was big comeback season for a pitcher who had a slew of injuries and a 6.69 ERA last season. He could be the Brandon Workman of 2014.
With the arrival of Xander Bogaerts in MLB, Garin Cecchini becomes the top hitter in the Red Sox minor-league system. The 22-year-old third baseman hit a combined .322 with a .443 on-base percentage and .471 slugging percentage in a season split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, and he finished with more walks (94) than strikeouts (86).
His preseason “shot self in foot” accident diminished his spring training last season, a knee injury in the second half hurt his bid for a major-league roster spot at some point. The 24-year-old right fielder hit .264 with a .312 on-base percentage and .475 slugging percentage in half a season’s worth of at-bats, and he still has one of the most intriguing power bats in the Red Sox system.
MLB uses a Rule 5 Draft to protect young players from being warehoused indefinitely; it requires teams to add minor-leaguers to their 40-man rosters after a certain amount of time in the minors or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft each December. Players that are selected in the Rule 5 draft must be carried on the selecting team’s 25-man major-league roster all season. If the player is removed from the major-league roster, he must be offered back to his original team.
The most significant unprotected Red Sox prospect this year will be Double-A infielder Michael Almanzar, a one-time highly regarded Dominican Republic teenager, whose production stalled in the lower levels of the minor leagues.
Although the Red Sox drafted Kolbrin Vitek before Brentz and Ranaudo in 2010, he was not protected and is not a candidate to be a Rule 5 selection. Vitek hit the wall at Double-A Portland in 2013, where he hit only .204.
GM Cherington and his staff will be culling the pool of prospects that were left unprotected by other teams to pull out a plum.