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Tuesday, 26 March 2013 02:27

Decisions on futures of Rule 5 picks Fields, Pressly to be made soon

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As spring training comes to a close, players selected in December's Rule 5 draft are faced with great uncertainty due to the unusual rules surrounding the event. If a player selected in the draft does not stay on the claiming team's 25-man roster for the entire season, he must be offered back to his original team instead of being sent to the minors. If the claiming team wants to keep the player in their minor league system, they will have to work out a trade with the original team in order to do so.Two former Red Sox minor league pitchers are faced with this difficult situation at the moment, and decisions will be made on their futures by the end of the week. Josh Fields, claimed first overall by the Astros, and Ryan Pressly, claimed fourth by the Twins, are both being considered for major league jobs, but also could be given back to the Red Sox if they do not make the Opening Day roster.Fields, a first-round draft pick of the Mariners in 2008, was acquired by the Red Sox in the Erik Bedard deal in 2011 and spent a successful year and a half in the minors with AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket. In 2012, the 27-year old impressed in 42 relief performances split between Portland and Pawtucket, posting a 4-3 record and 2.01 ERA in 58.1 innings pitched while earning an excellent 12.0 K/9 ratio. In ten relief appearances for Houston this spring, he has a 2.79 ERA in 9.2 innings pitched, and hitters are batting .205 against him. According to reports, Fields is battling long-man Edgar Gonzalez for the Astros' final roster spot, and a decision will be made in the upcoming days.Pressly, 24, was the Red Sox' 11th round pick in the 2007 draft and has spent five years in the team's farm system. Contrary to Fields, Pressly struggled a bit in 2012, posting a 7-5 record and 5.38 ERA in 34 games with A+ Salem and AA Portland. After a rough start with Salem (6.28 ERA in 20 games), he was promoted to Portland where he impressed out of the bullpen for the rest of the year, earning a 2-2 record and 2.93 ERA in 14 relief appearances. He has had a dominant spring for Minnesota, pitching to a 0.71 ERA in 12.2 innings and holding opposing batters to a .186 batting average, and is slated to be a member of the Twins' bullpen to start the season.Because both pitchers have shown sparks of brilliance throughout their time in the Red Sox organization and this spring with their new teams, the Sox would likely love to have both players back in the system to increase the ever-crucial pool of pitching depth. In the case of Pressly, it is unlikely that he will be available to the Sox in the near future, but if he struggles during the season, may become an option. The Twins cannot send him down to the minors before offering him to the Red Sox first, and at that point, the Sox may either pay $25,000 to acquire the player or work out a trade that would allow Minnesota to stash him in their minor league system.As for Fields, the situation is a bit different. If he loses the final spot on the Astros' roster to Gonzalez, the Red Sox immediately come into play, and are faced with the same scenario as with Pressly. Because Houston seems to value Fields, the Sox would likely get a solid piece back in a trade that would allow Fields to be sent to the minors, or could accept him back for the $25,000 fee. Fields' situation should be resolved in the next couple of days, at which point he will either stay with the Astros or come back to the Red Sox, where he would start the year with AAA Pawtucket. For the latest, be sure to stay right here at CLNSRadio.com or follow Chris Cotillo on Twitter @TradeDeadliner.