Daniel McElveny is the latest Red Sox prospect working to become a catcher

The Red Sox are working to convert infield prospect Daniel McElveny into a catcher, former minor-league catching coordinator (and current Double-A Portland manager) Chad Epperson tells Peter Gammons of The Athletic.

McElveny, who turns 19 in April, was selected by Boston in the sixth round of last year’s draft out of Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista, Calif. He signed with the Sox for $197,500 that July as opposed to honoring his commitment to San Diego State University.

Before drafting him, however, the Red Sox had McElveny fly in to Boston and work out at Fenway Park. There, the 18-year-old who had played both infield and outfield in high school shifted between right field, second base, third base, shortstop, and behind the plate.

“I don’t know how that’s going to play out in the long-term,” director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni said of McElveny’s versatility last summer. “But for now, he’s going to have a lot of ways to keep his bat in the lineup and hopefully string together some really quality at-bats.”

Of the 612 prospects taken in the 2021 amateur draft, McElveny was the only individual to receive the designation of utility player. After officially signing with the Red Sox as a shortstop on July 24, the right-handed hitter made his pro debut in the rookie-level Florida Complex League on August 10.

In just nine FCL contests, McElveny batted .174 (4-for-23)/.367/.217 (85 wRC+) with one double, one RBI, five runs scored, three walks, and 10 strikeouts across 33 plate appearances. He was also hit by a pitch on four separate occasions.

Defensively, the 6-foot, 190 pounder did not see any time behind the plate in the FCL, but he did log 37 1/3 innings at second base and three innings in left field.

Epperson, who spent the last 12 seasons (2010-2021) as the Red Sox’ catching coordinator before being named the Portland Sea Dogs’ new manager earlier this month, told Gammons that the club is “optimistic” about McElveny’s conversion and that “it’s worth a try.”

If McElveny is to make the switch to catcher to some degree, he would become the latest in a slightly long line of Boston minor-leaguers to do so. Alex Erro was drafted as an infielder in 2019 but caught 57 games for Low-A Salem last year. Stephen Scott was drafted as an outfielder that same year but caught 19 games between Salem and High-A Greenville last year. Alex Zapete signed out of the Dominican Republic as an infielder in 2018 but is now working to become a catcher.

Connor Wong, one of three players the Red Sox acquired from the Dodgers in the famed Mookie Betts trade, played several positions at the University of Houston and while coming up through Los Angeles’ farm system.

Last year with Triple-A Worcester, Wong caught 372 1/3 innings but also made one appearance at second base. The 25-year-old backstop made his major-league debut in June and appeared in a total of five big-league games behind the plate. In each of those outings, the Red Sox took note of how well Wong collaborated with the pitchers he was working with.

“The first thing is that the young player has to really buy in, he has to want to make the change,” Epperson said of the conversion process. “He has to be very quiet when he goes back there. Selfless, like Jason (Varitek). The mindset is really important.”

While someone like Wong will be looking to make his mark in the majors this year, McElveny is preparing to embark upon his first full professional season. The Southern California native is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 campaign back in the FCL, though he should have the opportunity to earn himself a promotion to Low-A Salem at some point in the spring or summer.

(Picture of Daniel McElveny: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox sign sixth-round pick Daniel McElveny for $200,000, per report

The Red Sox have signed sixth-round draft pick Daniel McElveny, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, McElveny — who is listed as a utility player — has signed with the Sox for approximately $200,000. He is currently on his way to the club’s spring training complex in Fort Myers.

McElveny, 18, was selected by Boston out of Bonita Vista High School (Calif.) with the 166th overall pick in the 2021 MLB first-year player draft last week.

The recommended slot value for the 166th overall selection in this year’s draft was $306,800, which means the Sox will save approximately $106,800 in signing McElveny to an under-slot deal.

Listed at 6-foot and 190 pounds, the right-handed hitter and thrower was committed to play college baseball at San Diego State University, but instead opted to go pro out of high school.

In his senior season with Bonita Vista, which is just down the road from where Red Sox first-round pick Marcelo Mayer played his high school ball, McElveny posted a .435/.580/.764 slash line to go along with nine doubles, two triples, five home runs, 22 RBI, 37 runs scored, 23 stolen bases, 20 walks, and 15 strikeouts over 29 game played (119 plate appearances) this past spring.

As noted by MLB.com’s Ian Browne, the Southern California native was the only one of 612 prospects taken in this summer’s draft who was designated by their respective team as a utility player.

That being the case because the Red Sox worked out McElveny, who primarily played shortstop in high school, at a plethora of different positions at Fenway Park in the weeks leading up to the draft, as the club’s director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni explained to reporters (including Browne) last Tuesday.

“We worked him out at Fenway and he hopped in at right field, he hopped in at second base, third base, shortstop, he was catching,” Toboni said of McElveny. “I don’t know how that’s going to play out in the long term, but for now, he’s going to have a lot of ways to keep his bat in the lineup and hopefully string together some really quality at-bats.”

While McElveny was not regarded as one of the top draft-eligible prospects by industry publications such as Baseball America, he was listed by Perfect Game USA as the No. 52 prep prospect in the state of California going in to the draft.

That being said, the Red Sox got one of their first looks at McElveny during a Perfect Game showcase event last summer, and they got additional eyes — including those of area scout J.J. Altobelli — on him when he and Mayer’s schools played one another on a couple of occasions this spring.

“Daniel McElveny is a cool story. I think he probably first got on our radar in June of last year at an event called PG National,” Toboni said. “We liked his feel to hit. He was kind of a grinder that we thought played the game the right way. We just followed him along the way.

“He played in a couple more events,” added Toboni. “We saw him in the spring, scouting him and only him, and we also saw him match up with Marcelo, which allowed us to see him a little bit more. We were just drawn to the competitor, the feel to hit, the feel for the stone, and the versatility he had on defense.”

Per his Perfect Game scouting report, which was written sometime in 2020, McElveny “hits from a straight stance with good balance and direction through contact” and “has loose fast hands through the ball and plenty of extension for future power,” which is something the Red Sox were clearly drawn to.

“We just saw him play so much. He’s got a really simple swing. He has really good barrel feel,” said Toboni. “Everything in both batting practice and games seems to find the barrel.”

The Red Sox managed to ink McElveny, who does not turn 19 until next April, to an under-slot deal with a little less than two weeks to go until the August 1 signing deadline.

Thus far, Boston has signed four of its 20 draft picks (Tyler McDonough, Matt Litwicki, Jacob Webb, and McElveny) to contracts, while they also signed Clemson University outfielder Kier Meredith as an undrafted free agent, according to SoxProspects.com.

In total, the Sox have approximately $11,359,600 to work with in regards to signing as many draft picks as they please, though they could bump that amount up by 5% (to $11,927,580) if they were willing to incur some tax-related penalties.

On that note, Toboni did say last week that he would expect 13-15 of the Red Sox’ draft selections to sign with the club, so there should be more announcements being made in the coming days.

(Picture of Daniel McElveny: Daniel McElveny’s Instagram)