Potential Red Sox draft target, University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian a name to watch as college baseball season kicks off Friday

The 2021 college baseball season begins on Friday, and with the Red Sox making their top selection in this July’s amateur draft with the fourth overall pick, this season could stand out significantly.

Several draft-eligible prospects have been linked to the Sox already, but sticking with the college baseball theme here, one name to watch in particular this spring is University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian.

Back in December, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had Boston selecting the 20-year-old with their top pick in the upcoming draft, writing that “Fabian might be the most polarizing prospect among the eight players who seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the Draft class at this point. He could have the most usable power in the Draft and may stay in center field, but he also has hit just .250 with a 22-percent strikeout rate in two seasons at Florida.”

Fabian, who turns 21 in September, is rather young for a junior on account of the fact he enrolled early at Florida and skipped his senior year of high school.

In his first two seasons as Gator, the right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder has slashed .250/.368/.466 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI over 73 total games played while primarily patrolling center field.

He did carry with him an OPS of 1.010 through his first 17 games of the 2020 campaign before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the SEC to cancel its college baseball season last March.

According to his FanGraphs scouting report, Fabian “has a rare, unfavorable ‘backwards’ profile — he hits right and throws left, limiting him to 1B/OF — but looks like he’ll hit enough for that not to matter. While his lower half has gotten a little heavier and softer since high school, Fabian still has a fairly athletic swing, and his hitting hands work in an explosive loop that give him low-ball power. His hands load deep and high, and Fabian’s bat path doesn’t always look like it’s going to work, but he still covers the zone from (nearly) top to bottom and can pull his hands in to get the barrel on inside pitches.”

Listed at 6-foot and 190 lbs., the Ocala, Fla. native already has at least one connection to the Red Sox since he was teammates with outfield prospect Wil Dalton for a year in Gainesville.

In a recent appearance on Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, Dalton, Boston’s eighth-round draft selection in 2019, raved about Fabian and what he can bring to the table at the next level.

“Jud came in my junior year. He was an early grad out of high school, so he enrolled early and skipped his senior year of high school,” Dalton said in January. “Coming in, we were like, ‘Okay, the kid’s obviously going to be good, coming to the University of Florida, but you’re also coming early.’ So, we knew the kid could play.

“But I’ll say this, not only is he doing what I figured he would do now, he worked for every ounce of it,” added Dalton. “And that’s why I have so much respect for him. The dude truly is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. He believes in himself, he’s very confident in his abilities, and it shows when he plays. Everything that he does is a straight reward for all the hard work he puts in, and he deserves every bit of it and it’s been great to see that. Anybody that gets to draft him this year is getting one hell of a player. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Red Sox pick him up, at all. In all honesty, it would be a great pick. Kid comes from a great family, a great work ethic. Most of all, he’s a great overall person to represent an organization.”

When asked if Fabian could surpass Vanderbilt University right-hander Kumar Rocker — the consensus top prospect in this year’s draft class — this spring and become the No. 1 pick in July, Dalton did not mince his words.

“I have no doubt in that,” he said. “I mean, he’s got the ability to do it. I’ve seen the kid hit baseballs farther than somebody his size ever should hit a baseball.”

Fabian’s Florida Gators, the top team in the country, open their season against Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s 21st-ranked Miami Hurricanes in Gainesville on Friday evening.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. eastern time and you can watch the game on the SEC Network.

(Picture of Jud Fabian: Gary McCullough/AP)

Chaim Bloom explains what went into Red Sox taking infielder Nick Yorke with top pick in 2020 MLB Draft

When the Red Sox selected prep infielder Nick Yorke with their top pick in the shortened 2020 MLB first-year player draft, they were met with quite a bit of blowback from fans and the general public alike.

Going into the June draft, which was cut down to five rounds due to the financial constraints created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Yorke was not necessarily seen as a bona fide first-rounder.

A recent graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in the San Jose Area, the 18-year-old was committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona and it appeared as though that commitment was a strong one.

With that, and perhaps other factors, in mind, Yorke slipped through the draft rankings to the point where Baseball America had him as the No. 96 draft-eligible prospect in the early stages of the summer.

While other clubs targeted more hyped-up and well-known prospects with their respective top selections, the Sox did not shy away from Yorke — a player they had already liked — when they were put on the clock at pick No. 17.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much when speaking with SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall on the SoxProspects.com podcast earlier this week.

“I think at the end of the day, what it came down to is not us trying to do something that was off the board because we got a kick out of doing something that was off the board, but believing in it and not being scared off of it just because it was different,” Bloom said. “If the only reason that we don’t do something is that we’re worried about criticism, that’s not a good enough reason. We should never operate like that. We have to be willing to do what we believe is right, even if we’re going to get criticized.

“We knew that it would come with some blowback,” continued Bloom. “Because Nick wasn’t a hyped player. We also had a lot of belief in the player and there was also belief that if we had had a normal spring, he would have been seen. A lot of things kind of conspired with him having been hurt the year before and not having played the infield the year before. And if you weren’t there really all over him those first few weekends, you did not have enough information on Nick Yorke to really think anything about him.”

Because of the aforementioned pandemic, Yorke’s senior season at Archbishop Mitty was prematurely cut short after just five games. The right-handed hitter went 8-for-15 (.533) with two home runs and six RBI in those five games, though, to finish his high school career with an otherworldly .457/.552/.709 slash line over 94 total games played at the varsity level.

Still, even if Yorke, who is listed at 6-foot and 200 lbs., was able to play a full season’s worth of high school ball in 2020, perceptions of him around the game would have still likely varied.

“We could have had a full spring and there still would have been a lot of different opinions in the industry about the player, about the profile,” said Bloom. “But, we had a really strong belief in the evaluation that we had and we went through a very rigorous process about how to build our board. And look, there’s certainly ways the draft could have fallen where we might have ended up taking someone else. It wasn’t that we were hellbent on saving money in that round to go spend it later.

“But, given what the board looked like when it got to our pick, we felt very, very clearly that it made sense to us to take Nick there,” Bloom added. “We liked the player a lot and also felt like we had some savings we could do damage with later in the draft.”

A little less than a month after drafting him, the Sox managed to sign Yorke for $2.7 million, which fell well below the recommended slot value for the 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft ($3.6 million).

This, in turn, allowed the club to draft and sign fellow prep prospect Blaze Jordan, who was selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick.

With a full ride to Mississippi State University to use to his advantage, Jordan received $1.75 million in signing bonus money from Boston, well above the recommended slot value assigned to pick No. 89 ($667,900).

As you may recall, the reason the Red Sox were docked a second-round pick in last year’s draft was due to their illegal use of the video replay room during the 2018 season, hence the long wait in between their first and second selections.

“It really has to start with believing in the player,” Bloom said of Yorke, his first draft pick as Boston’s CBO. “Because it was going to be a long time before we were going to pick again, and you can’t necessarily count on what you’re going to be able to do with those savings. But, we also felt like we had enough intel — that there were enough clubs that were aligned with us on Nick — that waiting for him to be around at pick No. 89 was also not a good strategy. This was a player we wanted.”

Following impressive showings at both the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket and fall instructional league in Fort Myers last year, Yorke has worked his way up to becoming the No. 13 prospect (No. 6 among position players) in Boston’s farm system, per SoxProspects.

The Newport Beach native is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season — whenever it begins — with Low-A Salem, where he will have the chance to show off his highly-touted hit tool and continue to develop in organized games against other teams for the first time as a professional.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

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.

MLB Draft Rumors: Red Sox Could Target Cheaper Prospect With Top Pick

In his final 2020 mock draft for FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen has the Red Sox taking Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

That’s really no surprise, but what is surprising is the information that follows Longenhagen’s prediction. It foes as follows:

It sounds like even though Boston doesn’t have a second rounder, they’re looking to take advantage of teams generally avoiding high school players and might cut a deal here to scoop some of them up later. A hot rumor here is that Arizona high school shortstop Carson Tucker or righty Tanner Witt might go underslot here to facilitate that. I think that’s a contingency plan for if Abel is gone.

As we all know by now, the loss of a second-round pick from their illegal stealing of signs in 2018 has resulted in the Red Sox’ total slot value for the 2020 draft falling to $5,129,900, ranking 26th among the 30 MLB clubs.

To put it simply, Boston has less money to spend on draft picks than the majority of other teams do, and because of that, rumors like the one mentioned above have surfaced.

As Longenhagen notes, if the Red Sox were to draft a player Wednesday who would sign for less than the $3,609,700 allotted to that slot, that would allow them to spend more on the three picks they will make Thursday.

It’s somewhat of a bold strategy considering that the Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, could be settling for less with their top pick. But, if all goes according to plan, this approach could also prove to be quite beneficial in the long run.

Going back to the prospects involved here, we already know plenty about Abel, an 18-year-old committed to play college baseball at Oregon State. But what about Tucker and Witt?

Tucker, also 18, is the younger brother of Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker. Carson is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 52nd-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class and is regarded as someone who “has the chance to join his brother as a big league caliber shortstop.”

A right-handed hitter who is listed at 6’2″ and 180 lbs., the University of Texas commit slashed .390/.455/.574 with five home runs, 20 doubles, and 68 RBI over 92 total games spanning four seasons at Mountain Pointe High School.

Witt, meanwhile, also has connections to professional baseball in his family, as he is the son of former major-leaguer Kevin Witt.

Tanner, who turns 18 in July, is listed one spot below Tucker in MLB Pipeline’s draft-eligible prospect rankings and is also committed to play college baseball for the Longhorns.

The 6’6″ righty’s pitching arsenal includes an 88-92 MPH fastball that can reach 95 MPH, a mid-70s curveball, and a mid-80s changeup. He is apparently “only scratching the surface of his potential as a pitcher and may need time to develop, but the payoff could be significant.”

Could the Red Sox take one of these two lower-ranked prospects with their top pick? Or will they instead opt to go with Abel or prep outfielder Pete-Crow Armstrong instead? We’ll have to wait and see.

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.

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: Turlock High School Catcher Tyler Soderstrom

In their latest 2020 five-round mock draft, the folks over at Perfect Game have the Red Sox taking high school catcher Tyler Soderstrom with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Perfect Game national scouting director Jered Goodwin writes the following of Soderstrom:

The left-handed hitting catcher raked all summer on the showcase circuit, including the Perfect Game All American Classic. He is athletic enough and the arm plays so there is reason to believe he can stay behind the plate, long term. His average/power potential from the left side is the carrier, however, with impact offensive upside in the cards here. 

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 19 overall prospect in this year’s draft class, Soderstrom, who turns 19 in November, is committed to play college baseball at University of California, Los Angeles.

The Turlock High School (Calif.) product is listed at 6’2″ and 200 lbs. and hits from the left side of the plate.

Per his MaxPreps page, Soderstrom slashed .373/.458/.569 with seven home runs, 21 doubles, and 69 RBI over 82 total games played in high school dating back to the beginning of his freshman season.

The son of former 1993 first-round pick Steve Soderstrom, Tyler is “a hitter first, but he will get to his power. He might be a tick above average as a runner, especially for a catcher, and has shown he has the athleticism to play third and even the outfield,” according to MLB Pipeline.

It’s been reported several times in the past few weeks that the Red Sox are likely leaning towards taking a high school prospect with their top pick in this year’s draft as they pursue prospects with plenty of upside.

Soderstrom is just one of several prep prospects who have been linked to Boston in recent mock drafts. Right-handers Nick Bitsko and Mick Abel, shortstop Ed Howard, and outfielders Robert Hassell, Pete-Crow Armstrong, and Austin Hendrick are among the others.

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, the Sox will have approximately $5,129,200 to spend on the four selections they will be making in the 2020 draft, which is only five days away.

Red Sox ‘Would Like’ to Take High School Position Player With Top Pick in This Year’s Draft

The Red Sox would ideally like to select a top prep position player prospect with their top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, according to The Athletic’s Keith Law.

Harvard-Westlake outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, who Law has the Sox taking in his third and most recent mock draft, represents just one of the players Boston could be targeting with the 17th overall pick.

Taking the criteria of being one of the best draft-eligible prospects out of high school into account, other players who fit Law’s description include outfielders Zac Veen, Austin Hendrick, and Robert Hassell, shortstop Ed Howard, and catcher Tyler Soderstrom. A few of these names have been linked to the Sox in past mock drafts.

Speaking of mock drafts, last week, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel going to the Sox, citing that the club is “focusing on ceiling with their top pick.”

Given the current circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, there is plenty of uncertainty heading into next week’s first-year player draft, which will consist of just five rounds, making it the shortest in MLB’s history.

To add on to that, the Red Sox were docked a second-round pick as part of their punishment for stealing signs in 2018, so only having four picks to make this year while the majority of other clubs have five adds even more stress to the job for amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, who was appointed to the position last September and will be running his first draft a week from Wednesday.

“From the standpoint of the fact that we were only able to scout for four college weekends and the high school kids, many of whom we didn’t see in their spring seasons, it’s difficult,” Toboni told The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey earlier this week. “A lot of uncertainty, more than there would be in a normal spring. From a standpoint of communicating with our staff, not being able to meet in person, having to overcome the learning curve of getting familiar with Zoom and these (video) calls, it’s just been different.”

Under Toboni and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox will have just $5,129,200 in total pool money to work with in regards to signing draft picks while also having the ability to sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for no more than $20,000 from June 14 through August 1.

 

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: University of Louisville Right-Hander Bobby Miller

In his latest 2020 mock draft for The Athletic, Keith Law has the Red Sox taking University of Louisville right-hander Bobby Miller with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Law writes the following of Miller:

Miller has been up to 98 mph as a starter with an above-average slider, showing some effort in the delivery but missing plenty of bats for the Cardinals, with mid-rotation or closer potential.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 26 overall draft-eligible prospect and seventh among right-handed hurlers out of college, Miller posted a 2.31 ERA and .181 batting average against over four starts and 23 1/3 innings pitched for the Cardinals this season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted collegiate athletics across the country.

Listed at 6’5″ and 220 lbs., the 21-year-old junior was a 38th round selection of the Baltimore Orioles three years ago, but he opted to honor his commitment to Louisville rather than sign with the club out of high school

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, the Illinois native’s “fastball is notable for both its heat — he sat at 95-96 mph throughout his dominance of East Carolina and worked at 97-99 in shorter stints in the fall — and its heavy life. He also can miss bats with a slider/cutter that usually operates at 85-87 and reached 90 during the fall. He has faith in a splitter/changeup with similar velocity and employs a more traditional change in the low 80s.”

One thing to watch with Miller though, as Law mentions, is his delivery, which “limits his control and has some scouts wondering if he’s destined to be a reliever in the long run.”

In the months leading up to the 2020 draft, which is now just under two weeks away, the Red Sox have been linked to a handful of college pitchers, but according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Boston seems more likely to take a prep prospect like Mick Abel, Jared Kelley, Nick Bitsko, Ed Howard, or Pete-Crow Armstrong if one of them is still on the board at No. 17.

With chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni leading the charge, the Sox will be limited to just four picks in this year’s five-round draft, the shortest in MLB’s history, and will have a grand total of $5,129,200 in slot money to spend on whichever four prospects they select from June 10 through the 11th.

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: University of Oklahoma Right-Hander Cade Cavalli

In his latest mock draft for FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen has the Red Sox taking Independence High School (TN) outfielder Robert Hassell with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

You can read more about Hassell here, but what I found most interesting in Longenhagen’s piece is what he wrote about who the Cubs might take with the 16th pick in University of Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli.

16. Chicago Cubs- Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

I think some of the teams picking in the middle of round one (Reds, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, D-backs) might be more motivated than usual to take a pitcher who they can plug and play in their bullpen sometime this summer…Bullpenning them for the rest of this year doesn’t preclude you from developing them as starters next spring.

It’s certainly an interesting point; the notion that a team like the Red Sox could take a college pitcher with their top pick with the goal of having said pitcher be available to pitch out of the major-league bullpen at some point this year if baseball is played in 2020.

Auburn University right-hander Tanner Burns and University of Tennessee left-hander Garrett Crochet are among the college pitchers who have been linked to the Sox in past mock drafts.

Cavalli, meanwhile, is ranked by FanGraphs as the No. 17 overall prospect in this year’s draft class and fifth among right-handed hurlers. He posted a 4.18 ERA and .281 batting average against over four starts and 23 1/2 innings of work for the Sooners in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A former 2017 29th-round selection of the Atlanta Braves out of Bixby High School (OK), the 21-year-old junior’s pitching arsenal includes a 92-96 MPH fastball that can top out at 98 MPH, a low-80s curveball, and an upper-80s slider/cutter.

Listed at 6’4″ and 226 lbs., Cavalli’s Baseball America scouting report goes as follows:

Cavalli is armed a big fastball that is routinely up into the upper-90s and he gets there with ease thanks to one of the better bodies in the draft and a clean delivery.”

Despite his frame and strong mechanics, Cavalli does have a bit of an injury history, as he was sidelined with a stress reaction during his junior season.

Still, the upside is there with Cavalli, although it would not be too surprising to see the Red Sox, under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, go with a high school prospect such as Hassell or right-hander Mick Abel rather than a guy out of college.

The 2020 MLB Draft is exactly two weeks away and will be just five rounds long, making it the shortest in the sport’s history to this point.