Potential Red Sox draft target, University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian a name to watch as college baseball season kicks off Friday

The 2021 college baseball season begins on Friday, and with the Red Sox making their top selection in this July’s amateur draft with the fourth overall pick, this season could stand out significantly.

Several draft-eligible prospects have been linked to the Sox already, but sticking with the college baseball theme here, one name to watch in particular this spring is University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian.

Back in December, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had Boston selecting the 20-year-old with their top pick in the upcoming draft, writing that “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. 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 turns 21 in September, is rather young for a junior on account of the fact he enrolled early at Florida and skipped his senior year of high school.

In his first two seasons as Gator, the right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder has slashed .250/.368/.466 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI over 73 total games played while primarily patrolling center field.

He did carry with him an OPS of 1.010 through his first 17 games of the 2020 campaign before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the SEC to cancel its college baseball season last March.

According to 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.”

Listed at 6-foot and 190 lbs., the Ocala, Fla. native already has at least one connection to the Red Sox since he was teammates with outfield prospect Wil Dalton for a year in Gainesville.

In a recent appearance on Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, Dalton, Boston’s eighth-round draft selection in 2019, raved about Fabian and what he can bring to the table at the next level.

“Jud came in my junior year. He was an early grad out of high school, so he enrolled early and skipped his senior year of high school,” Dalton said in January. “Coming in, we were like, ‘Okay, the kid’s obviously going to be good, coming to the University of Florida, but you’re also coming early.’ So, we knew the kid could play.

“But I’ll say this, not only is he doing what I figured he would do now, he worked for every ounce of it,” added Dalton. “And that’s why I have so much respect for him. The dude truly is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. He believes in himself, he’s very confident in his abilities, and it shows when he plays. Everything that he does is a straight reward for all the hard work he puts in, and he deserves every bit of it and it’s been great to see that. Anybody that gets to draft him this year is getting one hell of a player. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Red Sox pick him up, at all. In all honesty, it would be a great pick. Kid comes from a great family, a great work ethic. Most of all, he’s a great overall person to represent an organization.”

When asked if Fabian could surpass Vanderbilt University right-hander Kumar Rocker — the consensus top prospect in this year’s draft class — this spring and become the No. 1 pick in July, Dalton did not mince his words.

“I have no doubt in that,” he said. “I mean, he’s got the ability to do it. I’ve seen the kid hit baseballs farther than somebody his size ever should hit a baseball.”

Fabian’s Florida Gators, the top team in the country, open their season against Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s 21st-ranked Miami Hurricanes in Gainesville on Friday evening.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. eastern time and you can watch the game on the SEC Network.

(Picture of Jud Fabian: Gary McCullough/AP)

Latest 2021 mock draft has Red Sox taking Eastlake High School shortstop Marcelo Mayer with top pick

Come this July, the Red Sox will be picking within the top five in the MLB first-year player draft for the first time since 1967, when the club took high school right-hander Mike Garman with its top pick at No. 3 overall.

Coming off a 2020 season in which they finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball, it goes without saying that the Red Sox selecting fourth in the 2021 draft will be a key moment for the franchise as they move forward under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

The draft still may be many a month away, but more and more mock drafts are starting to get released in recent weeks.

Last month, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had the Sox taking University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with their top selection. And just this week, Baseball America released their ‘2021 MLB Mock Draft Version 1.0.

At No. 4, BA’s Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox taking Eastlake High School (Calif.) shortstop Marcelo Mayer.

“Many clubs believe Southern California shortstop Marcelo Mayer is the best pure hitter in the prep class, and it’s rare for that profile to last long in the draft,” Collazo writes. “In recent years, the perceived best pure high school hitters have all been selected among the top 10 picks: OF Jarred Kelenic went No. 6 to the Mets in 2018, OF Riley Greene went No. 5 to the Tigers in 2019 and OF Robert Hassell went No. 8 to the Padres in 2020. Mayer has the superior defensive profile to all those hitters, which should create a lofty realistic range for him.”

Mayer, 18, is set to graduate from Eastlake High in Chula Vista this spring. He is currently committed to play college baseball at the University of Southern California.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 180 lbs., Mayer hits from the left side of the plate while throwing with his right hand.

He didn’t get too much of an opportunity to showcase himself in 2020 on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but he did participate in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in Oklahoma City back in September.

There, according to the folks over at Prospects Live, Mayer “had a good night with a firm base hit up the middle and some impressive actions on the dirt.”

FanGraphs‘ scouting report for Mayer goes as follows:

Mayer is a graceful infield defender with a very projectable frame. His swing currently prioritizes contact. He has terrific vertical plate coverage and generates all-fields spray, but he’s also shown an ability to turn on and punish pitches inside with power. His frame is nearly identical to Izaac Pachecho’s, but Mayer has a better chance to stay at short and has more room to fill out, so he’s slightly ahead of Pacheco here.

Because the draft is still so far away, the Red Sox taking Mayer with their top selection is no sure thing, as eligible prospects are likely to see their stock rise and fall between now and July, especially with high school and college baseball still to be played in some capacity this spring.

Having said that, Mayer is someone the Red Sox are presumably quite familiar with already given the hype that has been surrounding him. It would be interesting to ask J.J. Altobelli, the team’s Southern California amateur area scout, about that.

And for what it’s worth, in Bloom’s first draft as chief baseball officer, Boston took another high school infielder in Nick Yorke, who also hails from California and was committed to play college ball at a Pac-12 school (Arizona).

(Top picture of Mayer: Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune)

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.