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: Garrett Mitchell and Jared Kelley

In his latest 2020 mock draft for MLB Pipeline, Jonathan Mayo has the Red Sox taking University of California, Los Angeles outfielder Garrett Mitchell with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Mayo writes the following of Mitchell:

Mitchell continues to be among the toughest players to place in a projection because his raw tools are undeniable, but his performance (especially power-wise) has been spotty and teams need to find a comfort level with taking a player with Type 1 Diabetes in the first round.

A 21-year-old junior outfielder out of Orange, Calif., Mitchell slashed .355/.425/.484 with six doubles, one triple, five stolen bases, and nine RBI over 15 games for the Bruins in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Listed at 6’3″ and 205 lbs., the former 2017 14th round selection of the Oakland A’s is unlike any other draft-eligible prospect this year in that he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a third-grader.

That has not hindered Mitchell’s production on the field though, as he is MLB Pipeline’s sixth-ranked draft-eligible prospect ahead of the 2020 first-year player draft, which is just under three weeks away.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Mitchell, who hits from the left side of the plate, “possesses the best package of tools in the 2020 class, with plus-plus running ability, plus arm strength, defense and raw power that some scouts are now citing as 70-grade juice. Mitchell has endlessly tweaked his swing throughout his amatuer career, but seemed to find his groove as a sophomore last season.”

It’s also worth mentioning that in his analysis for who the Red Sox might select with their top pick, Mayo mentions that the club “could go the high school pitching route with someone like Jared Kelley here.”

Who is Jared Kelley? Well, according to MLB Pipeline, he is the 12th-ranked overall prospect and second-ranked high school pitching prospect ahead of this year’s draft. The top prep pitching prospect being right-hander Mick Abel.

The 18-year-old right-hander out of Refugio High School in Texas is already committed to play college baseball for The University of Texas in Austin, but will likely forego that commitment if he is taken off the board early in the first round.

Kelley’s MLB Pipeline scouting report says his pitching arsenal includes a 93-96 MPH fastball that can reach up to 98 MPH, an advanced changeup with “fade and sink,” and a hard slurveball.

Listed at 6’3″ and 215 lbs., Kelley “pounds the strike zone and has the look of a frontline starter who could reach the big leagues before he turns 21. His strong, physically mature frame and the ease of his delivery should allow him to log plenty of innings.”

Mayo has him going to the Mets with the 19th overall pick.

As a reminder, the Red Sox, under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni, will have approximately $3,609,700 to spend on their top pick this year.