Latest ESPN mock draft has Red Sox taking LSU’s Cade Doughty with second-round pick

In his latest 2022 mock draft for ESPN.com, Kiley McDaniel has the Red Sox taking Louisiana State University infielder Cade Doughty with their second-round pick at No. 41 overall.

The Red Sox received the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft after failing to sign 2021 second-round pick Jud Fabian out of the University of Florida.

Another SEC product, Doughty is currently regarded by Baseball America as the 56th-ranked prospect in this summer’s draft class. The 21-year-old Denham Springs native was originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 39th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of high school, but he opted to honor his commitment to LSU as opposed to going pro then.

In 59 games with the Bayou Bengals this season, the right-handed hitting Doughty batted .298/.393/.567 with 19 doubles, 15 home runs, 57 RBIs, 56 runs scored, four stolen bases, 29 walks, and 49 strikeouts over 282 plate appearances. He missed nearly two weeks of action from late May until early June due to a dislocated left shoulder.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Doughty “doesn’t possess the lightning-quick bat speed seen in other high-round prospects, but more times than not, his timing is right, and his barrel stays in the zone with slight lift and proper extension. He has expanded the zone a bit more in 2022, as the punchouts increased from a year ago, with 49 in 238 at-bats. Seeing a heavy dose of plus sliders with high-velocity fastballs that the SEC has to offer, Doughty has proven in his time at Baton Rouge he can perform against the country’s top arms. When his plate discipline is on point, he is in the discussion of the upper-tier bats in this year’s class.”

Defensively, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder saw the majority of his playing time this year come at second base while making a handful of appearances at third base and shortstop as well. Baseball America notes that “his range isn’t quite there for shortstop, but his solid-average arm is more than capable to handle third. There is room for improvement on the dirt but his athleticism and baseball IQ are enough to be hopeful that Doughty will be able to stay on the infield moving forward.” 

On the basepaths, Doughty has amassed just nine stolen bases in his three seasons at LSU. In regards to his speed, the redshirt sophomore is best described as an average runner who “will capitalize on defensive mishaps as he has throughout his career” in Baton Rouge.

Doughty, who does not turn 22 until next March, was one of 255 prospects who participated in the MLB Draft Combine in San Diego earlier this month. It is unclear if he consented to the pre-draft MRI program, which would require whichever team that drafts him to offer no less than 75% of the recommended slot value in the form of a signing bonus.

The 41st pick in this summer’s draft, for instance, has a recommended slot value of $1,905,500. So, if the Red Sox were to select Doughty in the second round, they would have to offer him at least $1,429,125 in signing bonus money or would otherwise risk losing him to free agency.

Boston has not drafted and successfully signed a player out of LSU since 2011, when it took right-handed reliever Matty Ott in the 13th round.

(Picture of Cade Doughty: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Jack Leiter, potential Red Sox draft target, strikes out 16, tosses no-hitter for Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt University right-hander and 2021 draft prospect Jack Leiter made history on Saturday, as he became the first pitcher in school history to throw a regular season no-hitter since 1971.

Making his fifth start of the season against South Carolina in Nashville on Saturday afternoon, the 20-year-old hurler walked the very first batter of the game before retiring the next 27 Gamecocks he faced in order.

In addition to yielding no hits and just one walk over nine nearly-perfect innings of work, Leiter struck out a career-high 16 batters while also inducing eight flyouts and three groundouts.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 124 (81 strikes), the New Jersey native improved to 5-0 on the season while the Commodores improved to 15-2 and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

Through five starts now, Leiter owns a miniscule ERA of 0.31 over 29 total innings pitched since the college baseball season began last month.

The draft-eligible sophomore, formerly drafted by the Yankees out of high school in 2019, was already one of the hottest prospects at the top of this year’s amateur draft class, and his performance on Saturday highlighted just how high his ceiling is.

Baseball America has Leiter — the son and nephew of former major-league pitchers Al and Mark Leiter — as their No. 5 prospect headed into this July’s first-year player draft.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, “the 6-foot, 195 pound righty has an above-average fastball that gets into the mid 90s at its best, and he throws both four- and two-seam variations. On top of that, Leiter has a big, downer curveball with a high spin rate that projects as a plus offering, in addition to a slider and changeup that round out his repertoire.”

The Red Sox, coming off a 2020 season in which they finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36), own the fourth overall selection in this year’s July draft.

Because they will be picking so high this year (2021 will be the first time they’ve had a top-five draft pick since 1967), Boston is in more control of who exactly they want to select and who they will eventually be selecting at No. 4 — a potential franchise-altering pick — in just under four months.

“You don’t have control over who’s picked ahead of you at 17,” Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni recently told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. “You’ve got to cover a wider pool of players. This year, we get to make the decision: Let’s figure out who is in our top five, six, seven, eight — whatever number you want to throw out — and scout those players really, really hard.”

Along with Leiter, other college pitchers the Sox could target at No. 4 include fellow Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker and Louisiana State University righty Jaden Hill, though restrictions put in place as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic limit how thoroughly the club can evaluate these prospects.

“Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, I won’t be at every game but I will watch every one of their starts [on video],” Toboni said. “We’ll probably have a scout at close to every one of their starts. That’s partly because they’re really good players and it’s also partly because Vanderbilt is only allowing one scout from each club at every game. In order to have seven or eight evaluations, we sort of have to.”

One scout in particular who will be monitoring Rocker and Leiter closely between now and July will be area scout Danny Watkins, who covers Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee for the Sox. He is probably most known for signing Mookie Betts out of high school in 2011.

“I’m a duck in water again,” Watkins told Speier. “I get to do all these things that kind of get me going… It’s exciting. You really get to kind of shoot for the moon a little bit.”

The college baseball season runs through late June, and the potential remains for the Red Sox to take a prep prospect — like high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer — at No. 4 as well, so this is not to say we know who exactly Boston will be taking with their top pick come July 11.

It’s just that, with the MLB Draft only being a few months away, “the process of identifying targets for the draft” — as Speier put it — “is well underway.”

(Picture of Jack Leiter: Vanderbilt Athletics)