The Red Sox have inked outfielder Narciso Crook to a minor league contract, according to the transactions log at MLB.com. The 27-year-old had elected minor league free agency after being waived by the Cubs two weeks ago.
Crook, a 2013 draftee of the Reds, is headed into his 10th year in the professional ranks. That includes three seasons and just under 1000 plate appearances of Triple-A work. Crook was rewarded for his extended climb up the minor league ladder with his first big league call from the Cubs at the end of June. He only appeared in four games but picked up his first two MLB hits before being optioned back to Triple-A Iowa.
In 101 games with Iowa, Crook put together a .260/.345/.492 showing. He connected on 19 home runs and 21 doubles, with that plus power translating to solid overall numbers. He punched out at an elevated 30.3% clip, however, the continuation of career-long strikeout issues that have thus far prevented him from getting a real look against big league pitching.
Crook spent most of the year in right field, logging 539 innings there and 156 1/3 frames in left while starting just three games in center. He’s spent vastly more time in the corners than up the middle throughout his career, putting extra pressure on him to perform offensively.
The Red Sox have a fair bit of uncertainty in their outfield mix heading into 2023. Enrique Hernández and Alex Verdugo look like the favorites for playing time, with Rob Refsnyder, Jarren Duran and the recently-selected Wilyer Abreu making up the rest of the options on the 40-man roster. Hernández is an option for the middle infield as well, while Verdugo has been the subject of loose trade speculation this offseason. Boston’s sure to address the outfield in the coming months. Crook seems a long shot to crack the Opening Day roster given his lack of MLB experience but could play his way into the mix with a strong start for Triple-A Worcester.