There is no doubt that the MLB annual draft of amateur talent is not as sexy as the NFL or NBA versions, which are full of college players all ready well known to much of the sporting public. But with the advent of live televised coverage of the first two rounds of the baseball draft on the MLB Network the last few years it is easier to follow along. June 6 is this year's draft opening night.
And for we Red Sox fans this year's draft is the "reward" for the terrible finish to the 2012 season. The Red Sox will pick at #7, which is the first time they have picked this high in 20 years. At that time the Red Sox took high school outfielder Trot Nixon. Only one other time in the entire history of this draft, which dates back to the 1960's have the Sox drafted higher than 7, a #3 which was pitcher Mike Garman. And since the Red Sox front office and the fans hope to not draft this high again for a long, long time it behooves the Sox cash in on this year's #7. Later on we will discuss some of the names most associated with the Sox number 7 pick so far.
This is the order of the top ten picks in 2013:
7. Red Sox
10. Blue Jays
Based on the consensus of a number of different rankings and mock drafts, here is a list of the expected top baker's dozen players to be considered in the top ten picks. Not necessarily in order, but instead in three groupings of players:
" The Top Three"
1. Mark Appel RHP Stanford Univ.
2. Jonathan Gray RHP U of Oklahoma
3. Kris Bryant 3B U San Diego
Next Five College Players
1. Colin Moran 3B UNC
2. Sean Manaea* LHP Indiana State
3. Ryne Stanek RHP Arkansas
4. Braden Shipley RHP Nevada
5. DJ Peterson 3B/1B New Mexico
Top Five High School Players
1. Kohl Stewart RHP Houston, TX
2. Clint Frazier OF Loganville, GA
3. Austin Meadows OF Loganville, GA
4. Trey Ball LHP Indiana
5. Reese McGuire C Washington
There have been another name or three mentioned near the end of the top ten, but this is the consensus top dozen. The reason there are thirteen names in our top dozen is the same reason there is an asterisk by the name Sean Manaea. He is a hard throwing lefty who absolutely dazzled the Cape Cod League last summer. He left there in the running to be the overall top pick in this draft. But his junior season at Indiana State had not matched the Cape results, and then came whispers of hip soreness. Then as the scouts flocked to his start last week, he was scratched with "left shoulder soreness". At this point, unless he can pitch again before the draft he may plunge down the draft, maybe out of the first round.
As far as the top three, nearly everyone expects Appel and Gray (or Gray and Appel) to be the first two picks, with the Cubs gladly taking whoever Houston does not. Despite the long standing need for pitching in Colorado, Bryant is such an outstanding power hitter that the Rockies will take him. There is only one seemingly plausible scenario that could upset this apple cart. There are more and more rumors that Houston may try to cut a deal ( technically illegal, but still done) with someone other than the top 3 to save some slot money for later in the draft. UNC 3B Colin Moran is the most oft mentioned candidate.
But as we try to narrow down on the Red Sox options we will assume the top three are out of their reach. But rest assured if any of these three make it to #7 by some fluke, the Red Sox will say thank you very much and grab them. In addition to the Top 3, there are two other names on the list who generally are considered lower than #7 picks, unless a team looking to cut a below slot deal takes them earlier than expected. The two are Reese McGuire and DJ Peterson. The Sox are not expected to be the team to cut that type of deal with them. And assuming the Red Sox do not risk their high pick on the injured Manaea ( which is a low probability, but not entirely out of the question, I think), that leaves us with seven names for the Sox to consider.
There have been two schools of thought floated by the draft gurus about Boston. One is they want a college pitcher, almost no matter what, because high school picks are riskier and a college pitcher taken this high could be big league ready in two years or so. The other school of thought is this once in a generation ( hopefully) high pick must be cashed in on the highest ceiling prospect no matter of risk. Kind of an all in attitude. I personally subscribe to this approach.
Our list of seven includes only two college pitchers, and in his latest mock draft, Keith Law of ESPN has Boston taking Ryne Stanek. Without the injury, Stanek has followed a similar path to Manaea. He was considered in the top four picks, but a so-so junior season has raised some questions. The scouts say he has overpowering stuff, but has command issues and some mechanics that need some refinement as well. One report I read recently said he may have a bullpen future (although most say a #2 or #3 starter is his ceiling) and the scout compared him to Daniel Bard.
Braden Shipley is intriguing due to the "freshness" of his arm. He was a shortstop until last year when he began to pitch as a sophomore in college. He is described a extremely athletic and throws around 96.
As far as the high schoolers, Kohl Stewart is a Texas schoolboy pitcher/quarterback who has a full ride to Texas A&M as a QB. Most scouts feel despite the high regard for Appel and Gray, that Stewart is actually the best pitcher in the draft. Jim Callis of Baseball America, for one says Stewart is the guy most coveted by Boston. ( But he mock drafts them as taking Frazier- Stewart to the Twins)
The two high outfielders ( and yes there are both from the same town in Georgia, but different high schools) Frazier and Meadows have both been considered top 5 type prospects. Frazier in particular is considered to have off the chart bat speed. Meadows has stumbled a bit in his senior year, and at this point Frazier is considered the better of the two. Frazier is another name rumored to be on Houston's radar as a possible below slot signing at #1.
Trey Ball started his senior year with the scouts split 50/50 if he should be drafted as a power hitting outfielder or power pitcher. His fastball has risen to around 93 this season and almost all now see Ball as a pitcher. A Henry Owens who throws harder as one scout called him.
So if the top three go as expected, which other three will be off the board for Boston? Let's check some speculation.
4. Twins. Two rumored paths here most often. One is the Twins will cut a below slot deal with Reese McGuire. The other is the player the Twins really, really want here is Kohl Stewart. The McGuire deal would be a boon to Boston, as most people feel if Stewart does not go here he will make it to 7. I am not sure the Twins will want to overpay to get Stewart.
5. Indians- Two names also mentioned here Colin Moran and Braden Shipley. The fact that Manaea and Stanek have slipped hurts the Red Sox because those two could have been the 4/5 picks pushing the entire list of 7( except Stanek) names down to Boston's pick. I think Cleveland would be desperate for pitching, but Moran is the name heard most often.
6. Marlins. This could be a big break for Boston as almost all expect the Marlins to cut a deal with some one down the board, likely DJ Peterson, or even someone further down the board. Shipley is mentioned here some, but I bet the Marlins cheap it out here
So at this point 12 days before the draft, I think the Sox are leaning towards Clint Frazier and it looks like he could be available. If Kohl Stewart makes it to them, I think it would be a close, close decision between those two high schoolers. Worse case the Twins take Stewart, the Tribe plucks Moran, and Marlins man up and take Frazier, I think the Sox would lean to Braden Shipley.
This has gone on longer than the first round may take, but any other names or changes that bubble up between now and June 6 we will discuss it here.