Red Sox

Red Sox relief prospect Durbin Feltman compared to All-Star closer by American League scout

Red Sox relief prospect Durbin Feltman compared to All-Star closer by American League scout

If 21-year-old relief prospect Durbin Feltman lives up to expectations, the bullpen won't be an area of concern much longer for the Red Sox.

Boston's third-round pick of last June's MLB draft has turned heads at camp this spring. In fact, one American League scout even compared Feltman to a three-time All-Star closer after watching him take the mound in a minor-league game Monday.

"He was 94 [mph] with plus downer curveball," the AL scout said, per WEEI. "Good aggressiveness. Arm action not the same, more effort, but the fastball and curveball shape remind me of a young [Mark] Melancon."

The name "Mark Melancon" probably won't excite many Red Sox fans. After all, Melancon's stint with Boston in 2012 couldn't have gone much worse as he posted a career-high ERA of 6.20 in 41 appearances.

But other than that one nightmare season, Melancon's 10-year career has mostly been a successful one. He had a 1.80 ERA and 147 saves in his first four seasons after leaving Boston.

Feltman has a long way to go to make the big-league club, never mind become an All-Star closer for the Red Sox. The TCU product has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game and hasn't thrown a pitch above the Single-A Salem level. Still, the No. 12 ranked prospect in the Sox' system could be counted on to pitch some big innings down the line if Boston's current bullpen plan falls apart.

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Rafael Devers rejoins Red Sox workouts after COVID-19 scare

Rafael Devers rejoins Red Sox workouts after COVID-19 scare

Rafael Devers didn't work out with his teammates at Fenway Park for the first week of summer camp because the Red Sox feared he had been exposed to COVID-19.

After three tests came up negative, however, Devers was cleared to return and joined his teammates at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for live batting practice.

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He had been working out at Boston College with other possible positive cases, manager Ron Roenicke said, out of an abundance of caution.

"We had some guys that were possibly exposed to somebody with coronavirus," Roenicke said via Zoom on Wednesday. "This group has tested negative three times. We will continue to test them, just because we're being overly cautious. That's kind of why we've separated some of the guys from the later workouts."

Devers hopes to bat in Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage, Roenicke said, because he's anxious to lock in his timing at the plate against big league pitching. If all goes well, he'd likely play third base in Friday's scrimmage.

"He's concerned about seeing velocity," Roenicke said. "We were able to do that over there with him with the pitching machine in the cage. He'll do that again and see live BP today, which is helpful, and then if he's ready for a couple of at-bats, we'll have him in the intrasquad tomorrow."

Added Roenicke: "I know with him, he's a little concerned, because he's trying to catch up and make sure he's getting all the work in that he needs."

There's no overstating Devers' importance to the lineup after a breakout 2019 in which he hit .311 with 32 homers, 115 RBIs, and a league-leading 54 doubles and 359 total bases.

With Mookie Betts in Los Angeles, Devers is expected to be one of the driving forces in the lineup, alongside Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.

 

Alex Verdugo already impressing Red Sox teammate Xander Bogaerts in camp

Alex Verdugo already impressing Red Sox teammate Xander Bogaerts in camp

The Boston Red Sox didn't acquire any top prospects or young stars in the trade that sent former American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this year.

The most MLB-ready player in the deal was outfielder Alex Verdugo, who could be an important part of Boston's lineup during the shortened 60-game season.

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Verdugo hit .294 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI in 106 games for the Dodgers last season. A back injury was expected to delay his readiness for the 2020 MLB season had it begun as scheduled in late March, but with the COVID-19 pandemic delaying Opening Day to July 24, the 24-year-old outfielder is now healthy and ready to get his Red Sox career going.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is impressed with what he's seen from Verdugo so far.

“I saw him take BP yesterday,” Bogaerts told reporters Tuesday in a Zoom call, per MassLive. “He was hitting that ball pretty good, to be honest. I was watching him from the top of my suite. He came here and he was hurt and he was getting treatments, so I didn’t see a lot of him while he was with us (in spring training). Obviously, only with the Dodgers. But he seemed pretty good and obviously that’s going to be a guy that we lean heavy on. And he’s healthy. So the more guys that are healthy, the better.”

The Red Sox should still have one of the best lineups in the AL this season, even without Betts' bat.

Boston's lineup consists of some really good hitters, most notably Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers. The Sox might have to slug their way to a postseason berth given the concerns over their pitching staff, particularly the starting rotation. A healthy and productive Verdugo would be a major asset for the Red Sox as they try to get off to a fast start once the regular season begins later this month.