Red Sox prospects who could be protected from Rule 5 Draft

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Josh Rutledge
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Josh Rutledge /

The Boston Red Sox have some decisions to make regarding which prospects to add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.

The Boston Red Sox have seen their farm system depleted by trades over the last couple of years, so they certainly can’t afford to lose any promising prospects for nothing in the Rule 5 Draft.

Any player in the organization four years removed from their signing if they started playing when they were 19 or older, or five years removed if they were 18 or younger, become eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster.

The Rule 5 draft will be held on December 14. Every team will have the opportunity to select from the available pool of unprotected players. Any player selected must spend the entire 2018 season on the major league roster (or disabled list), or else they’ll be returned to their previous organization.

Teams have until 8 p.m. ET on Monday to protect their prospects by adding them to the 40-man roster. The Red Sox currently have 37 players on their roster, leaving three spots open to protect players. While free agency or trades could add players who will eventually take those spots away, the Red Sox will presumably promote three of their own prospects for now in order to protect them from being taken away in the Rule 5 Draft.

The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham reports that the top candidates to be protected are left-hander Jalen Beeks, right-hander Chandler Shepherd and right-hander Jake Cosart.

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Beeks is the highest rated among this trio, ranked No. 16 in the Red Sox organization by He started this year in Double-A Portland, where he went 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 9 starts before earning a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. He then went 6-7 with a 3.86 ERA in 17 starts. Beeks posted a solid 9.6 K/9 across the two minor league levels but his high walk rate (3.4 BB/9) is a concern. The 24-year old should start 2018 in Pawtucket to serve as rotation depth for the organization.

Shepherd is ranked No. 21 in the Red Sox organization. He owned a mediocre 4.07 ERA in Pawtucket this year but did impress with a 10.3 K/9. He’s currently working as a starter in winter ball in Mexico.

Cosart is the No. 24 prospect in the organization. He spent this season working out of the bullpen in Portland, posting a 3.10 ERA over 38 appearances. He struck out 52 in 49 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .163 average but also walked a staggering 41 hitters.

Right-hander Ty Buttrey, right-hander Justin Haley and right fielder Aneury Tavarez are other potential prospects the Red Sox may consider protecting. The latter two were both taken in the Rule 5 Draft last year, only to be returned to the organization.

Abraham mentions that left-hander Trey Ball is not expected to be protected. The seventh overall pick in the 2013 draft has been a massive disappointment, going 29-42 with a 4.67 ERA over five seasons since being rewarded with a $2.75 million signing bonus. The Red Sox haven’t had much success grooming starting pitchers lately and Ball is a prime example of what a crapshoot drafting them can be.

The Rule 5 Draft isn’t where teams go expecting to find a significant difference-maker. Some teams don’t bother making a selection if they find no prospects appealing enough to make room on their roster, while many selected players end up being sent back when they fail to earn a spot on the active roster for the entire season.

However, useful depth options can be found. The Red Sox selected Josh Rutledge last year. The versatile infielder appeared in only 37 games but they managed to hang on to him by placing Rutledge on the 60-day disabled list.

Next: BoSox Injection 2017 offseason round table

We don’t know if the Red Sox will end up taking anyone in this year’s draft, yet we can expect that they will make some moves to protect their best eligible assets from being taken away.