Several top Red Sox prospects are on the way to McCoy Stadium.
According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox plan to add a host of their top prospects to their 60-man player pool. Among those on their way to Pawtucket are middle infielder Jeter Downs (acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade), outfielder Jarren Duran, righthanders Bryan Mata and Tanner Houck, and lefthander Jay Groome.
The purpose of the alternate spring training site is to give players who are in the 60-player pool — but not on the big league roster — a space where they can remain game-ready to provide depth for the big league team (something that can be accomplished through workouts and intrasquad games) and where they can develop and train under the supervision of Red Sox staff members.
Downs, Duran, Mata, and Houck all seemed like near-locks to be added. All finished the 2019 season in the upper levels of the minors, with Houck reaching Triple A Pawtucket and Downs, Duran, and Mata all finishing the year in Double A. All were in big league camp this year at spring training.
Groome has never pitched above Single A Greenville, and he’s pitched just four innings since 2017 as a result of Tommy John surgery in early 2018. But that same injury history for the No. 12 overall pick in the 2016 draft contributed to the decision to add him to the player pool at McCoy Stadium, given the need for him to develop under the oversight of team instructors, and the need to compete and be evaluated against top competition.
The prospects who are heading directly to McCoy will be joined, starting soon, by players who are reassigned from the training camp taking place at Fenway Park and Boston College.
This winter, the Red Sox have to decide whether to add Groome to the 40-man roster or make him available to other teams in the Rule 5 draft, a status that contributed to the desire to see him in the coming months.
Another top prospect, third baseman Bobby Dalbec, is already in Boston for Red Sox training camp.
Triston Casas, a first baseman ranked by Baseball America as the top Red Sox prospect, is not among the first wave of invitees to the 60-player pool. Casas, a 2018 first-rounder, spent almost all of 2019 in Single A Greenville.
He won’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2022 season, and given that he doesn’t have Groome’s injury history, there was less urgency to adding him to the 60-player pool for development purposes. That said, the Sox could reconsider that stance later.