Latest mock draft has Red Sox selecting Vanderbilt commit Ryan Clifford with second-round pick

When the Red Sox failed to sign University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian in the wake of last summer’s amateur draft, they were rewarded with the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft.

The 41st pick will be made shortly after the Dodgers kick off the second round and Day 2 of the 2022 MLB Draft in Los Angeles on July 18. The selection has a recommended slot value of $1,905,500, which accounts for approximately 23.6% of Boston’s $8,078,300 bonus pool.

With that, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could go a number of different directions when it comes to the Sox’ second-round pick. They could target a college outfielder as they did last year or perhaps even a high schooler.

In his latest mock draft for Prospects Live, Joe Doyle has the Red Sox taking Pro5 Baseball Academy outfielder Ryan Clifford with their second-round selection at No. 41 overall.

Clifford, who turns 19 next month, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 68 prospect in this year’s draft class. Baseball America lists the North Carolina native as its 77th-ranked draft-eligible prospect.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds, Clifford is committed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt University. The left-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder has long been in the spotlight while playing for USA Baseball at several different levels.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Clifford “is equipped to hit for average and power” on account of his “picturesque” left-handed swing. “He has an advanced approach at the plate, focusing on driving balls from gap to gap while rarely chasing pitches out of the strike zone. With his bat speed and the strength in his 6-foot-3 frame, he could provide 25-30 homers per year once he starts driving the ball in the air more regularly. ”

Baseball America, on the other hand, notes that Clifford “developed a strong reputation as a hitter by playing up throughout his travel ball career and developing a solid track record with power potential in a strong, 6-foot-3, 206-pound frame. He’ll need to hit, as he has an offensive-forward corner profile and limited supplemental tools.”

On the other side of the ball, Clifford can best be described as a below-average runner with fringy speed who is “committed to working on his quickness and defense.” In addition to the outfield, the 18-year-old has experience at first base and could either settle there or in a corner outfield position in the long-run.

Because of these traits, Clifford has drawn comparisons to Diamondbacks first baseman Seth Beer, who was originally selected by the Astros in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft. The Red Sox had a chance to draft Beer, but instead took another first baseman in Triston Casas two picks prior.

(Picture of Ryan Clifford via his Instagram)

Latest Baseball America mock draft has Red Sox selecting University of Florida ace Hunter Barco with top pick

Note: Barco underwent Tommy John surgery in early May.

In the first installment of their 2022 MLB Staff Draft, Baseball America has the Red Sox selecting University of Florida ace left-hander Hunter Barco with its first-round pick at No. 24 overall.

Baseball America writer Tom Lipari was the one who made the selection, and he noted that Barco is a “solid, pitchability lefty with a history of success in the SEC” who would be a “safe pick and quick mover through any system.”

Barco, 21, was originally selected by the Mets in the 24th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of The Bolles School — the same high school New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones attended.

The Jacksonville native did not sign with New York, however, and instead opted to honor his commitment to Florida. After his freshman season was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Barco earned All-SEC Newcomer honors in 2021.

Through nine starts with the Gators this season, Barco has posted a 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and .187 batting average against to go along with 69 strikeouts to 11 walks over 50 1/3 innings of work. He was forced to leave his last outing against Vanderbilt on April 15 after just two innings due to illness and is now questionable for his next start against Tennessee on Friday.

Barco, who does not turn 22 until December, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class, ranking 14th among collegiate players and seventh among pitchers. MLB Pipeline, meanwhile, has Barco coming in at No. 53, which ranks 20th among hurlers who could be drafted in July.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Barco operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a low-90s fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a sweeping slider in the low-80s that can give off the appearance of a curveball, and a changeup that typically clocks in at the low-80s.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, “Barco throws from a low slot that adds deception and helps his stuff play up.” MLB Pipeline, on the other hand, notes that Barco “has done an excellent job of consistently finding the strike zone in college, though there’s improvement that can be made in terms of command within the zone with that funky delivery tough to repeat at times.”

While you have to go back to 2017 to find the last time the Red Sox used a first-round pick on a pitcher (Tanner Houck), the club certainly has not shied away from taking players out of Gainesville in recent years. Jud Fabian (who did not sign), Nathan Hickey, and Wil Dalton stick out there.

Barco could become the latest former Gator to join Boston’s organizational ranks, though plenty could — and likely will — change between now and Day 1 of the 2022 draft in Los Angeles on July 17.

(Picture of Hunter Barco: AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Red Sox’ Nathan Hickey quickly emerging as one of top catching prospects in Boston’s farm system

The Red Sox have an extensive history when it comes to drafting amateur prospects out of the University of Florida.

Dating back to the 2012 draft, the Sox have selected 12 players from Florida. Of that group of Gators, four (Austin Maddox, Brian Johnson, Bobby Poyner, and Shaun Anderson) went on to make it to the major-leagues.

Most recently, Boston selected Florida outfielder Jud Fabian and Florida catcher Nathan Hickey with its second- and fifth-round picks in last summer’s draft, respectively.

While Fabian ultimately made the decision to return to Gainesville for his senior season, Hickey wound up signing with the Red Sox for an over-slot deal of $1 million last July.

Upon inking his first professional contract, Hickey — a native of Jacksonville — reported to Fort Myers to begin his debut season with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox.

Across eight games in the FCL, the left-handed hitting backstop slashed .250/.429/.350 (124 wRC+) to go along with two doubles, one RBI, four runs scored, six walks, and eight strikeouts over 28 plate appearances before earning a promotion to Low-A Salem on August 27.

Hickey appeared in two games on Aug. 27 and 28, but was placed on the temporary inactive list on September 5. After a near-two-week hiatus, the 22-year-old returned to the field and made his final appearance of the season for Salem on Sept. 17. All told, he went 1-for-8 at the plate in his first exposure to the Low-A level.

Shortly after the conclusion of the minor-league season, it was revealed that Hickey’s father, Mark, passed away in early October.

On the heels of what was presumably an emotional 2021, Hickey comes into 2022 regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system — which ranks tops among catchers in the organization.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Hickey’s best carrying tool is his raw power. He also utilizes “a mature approach at the plate” that could help him “develop into a solid hitter, though his swing can get long and too uphill at times.”

That being said, Hickey also comes with some questions in regards to his defensive abilities behind the plate. The 6-foot, 210 pounder’s “receiving and blocking will have to improve significantly, and his solid arm strength plays down and resulted in 39 steals in 41 attempts against him during the spring.”

On that note, Hickey does have experience at other positions besides catcher. He saw time at both corner infield positions with the Gators in the spring before catching a total of five games between the FCL and Low-A over the summer.

Whether Hickey — who does not turn 23 until November — is able to stick at catcher has yet to be determined. He does however have an appealing offensive profile, and that should only help him in the long run.

Going off of SoxProspects.com’s roster projections, Hickey is slated to begin the 2022 campaign where he left off in 2021: with Salem. He will likely have a chance to earn a midseason promotion to High-A Greenville depending on the kind of start he gets off to.

(Picture of Nathan Hickey: Bryan Green/Flickr)

 

What Red Sox gain from Eduardo Rodriguez reportedly reaching agreement with Tigers

The Red Sox may have lost Eduardo Rodriguez in free agency to the Tigers on Monday, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will at least be compensated for it.

Last week, the Sox extended an $18.4 million qualifying offer to Rodriguez, but the 28-year-old rejected it at some point during the GM meetings and remained a free agent by doing so.

Because they extended Rodriguez a qualifying offer, though, Boston ensured that if the left-hander were to sign elsewhere in free agency, they would receive a compensatory draft pick in return.

As it turns out, Rodriguez — a client of Mato Sports Management — has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers that includes an opt out after the second year, a no-trade clause of some sort, and up to $3 million in performance incentives.

Since Detroit is in line to sign a qualified free agent in Rodriguez, they will forfeit a pick. Boston, on the other hand, picks up an additional selection in next summer’s amateur draft.

According to MLB Trade Rumors‘ Anthony Franco, the Sox will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B — or somewhere in the 70-75 range — since they “neither received revenue sharing nor exceeded the luxury tax threshold in 2021.”

Over the summer, the Red Sox failed to sign University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian, who they selected with the 40th overall pick in this year’s amateur draft. As a result of failing to sign Fabian, the club will receive the No. 41 pick in the 2022 draft.

Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, this compensatory pick is protected, which means a team that signs a qualified free agent would not be required to give it up.

As previously mentioned, the Red Sox did not receive revenue sharing money or spend past the luxury tax threshold of $210 million this past season. In addition to getting a draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B next year, this also means that Boston would have to forfeit its second-highest draft pick if they were to sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer from another club.

As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, though, the draft pick that the Red Sox gained as a result of failing to sign Fabian is protected, so they would instead part ways with their third-highest — or another second-round pick if they were to sign a qualified free agent such as Justin Verlander or Carlos Correa.

Put another way, “the Sox will have both a first-round pick and, thanks to Fabian, an early second-round (No. 41 overall) pick in their draft” next year, per Speier.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Red Sox fail to sign second-round-pick Jud Fabian as outfielder returns to Florida for senior season

Sunday’s 5 p.m. eastern time deadline for clubs to sign their 2021 draft selections has passed, and it can now officially be said that the Red Sox failed to sign second-round pick Jud Fabian.

Fabian, an outfielder out of the University of Florida, announced via Twitter Saturday that he would be returning to campus for his senior season with the Gators next spring.

The Sox selected the 20-year-old in the second-round of last month’s amateur draft with the 40th overall pick, knowing it would likely take more than $1,856,700 (the recommend slot value for that particular selection) to sign him.

Last week, The Athletic’s Peter Gammons tweeted that Fabian would not be signing with Boston on account of the fact that the Sox were not willing to offer the Ocala, Fla. native a signing bonus of $3 million.

Earlier Sunday, MLB.com’s Jim Callis wrote that “the Orioles reportedly would have given [Fabian] $3 million had he gotten to them at pick No. 41, but the Red Sox took him at No. 40.”

Due to their remaining pool space after already signing a number of their draft picks, the most Boston could offer Fabian without surrendering their 2022 first-round pick was approximately $2,100,680, per Callis.

This is the case because, in this scenario, the Red Sox would be exceeding their total bonus pool space by more than 5%, resulting in next year’s first-rounder being taken away from them as punishment.

Fabian, who turns 21 in September, was viewed by many as a potential first-round pick coming into the 2021 season, but saw his stock decline after an up-and-down spring in Gainesville.

Over 59 games (269 plate appearances) with the Gators earlier this year, the 6-foot-2 right-handed hitter and left-handed thrower slashed .249/.364/.560 with 10 doubles, 20 home runs, 46 RBI, 51 runs scored, six stolen bases, 40 walks, and 79 strikeouts while primarily playing center field.

Because he enrolled at Florida early and skipped his senior year of high school, Fabian will still be among the younger college prospects headlining next summer’s draft.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, will receive the 41st overall pick in the 2022 draft as compensation for not signing Fabian. That will come in addition to their own second-round selection.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Fabian is believed to be the highest Sox selection not to sign since first rounder Greg McMurtry, who the club selected at No. 14 overall out of Brockton High School back in 1986.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom had the following to say regarding Fabian returning to Florida, as transcribed by MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

(Picture of Jud Fabian: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign fifth-round pick Nathan Hickey for $1 million, per report

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

Per Callis, Hickey — a catcher — has signed with the Sox for $1 million, which is well above the recommended slot value of $410,100 for the 136th overall selection in this year’s draft and is tied for the highest bonus total given to any prospect taken in rounds 4-10.

Hickey, 21, was the first and only catcher taken by Boston in the 2021 amateur draft and was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 131 prospect in this year’s class, ranking 10th among eligible backstops.

A sophomore out of the University of Florida, Hickey — a native of Jacksonville, Fla. — posted an impressive .317/.435/.522 slash line to go along with 15 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 50 RBI, 40 runs scored, one stolen base, 42 walks, and 40 strikeouts over 60 games (278 plate appearances) with the Gators this spring.

While he is listed as a catcher, the 6-foot, 210-pound left-handed hitter also played four games at first base and five games at third base this season, leading to him drawing comparisons to newly-acquired Red Sox outfielder Kyle Schwarber.

According to his pre-draft scouting report from MLB Pipeline, “Hickey has raised his offensive profile to the point where he’s now being considered to be one of the best bats in Florida. He has a solid approach at the plate, drawing a ton of walks. He’s been tapping into his power and while some scouts see a bit of a max effort swing, he’s cut his strikeout rate down considerably this year. Hickey lost 20-25 pounds when he first got to Florida and has kept the weight off, making him more athletic in the box.

“The bat is going to have to play because few scouts believe he’ll be able to catch long-term. He has more than enough arm for the position, but lacks the agility or the hands to deal with high-octane pitching. The best possible defensive outcome might be for him to move to left field and let the bat carry him to the big leagues in a Kyle Schwarber type of trajectory.”

In signing Hickey to an over-slot deal, the Red Sox have now locked up 14 of their 20 draft picks that were made earlier this month. They have also signed Clemson University outfielder Kier Meredith and Western Oklahoma State College right-hander Jhonny Felix as undrafted free agents.

With less than 48 hours to go until the draft signing deadline (5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday), the most prevalent Boston draft pick who remains unsigned is Hickey’s college teammate in Florida outfielder Jud Fabian, whom the club took in the second round at No. 40 overall.

As noted by SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, “the maximum the Red Sox could offer Jud Fabian without exceeding the bonus pool by more than 5% is [approximately] $2.1 million,” though that number would decrease if “if they sign any of their remaining draftees for over $125,000.”

Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Peter Gammons tweeted that Fabian would not be signing with Boston since the Sox were not willing to offer the 20-year-old sophomore a signing bonus of $3 million.

Of course, that could just be a negotiation tactic on the part of Fabian’s camp, and the Red Sox could counter by daring Fabian to turn down what is essentially late first-round money and return to school for his junior season.

If Fabian, who turns 21 in September, were to not sign by Sunday’s deadline, the Sox would be compensated by receiving the 41st overall pick in next year’s draft in addition to their own second-round selection.

That being said (and as was discussed on the most recent episode of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast), it would be a rough look for Chaim Bloom, Paul Toboni, and Co. if the Sox were unable to sign Fabian after making him their first pick of Day 2 of this year’s draft.

(Picture of Nathan Hickey: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Red Sox select University of Florida catcher Nathan Hickey with No. 136 pick in 2021 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected University of Florida catcher Nathan Hickey with their fifth-round pick in the 2021 MLB first-year player draft at No. 136 overall.

Hickey, 21, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 132 prospect headed into the draft, ranking 10th among all eligible catchers.

Listed at 6-foot and 205 pounds, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing backstop was college teammates at Florida with Red Sox second-round selection Jud Fabian.

In his second season with the Gators this spring, which was technically his freshman season on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hickey slashed .317/.435/.522 with 15 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, 50 RBI, 40 runs scored, one stolen base, 42 walks, and 40 strikeouts over 60 games spanning 278 plate appearances.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the Jacksonville, Fla. native is well-regarded when it comes to his offensive game, but questions arise when it comes to what he is capable of doing behind the plate.

“Hickey hammers fastballs and has done well with 93-plus mph velocity this spring and tries to access his easy plus raw power with a leveraged and steep uphill swing path,” his scouting report reads. “That’s allowed him to do damage to his pull side on pitches middle and down, but there is a hole at the top of the zone that better pitchers might be able to expose more often. A good feel for the strike zone and a willingness to take walks should take some of the pressure off of Hickey’s pure bat-to-ball skills.

“A team that thinks Hickey can stick behind the plate might like his bat among the top-50 picks in the draft, but most of the industry seems to think he’ll have to move off the position at the next level. His arm is more serviceable than above-average or plus and he needs plenty of work as a receiver and blocker to get to even fringe-average defensive ability.”

While he is listed as a catcher, Hickey does have limited experience at both corner infield positions, as he played four games at first base and five games at third base for the Gators this spring.

And because of his status as a quote-unquote freshman, Hickey has at least two years of eligibility remaining, so he could certainly return to campus in Gainesville if he so chooses.

That said, the recommended slot value for the 136th overall pick in this year’s draft is $410,100, so it will be interesting to see if the Red Sox will be able to reach an agreement with Hickey — the first catcher they have drafted this year — sooner rather than later.

(Picture of Nathan Hickey: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Red Sox select University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with No. 40 pick in 2021 MLB Draft

The Red Sox have selected University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with their second-round pick in the 2021 MLB first-year player draft at No. 40 overall.

Fabian, 20 was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect heading into the draft, ranking sixth among college position players.

There was a point in time not too long ago — before the college baseball season started — where it looked as though Fabian, a native of Florida, could be a potential top-five pick this summer, but an up-and-down sophomore season with the Gators resulted in his stock dropping a bit.

Over 59 games (269 plate appearances) with Florida this spring, the right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder slashed .249/.364/.560 with 10 doubles, 20 home runs, 46 RBI, 51 runs scored, six stolen bases, 40 walks, and 79 strikeouts.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Fabian enrolled at Florida a year early in 2019 after skipping his senior season at Trinity Catholic High School (Ocala, Fla.), making him one of the younger college prospects in the draft.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Fabian — who does not turn 21 until late September — “teams [had] plenty of concerns about his pure feel for hitting and his high strikeout rates” this spring.

“He entered the year with question marks about his swing and miss against spin but has whiffed more than 30% against each pitch type,” Fabian’s scouting report reads. “Fabian has attempted to make some tweaks mechanically to cut down on his strikeouts, removing a leg kick in two-strike counts which did help him lower his strikeout rate, but it’s still higher than the 25% mark teams generally prefer with first-round bats. Fabian does have solid bat speed and plus raw power that has translated mostly to the pull side, but he’s hit a few impressive homers over the right-field fence as well.

“Fabian should have no issues handling center field and playing it at a high level defensively at the next level. He’s an above-average runner but what makes him a special defender are his defensive instincts, first step, reads off the bat, athleticism and arm strength. He’s at least a plus defender in the outfield and some scouts have gone as far as putting double-plus grades on his glove, making him one of the best defensive center fielders in the 2021 draft class.”

Because of his age and the fact that he has two years of eligibility left, Fabian has plenty of leverage when it comes to negotiating his signing price.

According to FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kevin Goldstein, some within the industry feel as though the young slugger “might go back to school if he doesn’t go in the first round.”

Longenhagen and Goldstein also noted earlier this month that Fabian partook in a private workout conducted by the Red Sox that included the likes of Henry Davis and Brady House.

With all that being said, the recommended slot value for the 40th overall selection in this year’s draft is approximately $1,856,700, while the Red Sox — whose drafting efforts are led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, among others — have approximately $11,359,600 in total bonus pool space to work with when it comes to signing their picks.

While it’s unclear at the moment if Fabian will sign with Boston or return to campus in Gainesville, one thing is for certain: the Red Sox will be on the clock again when it is time for pick No. 75 to be made.

(Picture of Jud Fabian: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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)