2020 Red Sox Draft Preview: Trying to Pin Down Who Boston Will Take With Top Pick

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.

Baseball America’s Latest 2020 MLB Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking Arizona Catcher Austin Wells With Top Pick

In his fourth and most recent 2020 mock draft for Baseball America, Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox taking someone that has yet to be discussed on here with the 17th overall pick. That prospect’s name?

Austin Wells, C, University of Arizona

 

Collazo writes the following about Wells:

The Red Sox have to deal with losing their second round pick as a penalty of their sign stealing. They now have a $5,129,900 to spend which ranks 26th among the 30 teams’ bonus pools. That could make it riskier to take a draft-eligible sophomore like Wells who could have a high asking price, but after the run of college hitters in front of this pick, he’s the best bat on the board and would give Boston as close to a sure thing as you could hope for in the draft in this range.

Listed at 6’2″ and 220 lbs., Wells, a former 35th round selection of the Yankees out of high school back in 2018, is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 27 draft-eligible prospect.

Turning 21 years old in July, the Las Vegas native who hits from the left side of the plate slashed .375/.527/.589 with two home runs and 14 RBI over 15 games for the Wildcats this year before the college baseball season was shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last summer, Wells played in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, where he posted a .308/.389/.526 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 26 RBI over 42 games played.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wells “showed that the bat is his calling card and potentially enough in its own right to make him a first round pick in his draft-eligible sophomore season.”

Yes, Wells is just a sophomore. And as Collazo mentions above, that might make him more of a challenge to sign for the right price since he could always return to Arizona for his junior season.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Red Sox took former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon with their top pick of the second round in last year’s amateur draft, so there should already be some familiarity there with Wells even if the team is under new baseball operations leadership.

Remember, in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer, the Red Sox will have approximately $3,609,700 to work with in slot money to sign their first-round pick, whoever it may be.

Wells is the second college backstop linked to the Sox ahead of this year’s five-round draft, which will be the shortest in the sport’s history.

Dan Zielinski III of the Baseball Prospect Journal had Boston taking North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey in a first-round mock draft from last month.