Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The news that Bryce Brentz, Garin Cecchini and Anthony Ranaudo were added to the Boston Red Sox’s 40-man roster came as no surprise.
What will be interesting is what happens to those who were left off the roster.
Brentz, Cecchini and Ranaudo were all added to protect them from the major league Rule V draft next month.
All three players had put enough time into their career to be eligible for the draft.
The Rule V draft is meant to help good players from being buried in an organization. If they are not put on the 40-man roster in a certain amount of time – depending on their age when drafted – then another team can take them. The only condition – and it’s a big one – is the player has to stay on his new team’s 25-man major league roster for the whole season or be returned to the original team.
Last year the Red Sox didn’t put relievers Josh Fields and Ryan Pressly on the 40-man roster and both got grabbed – Fields by Houston and Pressly by the Twins.
The Fields decision was puzzling because he had been impressive for both Portland and Pawtucket. Fields appeared in 41 games this season with five saves in six opportunities (he had one save against Boston, as well as his one blown save).
Pressly compiled a 3.87 ERA in 49 appearances.
Protecting Brentz, Cecchini and Ranaudo were no-brainer moves. All three could make it to the majors in 2014.
Adding those three left room for only one more player on the Red Sox 40-man roster, so Boston couldn’t protect everyone, especially considering it still has more moves to make this season.
There are a bunch of eligible players who were not protected, but most are not going to get drafted.
Here are three pitchers that could go: Chris Hernandez, Keith Couch and/or Luis Diaz.
Hernandez, 24, was an All-Star with Portland in 2012. He struggled in Pawtucket last year (3-9, 5.72 ERA). He was sent back to the Sea Dogs and seemed to regain his form (2-0, 1.64). A left-hander who can throw strikes with a variety of pitches is a valuable commodity.
Couch, 24, was sent to the Portland bullpen to begin 2013 but eventually emerged as an effective starter (11-3, 3.47).
Diaz, 21, never got to Double-A but showed a nice fastball-slider combination for a combined 1.96 ERA in Greenville and Salem (mostly Greenville).
A team might take a chance on him.
BROCK HUNTZINGER pitched most of three seasons for the Portland Sea Dogs. A third-round draft pick of the Red Sox, Huntzinger showed flashes of promise with his fastball-slider mix.
Converted to a reliever early in the 2012 season, Huntzinger seemed to relish the role. He finished the 2013 season with a 1.43 ERA in Pawtucket, along with 37 strikeouts in 372/3 innings, allowing 27 hits and 16 walks.
But solid as he was, Boston never was convinced his stuff would play in the major leagues. After seven seasons in the system, Huntzinger, 25, became a minor league free agent and signed this past week with the Baltimore Orioles.
DAVID MURPHY was one of the first prospects under former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein (first-round draft pick, 2003). The outfielder played 1 1/2 seasons with Portland (2005-06) before getting a taste of the majors with Boston (23 games).
Murphy didn’t figure in the Red Sox plans and was sent in a trading-deadline deal in 2007 to Texas for reliever Eric Gagne – a deal that didn’t help Boston one bit, although that was easily forgotten when the Red Sox still won the World Series.
Murphy played mostly a platoon role in Texas, still averaging about 425 at-bats. He slumped in 2013 (.220 average) – bad timing since it was his free agent year.
Still, the Cleveland Indians, with former manager Terry Francona, liked enough of Murphy to sign him to a two-year deal for $12 million.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: