The annual MLB draft is a three day affair which will commence on June 9. This year the Red Sox pick number 12 in the first round. These are the teams that pick ahead of Boston:
6. Oakland ( first AL team to pick)
8. San Diego
10. Chicago White Sox
This is not considered a deep or overly talented draft. And there is no consensus number one pick or any definite expected order to any of picks ahead of Boston. Among the issues with the top of the first round in this draft is that the most plentiful type of players available are high school pitchers. Many teams do not like to use picks on the volatile arms of the high schoolers, preferring to wait until late first round or second for these picks. But there is a dearth of college pitching in this draft, so the high schoolers may go earlier than expected.
Despite the lack of a consensus top four or five picks, there are some players who are off the board early in every mock draft out there. Let's take a thumbnail sketch look at some of those names.
Players who will definitely gone by pick #12:
AJ Puk, LHP Univ. of Florida. Considered the best college pitcher available. Despite there being no consensus number one, Puk is going first to the Phillies in at least 80% of the mock drafts I have seen.
Kyle Lewis, OF Mercer. Lewis is another player under the Phillies' consideration at the top of the board. The plus power hitting center fielder is unlikely to drop below number three.
Jason Groome, LHP Barnegat, NJ HS. Months ago the Phillies were thought to be grabbing this local kid at the top. But the bugaboo of taking a high school arm number one is in play here. In the mocks Groome rarely drops below Atlanta at three, although I have seen one with Groome at six to Oakland. One very slight asterisk as far as Groome definitely not going at #12. In the last few days Groome has put out on social media, he is a life long Red Sox fan and it would be a dream to pitch for Boston. Could Groome and his people try to ask for a big enough dollar amount to push him to his desired #12? Seems unlikely.
Mickey Moniak, OF La Costa Canyon, CA HS He has all the tools except maybe power, which could come. Usually mocked from four to seven.
Corey Ray, OF Louisville. One of the top two or three college bats available. Ray seems a lock to go in the top five.
Nick Senzel, 3B Tennessee. Considered by many to be the most advanced college hitter in the draft. In this volatile draft I have seen him mocked from two to ten, but never slipping to #12. If he did I
think the Sox would pounce on him quickly.
Players Unlikely to be at #12
Delvin Perez, SS Puerto Rico. Some consider Perez as talented as anyone in the draft but has major immaturity issues, which could cause him to slide. In one mock draft I actually saw him go by Boston into the mid teens. But on the flip side he has been consistently linked with Milwaukee at five.
Riley Pint, RHP Overland Park, KS HS After Jason Groome, usually the next high school pitcher off the board. Almost always in the four to seven range, although more recently I have seen a couple of nines to the Tigers.
High School Pitchers:
Including Riley Pint, there are a group of four other high school pitchers that the Red Sox are rumored to be interested in:
Braxton Garrett, LHP Florence, AL
Forrest Whitley, RHP San Antonio, TX
Matt Manning, RHP Sacramento, CA
Ian Anderson, RHP Clifton Park, NY
These four are listed in approximate order of how they are usually mocked. Garrett being the least likely to get to #12(#11 is as low as I have seen him mocked). The other issue with any of these hurlers is whether or not the Sox would go the high school pitcher route. At least one report I have read said they would not, but another specifically listed these four as targets. One other note Whitley, especially and Manning are rumored to be Yankee targets at #18.
Mocked to the Sox:
Here are several names that have been linked to Boston in various mock drafts from various national sources.
Zack Collins, C Univ. of Miami. Collins is known to have plus power from the left side, but there is a split decision on his defensive prowess. Most scouts feel he is a 1B-DH in the making. A few feel he could stick at catcher with some work. Think Kyle Schwarber, but a notch or two down in the power department. In almost every mock ( he went #11 in one) he is available at #12.
Nolan Jones, 3B Bensalem, PA HS. This might be a reach for at #12, but more than one report has Boston very interested. Jones is a lefty hitter, considered one of the better pure high school bats in the draft. Jones usually rates or mocks in the low 20's, so if Boston wants him, he should be there.
Taylor Trammell, OF Georgia HS. The blazing fast left handed hitter is committed to Georgia Tech, but is expected to sign. Other than his mock to Boston at 12, his next two highest spots were 16 & 18.
Bryan Reynolds, OF Vanderbilt Reynolds went undrafted out of high school in 2014 and then as a freshman at Vandy, helped lead them to a CWS title. The switch hitter has put up three solid offensive campaigns for the Commodores. Again, Reynolds is usually rated ten or twelve spots (or more) below 12.
Zack Burdi, RHP Louisville In its most recent mock draft Baseball America had Burdi at #12. Burdi is the closer at Louisville and has a fastball that routinely hits 100. Some scouts feel Burdi could join a major league bullpen this season, maybe even straight out of college. But if Boston takes the fireballing righty at #12, when for example MLB.com has him rated as the #39 prospect in the draft, the members of Red Sox Nation who closely follow the farm system are gonna be pissed. It is fervently hoped by all Sox fans the team does not finish poorly enough to merit another #12 pick for a good long time. This pick should not be used to try to fill a current need in the Boston bullpen. But on the flip side if the Sox like Burdi the next two Boston picks are at #51 & #88. He is unlikely to be there then.
There seems to be a common thread in these mocks, which is the Sox (other than maybe Collins) reaching down the board for a player they may rank higher than others. Or it may very well be the Red Sox are playing their cards so close to the vest, that none of the "experts" have any damned idea what the Sox will do.
Three more names to watch for:
Blake Rutherford, OF Chaminade, CA HS. This left handed hitting high schooler is often mocked in the range of 8-10, ahead of Boston. But if he slips the Sox would likely be interested in his plus across the board skills.
Dakota Hudson, RHP Mississippi State. His fastball can touch 97, and his command has improved this year over the first two MSU seasons. His mock spots are usually right before or after Boston. I have not seen Hudson linked directly to Boston, but a college arm, which are few in this first round would seem to be intriguing.
Cal Quantrill, RHP Stanford. Son of Paul. Cal was expected to be taken at or near the top of this draft, but last year, three starts into his sophomore season, Quantrill hurt his arm and required Tommy John surgery and has not yet returned to the mound. The Tommy John surgery patients in recent years have still be taken in the first round, but not always as high as #12.
As the next week and a half passes on towards draft day, I will continue to update any rumors connected to the Red Sox and their first round pick.