Prospect Jimenez added to spring roster

Chavis hits walk-off HR; Verdugo doubles in debut; Bogaerts starting to throw

March 5th, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox added another top prospect to Spring Training on Friday with the arrival of outfielder Gilberto Jimenez.

Signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez has continued to build excitement with his wide assortment of skills.

The 20-year-old was ranked fifth among Red Sox prospects by MLB Pipeline last year and is considered to be one of the best pure athletes in the system.

In 59 games for Class A Short-Season Lowell in 2019, Jimenez slashed .359/.393/.470 with three homers and 19 RBIs while adding 14 stolen bases.

The switch-hitter is known for his game-changing speed, strong throwing arm and plus-range.

“This is the first time I’ve seen him,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Strong kid. Strong. Looking forward for him to go out there and learn from the guys. It should be fun to see him run around the bases.”

In 2018, Jimenez was named the Latin Program Position Player of the Year. Due to the pandemic, he wasn’t able to play in the Minors in '20.

He joins highly touted prospects Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Bryan Mata, Tanner Houck and Jay Groome as a player the Red Sox want to take a look at during Major League camp.

“Yeah, I mean, just like the other kids,” said Cora. “To be able to have him here, work out with us, learn the game and hopefully he can get some at-bats and go out there and see what he can do.”

Jimenez is the 34th non-roster invitee in camp.

Walk-off confusion
When Michael Chavis smashed a two-run homer to right-center with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Red Sox a 6-5 win, there was some confusion on whether the game was over.

While the teams had agreed ahead of time to play seven innings, it’s essentially up to the managers this spring how to handle the final inning in shortened games. For example, teams have played the bottom of the seventh inning even when the home team is ahead.

“No, I was just checking with [Rays manager Kevin Cash] if he wanted him to keep going to finish the inning,” said Cora. “We’re here trying to get people better and to get their repetition. We knew the game was over, but with everything that is going on, just to see if they wanted to continue so he gets his pitch count wherever he needed. But Cashy decided that was it, it was over.”

For Chavis, it was a big moment considering he is fighting for his roster spot and he made an error at first base in the sixth.

“That was a good one. Check swing on the previous one and then he barrels that ball and he goes to right-center,” said Cora. “That’s the thing about Michael, he needs to understand that he can hit the ball out of the ballpark anywhere and doesn’t have to be pull-side. For him to be able to get that big hit … he was very upset at the error. For him to come up in that situation, that’s actually good for him.”

Verdugo says hello with double
Alex Verdugo didn’t play his first Spring Training game until Friday because he needed extra time in the cage to get his swing right.

The methodical progression seemed to pay off as Verdugo ripped a double in his first at-bat.

“He’s an interesting person to say the least,” Cora said. “His baseball IQ is way up there. I think he understands his body and we talk about it in the offseason. We’ve been talking about it the whole time. If that’s what gets him locked in, so be it. That’s the way we see it.”

Verdugo spent most of his time in the leadoff spot for the Red Sox last season, but batted second on Friday. Enrique Hernández again batted first, as Cora has been giving him an extended look in the top spot in the batting order.

“Alex is going to hit in the first third of the lineup,” said Cora. “He’ll hit up there. The way I see it, Alex is going to lead off or hit second.”

Bogaerts starts throwing
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who hasn’t played in a game yet this spring due to right shoulder soreness, has made enough progress that he’s started to throw again.

“Yeah, he threw yesterday,” said Cora. “He’s throwing again today. He feels good.”

It turns out Bogaerts has a tell when he’s feeling good physically.

“Another one about Xander, when he starts talking soccer, that’s a good sign with him, too. He’s getting locked in,” said Cora.

Medical updates, and an arrival
Triston Casas, who flew back to Boston earlier this week to have a non-baseball medical issue checked out, is back in Fort Myers. Cora should soon have a timetable on when he will be cleared to return to action.

“We’ll have probably more in a little bit. The hope is that he will join us sooner rather than later,” Cora said. “It seems things are trending in the right direction, which is great.”

The Red Sox are still waiting for more information on another big prospect in righty Bryan Mata, who underwent an MRI on his shoulder after feeling discomfort in his triceps.

Outfielder Franchy Cordero, who was placed on the COVID-19 injured list at the start of camp, passed his physical on Friday. He should participate in his first workout with his new team on Saturday.

Up next
With Nathan Eovaldi scratched from his start due to missing a day in camp earlier this week for personal reasons, the Red Sox will go with a bullpen game on Saturday against the Twins. The lineup will feature several regulars, including Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Hernández and Hunter Renfroe. First pitch at JetBlue Park is set for 1:05 p.m. ET. Watch all the action live on MLB.TV and MLB Network.