At long last, the 2020 MLB first-year player draft is finally here. The first round of the five-round event will begin Wednesday night on both MLB Network and ESPN, while rounds 2-5 will take place on Thursday.
The Red Sox, coming off an 84-78 2019 campaign, own the 17th overall selection in this year’s draft. It’s the earliest pick Boston has had since 2016, when prep left-hander Jay Groome was taken 12th overall.
In addition to that, while most clubs will be making five picks, the Sox will only be making four, as they were stripped of their second-round selection back in April as part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018.
The loss of the second-round pick brings Boston’s total pool value in this year’s draft down to just $5,129,900, ranking 26th among the 30 MLB clubs.
Because of that, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni seem poised to go all out with the team’s top pick. Or, in other words, take the prospect with the most upside regardless of what position he plays.
The most popular name that has been linked to the Sox in the weeks leading up to Wednesday is without a doubt Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel.
Abel, MLB Pipeline’s 11th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, turns 19 in August and is viewed by scouts as someone who is only “going to get stronger and throw harder as he physically matures.”
Another name to monitor on Wednesday is outfielder Pete-Crow Armstrong, another prep prospect out of one of the most prestigious baseball schools in the country in Harvard-Westlake (Calif.).
Listed at 6’1″ and 180 lbs., Crow-Armstrong is committed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt.
Described by MLB Pipeline as “a dynamic athlete who goes hard at all times,” the 18-year-old is someone the Red Sox have been “heavy” on, according to The Athletic’s Keith Law.
If it’s not Abel or Crow-Armstrong who the Red Sox take for whatever reason on Wednesday, other names to watch out for include Robert Hassell, Austin Hendrick, Ed Howard, Tyler Soderstrom, Jared Kelley, Garrett Mitchell, Garrett Crochet, Patrick Bailey, Cade Cavalli, Cole Wilcox, Ausin Wells, Tanner Burns, and Chris McMahon to name just a few.
Personally, I’d prefer to see the Sox lean towards taking a prep prospect with the 17th pick. Sure, in this scenario, that prospect would probably take more than the allotted $3,609,700 to sign, but whether it be Abel, Crow-Armstrong, Hassell, Hendrick, Howard, or Soderstrom, whoever they pick would certainly provide a boost to a poorly-regarded farm system even if no minor-league baseball is played in 2020.