Red Sox Top Pitching Prospect Jay Groome Faces Live Hitters at McCoy Stadium

For the first time since being added to the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool last month, Jay Groome, the club’s top left-handed pitching prospect, faced live hitters at McCoy Stadium earlier Tuesday morning.

Getting some work in during a live batting practice session, Groome threw 25-30 pitches and faced the likes of other top prospects in the organization such as Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong, as well as Jhonny Pereda, and reached 94 mph with his fastball while also mixing in his curveball and changeup.

There were no umpires and very few fielders around him, but as WEEI’s Rob Bradford puts it, “Tuesday represented a big step forward” for Groome.

Turning 22 years old later this month, the New Jersey native was originally taken by Boston with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Barnegat High School and later signed for $3.65 million.

Since that time, though, Groome has only made 20 professional starts across three minor-league levels as he has been hampered with different arm ailments, most recently undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2018.

Upon recovering from TJS, the 6-foot-6 southpaw was able to make three starts with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners last year, and now, he’s inching closer to appearing in a simulated game in Pawtucket.

Of course, under normal circumstances, Groome would likely be pushing for a promotion to Double-A Portland right about now, but because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hurler’s development path has certainly been disrupted.

PawSox pitching coach Paul Abbott said as much about Groome when speaking to reporters via Zoom on Tuesday.

“Obviously he needs to log innings,” stated Abbott. “He’s missed some valuable development periods for him to get on the mound and learn how to pitch as you go every step of the way.  Here’s a way how everything is looking, how everything is working so we have a good, solid idea going into spring training next year.”

With that in mind, the plan over the next six weeks is to see how Groome handles facing different levels of hitters so that the Red Sox have a good idea on where he will be at going into spring training next year.

Red Sox Sign Fifth-Round Draft Pick Shane Drohan for $600,000

The Red Sox have signed fifth-round draft pick Shane Drohan, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, Drohan, a 21-year-old left-hander out of Florida State University, signed with Boston for $600,000, which is well above the $364,400 in recommended slot value assigned to the 148th overall pick ($364,400).

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 147th-ranked draft-eligible prospect headed into this year’s draft, Drohan posted a 4.08 ERA over four starts and 17 2/3 innings pitched for the Seminoles in his junior season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the college baseball season.

Based off his SoxProspects scouting report, Drohan, a native of Fort Lauderdale, has a pitch mix that includes a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and an 80-83 mph changeup.

By signing Drohan, the Red Sox have now inked all four of their 2020 draft picks to professional contracts.

First-rounder Nick Yorke signed for $2.7 million, third-rounder Blaze Jordan signed for $1.75 million, fourth-rounder Jeremy Wu-Yelland signed for $200,000, and as already mentioned, fifth-rounder Shane Drohan signed for $600,000.

In total, Boston spent $5.25 million in order to sign their draftees, an amount that just barely surpasses their $5,129,900 bonus pool. As noted by SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall, this means that the club will “have to pay a 75% tax on the extra $120,100” they spent on their picks.

Also worth mentioning, the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, have signed 14 undrafted free agents, the most in baseball.

Red Sox Prospect Noah Song Receives Orders to Report to Flight School

Red Sox prospect Noah Song has received his marching orders and will report to flight school in Pensacola no later than June 26th, according to The Capital Gazette’s Bill Wagner.

Per Wagner, the order for Song to report to flight school was handed down by the Department of Defense, and it comes about eight months after the California native submitted a request to the DoD “seeking a transfer to the Navy Reserve so he could continue his professional baseball career during the 2020 season.”

However, after waiting quite a while for a response to that request, Song in April “submitted an updated request to pursue flight training after all.”

The 2019 fourth-round pick graduated from the Naval Academy last May and was allowed to play two months of minor-league baseball with the short-season Lowell Spinners over the summer.

Song was impressive in that stretch, as he emerged as the Red Sox’ sixth-ranked prospect by posting a 1.06 ERA and .167 batting average against over seven starts and 17 innings pitched for Lowell.

Despite the success he had to kick off his professional career, both with Lowell and Team USA in last fall’s Premier 12 tournament, Song will have to put his major-league aspirations on hold for the time being.

As Wagner puts it, “Training to be designated as a naval flight officer typically lasts approximately 18 months. It begins with aviation indoctrination at Naval Air Station Pensacola and continues with specialized training for whichever aircraft platform the service member is assigned.

“If Song’s training starts this summer, he would not be designated as a naval flight officer until sometime in 2022. However, he could receive his wings as an aviator after about a year of training.”

It does seem like the former is more likely than the latter in this case, though, so the next time we see Song, who turned 23 in May, with the Red Sox in some capacity will probably be sometime in 2022.

 

Red Sox Third-Round Draft Pick Blaze Jordan Not Taking Anything for Granted

Newest Red Sox draftee Blaze Jordan has been in the spotlight since he was in the eighth grade, if not earlier. He was a consensus top-100 prospect headed into this year’s draft, but that did not stop the 17-year-old from feeling some angst this past week.

Speaking with MassLive.Com’s Chris Cotillo on The Fenway Rundown podcast, Jordan went over how things went on Wednesday and on Thursday.

“I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty stressful process,” he said. “Especially that first night, because I knew there was a shot I could go that night. I was just waiting it out and seeing when it happens.

“The next day came and Boston called, and when I heard my name get called I actually started crying a bit because all that stress and stuff that was built up. It’s always been one of my dreams and I was just really fortunate to get picked by a great organization like the Red Sox. It was truly a great experience.”

Selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick, Jordan was one of the most well known draft-eligible prospects as previously mentioned. He was even dubbed ‘the next Bryce Harper’ as a 15-year-old. All that attention was tough to deal with at first, but the Mississippi native was eventually able to turn it into a positive.

“It was kind of hard, especially being that young,” Jordan said of being recognized at such a young age. “I would walk into a travel ball tournament and every team would know who I am and other teams would start to pitch me different and when they would get me out, they would get really excited.”

He added, “It made it a lot harder to play because it was stressful sometimes, but over time, I started to enjoy it because once that many people start to know you, a lot of kids would love to be in the situation I was in. Once all that pressure started getting put on me, I felt like it was helping me for the future and I felt like it helped me get to where I am today.”

Going back to that Bryce Harper comparison, Jordan says at first, it was “crazy” to be compared to a player of that caliber at such a young age. However, he added that, “I would definitely want to be in the position he’s in, but I also feel like I’m a different type of player. My goal is not just to be as good as him, but better. That’s what your goal has to be, to be the best one out there day in and day out.”

Another aspect of the Harper comparison can be attributed to Jordan’s personality and social media presence. With over 85,000 followers on Instagram, Jordan has already established quite the social media following for himself. He says he wants to use his platform in a positive manner and be a player fans can gravitate towards.

“I really hope I can be one of those guys fans know on a personal level,” the Mississippi State commit said. “I’m hoping that I can just have some good fan interactions and bring people back to the ballpark with excitement.”

Regarding the social media aspect, Jordan says, “The biggest thing for me is just trying to keep everything positive and try not to post anything negative. I know a lot of kids look up to me and I try to keep it to stuff kids would enjoy looking at.

“It’s really cool to interact with people through social media so they can see what I do in my life. I didn’t really mean for it to blow up, it just kind of happened and I went with it. It’s a true blessing because it’s a good platform to be on and share my life.”

The Red Sox drafted Jordan as a third baseman, but with 23-year-old Rafael Devers entrenched in the position at the big-league level for the foreseeable future, that may create a roadblock for the 2020 draftee to get to the majors. Still, he sees himself as a third baseman in the long term.

“I definitely feel like I should stay at third base,” he said. “Because I feel like I’ve put my body in the position to be able to play third base and I know my arm is definitely strong enough to play third.”

Although he can play first base, Jordan wants to continue to develop at third and “continue to work hard” because he knows he has things he can improve upon, such as his strength and conditioning.

Due to the current circumstances in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no timetable for when minor-league baseball will return. It likely won’t be this year, but that’s not stopping Jordan from looking ahead to his eventual minor-league debut if he does sign with Boston.

“Once I get there, I’m just going to be that average guy that’s going into the park,” Jordan said. “I’m going to have to fight for a spot and continue to work my butt off and try to go out there and have fun and continue to play my game.”

You can follow Jordan on Instagram here.

Following 2020 Draft, How Should Red Sox Approach Pursuing Undrafted Free Agents?

The 2020 MLB first-year player draft has come and gone, and beginning the morning of June 14th, clubs will have the opportunity to sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for no more than $20,000.

Under normal circumstances, the Red Sox have signed anywhere between 25-35 players in past draft, but since the 2020 edition was limited to just five rounds and Boston was limited to just four picks, only four new additions were made over the past two days in the forms of Nick Yorke, Blaze Jordan, Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and Shane Drohan.

Because this year’s draft was cut to five rounds rather recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems likely that the Red Sox had an idea of who would be available over the course of a typical 40-round draft before that announcement was made.

It also helps that, since not much baseball was played at the high school or college level this spring, the Sox’ draft board probably hasn’t changed all that much since the 2019 season came to an end.

Only 160 players were drafted this year, meaning there is still plenty of mid-to-late-round level talent out there on the free agency market.

With chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni at the helm, the Red Sox are in a position where they are trying to revamp things on the player development side of the game. They should not limit themselves to just the four players they drafted this week.

Some local products Boston could pursue during this unique free agency period, as noted by SoxProspects‘ Mike Andrews, include:

  • Wake Forest outfielder Chris Lanzilli (Stoneham, MA)
  • Boston College outfielder Chris Galland (Sudbury, MA)
  • Northeastern catcher Teddy Beaduet (Franklin, NH)
  • Buckingham Browne & Nichols shortstop Jake Berger (Boston, MA)
  • Avon Old Farms outfielder/catcher Jake Deleo (Norwalk, CT)
  • Braintree High School right-handed pitcher Myles McDermott (Braintree, MA)
  • Halifax High School right-handed pitcher Michael Quigley (Halifax, MA)
  • East Greenwich High School right-handed pitcher/infielder Brad Lombardi (East Greenwich, RI)
  • Gilmanton High School right-hander Adrian Siravo (Gilmanton, NH)
  • South Portland High School left-handed pitcher Hunter Owen (South Portland, ME)

Some of these prospects, more specifically the ones graduating from high school, will likely opt to honor their college commitments rather than go pro, but for the college seniors with no eligibility left, this could be the opportunity they have been looking for after going overlooked in the draft.

When asked last week about what the Sox’ approach to recruiting undrafted free agents will look like, Toboni said, “The Red Sox brand carries weight itself,” so it will certainly be fascinating to see just how many additional prospects they sign in the coming weeks.

The deadline to sign both drafted and undrafted players is August 1st.

Red Sox Draft Round-Up: How Did Chaim Bloom Fare in First Draft as Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer?

As the dust settles on the day following the completion of the shortest draft in Major League Baseball history, the Red Sox will come away with four new additions to their minor-league pipeline if all goes according to plan.

Those four new additions are prep infielders Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan, as well as college left-handed pitchers Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Shane Drohan.

As part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018, the Sox were docked a second-round pick in this year’s draft, which subsequently dropped their total pool money down to just $5,129,900.

Because of that, it seems that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni utilized a somewhat unconventional approach in their first draft together.

By taking Yorke, an 18-year-old second baseman out of San Jose, Calif. who was regarded by Baseball America as the 98th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, the Sox will likely be able to save quite a bit of money. That being the case because Yorke, who is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona, will presumably sign with Boston for less than the $3,609,700 slot value assigned to his draft position.

With that in mind and done with on Day 1 of the draft, Blom and Co. were able to go out and splurge with their third-round selection in first baseman/third baseman Blaze Jordan on Thursday.

The 17-year-old likely fell to the third-round because of his commitment to Mississippi State University, but the Red Sox will presumably be able to sway Baseball America’s 90th-ranked draft-eligible prospect to go pro by offering him more than the $667,900 signing bonus assigned to his draft position (No. 89).

“Getting that kind of upside at pick No. 89, it’s not normal,” Toboni said of Jordan Thursday night. “We were able to assume the risk mainly because the expected value we thought we were getting was really, really good in that area of the draft. He’s just a really exciting talent. There’s no other way to put it.”

As for the two college hurlers, Hawaii left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Florida State left-hander Shane Drohan, taken by Boston in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft, they were ranked by Baseball America as the No. 261 and No. 189 draft-eligible prospects respectively.

Wu-Yelland, who was scouted by J.J. Albotelli, has a recommended slot value of $487,9000, while Drohan, who was scouted by Dante Ricciardi, has a recommended slot value of $364,400.

The Red Sox have until August 1st to sign these four prospects, as well as any undrafted free agent they may pursue.

Some players are already reaching agreements with their new clubs, so it should not be long until we get our first reports of the Red Sox agreeing to terms with one of the four names mentioned above.

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.

Red Sox Take Power-Hitting Prep Corner Infielder Blaze Jordan With Third-Round Pick in 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected prep first baseman Blaze Jordan with their second pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft at No. 89 overall.

Jordan, who does not turn 18 until December, is committed to play college baseball at Mississippi State University.

The DeSoto Central High School (Miss.) product is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 42nd-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class, and he has one of the best power tools of anybody.

Per his MaxPreps page, Jordan slashed .422/.509/.777 with six doubles, five triples, and four RBI over 13 games this past season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted high school and college baseball across the country.

Once likened to Bryce Harper at just 15 years old, Jordan has been in the spotlight for quite a while. That much is made evident by his verified Instagram account that has over 78,000 followers.

Jordan’s Baseball America Scouting report from last month goes as follows:

Jordan has a mature approach at the plate, with quick, fluid hands and an all-fields approach in batting practice and in games despite his plus raw power. Teams were impressed with how he cut down his frame to give himself a chance to handle third base, though he needs plenty of improvement with his footwork, hands and throwing ability to stick there.

Because first-round pick Nick Yorke is likely to sign for less than the $3,609,700 allotted to his draft position, it seems probable that the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, took Jordan with the idea of signing him for more than the $667,900 allocated to his draft position.

Boston’s next pick, a fourth-rounder, comes up at No. 118.

Red Sox Take Prep Infielder Nick Yorke With 17th Pick in 2020 MLB Draft

In a surprising turn of events, the Red Sox have selected prep infielder Nick Yorke with their top pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft at No. 17 overall.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 139 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class, Yorke is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona.

An 18-year-old out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., Yorke is listed at 6’0″ and 200 lbs. His Baseball America scouting report from May goes as follows:

Yorke dealt with a shoulder injury prior to his junior year and is still recovering from that, which leads some scouts to believe he’ll be a better fit as an offensive second baseman. Still, other scouts have said his arm has looked good, with a better arm stroke recently and above-average arm strength.

Per his MaxPreps page, Yorke, who hits from the right side of the plate, slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs, 35 doubles, and 77 RBI over 94 games played spanning four seasons at Mitty High.

Regarded by one Red Sox evaluator as a potentially “special offensive player,” the club does expect to sign Yorke, according to the same evaluator.

Earlier Wednesday, it was thrown out there that the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, could target an underslot prospect with the club’s top pick in order to allocate more money later in the draft. That being the case because Boston was stripped of their second-round pick in April as part of their punishment for stealing signs in 2018.

The assigned slot value for the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $3,609,700, and the Red Sox have  $5,129,900 to work with in total pool space.

The first draft pick of the Chaim Bloom Era, Yorke represents Boston’s lone Day 1 pick. When the draft picks up again on Thursday evening, the Sox will be on the clock with the 89th, 118th, and 148th overall selections.

While Yorke weighs between going pro or honoring his commitment to the Arizona Wildcats, the Red Sox will have until August 1st to sign him.

UPDATE: According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, “the Red Sox apparently have an underslot deal done with [Yorke] that will save them ‘quite a bit of money’ according to one source.”

In other words, that would allow them to spend more on their Day 2 picks.