Sox protect Downs, 3 more from Rule 5 Draft

November 20th, 2021

BOSTON -- In preparation for the Dec. 8 Rule 5 Draft, the Red Sox protected shortstop Jeter Downs, their No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, by adding him to the 40-man roster on Friday.

Downs was acquired by the Red Sox in the trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Dodgers on Feb. 10, 2020, along with Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong.

Boston added three other top prospects to its 40-man roster: right-handers Brayan Bello (No. 6), Josh Winckowski (No. 19) and Kutter Crawford (No. 23).

The Red Sox left two top prospects unprotected: outfielder Gilberto Jimenez (No. 10) and righty Thaddeus Ward (No. 20).

Boston’s 40-man roster is now at 37.

Players who signed with a team at 18 years old or younger and were not added to the 40-man roster within five seasons and players who signed at 19 years old and were not added within four seasons are Rule 5 Draft-eligible. Organizations pay $100,000 for the selection of a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and that player must be offered back to his former club for $50,000 if he does not remain on the 25-man roster for the complete season.

Protected from Rule 5 Draft

SS Jeter Downs, 23
Though Downs didn’t have the 2021 season the Red Sox had hoped for at Triple-A Worcester (.190/.272/.333, 14 homers), he showed his promise in the Arizona Fall League when he belted five homers in 68 at-bats. Downs was a first-round selection of the Reds (No. 32 overall) in the ’17 Draft and was traded to the Dodgers on Dec. 21, 2018, as part of a deal that sent Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds.

RHP Brayan Bello, 22
The Dominican native -- signed by the Red Sox in 2017 -- was the organization’s Starting Pitcher of the Year in ’21. He split the season between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, going 7-3 with a 3.87 ERA, 132 strikeouts and 31 walks over 95 1/3 innings.

RHP Josh Winckowski, 23
Acquired from the Mets as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi from Boston to Kansas City last offseason, Winckowski had a solid first season in the Red Sox’s organization. In 23 games -- the first 21 at Double-A Portland and the last two at Triple-A Worcester -- Winckowski went 9-4 with a 3.94 ERA, producing 101 strikeouts and only 33 walks in 112 innings.

RHP Kutter Crawford, 25
When the Red Sox were in a pinch during a COVID-19 outbreak in September, Crawford was called up to make his first Major League start against Cleveland. He made 20 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, going 6-6 with a 4.28 ERA.

Rule 5 Draft Eligible

OF Gilberto Jimenez, 21
Scouts have raved about Jimenez’s intriguing package of tools for a couple years, so it was somewhat surprising to see him left unprotected. The speedy, switch-hitting outfielder with plus bat speed hit .306 at Low-A Salem, but with only three home runs in 373 at-bats.

RHP Thaddeus Ward, 24
After undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 3, Ward returned to make two starts this season for Double-A Portland, giving up five runs and 11 hits over eight innings. Ward was a fifth-round selection by the Sox out of the University of Central Florida in the 2018 MLB Draft.