Two weeks after Memorial Day will be the annual MLB Draft. For the second time in three years the Red Sox pick at number seven. RSM gives you a look at twenty names or so that will be under consideration in and around the seventh pick.
We here at RSM make no claim to be amateur scouts or first hand experts on the draft. But in today's internet/social media world there is an abundance of information available on these players from individuals or organizations that do scout or follow the amateur players. The thumbnail sketches presented here, as well as the speculation on where the players will be selected are a collective opinion of these "experts".
First a little description of tenor of this draft. It is not considered a strong draft, as compared to other recent years. In addition there is no consensus overall first pick: there are at least six to eight players that have been mentioned as the first overall pick in various mock drafts and prospect rankings. There also have been players "taken" first overall in some mock drafts that are ranked as low as 44 in other reports. A handful of players (a large handful in fact) are mocked from at or near the top down into the teens or lower. Keep this in mind as you see the categories we have the players broken into. One last note, there are least three pitchers who would have all been top five picks that have been injured and now are wild cards. We will discuss them in their own category. One other thing is making the top of the draft extremely difficult to forecast. Arizona is picking first, and there is no hint seemingly where they will jump. There are even many rumors they will take one of two high school players who have risen this high school season from nowhere near the first round up to the teens. Arizona might do this to sign the player under slot and use the money later in the draft. Houston sits at number two and the wrinkle there is the Astros also pick at number five ( #2 is a compensation pick for not signing Brady Aiken at number one last year and #5 is their own regular pick). So Houston could make an out of the box pick at two knowing only two more players go off the board before they pick again.
Here are some names to watch for on draft night (from a Red Sox perspective):
NAMES THAT WILL BE GONE BEFORE NUMBER SEVEN
1. Dansby Swanson, SS Vanderbilt
2. Dillon Tate, RHP UC Santa Barbara
3, Brendan Rodgers, SS Lake Mary High School-Florida
Now again this draft has the potential for complete unpredictability, but there have not been any mock drafts or rankings we've seen that have any of three names getting down to seven.
Swanson, the 2014 College World Series MVP, is considered a gap hitter with lots of doubles, and with a high OBP potential. But in the ongoing SEC tourney, Dansby has three home runs and he seems to be emerging as the most likely number one overall pick (as likely as this draft can be). If Swanson is not first, Houston will very likely pounce at number two. If Swanson goes number one, this could directly effect Boston (as we will examine later).
Tate has been considered the best college arm available all season. This also factors into the volatility of the top of the first round. Tate burst onto the scene for the first time this year as a college junior, with no long term resume as an amateur. Also despite hitting the guns at 98 MPH, Tate has slipped a bit near the end of his regular season.
Rodgers is considered by nearly every ranking as the best overall prospect in this class, and in a more normal year would be the consensus overall number one this draft lacks. He has power potential, a very quick bat, and is expected to have the defensive ability to stick at shortstop. But for whatever reason all the reports indicate Arizona does not consider Rodgers worthy of the number one pick, and Houston at two wants a college player, likely a hitter. But Rodgers seems very unlikely to go lower than four to Texas.
If any of these three do get to seven Boston would like to take them, especially the shortstops.
NAMES MOST OFTEN CONNECTED TO THE RED SOX
1. Alex Bregman, SS LSU
2. Carson Fulmer, RHP Vanderbilt
3. Daz Cameron, OF Eagles Landing Christian Academy- Georgia
4. Andrew Benintendi, OF Arkansas
5. Brady Aiken, LHP IMG Academy
This list is in order of Boston's interest, according to reports. Of course the Sox, as most teams, keep their real rankings close to the vest. For example, almost no one had Boston on Trey Ball at number seven two years ago. Let's look at this list in reverse order.
Aiken was 2014's overall number one but did not sign due to Houston concerns over his elbow. This spring Aiken did require Tommy John surgery and is out until mid-2016. As we wrote about at the time of his surgery, Boston could gamble and take Aiken despite the TJ operation, and use this chance to grab an overall one type talent. Two drawbacks to that train of thought: first the Sox do not pick again after #7 until #81 due to the free agent signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Secondly and much more importantly there are multiple rumors out there that Aiken has a condition in his elbow and /or UCL that made his surgery much more dicey than the standard TJ procedure. ESPN's Keith Law has mentioned reports of Aiken's condition more than once, and had pretty much convinced us Aiken to Boston was not happening. But then lo and behold last week Law came out with his first mock draft. Law had Boston taking Daz Cameron, who we will discuss in a moment, but he also added if Boston is comfortable with Aiken's medicals they might end up taking him.
Benintendi is a draft eligible sophomore at Arkansas. Earlier this spring Law had him rated at 38 and MLB.com had at 63. The 5'10' 170 lb. outfielder has slugged his way through the '15 campaign, and that has skyrocketed him the rankings. He has never played in the Cape Cod League or any of the showcase type tournaments, which lessens the certainty of his ability to the scouting community. The two teams most mentioned with Benintendi are the Red Sox and the Cubs. If the three names coming up are all gone (and they very well could be) and Boston decides not to risk Aiken, Benintendi could be the guy.
Cameron is the son of former Red Sox OF Mike Cameron. His skill set is reportedly similar to Dad's. Plus, plus defense in CF, with no one outstanding tool but above average across the board. Daz is definitely a first rounder and he will go no later than 15 or so. There is a split of opinion on Cameron. For every report that ranks him around twelve and says Boston would be reaching to take him at seven, there's an equal number of mocks that having Daz going four, five, or six to Texas, Houston, or the Twins. The other wild card with Cameron is his reported price tag. It is said the Cameron family wants $5 million dollars to skip college. This could be a double-edged sword for Boston. It likely improves the chance he drops to seven, but does Boston want to pay Cameron the five mil? Best guess is Cameron goes before seven, but Boston will take him if the college guys they want more are gone.
Fulmer was drafted in the 15th round of out of high school by Boston. There are varying opinions on the 5-11' righty. He is the guy mentioned in the intro that has been mocked number one overall and ranked at 44 in rankings (not a mock draft). The persons with lesser views on Fulmer think his future is only as a bullpen guy. Others see Fulmer and his 93-97 mph fastball, as a big league starting hurler. He also is considered a guy who will make the big leagues in a hurry. He is one of two college arms mentioned as this year's Brandon Finnegan, in other words able to pitch in a big league bullpen this year. Most mocks have Fulmer going no lower than number eight to the White Sox. The other Sox are likely crossing their fingers Boston does not draft Fulmer for a second time.
Bregman, like Fulmer, was drafted by Boston in 2012, in the 29th round out of New Mexico. but Bregman was set on going to LSU. Bregman grew up playing baseball with and against Blake Swihart in New Mexico. Bregman is considered the best college bat in the draft, and he rarely strikes out. At 5'8" Bregman may have a move to second base in his future. Bregman by far is the player most often mocked to Boston. If Bregman is not the best college bat, he is neck and neck with the aforementioned Dansby Swanson. And here is connection to Boston mentioned earlier. Houston really seems to want Swanson at number two. But if Arizona starts the draft by grabbing the Vandy shortstop, many draft observers think Houston would settle for Bregman, costing Boston any chance of getting him. In addition, Houston picks twice before Boston, they could grab Bregman at five if not at two. As of today, Bregman seems to be the Sox guy....if he gets to seven.
ANOTHER EIGHT NAMES RANKED FROM 4-14 ( MAYBE AVAILABLE AT 7?)
Tyler Jay, LHP Illinois
Kyle Tucker, OF Plant HS- Tampa
Jon Harris, RHP Missouri
Trenton Clark, OF Richland HS-Texas
Garrett Whitley, OF Niskayuna HS- New York State
Walker Buehler, RHP Vanderbilt
Tyler Stephenson, C Kennesaw Mountain HS- Georgia
Mike Nikorak, RHP Stroudsburg HS -PA
Jay and Whitley have been mocked at one overall. But Whitley (who skyrocketed onto the draft radar from nowhere this season) is one of guys rumored to be an under slot target by the DBacks, and the lower top ten down through the teens seems much more likely.
Jay has been used as a closer by the Illni this year, but the lefty is considered a top notch starter by most. He is the other guy, along with Fulmer, who is considered ready for big league bullpen duty this year. Despite one mock draft having him at the top, he usually is ranked from 4 to 12. I have seen no connection to Boston, but I would think he could be strong candidate to fit well into the Boston system, with a fastball from the left side touching 97.
Kyle Tucker is the brother of Astros' rookie, Preston Tucker, and Kyle is considered a better power prospect. More and more in the latest mocks Tucker is predicted to join his brother with the Astros, at five. Trenton Clark, who shot onto the scene at last summer's showcase games, is usually mocked from 10 to 14( with one at 9). Tyler Stephenson began the year at #99 on the MLB.com rankings but his HS season plus the almost total lack of catching prospects in this draft (Chris Betts from Long Beach, CA HS is another) has him mocked into at least the 10-15 range if not higher. Nikorak has a prototypical pitcher body, 6'5" 215, and has hit 96-97 on the guns on occasion.
Buehler is often mocked around ten, which could very well place three Vanderbilt players in the top ten (Swanson, Fulmer, and Buehler). Jon Harris often is considered to go after the seven spot, but the Twins at six also have interest. At best he is the fourth best college arm.
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP Louisville
James Kapriellan, RHP UCLA
Ian Happ, OF Cincinnati
Funkhouser began the college season as a definite top ten, maybe top five pick.. But he has had a mediocre year and has dropped down to the mid-teens to 20s. Great name, though.
Kapriellan is often mocked to the Yankees at 16.
Ian Happ, is considered a strong bat with his eventual defensive position a question, usually he is mocked around number 20 or so.
THE WALKING WOUNDED
Brady Aiken, LHP IMG Academy
Mike Matuella, RHP Duke
Kolby Allard, LHP San Clemente HS- California (the school name is the Nixons....Not really)
Aiken was discussed above, the number seven chances to Boston are slim, the Dodgers at 24 seem much more likely.
Matuella is another Tommy John surgery recipient that was in the discussion for number one overall, now he at best will go very late first round or a sandwich round pick after the first.
Kolby Allard is in the best spot of these three. His injury was a stress reaction in his back. Allard was sat down and rested and apparently a stress fracture was averted. His name is shooting back up the mocks, with the Twins at six mentioned in more than one.
There are twenty one manes, at least nineteen of which should be called out on June 8th's opening night of the MLB draft. Over the next two weeks we will update Red Sox related rumors and throw any more names you may want to hear before the draft if their stock rises in this volatile draft.