Four Minor League Arms Becoming Something to Watch for Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Pipeline

The Boston Red Sox enter play today at .500 with a 26-26 record. This offseason it was expressed that the Red Sox needed to address their pitching, the only addition they would go on to make was signing Lucas Giolito who got injured in spring training leading fans and media to speculate the Red Sox would not have a good pitching staff in 2024. They have had their share of injuries especially in the rotation having lost Bryan Bello and Nick Pivetta for a period of time, they also lost Garrett Whitlock to an oblique injury but have just learned he has an elbow injury which will lead to Tommy John surgery following a rehab assignment just a few short weeks ago. Despite all trials and tribulations to begin the 2024 season the Red Sox starting pitching rotation has been toward the top of the majors in most categories, they currently have a 2.85 ERA which is third best, a 1.07 WHIP which is also third best, a 3.62 FIP which is fourth best, a 8.4 K/9 which is 13th, and a 2.3 BB/9 which is fifth best. All that success is to be attributed to pitching coach Andrew Bailey, they are led by Tanner Houck who is seventh in ERA with a 1.94, 22nd in strikeouts with 62, and seventh in WHIP with a 0.95. Besides their current staff, which includes Bello, Pivetta, Houck, Kutter Crawford, and Cooper Criswell, they also have four arms in the minor leagues that are starting to impress. They are Richard Fitts, Luis Perales, Zach Penrod, and Wikelman Gonzalez.

RHP – Richard Fitts – Worcester Red Sox

Fitts was drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. He spent time at Single-A, High-A, and Double-A for them before being traded to the Red Sox this past offseason in the trade for Alex Verdugo. Fitts is ranked as the eighth overall prospect by ITD. In his first season in 2022 he made 22 starts going 7-8 with a 3.70 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP, and 131 strikeouts in 112 innings. In 2023 he pitched at Double-A making 27 starts going 11-5 with a 3.48 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, and 163 strikeouts in 152.2 innings. This season through nine appearances with eight of those as start for Triple-A Worcester he is 3-1 with a 4.35 ERA, a 1.40 WHIP, and 34 strikeouts in 41.1 innings. Don’t be surpised if he’s called-up at some point in 2024.

RHP – Luis Perales – Portland Sea Dogs

Perales was signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent in July of 2019 out of Venezuela at the age of 17. He currently is the ninth ranked prospect in the Red Sox system by ITD. He started out pitching in for the Red Sox team in the Dominican Summer League in 2021 making on start going two innings giving up one run on one hit; he walked one and struck out three. In 2022 he pitched for the Red Sox rookie league team and Single-A Salem appearing in 13 games with 11 of those coming as starts, he went 0-2 with a 1.77 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. In 2023 he pitched for Salem and made the jump to High-A Greenville making 21 starts going 4-7 with a 3.91 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, and 115 strikeouts in 89.2 innings. This season he started at Greenville going 1-2 in seven starts with a 3.42 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP, and 46 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. He has now been called up to Double-A Portland as he continues his climb up the ranks for the Red Sox, he will be a name to watch moving forward.

LHP – Zach Penrod – Worcester Red Sox

Penrod is a journeyman who started out with the Texas Rangers in 2018 where he pitched for ther rookie ball team, he made four appearances with three of those coming as starts, he went 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA, a 1.54 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. He ended up playing Independant ball in 2021 and 2022 where he made 27 appearances with 17 of those coming as starts going 4-7 with a 6.06 ERA, a 1.65 WHIP, and 105 strikeouts in 89 innings. In 2023 he joined the Red Sox pitching at High-A Greenville making four starts going 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP, and 20 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. This season he started at Double-A Portland and he’s impressed making seven starts going 4-0 with a 2.80 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and 53 strikeouts in 35.1 innings which has led to him getting called up to Triple-A Worcester.

RHP – Wikelman Gonzalez – Portland Sea Dogs

Gonzalez was signed by the Red Sox in July of 2018 as an international free agent out of Venezuela. He is currently ranked as the Red Sox fifth overall prospect by ITD. He made his debut in 2019 with the Red Sox Dominican Summer League making 14 starts going 0-3 with a 3.30 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. In 2020 he didn’t pitch due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cancelled the minor league season. In 2021 he was back this time pitching for the Red Sox rookie league team and Single-A Salem, he made 12 appearances with 11 of those coming as starts he is 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and 66 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. In 2022 he pitched at Salem and High-A Greenville in 25 starts he went 4-3 with a 4.21 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, and 121 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. Last season he pitched for Greenville and made his debut at Double-A with Portland making 25 starts between the two with a 9-4 record, a 4.53 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, and 168 strikeouts in 111.1 innings. This season he’s been pitching at Portland making eight appearances with seven of those coming as starts, he is 3-1 with a 6.51 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, and 33 strikeouts in 27.2 innings. Gonzalez has swing and miss stuff but what he needs to wrok on is his walk rate, which this season is 6.2 BB/9, the lowest he’s had in the Red Sox organization besides 2019 which he made four 14 starts was 2021 when he had a 2.7 BB/9. If he can limit those walks he’ll be working his way to Boston in a few years.

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