Cubs Acquire Coello from Red Sox
The Cubs acquired RHP Robert Coello from the Boston Red Sox yesterday, in exchange for minor league 2B Tony Thomas. Coello had been Designated for Assignment by the Red Sox last Wednesday to make room on their 40-man roster after the Sox signed free-agent RHP Alfredo Aceves.
The Red Sox were in a bit of bind with Coello because he is presently a Draft-Excluded Player (was added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 15th) and thus could not be sent to the minors (outrighted or optioned) any earlier than March 11th (20 days prior to MLB Opening Day). So the Red Sox had to either trade Coello or release him, and they had to make the decision within 10 days of placing him on the DFA list.
Like Carlos Marmol and Randy Wells, Coello was orginally a catcher. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round of the 2004 Rule 4 Draft out of Okaloosa-Walton CC, but signed too late to get into game action that season. He then spent the entire 2005 season on the Disabled List with a rib cage injury, before getting released by the Reds at the end Minor League Camp 2006. He then signed with the Los Angeles Angels, and was converted to pitcher at AZ Instructs post-2006. He spent the 2007 season at EXST and with the AZL Angels (1.37 ERA and 1.14 WHIP), before qualifying as a Rule 55 minor league FA post-2007 by virtue of having been released previously in his career.
Coello moved to independent ball IN 2008, pitching for Calgary and Edmonton in the Golden Baseball League. The Red Sox THEN signed him to a minor league contract, and he spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons pitching in the Red Sox farm system, with the Red Sox Hi-A Carolina League club at Salem in 2009 (2.05 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 83 K in just 66 IP), and at AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket in 2010 (combined 3.86 ERA and 1.17 WHIP while leading all BoSox minor leaguers in strikeouts with 130 K in 107 IP), before getting a September call-up to the big leagues, where he posted a 4.76 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in just six MLB games.
Coello pitched in winter ball post-2010, spending time in both the Domincan Winter League (DWL) with Licey and in the Mexican Pacific League (LMP) with Guasave, going a combined 2-5 with a 5.25 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP, and a .239 OppBA in 17 games (37.2 IP).
Although he was a part-time starter at AA and AAA (and in winter ball) in 2010, Coello probably projects as an MLB reliever. He has all three of his minor league options left.
2B Tony Thomas was the Cubs 3rd round draft pick out of Florida State in June 2007, after hitting 430/522/733 (including a 35-game hitting streak) while earning ACC Player of the Year honors. He spent the past two seasons at AA Tennessee, and has hit a combined 269/342/438 with 78 SB (27 CS) in 405 minor league games. He rapped out 29 doubles, 11 triples, and 11 HR last year at Tennessee, in what was his best offensive season so far in pro ball.
The 24-year old Thomas is a fast runner and a streaky hitter with some pop, but he is also a below-average defensive player without the arm to play anywhere but 2B (or maybe LF). He came into Cubs Minor League Camp at Fitch Park last March as the hands-down favorite to win the AAA #1 2B job, but he played himself right back to AA with poor defensive play and a series of base-running gaffes.