Could Red Sox take exciting shortstop prospect Marcelo Mayer with No. 4 pick in 2021 MLB Draft?

The 2021 MLB Draft is still over three months away, but with the college and high school baseball seasons in full swing across the country, some prospects are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

The Red Sox will be making their top selection in this year’s draft with the fourth overall pick, marking the first time since 1967 that the club has made its first pick that early in a draft.

Because they will make their first selection so early on in the draft process this summer, the Sox will surely have their pick of prospects to choose from outside of the players who will be taken by the Pirates, Rangers, and Tigers at picks 1, 2, and 3.

“Right now, at this point in the process, we would be scouting everyone just as hard as we possibly could,” Red Sox area scout Danny Watkins explained last month on Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast.

Earlier this week, MLB.com’s Jim Callis wrote that “it’s very possible that” Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter and Dallas Jesuit High School shortstop Jordan Lawler could be the first three players off the board in July.

That would lead up to the Sox making their first pick at No. 4, and the best player available in this scenario would be none other than Eastlake High School (Calif.) shortstop Marcelo Mayer.

In their most recent top-300 draft rankings, Baseball America had Mayer listed as their fourth-ranked draft-eligible prospect behind only Rocker, Leiter, and Lawler.

“Mayer started getting attention from scouts at Eastlake as a freshman, where he showed a smooth left-handed stick at the plate and advanced defensive actions up the middle,” BA’s Carlos Collazo wrote of the 18-year-old infielder. “Mayer is arguably the top defensive shortstop in a class that is deep at the position. He glides around the infield dirt with silky smooth actions and has the hands, footwork and arm strength to stick at the position long term. He always seems to slow the game down, and has no problem throwing from multiple angles with an accurate arm.

“Mayer also has upside offensively,” Collazo added. “He has fringe-average power now, but evaluators believe he could tap into above-average power down the line and he controls the zone well with a swing that’s leveraged for fly balls.”

Mayer, who does not turn 19 until December, is listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. As of April 7, the Southern California commit was slashing .381/.600/.761 with two home runs, 11 RBI, and six stolen bases through his first eight games of the year for Eastlake, per MaxPreps.

As their fourth-ranked draft prospect, Baseball America also had Mayer going to the Red Sox at No. 4 in their most recent mock draft from March 29.

“It seems like Mayer is the clear No. 4 after the top trio of players on the board,” Collazo wrote of the California native. “Whether he is in the mix of the top tier or just on the cusp of joining that top tier is still to be determined. Some scouts believe he has a chance to be the best pure hitter in the draft — college or high school — and with an impressive glove at a premium position, that gives him a two-way toolset that shouldn’t last long on the board.”

Collazo added that “at the moment, it seems like the ‘place to pick’ in this year’s draft class is either No. 3 or 4.”

Last year, in Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Red Sox chief baseball officer, Boston had to wait until pick No. 17 to make their first pick. This year, that wait will be a lot shorter.

“You don’t have control over who’s picked ahead of you at 17,” Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier last month. “You’ve got to cover a wider pool of players. This year, we get to make the decision: Let’s figure out who is in our top five, six, seven, eight — whatever number you want to throw out — and scout those players really, really hard.”

The Sox will have more of a chance to get a look at Mayer — as well as the other top high school talent expected to comprise this year’s draft class — at the first-ever MLB Draft Combine, which is slated to take place in Cary, N.C. from June 20 through June 28.

Per Collazo, the combine will feature “the top 88 high school players eligible for the 2021 draft,” all of whom will partake in an eight-game tournament as well as a “pro-style workout.”

Also, for what it’s worth, the recommended slot value assigned to the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $6.64 million.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Bodie De Silva, SBLive)

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)

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 Georgia Right-Hander Cole Wilcox

In his annual 2020 Red Sox draft preview for SoxProspects.com, Mike Andrews profiled a handful of high school and college prospects the Red Sox could select with their top pick at No. 17 overall on June 10th.

Those prospects include some names we’ve already covered on here, such as Jared Kelley, Mick Abel, Garrett Crochet, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Robert Hassell, Patrick Bailey, and Ed Howard.

One prospect that has not been discussed on here but was included in Andrews’ preview was University of Georgia right-hander Cole Wilcox.

Wilcox, a draft-eligible sophomore out of Chickamauga, Ga., is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 23 prospect in this year’s draft class and ranks eighth among college pitchers.

The soon-to-be-21-year-old hurler was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 38th round of the 2018 draft, but he forwent signing with the club to instead honor his commitment to Georgia.

Listed at 6’5″ and 232 lbs., Wilcox posted a 1.57 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over four outings and 23 innings pitched for the Bulldogs this year before the college baseball season was shut down to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per Andrews, Wilcox’s pitching arsenal includes a 97-98 MPH fastball that  hits “triple digits with sink and armside run,” a plus mid-80s slider, and a mid-80s changeup with “above-average potential” which has “some scouts labeling it a potential plus pitch.”

One thing worth noting is that since he is still just a sophomore, Wilcox will have significant leverage in this year’s draft and will likely be seeking hefty compensation from whichever club takes him since he could go back to school for his junior year.

Still, as multiple scouting reports have reflected, Wilcox certainly has the upside to be a frontline starter in the future.

Since the Red Sox will be limited to just four picks in the 2020 draft, it will be interesting to see how big of a splash chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni will be willing to make with approximately $3,609,700 to spend on their top pick.