After selecting Andrew Benintendi at number seven and Jay Groome at twelve in the past two drafts, coming off a 2016 AL East title, the Red Sox will pick at number twenty four this year. The 2017 draft commences on Monday night. While it is much more difficult to project who Boston will pick with a slot that is much nearer the end of the first round, there are a core of names that have been linked to Boston in various mock drafts. In addition, there also names of players who are considered to be in the 18-28 range that could be there for the Sox to take. Here are thirteen names to watch for as Boston waits to make its pick at 24.
Maybe around at 24, but unlikely:
Evan White, 1B-OF Univ. of Kentucky
Jake Burger, 3B Missouri State
Logan Warmoth, SS UNC
Any of these three could pique Boston's interest as solid college bats, and there has been speculated interest in all by Boston. But in the dozens of mock drafts I have seen none of these three make it to 24. White, a college first baseman considering athletic enough to play centerfield, especially seems to be rising in the mocks. Burger is considered one of the better power hitters in the draft, and Warmoth a good hitting shortstop.
The high school kids:
Bubba Thompson, OF Mobile, Alabama
Nick Allen, SS San Diego
Heliot Ramos, Puerto Rico
Any or all of these players are likely to be there at 24, although none is a lock. Thompson, who in the most recent Sporting News mock was Boston's pick, is an athletic outfielder committed to Alabama to play baseball. Of the three, Thompson is the one most often projected to be gone by 24. Nick Allen is considered the best defensive shortstop in the draft. His drawback, if it is one, is his size. Allen is listed at 5'8" 160. As with most prospects his size, Allen draws Dustin Pedroia comps. The team that is linked to Allen the most besides Boston is the Cubs, who pick after the Sox. Ramos has been mocked in the 30-45 range. But Jim Callis of MLB.com is reporting this weekend, Ramos is rocketing up the charts. Ramos, is the younger brother of former Portland Sea Dog, Henry Ramos.
Griffin Canning, RHP UCLA
Nate Pearson, RHP Central Florida Junior College
Tanner Houck, RHP Missouri
Alex Lange, RHP LSU
David Peterson, LHP Oregon
There is contention within the game, that Boston is looking for a college player either pitcher or bat, to more quickly replenish the Dave Dombrowski depleted system. Especially since Boston went with high schooler, Jay Groome in 2016's first round. This may be true or complete hogwash, but if it is true, do not be surprised if one of these five is the pick (assuming the three college bats mentioned above are gone). The four right handed pitchers have all been projected to Boston in various mocks, most often Houck and Pearson. But the mock drafts have ranged from Canning at 10 to Lange at 35, just recently.
Canning has a new possible red flag with reports of some questionable medicals on his pitching arm. This could make him more likely to drop to 24, but would Boston also pass? Pearson is a big hard thrower who had not been considered a first rounder earlier this year. But as his stock continues to rise, the latest rumor says Pearson has a pre-draft deal with a team between 21-26. Boston?
Houck, entered the college baseball season considered a late top ten pick. But an up and down season, followed by an unimpressive SEC tourney, likely leaves Houck available into 24 territory. But he is also mocked often to the Orioles or Jays at 21 and 22. Lange is another SEC star who should be picked in the 20-35 range. Of the four righties, I think Lange would be the pick only if the others were off the board.
Peterson was mocked to Boston by Baseball America this weekend. This was a surprise, because even though Peterson was expected to be around at 24 when the college baseball season began, a strong campaign pushed Peterson anywhere from a late top ten to Baltimore at 20 in every mock drafts for weeks. Common landing spots for Peterson in the mocks was 15 to Houston, and Yankees at 16. Peterson is 6'6" 240, but is not a hard thrower. One of his comps is Brian Johnson, a lefty strike thrower. Peterson, who had a twenty K game this year versus Arizona State, was drafted by the Red Sox out of high school before he opted to go to Oregon. I am sure the Sox would like another shot.
If This Pair is There, Would the Sox Dare?
Keston Hiura, 2B- UC-Irvine
Seth Romero, LHP None (Univ. of Houston)
If not for each player's issues, both are considered by most (but not all) observers as sure top ten selections. The reason Boston may choose to deal with the issues would be the value of taking a top ten pick at 24. This would be similar to grabbing Jay Groome at 12, when his "maturity" issues pushed him down from the top three.
Hiura is widely considered to be the best pure hitter in the entire draft. But Hiura has two issues pushing him down the draft. The first is lack of a true position leaving teams to wonder where he'd fit defensively. Most believe left field rather than his college position of second base. But the real issue is his right arm, never a strong arm to begin with. Hiura has played at DH for the entire college season because of an elbow injury. It is widely believed Hiura will need Tommy John surgery, perhaps right away. So would Boston draft the best hitter in the draft knowing he may need to sit out until the beginning of 2019 season, or start playing and need TJ surgery down the road? Now even with the injury, in many mock drafts, Hiura does not get to 24, because his bat is just that good. Houston at 15 and the Mets at 20 are other reported landing spots. But Jim Callis of MLB.com for one has consistently linked Hiura to Boston.
Romero, has his own set of issues, illustrated by his team listing above. Romero was the star pitcher for the University of Houston, but ran into more than one disciplinary situation with this coach. Late in the campaign, Romero got into a fight with a teammate and was thrown of the team for good. Again a top ten talent, who many scouts feel could help a big league bullpen this year, could be there at 24 for Boston's plucking. The Red Sox would have to do thorough investigations to be sure Romero could be depended to behave himself as a pro. The question asked in the industry is does Romero have "maturity" issues or something more? Keith Law of ESPN, for one, when asked this question in one of his chats, thought it was more than maturity issues. Law, in fact, also stated he did not feel Romero stuff was all that good, either. I think Law would be in the minority as far as the stuff assessment, but the plus pitching ability would be the only reason to take Romero.
Here is my best guess for who the Sox want and can get at 24 in order of preference (again I am going to assume White, Burger, and Warmoth are gone...if not it is one of them):
1. David Peterson
2. Keston Hiura
3. Nick Allen
4. Nate Pearson
5. Griffin Canning
6. Tanner Houck
7. Bubba Thompson
8. Seth Romero
9. Alex Lange
10. Heliot Ramos
If you want to hold me to a one player guess I will go with Keston Hiura.