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.

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: Pete Crow-Armstrong and Ed Howard

In his latest 2020 mock draft for MLB.com, Jim Callis has the Red Sox taking high-school right-hander Mick Abel with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

You can read more about Abel, an 18-year-old out of Oregon, here, but what I found most interesting about Callis’ write-up on the righty was how he also linked two more draft-eligible prospects to the Red Sox in Pete Crow-Armstrong and Ed Howard.

“The Red Sox don’t appear to be going conservative despite losing their second-round choice for sign stealing,” Callis wrote. “Because they’re also in on Crow-Armstrong and Howard.”

Starting with Crow-Armstrong, the 18-year-old outfielder, listed at 6’1″ and 180 lbs., out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 20 draft-eligible prospect.

Harvard-Westlake is regarded as one of the best baseball schools in the country, producing major-league talents such as Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty, and Max Fried in recent years.

Per his Prospects Live scouting report, Crow-Armstrong “is more quick than fast, but has elite instincts in center field with an above average arm and projects as an elite defensive value. He has shown more swing and miss than expected, but has a simple clean swing and his diamond kinetics is full of truly electric bat speed metrics that portend to more future power.”

Crow-Armstrong, who bats from the left side of the plate, was a member of Team USA in the U-18 Baseball World Cup last summer in South Korea, where he slashed .364/.405/.606 with four stolen bases and nune runs scored over nine games played.

Callis has the young outfielder going to the Diamondbacks with the 18th overall pick in his aforementioned mock draft.

It’s also worth mentioning that Crow-Armstrong is committed to play at Vanderbilit.

As for Howard, MLB Pipeline’s 15th-ranked draft-eligible prospect is regarded by Callis as “the best true shortstop in the draft.”

The 18-year-old out of Lynwood, Ill. hits from the right side of the plate, and according to Baseball America, “throws well from most angles and has the short-area quickness and range that scouts like to see from a shortstop.”

Listed at 6’2″ and 185 lbs., Howard “has a high floor for a prepster as a reliable performer with the chance for solid tools across the board,” per Callis.

Howard is a University of Oklahoma commit.

The 2020 MLB Draft is less than four weeks away and will be limited to just five rounds.

Due to their sign stealing in 2018, the Red Sox will be limited to just four draft picks in what will be chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s first draft at the helm in Boston.

The assigned slot value for the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $3,609,700, so that’s how much bonus money the Sox will have to work with to sign whoever they select with the pick.

According to my calculations, up to 10 prospects, including Crow-Armstrong and Howard, have been projected to land with the Red Sox in the first round of this year’s amateur draft.

At this point, if the Sox do not take one of Crow-Armstrong, Howard, Abel, Chris McMahon, Robert Hassell, Nick Bitsko, Patrick Bailey, Tanner Burns, Garrett Crochet, or Heston Kjerstad with the 17th overall pick, I will be somewhat surprised. But, what do i know?

For more draft-related content, check out the following links below:

Who Could Red Sox Target in First Round of This Year’s MLB Draft?

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking Pure-Hitting High School Prospect With Top Pick

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking University of Miami Right-Hander Chris McMahon With Top Pick