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Red Sox to add Garin Cecchini, Anthony Ranaudo and Bryce Brentz to 40-man roster

11.20.13 at 7:42 am ET
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With a Wednesday deadline looming to add players to the 40-man roster for the purposes of protecting them from the Rule 5 draft, the Red Sox are faced with relatively straightforward decisions. According to a major league source, the team will add outfielder Bryce Brentz (a supplemental first rounder, No. 36 overall, in the 2010 draft out of Middle Tennessee State University), right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (a supplemental first rounder, No. 39 overall, out of Louisiana State University in the same 2010 draft) and third baseman Garin Cecchini (taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of high school, but Rule 5 eligible if not added to the 40-man roster because he was 19 when he signed). The team does not appear likely to add any other players to its 40-man roster at this time.

UPDATE: The Red Sox announced that Brentz, Ranaudo and Cecchini were indeed their only additions to the 40-man roster.

There’s not a lot of mystery surrounding the decisions on any of the three 2010 draftees, given that all three prospects have progressed to the upper levels of the Red Sox farm system while retaining impact potential in the big leagues.

Brentz, 24, played in just 88 games in Triple-A Pawtucket in a year that was truncated by surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He hit .264 with a .312 OBP, .475 slugging mark and 17 homers with the PawSox, adding two more longballs during a rehab assignment in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League to lead all Sox minor leaguers with 19 homers this year. That significant raw power creates at least the possibility of a future as an everyday corner outfielder, even if his low walk rate (5.7 percent) and vulnerability to strikeouts (24.6 percent of plate appearances) suggest a player who may not have a future as an everyday big leaguer. He’s struggled mightily in the Dominican Winter League, hitting .105/.190/.193 in 19 games.

Ranaudo, who turned 24 in September, went 11-5 with a 2.96 ERA, 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.0 walks per nine in 140 innings with Double-A Portland and, after an August promotion, Triple-A Pawtucket. The 6-foot-7 right-hander left behind his health struggles of 2013 to turn in a season in which he was at times dominant with a low- to mid-90s fastball and power curve that he complemented with a changeup. His performance earned him spots in the Major League All-Star Futures Game as well as the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game. He should represent a big league rotation depth option in 2014.

Cecchini, 22, showed a tremendous ability to hit for average (.322) and get on base (.443 OBP, tops in the minors) while splitting the year between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland and, like teammate Ranaudo, earning a spot in the All-Star Futures Game. (He also played in both the High-A California-Carolina League All-Star Game and the Arizona Fall league All-Star Game.) Most evaluators believe that he could play third base going forward, but there’s a chance that he might move down the road to another corner, with first base and left field representing alternatives. He has yet to hit for power in his minor league career (his .404 slugging mark in Portland was lower than his .420 OBP); if he does start translating his ability to barrel the ball into an ability to drive the ball, then his prospect profile would take a considerable step forward. As it is, he still represents an impressive prospect, a safe bet to have an everyday future in the big leagues given his high average and on-base marks.

The Sox actually have four vacant spots on the 40-man roster, but with a number of potential roster needs given the free agent status of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, first baseman Mike Napoli, shortstop Stephen Drew and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the team is likely to be in a position to remove members of its current 40-man roster later this offseason, so it made little sense to add players only to have to expose them (or someone else who is already on the 40-man roster) to waivers later in the offseason.

While no players aside from the three in the upper levels are expected to be added, there are nonetheless some noteworthy omissions. Foremost is Kolbrin Vitek, whom the Sox took with their top pick in the 2010 draft with the expectation that he could emerge as a player with an above-average, across-the-board skill set, but who has instead struggled throughout his professional career, hitting .258/.286/.356 in parts of four minor league seasons, including a .207/.261/.260 mark in 61 minor league games (mostly while repeating in Double-A) during an injury-riddled 2013 campaign that saw him get moved from third base to left field to accommodate Cecchini. Jose Vinicio, who was the Sox’ most heralded 16-year-old international amateur signing in 2009 when he received a $1.95 million bonus (gaining more attention at the time than an obscure Aruban named Xander Bogaerts), might have been a candidate for protection with a strong 2013 season, but he instead had a horrific year, hitting .192/.225/.256 while repeating in Single-A Greenville. Michael Almanzar, who got off to a tremendous start (.319/.367/.560 with five homers in April as a 22-year-old) that suggested a potential need for protection on the 40-man roster, tailed off and finished the year with a .268/.328/.432 line in Double-A Portland, too modest a statistical profile to justify protecting a corner infielder.

A couple of players who turned in strong 2013 performances, right-handers Matt Price (2.41 ERA, 8.6 strikeouts and 3.8 walks per nine innings while touching 97 mph with a swing-and-miss changeup in High-A Salem) and Luis Diaz (a 21-year-old who went 9-4 with a 1.96 ERA, 8.4 strikeouts and 2.1 walks per nine innings between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem), are not expected to be protected. Both turned in strong performances, but as pitchers who fit a fairly common profile (right-handers who have yet to progress to the upper levels), the likelihood of losing either in the Rule 5 draft (in which teams can select eligible players who aren’t protected on the 40-man, but must keep them on the major league roster for the entire season or else have to offer them back to the teams from which they were taken) is considered low.

The Sox did lose two players in the Rule 5 draft in 2013, as right-hander Josh Fields had a 4.97 ERA with 9.5 strikeouts and 4.3 walks per nine innings for the Astros while right-hander Ryan Pressly had a 3.87 ERA, 5.8 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings for the Twins, but both relievers had achieved success in the upper levels in 2012, with Fields having dominated in Double-A and Triple-A and Pressly having performed well after a mid-year promotion to Double-A.

Read More: anthony ranaudo, bryce brentz, garin cecchini, jose vinicio
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