The Boston Red Sox reportedly added five players to their 40-man roster Tuesday, protecting them from eligibility in next month’s Rule 5 draft, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith.
Ceddanne Rafaela, a super-utility player who made headlines in 2022, headlines the list of five players, confirmed by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. Left-handed pitchers Brandon Walter and Chris Murphy, infielder David Hamilton and outfielder Wilyer Abreu were the other players added to the 40-man roster.
Rafaela has a chance to break through to the big leagues as soon as 2023, making him an easy choice to protect. The 22-year-old hit .299/.342/.538 with 21 home runs and 28 steals between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, and ranks as the Red Sox’s No. 4 prospect, per SoxProspects.com. He’s already considered an elite defender, excelling in center field while also playing the two corner outfield positions, as well as shortstop and second base in 2022. Rafaela received plenty of praise following his breakthrough campaign, from manager Alex Cora and those who voted on minor-league awards.
Walter and Murphy were both slam dunks as well, with the Red Sox in need of added pitching talent on the big-league roster. Walter, 26, went 3-3 with a 3.59 ERA and an absurd strikeout-to-walk ratio (75-5) in 57 2/3 innings across Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester. A neck injury ended his season in June. Murphy, 24, went 7-11 with a 4.03 ERA in Double A and Triple A in 2022.
Hamilton and Abreu were less obvious candidates, but both bring elite traits to the 40-man roster. Hamilton, 25, was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Hunter Renfroe deal and hit .251/.338/.402 with 70 steals while spending the entire season in Double A. He tied Jacoby Ellsbury’s franchise record with those steals and is viewed as a potential bench option should he continue to improve on defense. Abreu, 23, was acquired from the Houston Astros in the Christian Vázquez trade and hit .247/.399/.435 with 19 homers, 31 steals and 114 walks (second most among minor-league hitters).
The Red Sox will need to make subsequent moves before the protections become official.
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