Red Sox Sign University of Miami Ace Brian Van Belle

Since the window to sign undrafted free agents opened on Sunday morning, the Red Sox have signed 10 undrafted free agents, the most among all clubs, according to Baseball America.

The most notable of these additions to this point, at least in terms of BA’s draft-eligible prospect rankings, was made earlier Monday in the form of University of Miami (Fla.) right-hander Brian Van Belle.

Van Belle, 23, was regarded by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked senior in this year’s draft class.

The former JuCo product out of Pembroke Pines posted a 0.68 ERA and .168 batting average against over four starts and 26 1/3 innings of work as the Hurricanes’ ace in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listed at 6’2″ and 187 lbs., Van Belle underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 while a freshman in junior college and wound up missing his entire sophomore season because of it.

He transferred to Miami from Broward College in October 2017, and emerged as the Hurricanes’ Friday night starter on a team that featured two 2020 early-round draft picks in the form of Slade Cecconi and Chris McMahon.

Per SoxProspects‘ Ian Cundall, Van Belle’s pitching arsenal includes a fastball that can top out at 93 MPH as well as a quality circle changeup.

As is the case with all undrafted free agents, the most the Red Sox can sign Van Belle for is $20,0000.

Here are the other nine undrafted prospects the Red Sox have signed since Sunday.

 

Red Sox Third-Round Draft Pick Blaze Jordan Not Taking Anything for Granted

Newest Red Sox draftee Blaze Jordan has been in the spotlight since he was in the eighth grade, if not earlier. He was a consensus top-100 prospect headed into this year’s draft, but that did not stop the 17-year-old from feeling some angst this past week.

Speaking with MassLive.Com’s Chris Cotillo on The Fenway Rundown podcast, Jordan went over how things went on Wednesday and on Thursday.

“I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty stressful process,” he said. “Especially that first night, because I knew there was a shot I could go that night. I was just waiting it out and seeing when it happens.

“The next day came and Boston called, and when I heard my name get called I actually started crying a bit because all that stress and stuff that was built up. It’s always been one of my dreams and I was just really fortunate to get picked by a great organization like the Red Sox. It was truly a great experience.”

Selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick, Jordan was one of the most well known draft-eligible prospects as previously mentioned. He was even dubbed ‘the next Bryce Harper’ as a 15-year-old. All that attention was tough to deal with at first, but the Mississippi native was eventually able to turn it into a positive.

“It was kind of hard, especially being that young,” Jordan said of being recognized at such a young age. “I would walk into a travel ball tournament and every team would know who I am and other teams would start to pitch me different and when they would get me out, they would get really excited.”

He added, “It made it a lot harder to play because it was stressful sometimes, but over time, I started to enjoy it because once that many people start to know you, a lot of kids would love to be in the situation I was in. Once all that pressure started getting put on me, I felt like it was helping me for the future and I felt like it helped me get to where I am today.”

Going back to that Bryce Harper comparison, Jordan says at first, it was “crazy” to be compared to a player of that caliber at such a young age. However, he added that, “I would definitely want to be in the position he’s in, but I also feel like I’m a different type of player. My goal is not just to be as good as him, but better. That’s what your goal has to be, to be the best one out there day in and day out.”

Another aspect of the Harper comparison can be attributed to Jordan’s personality and social media presence. With over 85,000 followers on Instagram, Jordan has already established quite the social media following for himself. He says he wants to use his platform in a positive manner and be a player fans can gravitate towards.

“I really hope I can be one of those guys fans know on a personal level,” the Mississippi State commit said. “I’m hoping that I can just have some good fan interactions and bring people back to the ballpark with excitement.”

Regarding the social media aspect, Jordan says, “The biggest thing for me is just trying to keep everything positive and try not to post anything negative. I know a lot of kids look up to me and I try to keep it to stuff kids would enjoy looking at.

“It’s really cool to interact with people through social media so they can see what I do in my life. I didn’t really mean for it to blow up, it just kind of happened and I went with it. It’s a true blessing because it’s a good platform to be on and share my life.”

The Red Sox drafted Jordan as a third baseman, but with 23-year-old Rafael Devers entrenched in the position at the big-league level for the foreseeable future, that may create a roadblock for the 2020 draftee to get to the majors. Still, he sees himself as a third baseman in the long term.

“I definitely feel like I should stay at third base,” he said. “Because I feel like I’ve put my body in the position to be able to play third base and I know my arm is definitely strong enough to play third.”

Although he can play first base, Jordan wants to continue to develop at third and “continue to work hard” because he knows he has things he can improve upon, such as his strength and conditioning.

Due to the current circumstances in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no timetable for when minor-league baseball will return. It likely won’t be this year, but that’s not stopping Jordan from looking ahead to his eventual minor-league debut if he does sign with Boston.

“Once I get there, I’m just going to be that average guy that’s going into the park,” Jordan said. “I’m going to have to fight for a spot and continue to work my butt off and try to go out there and have fun and continue to play my game.”

You can follow Jordan on Instagram here.

Following 2020 Draft, How Should Red Sox Approach Pursuing Undrafted Free Agents?

The 2020 MLB first-year player draft has come and gone, and beginning the morning of June 14th, clubs will have the opportunity to sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for no more than $20,000.

Under normal circumstances, the Red Sox have signed anywhere between 25-35 players in past draft, but since the 2020 edition was limited to just five rounds and Boston was limited to just four picks, only four new additions were made over the past two days in the forms of Nick Yorke, Blaze Jordan, Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and Shane Drohan.

Because this year’s draft was cut to five rounds rather recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems likely that the Red Sox had an idea of who would be available over the course of a typical 40-round draft before that announcement was made.

It also helps that, since not much baseball was played at the high school or college level this spring, the Sox’ draft board probably hasn’t changed all that much since the 2019 season came to an end.

Only 160 players were drafted this year, meaning there is still plenty of mid-to-late-round level talent out there on the free agency market.

With chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni at the helm, the Red Sox are in a position where they are trying to revamp things on the player development side of the game. They should not limit themselves to just the four players they drafted this week.

Some local products Boston could pursue during this unique free agency period, as noted by SoxProspects‘ Mike Andrews, include:

  • Wake Forest outfielder Chris Lanzilli (Stoneham, MA)
  • Boston College outfielder Chris Galland (Sudbury, MA)
  • Northeastern catcher Teddy Beaduet (Franklin, NH)
  • Buckingham Browne & Nichols shortstop Jake Berger (Boston, MA)
  • Avon Old Farms outfielder/catcher Jake Deleo (Norwalk, CT)
  • Braintree High School right-handed pitcher Myles McDermott (Braintree, MA)
  • Halifax High School right-handed pitcher Michael Quigley (Halifax, MA)
  • East Greenwich High School right-handed pitcher/infielder Brad Lombardi (East Greenwich, RI)
  • Gilmanton High School right-hander Adrian Siravo (Gilmanton, NH)
  • South Portland High School left-handed pitcher Hunter Owen (South Portland, ME)

Some of these prospects, more specifically the ones graduating from high school, will likely opt to honor their college commitments rather than go pro, but for the college seniors with no eligibility left, this could be the opportunity they have been looking for after going overlooked in the draft.

When asked last week about what the Sox’ approach to recruiting undrafted free agents will look like, Toboni said, “The Red Sox brand carries weight itself,” so it will certainly be fascinating to see just how many additional prospects they sign in the coming weeks.

The deadline to sign both drafted and undrafted players is August 1st.

Red Sox Draft Round-Up: How Did Chaim Bloom Fare in First Draft as Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer?

As the dust settles on the day following the completion of the shortest draft in Major League Baseball history, the Red Sox will come away with four new additions to their minor-league pipeline if all goes according to plan.

Those four new additions are prep infielders Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan, as well as college left-handed pitchers Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Shane Drohan.

As part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018, the Sox were docked a second-round pick in this year’s draft, which subsequently dropped their total pool money down to just $5,129,900.

Because of that, it seems that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni utilized a somewhat unconventional approach in their first draft together.

By taking Yorke, an 18-year-old second baseman out of San Jose, Calif. who was regarded by Baseball America as the 98th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, the Sox will likely be able to save quite a bit of money. That being the case because Yorke, who is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona, will presumably sign with Boston for less than the $3,609,700 slot value assigned to his draft position.

With that in mind and done with on Day 1 of the draft, Blom and Co. were able to go out and splurge with their third-round selection in first baseman/third baseman Blaze Jordan on Thursday.

The 17-year-old likely fell to the third-round because of his commitment to Mississippi State University, but the Red Sox will presumably be able to sway Baseball America’s 90th-ranked draft-eligible prospect to go pro by offering him more than the $667,900 signing bonus assigned to his draft position (No. 89).

“Getting that kind of upside at pick No. 89, it’s not normal,” Toboni said of Jordan Thursday night. “We were able to assume the risk mainly because the expected value we thought we were getting was really, really good in that area of the draft. He’s just a really exciting talent. There’s no other way to put it.”

As for the two college hurlers, Hawaii left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Florida State left-hander Shane Drohan, taken by Boston in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft, they were ranked by Baseball America as the No. 261 and No. 189 draft-eligible prospects respectively.

Wu-Yelland, who was scouted by J.J. Albotelli, has a recommended slot value of $487,9000, while Drohan, who was scouted by Dante Ricciardi, has a recommended slot value of $364,400.

The Red Sox have until August 1st to sign these four prospects, as well as any undrafted free agent they may pursue.

Some players are already reaching agreements with their new clubs, so it should not be long until we get our first reports of the Red Sox agreeing to terms with one of the four names mentioned above.

Red Sox Take Florida State Left-Hander Shane Drohan With Final Pick of 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected left-hander Shane Drohan with their fourth and final pick of the 2020 MLB Draft at No. 148 overall.

Taking their second consecutive college lefty, the Red Sox go with Drohan, a 21-year-old junior out of Florida State University in Tallahassee.

MLB Pipeline’s 147th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, Drohan posted a 4.08 ERA over four starts and 17 2/3 innings pitched for the Seminoles in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His pitching arsenal consists of a 92-93 MPH that can reach 95 MPH, an above-average curveball, and a changeup that “continues to improve.”

A former 23rd round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017, Drohan, once a star quarterback at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, “is still learning how to pitch,” according to MLB Pipeline, which means “there’s still ceiling [for him] to reach.”

By being taken in the fifth round of this year’s draft, Drohan’s recommended slot value is approximately $364,400.

The Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, will have until August 1st to sign Drohan, as well as the three other players that have been drafted by Boston over the last 26 hours or so.

Speaking of Bloom and Toboni, the selection of Drohan marks the conclusion of their first draft together.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll have a wrap-up post about this year’s draft for the Red Sox up some time on Friday, so stay tuned for that.

 

 

Red Sox Take Hawaii Left-Hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland in Fourth Round of 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland with their fourth-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft at No. 118 overall.

The first college player and pitcher taken by Boston in this year’s draft, Wu-Yelland is a soon-to-be 21-year-old junior out of the University of Hawaii.

Before this past college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wu-Yelland, a native of Spokane, Wash., posted a nice 0.69 ERA and .200 batting average against over seven relief appearances and 13 innings of work out of the Rainbow Warriors bullpen.

Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 261 prospect in this year’s draft class, Wu-Yelland relies heavily on his fastball, and thanks to a somewhat erratic delivery, he has dealt with control issues in the past, which ultimately led to a move to Hawaii’s ‘pen prior to the start of the 2020 season.

As a fourth-round selection, Wu-Yelland is likely to sign with Boston for around $487,900 if he so chooses.

The final pick of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni’s first draft together is coming up in the middle of the fifth round. Or, more specifically, the 148th overall selection.

Red Sox Take Power-Hitting Prep Corner Infielder Blaze Jordan With Third-Round Pick in 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected prep first baseman Blaze Jordan with their second pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft at No. 89 overall.

Jordan, who does not turn 18 until December, is committed to play college baseball at Mississippi State University.

The DeSoto Central High School (Miss.) product is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 42nd-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class, and he has one of the best power tools of anybody.

Per his MaxPreps page, Jordan slashed .422/.509/.777 with six doubles, five triples, and four RBI over 13 games this past season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted high school and college baseball across the country.

Once likened to Bryce Harper at just 15 years old, Jordan has been in the spotlight for quite a while. That much is made evident by his verified Instagram account that has over 78,000 followers.

Jordan’s Baseball America Scouting report from last month goes as follows:

Jordan has a mature approach at the plate, with quick, fluid hands and an all-fields approach in batting practice and in games despite his plus raw power. Teams were impressed with how he cut down his frame to give himself a chance to handle third base, though he needs plenty of improvement with his footwork, hands and throwing ability to stick there.

Because first-round pick Nick Yorke is likely to sign for less than the $3,609,700 allotted to his draft position, it seems probable that the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, took Jordan with the idea of signing him for more than the $667,900 allocated to his draft position.

Boston’s next pick, a fourth-rounder, comes up at No. 118.

Former Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Speaks on Fallout of Astros’ Sign-Stealing Fiasco

For one of the first times since he was relieved of his duties back in January, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora spoke publicly about the fallout of Major League Baseball’s recent investigation into the Houston Astros.

Cora, who served as Houston’s bench coach under A.J. Hinch during the 2017 season, was handed down a one-year ban in April from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for the role he played in the club’s illegal stealing of signs, not for what he did in his first year as Red Sox manager in 2018.

From the time he and the Sox parted ways, Cora has kept relatively quiet up until now, and he has a solid reason for that.

“Out of respect for the investigation, I decided to stay out of the spotlight. Talking about it wasn’t going to change anything,” Cora told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. “I deserve my suspension and I’m paying the price for my actions. And I am not proud of what happened. We made a mistake as a group, the entire [Astros] team. What happened was something that, if you ask anyone involved, no one is proud of it. We’re all at fault. Everybody. We’re all responsible. Everyone who was part of the team from around mid-May until the end of the season, we are all responsible.”

One thing Cora takes issue with though, is the notion that he and ex-Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who played for Houston in 2017, were the only two individuals behind the Astros’ misdoings, as has been thrown out there by former ‘Stros general manager Jeff Lunhow.

“There has been a narrative out there of what happened. Ever since mid-November until the commissioner announced the results of the Red Sox investigation, I have read many things that are true and many others that are not,” Cora stated. “Out of this whole process, if there is one thing that I completely reject and disagree with is people within the Astros’ organization singling me out, particularly Jeff Luhnow, as if I were the sole mastermind. The commissioner’s report sort of explained, in its own way, what happened.

“”If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that it was not a two-man show. We all did it. And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility, because we were all responsible.”

Cora will be eligible to return to baseball in 2021. And with rumors of a potential reunion with the Red Sox ever prevalent, his thought’s on the club’s punishments, which included video replay room coordinator J.T. Watkins also getting suspended, are something I think many would like to hear about.

However, the only thing he really said about the commissioner’s report into Boston’s illegal use of the video replay room in 2018 is that it “speaks for itself.”

Current Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, who was officially named manager by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom back in February, is under contract with Boston through the end of 2020.

As already mentioned, there has been plenty of speculation that Cora will return to his old post next year, but for the time being, the 2018 World Series-winning manager says “all I care about is my personal life and my family,” and he “absolutely” wants to return to the game in the future.

What to Expect From Red Sox on Day 2 of 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox surprised many Wednesday night by selecting Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.) second baseman Nick Yorke with their top pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft.

Yorke, who turned 18 in April, represented Boston’s lone Day One selection. Now, the Sox will make three more picks on Thursday before the shortest draft in the sport’s history comes to a close.

Led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, the Red Sox, absent a second-round pick as part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018, will make picks in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of the draft Thursday evening.

Those three picks come at No. 89, No. 118, and No. 148 overall. The allotted slot values for those picks are $667,900, $487,900, and $364,400 respectively.

Because the Red Sox took Yorke, who is expected to sign for less than the $3,609,700 assigned to his draft position, it’s a very real possibility that the club on Thursday targets prospects they could sign for more than those aforementioned slot values. As a reminder, they have $5,129,900 in total pool money to work with.

Here are some of the prospects the Red Sox could go after on the final day of the 2020 draft:

The second round of the draft begins at 5 PM eastern time on MLB Network and ESPN2.

 

Red Sox Take Prep Infielder Nick Yorke With 17th Pick in 2020 MLB Draft

In a surprising turn of events, the Red Sox have selected prep infielder Nick Yorke with their top pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft at No. 17 overall.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 139 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class, Yorke is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona.

An 18-year-old out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., Yorke is listed at 6’0″ and 200 lbs. His Baseball America scouting report from May goes as follows:

Yorke dealt with a shoulder injury prior to his junior year and is still recovering from that, which leads some scouts to believe he’ll be a better fit as an offensive second baseman. Still, other scouts have said his arm has looked good, with a better arm stroke recently and above-average arm strength.

Per his MaxPreps page, Yorke, who hits from the right side of the plate, slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs, 35 doubles, and 77 RBI over 94 games played spanning four seasons at Mitty High.

Regarded by one Red Sox evaluator as a potentially “special offensive player,” the club does expect to sign Yorke, according to the same evaluator.

Earlier Wednesday, it was thrown out there that the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, could target an underslot prospect with the club’s top pick in order to allocate more money later in the draft. That being the case because Boston was stripped of their second-round pick in April as part of their punishment for stealing signs in 2018.

The assigned slot value for the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $3,609,700, and the Red Sox have  $5,129,900 to work with in total pool space.

The first draft pick of the Chaim Bloom Era, Yorke represents Boston’s lone Day 1 pick. When the draft picks up again on Thursday evening, the Sox will be on the clock with the 89th, 118th, and 148th overall selections.

While Yorke weighs between going pro or honoring his commitment to the Arizona Wildcats, the Red Sox will have until August 1st to sign him.

UPDATE: According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, “the Red Sox apparently have an underslot deal done with [Yorke] that will save them ‘quite a bit of money’ according to one source.”

In other words, that would allow them to spend more on their Day 2 picks.