New Red Sox Pickup Arrives ‘On Time’

BOSTON—The Red Sox dealt Clay Buchholz to the Phillies primarily to shed the $13.5 million he is owed in 2017, yet the player Boston received in the exchange was one whom they targeted for an intriguing, if unusual, skill set.

Second baseman Josh Tobias has a profile that doesn’t fit easily into any single category. He hit .297 as a Florida junior yet went undrafted, in no small part due to injuries as a sophomore and junior.

A natural righthanded batter, Tobias began to switch-hit as a senior and produced a .355/.435/.524 line in 65 games. Philadelphia selected him in the 10th round of the 2015 draft and signed him for just $10,000.

Tobias’ squat, 5-foot-9 frame is atypical for an infielder, and some evaluators question what position suits him. He has the arm for third base and showed at least some raw materials—including a quick transfer—at second base in 2016, his first full year at the position. Other scouts forecast an ability to play the outfield.

Even as defensive questions loom, one evaluator focused chiefly on what the 24-year-old Tobias does well.

“He can hit, man,” the evaluator said. “He doesn’t have the most cosmetic of actions, but good hitters are always on time. He was always on time from both sides of the plate.”

In his first exposure to full-season ball in 2016, Tobias hit .291/.362/.422 with nine home runs and 31 doubles in 127 games. He spent most of the year at low Class A Lakewood prior to a late-July bump to high Class A Clearwater. He remains much stronger from his natural righthanded side.

That encouraging performance combined with the sense that Tobias has the commitment to improve (he is playing winter ball in Colombia) led the Red Sox to select Tobias from among a group of minor leaguers they discussed with Philadelphia. While his ceiling is likely that of a bat-first utility player, Tobias will add versatility to the system.

“We really like his bat,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “We think he has a chance to hit as he continues to progress up the ladder, so that’s his real plus.”


The Red Sox will once again feature a rookie-development program for prospects in January 2017 after the program took a one-year hiatus in 2016.

One scout for a National League organization described righthanded reliever Chandler Shepherd as having been “on a mission” with his three-pitch mix in the Dominican League, where he struck out six through six innings.

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