Feleipe Franks, technically a Red Sox prospect, signs with Atlanta Falcons

After not being selected in this past week’s NFL Draft, former University of Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, according to his agents at Overtime Sports Management Group.

Franks, 23, originally began his collegiate career at the University of Florida after signing with the Gators out of high school in 2015.

While attending Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Fla., Franks was a two-sport athlete, as he played baseball in addition to football.

On the baseball side of things, Franks was fairly effective as a pitcher, reaching 88 mph with his fastball. And while he did not get drafted by a major-league club out of high school on account of not playing his senior year, the interest in baseball still remained.

During his time at Florida, Franks appeared in a total of 28 games over three seasons and enjoyed a great deal of success as a sophomore in 2018, throwing 24 touchdown passes and just six interceptions while accounting for more than 2,800 yards of total offense.

In the months leading up to the 2019 football season, Franks received word that the Boston Red Sox were interested in selecting him in the upcoming MLB first-year player draft.

Despite having not thrown a baseball since his junior year of high school, Franks took the Red Sox up on their interest and threw a bullpen session, one in which he reached 94 mph on the radar gun.

Shortly thereafter, the Sox selected Franks in the 31st round of the June draft and signed him for $40,000 the following month, though he ultimately opted to continue his college football career.

Back in March, Franks told The Boston Globe’s Nicole Yang that being drafted by the Red Sox came as a shock.

“It definitely was surprising for me,” he said. “But it was a great experience. Still is.”

The Florida native came into his junior season with high expectations, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in September that would cost him the rest of the year.

Later transferring to Arkansas for his redshirt senior season, Franks led the Razorbacks to a 3-6 record in the nine games he played in 2020, but he did so while completing more than 68% of his passes in addition to accounting for 17 touchdowns and just four turnovers.

On an individual level, the 6-foot-7, 234 pound passer wrapped up his college career on a solid note and was even one of six quarterbacks to participate in this year’s Senior Bowl, yet no NFL team thought he was worthy of spending a draft pick on.

With Atlanta, Franks will join a quarterback room that includes the likes of Boston College alumni Matt Ryan and veteran backup A.J. McCarron.

As he explained to Yang, he is hopeful that his experience on the diamond can help him further develop on the gridiron.

“I think you can just see it with different guys — Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes,” said Franks. “It helps with arm angles. There’s so many different arm angles you throw in football, especially as a quarterback. It’s rare that you’ll just sit there and throw a perfect ball.”

By drafting and signing Franks in 2019, the Red Sox — as noted by SoxProspects.com — “reserve his baseball rights in the event he moves on from football down the line.”

According to Yang, the Sox will retain Franks’ rights through the 2024 season, so the door will remain open for him to pursue a career in baseball if the whole NFL thing does not work out.

Franks is not the only former Florida quarterback the Red Sox have drafted in recent years. Boston also took Jeff Driskel, now of the Denver Broncos, in the 29th round of the 2013 amateur draft.

(Picture of Feleipe Franks: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Latest 2021 mock draft has Red Sox taking University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with top pick

The 2021 Major League Baseball first-year player draft may still be seven months away, but the Red Sox already know they will be picking fourth in said draft thanks to finishing the 2020 season with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36).

Since the inception of the amateur draft in 1965, Boston has made its first selection within the top four on just two occasions in 1966 and 1967, so it goes without saying the upcoming draft will serve as an important hallmark for the franchise.

Though the 2021 high school and college baseball seasons are still a ways away from starting, next year’s potential draft class is already starting to take shape, even with possible COVID-19-related obstacles on the horizon.

That being said, MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently released his first round of predictions for which amateur prospects will be taken within the top-10 picks of July’s draft, and he has the Red Sox selecting University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian at No. 4.

“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,” Callis wrote. “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 turned 20 in September, is about to embark on his junior season for the Gators this coming spring.

The right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing center fielder out of Ocala, Fla. came into 2020 as a preseason All-Southeastern Conference second teamer. He posted an impressive .294/.407/.603 slash line to go along with five home runs and 13 RBI over 17 games played before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced the SEC to suspend its baseball season in mid-March.

Still, Fabian managed to salvage the year by taking part in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, where he went 14-for-46 (.304) at the plate with a pair of homers and 11 runs driven in across 19 games for the Orlando Scorpions.

He also spent the summer of 2019 on the Cape with the Bourne Braves.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs., Fabian very well could have been drafted out of Trinity Catholic High School in 2019 had he not skipped his senior season in order to enroll early at Florida. He has the advantage over other college prospects on account of the fact that he will be younger than the average junior.

Per 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.”

In recent years, the Red Sox have leaned more towards taking high school talent — Nick Yorke, Triston Casas, Jay Groome, Michael Chavis, Michael Kopech — with their first-round selection.

As it turns out though, the last two college prospects Boston has taken in the first round have both come out of the SEC, as right-hander Tanner Houck was drafted out of Missouri with the 24th overall pick in 2017 and outfielder Andrew Benintendi was drafted out of Arkansas with the seventh overall pick in 2015.