12/16/2002 2:27 pm ET
Red Sox add depth via Rule 5 Draft
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With his eye on some bullpen bargains, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein selected a pair of left-handers in Monday's Rule 5 Draft who will contend for setup roles in manager Grady Little's bullpen.
In all, the Sox selected three players in the Rule 5 Draft. The lefties, both 25 years old, were Javier Lopez and Matt White. The other selection was outfielder Adrian Brown, who has played part of the last six seasons with the Pirates and has a .261 career average in 408 Major League games.
Lopez had been with the Diamondbacks organization the last five years. He's a submariner who figures to be used almost exclusively against left-handed hitters.
"He's a left-handed submarine guy who dropped down a year ago," said Epstein. "He's devastating on left-handed hitters. He's going to come to camp with a chance to win a job. He's a lefty specialist."
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lopez hails from Puerto Rico and pitched for Virginia in college. He limited left-handed hitters to a .117 average at Double-A El Paso in 2002.
White comes over from the Indians, where he pitched the last five years in their minor league system. He began as a starter, but recently converted to the bullpen, which should greatly enhance his chances to get to the Major Leagues.
"His stuff has really gotten better in Winter Ball," Epstein said. "His average fastball is 93. He'll be in the mix as a lefty in the pen as well. Those two guys will be battling each other with the rest of our lefties in camp."
Increasing Boston's need for lefty setup help is the possibility that power southpaw Alan Embree could move into the closer's role if the Red Sox don't find another alternative to replace Ugueth Urbina.
Brown has a legitimate shot to be Boston's backup center fielder. That was a need the Sox identified this winter, largely because they feel Johnny Damon was overused last season.
He is a switch hitter who will be 29 when Spring Training begins.
"We see [Brown] as an extra outfielder in the Big Leagues right now," Epstein said. "He's athletic, he can run, he's a switch-hitter, good defensive center fielder. He fits right in with us."
The Sox lost two players in the Draft. Lefty Wil Ledezma -- who pitched most recently for Triple-A Pawtucket -- was taken by the Tigers with the fourth pick, and right-hander Jerome Gamble, who was with single-A Augusta in '02, was picked by the Reds.
There was another transaction involving the Sox as well. Epstein acquired infielder/outfielder Cesar Crespo from the Padres for minor league infielder Luis Cruz. Crespo gives the Sox depth at second, third and short, as well as all three outfield slots. Epstein is familiar with the 23-year-old Crespo -- who has played 80 Major League games over the last two seasons -- from his days in San Diego's front office.
"He's a very good defensive center fielder. He plays second base, he plays short, third, all three outfield spots," said Epstein. "He's kind of a super utility guy. He can also run and has some on-base skills, a little bit of pop. He's a guy you love to have in your system. He fills that role that Bryant Nelson gave us last year."
In addition, the two players to be named later in Boston's trade with the Reds for Todd Walker were announced. Cincinnati receives third baseman Tony Blanco and right-hander Josh Thigpen.
Blanco was once considered a high level prospect for the Sox, but a shoulder injury hindered his development.
Thigpen pitched for Augusta in 2002, and was recently rated one of Boston's top 10 prospects by Baseball America.
In the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, Boston landed righties Elvis Dejesus and Junior Herndon, lefty Alex Carbajal and outfielder Jeremy Owens.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.