The Red Sox spent $100,000 on a lottery ticket on Thursday when they selected righthander Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft.
By virtue of their record last season, the Sox had the fourth pick of the draft and grabbed the 24-year-old. Now Whitlock will get a chance to make the team in spring training.
The 6-foot-5-inch Whitlock hasn’t appeared in a game since July 3, 2019. He had Tommy John elbow surgery later that month and is expected to be ready for spring training.
“All things are trending upwards. He’s on a normal progression leading into this upcoming season,” Sox pro scouting director Gus Quattlebaum said.
“We’re really excited to land someone that we think has upside as a potential starter or, at a minimum, can assume some volume in a role either out of the pen or as a starter.”
The Red Sox used medical records, scouting reports and analytic data to inform their decision. Instagram helped, too.
Whitlock has posted three videos of his post-surgery workouts and in the latest one was throwing 94-mile-per-hour sinkers.
“We’ll take any video we can get,” Quattlebaum said.
With the distinct possibility of spring training being pushed back, Whitlock would gain more time to build arm strength.
“Maybe that plays in our hands a little bit, too,” Quattlebaum said.
Whitlock is a former 18th-round pick in the amateur draft out of Alabama-Birmingham. He is 12-8 with a 2.41 earned run average over three seasons and 42 games (38 starts) in the minors. He was listed among the Yankees’ top 20 prospects prior to the 2019 season.
Whitlock was 3-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 14 starts in Double A before his injury. He averaged a modest 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings but had a high groundball-to-flyball rate (2.4). He could ultimately profile as a long reliever/swingman type.
“He keeps the ball on the ground,” Quattlebaum said. “So the way we defend, the way we shift, I think that can play well in our hands.”
In addition to his sinker, Whitlock throws a changeup and a four-seam fastball.
“He can execute with them. We had really good feedback on pitch data and guys able to locate,” Quattlebaum said.
Under Rule 5 rules, Whitlock must be retained on the major league roster [or the injured list] the entire season or be offered back to New York.
This is the second consecutive year the Sox have taken a player in the draft. They made what so far appears to be a good move by selecting infielder Jonathan Arauz last December.
Arauz, 22, appeared in 25 games and hit .250, albeit with little power and no stolen bases. But he was a solid defender and impressed teammates and coaches with his temperament and approach.
The Sox selected two other players in the minor-league phase of the draft: first baseman Tyreque Reed (Rangers) and righthander Kaleb Ort (Yankees).
Reed, 23, is a 250-pound power hitter who hit 18 home runs in 359 at-bats in 2019. He has struck out in 27 percent of his career at-bats.
At 6-4 and 240 pounds, Ort is a power reliever who has averaged 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings over three seasons but lacks command. He reached Double A in 2019.
Ort, 28, didn’t get drafted and was signed by the Yankees out of an independent league in 2017.
The Red Sox re-signed outfielder Cesar Puello on a minor league deal, according to a major league source. Puello — whom the Sox signed to a minor league deal in February — appeared in five big league games for the Sox this year, going 3 for 8. In 66 big league games with the Sox, Marlins, and Angels since his debut in 2017, the 29-year-old has hit .246/.354/.347.
Alex Speier of the Globe staff contributed to this report.