Several prospects who the Red Sox have acquired via trade under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom will be Rule 5 Draft eligible unless protected later this month.
Nov. 15 is when teams must add eligible minor leaguers to their 40-man roster to protect them from being available in the Rule 5 Draft.
Players left unprotected will be available to other teams during the draft at the winter meetings in December.
David Hamilton, Wilyer Abreu, Luis De La Rosa, Grant Gambrell, Freddy Valdez, Jacob Wallace, Christian Koss and Victor Santos are the eligible prospects who Boston received in trades the past couple of years under Bloom.
Eligible top organizational prospects include Ceddanne Rafaela, Brandon Walter, Thaddeus Ward, Wikelman Gonzalez, Eddinson Paulino and Brainer Bonaci.
LOCKS TO BE ADDED: Ceddanne Rafaela
Rafaela, who just turned 22 on Sept. 18, led all Red Sox minor leaguers with 63 extra-base hits despite being just 5-foot-8, 159 pounds. He batted .299 with a .342 on-base percentage, .538 slugging percentage, .880 OPS, 21 homers, 32 doubles, 10 triples, 82 runs, 86 RBIs, 113 strikeouts and 26 walks combined between Double-A Portland (71 games) and High-A Salem (45 games).
He has the talent to be a future Gold Glover in center field and plus defender at shortstop. MLB.com ranks him No. 96 on its top 100 list.
THE NEXT TIER OF TALENT: Chris Murphy, David Hamilton, Brandon Walter, Thaddeus Ward, Wilyer Abreu, A.J. Politi, Wikelman Gonzalez, Eddinson Paulino, Brainer Bonaci, Jacob Wallace
Murphy: Baseball America ranks the 24-year-old lefty the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox system. The 2019 sixth-round pick began the 2022 season off strong for Double-A Portland where he posted a 2.58 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 15 outings (13 starts). Opponents batted only .170 against him. But he struggled at times after a promotion to Triple-A Worcester (5.50 ERA, 15 starts). His fastball has good carry and plays up in the zone. He also throws a changeup, curveball and slider and has above-average spin rate.
Walter: Baseball America ranks the 26-year-old lefty Boston’s No. 9 prospect. The 2019 26th-round draft pick dominated at Double-A Portland with a 2.88 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 68 strikeouts, three walks and a .191 batting average against in eight starts. He then received a promotion to Worcester where he made only two starts before not pitching again in 2022 because of a neck strain. He has terrific command of his fastball, slider and changeup.
Hamilton: Boston acquired Hamilton in the Hunter Renfroe trade last offseason. The 25-year-old shortstop/second baseman set Double-A Portland’s record with 70 stolen bases in 2022. He experienced ups and downs offensively, finishing with a .251/.338/.402/.740 line, 12 homers, 16 doubles, nine triples, 81 runs, 42 RBIs, 56 walks and 119 strikeouts in 119 games for the Sea Dogs. The new rules (pitch timer and larger bases) being implemented in 2023 should increase stolen bases in the major leagues and make speed and athleticism more valuable.
Politi: The 26-year-old righty recorded a 2.34 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 48 relief outings and two starts (69 ⅓ innings) between Portland and Worcester in 2022. He held opponents to a .186 batting average. He struck out 83 and walked 22. Politi’s fastball was in the 94-97 mph range this past season. He has touched 98 mph. He also throws a cutter and curveball.
Abreu: The 23-year-old outfielder was one of only five minor leaguers in all of affiliated ball during 2022 to finish with 100 or more walks. He was second with 114 walks at Double A. But he also struck out quite a bit (26.4% strikeout percentage, 19.7% walk percentage). He finished with a .247/.399/.435/.834 line, 19 homers, 29 doubles, 106 runs and 73 RBIs in 129 games. Baseball America ranks Abreu the No. 22 prospect in the Red Sox system.
Abreu was acquired with Enmanuel Valdez from the Astros for Christian Vázquez. Valdez, meanwhile, is eligible for minor league free agency unless the Red Sox add him to the 40-man roster within five days after the World Series ends.
Ward: The 25-year-old righty became one of top pitching prospects in the organization before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. Baseball America now ranks him No. 25 overall in the system. He returned during the 2022 season and posted a 2.43 ERA (33 ⅓ innings, nine earned runs) in seven starts for Portland. He made two starts in the Arizona Fall League but his fall season was cut short due to an oblique injury, as Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported.
Gonzalez: Baseball America ranks the 20-year-old righty Boston’s No. 14 prospect. He posted a 4.21 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 25 starts for Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville. Opponents batted .212 against him. He struck out 121 and walked 54 in 98 ⅓ innings. Gonzalez throws a fastball that reaches the high-90s as well as a curveball and changeup.
Paulino: The 20-year-old infielder/outfielder recorded 58 extra-base hits in 114 games for Low-A Salem in 2022. He led all Red Sox minor leaguers with 35 doubles and tied for the lead in triples with 10. He finished with a .266/.359/.469/.828 line, 64 walks, 105 strikeouts and 27 steals. The left-handed hitter from the Dominican Republic initially signed with Boston for $205,000 in 2018. Baseball America ranks him the No. 18 prospect in the system. Red Sox assistant GM Eddie Romero said, “We’ve always liked his hitting ability. He hits the ball hard in all quadrants. He’s another guy who jumps on fastballs but I think has really increased his recognition skills. He’s made a big jump in that. He’s got a good number of walks. The on-base percentage is good.”
Brainer Bonaci: Baseball America ranks the 20-year-old shortstop the No. 20 prospect in the organization. He showed a strong plate approach with the same number of walks as strikeouts (89). He slashed .262/.397/.385/.782 with 19 doubles, six homers, six triples, 50 RBIs, 86 runs and 28 steals in 108 games for Salem.
Jacob Wallace: Boston acquired Wallace from the Rockies for Kevin Pillar. The 24-year-old righty held opponents to a .178 batting average and struck out 76 in 56 ⅔ innings (12.1 strikeouts per nine innings) for Portland this past season. But he also walked 49 batters (7.8 walks per nine innings) to drive up his ERA (3.81) and WHIP (1.48).
LESS EXPERIENCED ELIGIBLE PROSPECTS: Luis De La Rosa, Freddy Valdez, Noah Song, Gilberto Jiménez
Gonzalez, Paulino and Bonaci all are Red Sox top 20 prospects. But Boston could leave them unprotected because of they haven’t reached the upper levels of the minors. A team that drafts a player in the Rule 5 Draft must carry the player on its active roster (barring any injury) for the entire season or else offer him back to his previous club for $50,000. And so it would be difficult for a team to carry someone who has reached only Low or High A.
Gonzalez made only four starts above Low A. Paulino and Bonaci have not played above Low A.
Others who follow under this category include De La Rosa, Song, Jiménez and Valdez.
De La Rosa and Valdez were acquired in the three-team Andrew Benintendi trade.
De La Rosa, a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher, reached Salem this season (34 ⅓ innings there) after starting in the FCL (rookie ball). Valdez appeared in just 22 games in the FCL
The 25-year-old Song, once a top-10 Red Sox prospect, hasn’t pitched in pro ball since 2019 because of his commitment to Navy service.
OTHERS WHO ARE RULE 5 ELIGIBLE: Stephen Scott, Cameron Cannon, Brendan Cellucci, Kole Cottam, Tyler Dearden, Nick Decker, Durbin Feltman, Ryan Fitzgerald, Grant Gambrell, Devlin Granberg, Christian Koss, Eduardo Lopez, Victor Santos, Chase Shugart, Jake Thompson and Ryan Zeferjahn
Scott had a down year offensively in 2022 but he’s tied for the Arizona Fall League lead with five homers.
Gambrell, a 24-year-old righty who Boston acquired in the Benintendi trade, missed the 2022 season because of an ankle injury.
Cannon was a 2019 second-round pick but he slashed only .223/.307/.274/.581 in 51 games (mostly at Portland and Worcester) this past season.
Koss, who Boston acquired from Colorado for Yoan Aybar, has some power (17 homers, 22 doubles, five triples in 125 games at Portland this past season)