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.