Should Red Sox consider taking Oregon State outfielder Jacob Melton with top pick in this year’s draft?

With the 2022 MLB Draft fast approaching, the Red Sox continue to be linked to college outfielders in recently-published mock drafts from industry experts.

MLB.com’s Jim Callis, for instance, has the Red Sox taking University of Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert with their top pick in his latest mock that was released on Wednesday night.

Last week, Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo had Boston selecting University of California, Berkeley outfielder Dylan Beavers with the 24th overall pick.

Needless to say, there seems to be some speculation within the industry that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could be leaning towards taking a college bat when the Red Sox are first on the clock on July 17.

Taking that into consideration, Oregon State outfielder Jacob Melton should probably be viewed as a potential Red Sox target as well. In fact, Collazo wrote that the Oregon native “is being scouted throughout the back of the first round.”

Melton, 21, is currently regarded by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline as the 25th- and 54th-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class, respectively.

In 60 games with the Beavers (who are currently in the super regionals of the College World Series) this season, the left-handed hitting junior batted a stout .360/.422/.668 with 21 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs, 81 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 21 stolen bases, 24 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 282 plate appearances en route to being named the Pac-12 Conference’s Player of the Year.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Melton’s “production is prettier than his swing, which is described as ‘unorthodox’ and features plenty of moving parts. He starts with an open stance and features a leg kick in his load, with a long load that includes a barrel dump on the back half and an arm bar. Despite those mechanics, Melton has plenty of bat speed and the athleticism to make it work. While his bat path might not be ideal, his barrel stays in the zone for a long time and he has the strength to drive the ball with authority, with a frame that suggests more could be coming.”

MLB Pipeline, on the other hand, notes that the 6-foot-3, 208 pounder “has the chance to do some damage from the left side of the plate. He has an advanced approach at the plate and makes a ton of contact. He also has a good amount of juice to his pull side, and he’s tapped into that power even more in 2022, leading some scouts to think he might have better than average pop in the future.”

Defensively, Melton has moved from first base to the outfield over the course of his collegiate career and has now established himself as Oregon State’s everyday center fielder. Baseball America labels his arm strength as average while MLB Pipeline indicates that he is capable of playing all three outfield positions given his plus speed, which also helps him on the basepaths.

Melton, who turns 22 in September, is projected to go to the Giants at No. 30 by Collazo and to the Astros at No. 28 by Callis. The recommended slot value for both of this picks ($2.485 million and 2.62 million, respectively) is a bit lower than the $2,974,900 attached to the Red Sox’ first-round selection.

Because of this difference, the Sox could look to cut an underslot deal with Melton if they were to take him at No. 24, though that remains to be seen for a number of reasons.

Boston last used a first-rounder on an Oregon State player in 2005, when speedy outfielder Jacoby Jacoby Ellsbury was selected with the 23rd overall pick. Unlike Ellsbury at that time, though, Melton has never been drafted before.

(Picture of Jacob Melton: Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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