Red Sox Rumors: Breaking Down Boston’s UDFA Haul After 2020 MLB Draft

Fordham's' Jake MacKenzie runs to first during an NCAA baseball game against NJIT on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in New York. Fordham won 3-1. (AP Photo/Vera Nieuwenhuis)

Vera Nieuwenhuis/Associated Press

Given the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLB draft went just five rounds this season. That meant many teams hit the undrafted free-agent market hard.

The Boston Red Sox were among them. 

They signed 12 undrafted free agents: eight pitchers, two catchers and two infielders. Let’s take a closer look at those additions.

Pitchers

Jacinto Arredondo, RHP, University of Tampa

Jordan DiValerio, RHP, St. Joseph’s

Graham Hoffman, RHP, University of South Florida

Cole Milam, RHP, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville

Henry Nunez-Rijo, RHP, Puerto Rico High (Guaynabo, P.R.)

Merfy Andrew, RHP, St. Thomas University

Brian Van Belle, RHP, Miami

Maceo Campbell, RHP, Longwood University 

The highlights of this group include Jacinto Arredondo and Brian Van Belle. 

Arredondo posted a 1.95 ERA over the past two seasons as a late-inning reliever for the University of Tampa. He was also named the MVP of the NCAA Division II Baseball Tournament in 2019. His MLB upside lies in a fastball that can touch the mid-90s and a unique hop-step slide delivery.

“The hop-slide step thing, I grew up a catcher my whole life,” he told Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. “I’ve always been known for my arm. So they put me in (to pitch) in a game when I was 13 years old. It just happened and it stuck. … I just worked hard and the hop step just came. I can’t even stop doing it.”

Van Belle was ranked as Baseball America‘s No. 16 undrafted senior following the MLB draft. He went 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA in four starts this past year and was 10-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 2019.

Van Belle @BrianVanBelle

Extremely grateful for this opportunity! LET’S GO @RedSox!!! https://t.co/xepyjWBzrJ

Henry Nunez-Rijo flashes upside with a 93 mph fastball to go along with a strong changeup and curveball, while Graham Hoffman was signed on pure potential after just 20.1 college innings due to Tommy John surgery last season.

Catchers

Juan Montero, C, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Guarabo, P.R.)

Jose Garcia, C/1B, Florida International

Ian Browne of MLB.com offered more info on Juan Montero: “The Red Sox need more catching in their system, and Montero is an impressive athlete known for his bat speed. If his defense develops, this signing could be a real find. Interestingly, current Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez also came up through the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.”

The Red Sox are plenty familiar with Jose Garcia, who they drafted in 2017. He chose to go to Florida International instead, hitting .278 with 25 homers and 90 RBI in three seasons.

Boston saw potential three years ago, and Garcia did little to dissuade it of that evaluation. 

Infielder

Jake MacKenzie, INF, Fordham

Cuba Bess, 1B, Grand Canyon University

Jake MacKenzie hit 299 with 11 homers, 70 RBI and 77 stolen bases in three seasons with Fordham. He also hit .291 with three homers in 30 games during Cape Cod League play last summer.

Fordham Baseball @FordhamBaseball

Congratulations to our own Jake MacKenzie! Best of luck with the #RedSox! https://t.co/KRSaFjzim5

Cuba Bess was awesome in 2019, hitting .341 with 11 homers and 40 RBI. He kept that going in the short 2020 season, hitting .444 in five games. 

Bess believes he’ll be playing for the Red Sox before long, as he told Patti Arnold of the Daily Sentinel:

“For me I just think that age is playing a factor. The Red Sox organization, and myself included, see me as someone that’s going to be in the big leagues in the near future. I was the first person they called when they were able to call people for free-agent signings, so just knowing in my heart that the Red Sox really wanted me to be a part of their organization. I had a good four years at GCU and it’s time to move on.”

The Red Sox will be hoping he will be big league-ready soon, too.

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