A Closer Look at the Red Sox Offseason Prospect Additions

Ronaldo Hernandez, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Florida State League, April 4, 2019 - photo credit Bryan Green on Flickr

As the calendar turned to 2021, the Red Sox had a busy end of the winter in bringing in prospects both on the international market and in trade. Following the Red Sox Top 50 published on January 4, Chaim Bloom and company acquired some intriguing prospects. Here’s an overview at what players the Red Sox brought in during the early 2021 winter months, and a look at where they would settle into the organization’s current prospect pecking order before the opening of the Minor League season.

Miguel Bleis, OF
Acquired: January 15, 2021 as an International Free Agent
We previewed the Bleis signing in the Top 50 introduction, but couldn’t rank the young outfielder because the signing wasn’t official on the publication date. The highest profile player in this year’s Red Sox international class, Bleis signed for $1.5M out of the Dominican Republic. Bleis just turned 17 on March 1 and already stands at 6’3″. The limited footage on Bleis shows a long limbed but compact swing from the right side with some ability to lift the ball. He reportedly has enough speed and athleticism to stay in centerfield defensively, but there’s a long way to go developmentally and physically to know for certain at this point. Bleis is a welcomed high upside batter to add to the lower levels, and could represent an important talent in the system moving forward. Bleis could slot into Tier 4 right now, and somewhere in the 25-40 overall range depending on early reports from the field.

Luis Ravelo, SS
Acquired: January 15, 2021 as an International Free Agent
Much of the present footage on Ravelo showcases exceptional defensive ability, showing incredibly soft hands and smooth defensive instincts. The wizardry with the glove will remind some Red Sox fans of former farmhand Jose Iglesias. If this carries over to professional games, Ravelo could project to have that same kind of substantial defensive impact at the highest level. Because of this, it bodes well for Ravelo to stick in the lineup and be afforded more opportunities with the bat through his development. He’s a switch hitter and stands at 6’1″. The Dominican shortstop was signed for just over $500k in the international signing period. Like Bleis, an up the middle player like Ravelo is one who could be among the next wave of future building blocks. Ravelo is a borderline Tier 4/5 player at present, slotting him in the 40-50 range in the Red Sox list.

Frank German, RHP
Acquired: January 25, 2021 in trade from the New York Yankees
The Red Sox “bought a prospect” in acquiring the promising right hand pitcher, as German came over in trade from the rival New York Yankees as they took on on most of the $9M owed to Adam Ottavino in 2021. German represents exactly what a big market team like the Red Sox should do in flexing their financial might and seeking creative ways to bring in talent. He was the Yankees 4th round draft selection in 2018 after a successful collegiate career at North Florida, and features a fastball that can reach 98 MPH with a solid changeup and slider to round out the arsenal. German could be a potential starter at the highest level, and his Red Sox debut will be highly anticipated along with many fresh faces in the organization. German bolsters the back of Tier 4 of the list (he was 37th and Tier 4 in the Yankees Top 50), and could force his way into the back of Tier 3 with solidifying a starter’s arsenal in the upper minors.

Josh Winckowski, RHP
Acquired: February 10, 2021 in trade from the New York Mets
Winckowski had a whirlwind winter, as he was dealt twice. First, he moved from the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Mets. Two weeks later, he winds up with the Red Sox as part of the return for Andrew Benintendi. Winckowski is a 22 year old righty who has logged over 250 professional innings, primarily as a starter (50 of 54 appearances). He is a sinker/slider pitcher who has grown to be tough to square up with the downward plane he gets, as evidenced by allowing only 110 H in 127 IP in 2019, and 4 H in 7.1 IP in 2021 Red Sox Spring Training. If the Red Sox believe they can unlock the changeup potential for a third offering, which they have had success recently as an organization, the Red Sox could have a future starter or at least a multi-inning arm in some capacity. Winckowski was ranked 23rd and Tier 4 in the Blue Jays Top 50 list this offseason, and figures to be similary placed with his new club.

Hirokazu Sawamura, RHP
Acquired: February 16, 2021 as an International Free Agent
While the 33 year old Sawamura is prospect eligible in terms of Major League Baseball, the righty reliever has a robust professional career in Japan spanning 11 seasons and nearly 950 IP. Sawamura is a polished reliever who could work his way into high leverage situations in Boston. The Red Sox did well in targeting a big league ready reliever on the international stage to immediately impact the club. Sawamura’s main weapon is a hard splitter that is an effective offering against both righties and lefties. In the early going of his Red Sox career, Sawamura is working on harnessing his command. He issued 8 free passes in 4.2 IP in the Spring, which has carried over to the early going in April as he has walked a batter per inning at the time of publish. If Sawamura can keep his WHIP hovering around his career professional mark which is just below 1.20, and seeing his role in the bullpen, Sawamura could oscillate between Tiers 3 and 4 right now. However, Sawamura should exhaust prospect eligibility before the midseason list is even published.

Ronaldo Hernandez, C
Acquired: February 17, 2021 in trade from the Tampa Bay Rays
The Red Sox raised some eyebrows when they were able to reel in a prospect with past Top 100 pedigree as Hernández in exchange for ‘last men on the 40-man roster type relievers’ in Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs. Hernández is an offensive-first catcher who may have a swing tailor made for Fenway’s inviting left field (53% pull rate and 44% fly ball rate). Hernández was even among a talented group of Rays in the 2019 Futures Game in Cleveland. It may be a bit puzzling as to why the Rays would move on from Hernández: a decreased BB rate (4% down from 6.9% in 2018), a valuable 40-man roster space, fringe defensive skills behind the plate, or something else; but regardless he safely makes his way atop the Red Sox prospect catching crop. Hernández was ranked 21st in the Rays Top 50 and among their Tier 3 group, and there’s a place for him in the 15-20 range with the Red Sox.

Nick Sogard, IF
Acquired: February 17, 2021 in trade from the Tampa Bay Rays
Sogard came to the Red Sox along with Hernández from Tampa Bay. The switch hitting infielder showed strong contact and on-base ability during his debut 2019 campaign in short season ball. Sogard has strong running skills and while there’s minimal power at present, Sogard’s 6’1″ build could grow to impact the baseball as his development continues. He’s Eric Sogard’s cousin and may become a similarly valuable utility infielder on a winning MLB club at his peak. Defensively, the athletic and instinctual Sogard has played mostly SS and 3B as a professional with a handful of appearances at 2B too. He was unranked in the Rays Top 50 and could work his way into Tier 5 with a strong debut with the Red Sox.

Zach Bryant, RHP
Acquired: February 27, 2021 in trade from the Chicago Cubs
The hearts of Red Sox fans skipped a beat when they saw that they had acquired Bryant from the Cubs. While the player to be named later in the Josh Osich trade was not in fact 3 time All-Star Kris Bryant, the Red Sox did well in reeling in righty reliever Zach Bryant. In Bryant, the Red Sox brought in a reliever with a competitive, closers mentality. He closed during his college career and features a fastball-curveball duo with swing and miss qualities in both offerings. Bryant has a long arm action and leverages his lower half to attack hitters. Though Bryant was unranked in the Cubs Top 50, I could see Bryant slotting into Tier 5 right now and working his way upwards with more experience in the middle to upper minors.

Ben is an Assistant Editor and also covers the Red Sox and Dynasty/Fantasy baseball content for Prospects1500. He also runs the #2EarlyMiLBMock, an annual prospect-only mock draft, for the Prospects1500 website. Ben is an experienced fantasy baseball player and is a deep league dynasty specialist. He has also contributed at FantraxHQ, RotoFanatic, and retired blogs Real McCoy Minors and Notes from the Sally. Follow Ben on Twitter @TBDubbs11.

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