The Boston Red Sox lost two intriguing pitching prospects during the 2023 Rule 5 draft on Wednesday.
Left-hander Shane Drohan, Boston's No. 19 ranked prospect, was selected by the Chicago White Sox with the fourth overall pick. The 24-year-old was arguably the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization early in the 2023 season. He dominated at Double-A Portland, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.32 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 34 innings.
Drohan earned a promotion to Triple-A Worcester, where he did not see the same success. In 89 innings for the WooSox, he amassed a 6.47 ERA with a 1.87 WHIP. His lack of command was a major contributor to his struggles as he averaged 6.4 walks per nine innings in 21 games (19 starts).
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Two picks later, the St. Louis Cardinals plucked hard-throwing right-hander Ryan Fernandez out of the Red Sox' system. Fernandez's 2023 season was similar to Drohan's. The 25-year-old started the campaign with a 1.77 ERA through 20 1/3 innings for the Sea Dogs but fell apart at Worcester, where his ERA ballooned to 6.16 through 30 2/3 innings.
Both Drohan and Fernandez have shown tremendous upside, but the Red Sox opted not to protect them in the Rule 5 draft after their lackluster Triple-A stints. If either pitcher is removed from their new team's active roster during the 2024 season, they will be returned to Boston.
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Later in the Rule 5 draft, the Red Sox acquired right-hander Justin Slaten from the New York Mets in exchange for lefty Ryan Ammons. Slaten notched a 2.83 ERA in 40 games between the Texas Rangers' Double-A and Triple-A teams last season. He is expected to compete for a bullpen spot with the big-league club in spring training.