MLB Draft Rumors: Red Sox Could Target Cheaper Prospect With Top Pick

In his final 2020 mock draft for FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen has the Red Sox taking Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

That’s really no surprise, but what is surprising is the information that follows Longenhagen’s prediction. It foes as follows:

It sounds like even though Boston doesn’t have a second rounder, they’re looking to take advantage of teams generally avoiding high school players and might cut a deal here to scoop some of them up later. A hot rumor here is that Arizona high school shortstop Carson Tucker or righty Tanner Witt might go underslot here to facilitate that. I think that’s a contingency plan for if Abel is gone.

As we all know by now, the loss of a second-round pick from their illegal stealing of signs in 2018 has resulted in the Red Sox’ total slot value for the 2020 draft falling to $5,129,900, ranking 26th among the 30 MLB clubs.

To put it simply, Boston has less money to spend on draft picks than the majority of other teams do, and because of that, rumors like the one mentioned above have surfaced.

As Longenhagen notes, if the Red Sox were to draft a player Wednesday who would sign for less than the $3,609,700 allotted to that slot, that would allow them to spend more on the three picks they will make Thursday.

It’s somewhat of a bold strategy considering that the Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, could be settling for less with their top pick. But, if all goes according to plan, this approach could also prove to be quite beneficial in the long run.

Going back to the prospects involved here, we already know plenty about Abel, an 18-year-old committed to play college baseball at Oregon State. But what about Tucker and Witt?

Tucker, also 18, is the younger brother of Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker. Carson is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 52nd-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class and is regarded as someone who “has the chance to join his brother as a big league caliber shortstop.”

A right-handed hitter who is listed at 6’2″ and 180 lbs., the University of Texas commit slashed .390/.455/.574 with five home runs, 20 doubles, and 68 RBI over 92 total games spanning four seasons at Mountain Pointe High School.

Witt, meanwhile, also has connections to professional baseball in his family, as he is the son of former major-leaguer Kevin Witt.

Tanner, who turns 18 in July, is listed one spot below Tucker in MLB Pipeline’s draft-eligible prospect rankings and is also committed to play college baseball for the Longhorns.

The 6’6″ righty’s pitching arsenal includes an 88-92 MPH fastball that can reach 95 MPH, a mid-70s curveball, and a mid-80s changeup. He is apparently “only scratching the surface of his potential as a pitcher and may need time to develop, but the payoff could be significant.”

Could the Red Sox take one of these two lower-ranked prospects with their top pick? Or will they instead opt to go with Abel or prep outfielder Pete-Crow Armstrong instead? We’ll have to wait and see.

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.

Red Sox ‘Would Like’ to Take High School Position Player With Top Pick in This Year’s Draft

The Red Sox would ideally like to select a top prep position player prospect with their top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, according to The Athletic’s Keith Law.

Harvard-Westlake outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, who Law has the Sox taking in his third and most recent mock draft, represents just one of the players Boston could be targeting with the 17th overall pick.

Taking the criteria of being one of the best draft-eligible prospects out of high school into account, other players who fit Law’s description include outfielders Zac Veen, Austin Hendrick, and Robert Hassell, shortstop Ed Howard, and catcher Tyler Soderstrom. A few of these names have been linked to the Sox in past mock drafts.

Speaking of mock drafts, last week, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel going to the Sox, citing that the club is “focusing on ceiling with their top pick.”

Given the current circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, there is plenty of uncertainty heading into next week’s first-year player draft, which will consist of just five rounds, making it the shortest in MLB’s history.

To add on to that, the Red Sox were docked a second-round pick as part of their punishment for stealing signs in 2018, so only having four picks to make this year while the majority of other clubs have five adds even more stress to the job for amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, who was appointed to the position last September and will be running his first draft a week from Wednesday.

“From the standpoint of the fact that we were only able to scout for four college weekends and the high school kids, many of whom we didn’t see in their spring seasons, it’s difficult,” Toboni told The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey earlier this week. “A lot of uncertainty, more than there would be in a normal spring. From a standpoint of communicating with our staff, not being able to meet in person, having to overcome the learning curve of getting familiar with Zoom and these (video) calls, it’s just been different.”

Under Toboni and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox will have just $5,129,200 in total pool money to work with in regards to signing draft picks while also having the ability to sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for no more than $20,000 from June 14 through August 1.

 

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: University of Louisville Right-Hander Bobby Miller

In his latest 2020 mock draft for The Athletic, Keith Law has the Red Sox taking University of Louisville right-hander Bobby Miller with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Law writes the following of Miller:

Miller has been up to 98 mph as a starter with an above-average slider, showing some effort in the delivery but missing plenty of bats for the Cardinals, with mid-rotation or closer potential.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 26 overall draft-eligible prospect and seventh among right-handed hurlers out of college, Miller posted a 2.31 ERA and .181 batting average against over four starts and 23 1/3 innings pitched for the Cardinals this season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted collegiate athletics across the country.

Listed at 6’5″ and 220 lbs., the 21-year-old junior was a 38th round selection of the Baltimore Orioles three years ago, but he opted to honor his commitment to Louisville rather than sign with the club out of high school

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, the Illinois native’s “fastball is notable for both its heat — he sat at 95-96 mph throughout his dominance of East Carolina and worked at 97-99 in shorter stints in the fall — and its heavy life. He also can miss bats with a slider/cutter that usually operates at 85-87 and reached 90 during the fall. He has faith in a splitter/changeup with similar velocity and employs a more traditional change in the low 80s.”

One thing to watch with Miller though, as Law mentions, is his delivery, which “limits his control and has some scouts wondering if he’s destined to be a reliever in the long run.”

In the months leading up to the 2020 draft, which is now just under two weeks away, the Red Sox have been linked to a handful of college pitchers, but according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Boston seems more likely to take a prep prospect like Mick Abel, Jared Kelley, Nick Bitsko, Ed Howard, or Pete-Crow Armstrong if one of them is still on the board at No. 17.

With chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni leading the charge, the Sox will be limited to just four picks in this year’s five-round draft, the shortest in MLB’s history, and will have a grand total of $5,129,200 in slot money to spend on whichever four prospects they select from June 10 through the 11th.

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: University of Oklahoma Right-Hander Cade Cavalli

In his latest mock draft for FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen has the Red Sox taking Independence High School (TN) outfielder Robert Hassell with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

You can read more about Hassell here, but what I found most interesting in Longenhagen’s piece is what he wrote about who the Cubs might take with the 16th pick in University of Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli.

16. Chicago Cubs- Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

I think some of the teams picking in the middle of round one (Reds, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, D-backs) might be more motivated than usual to take a pitcher who they can plug and play in their bullpen sometime this summer…Bullpenning them for the rest of this year doesn’t preclude you from developing them as starters next spring.

It’s certainly an interesting point; the notion that a team like the Red Sox could take a college pitcher with their top pick with the goal of having said pitcher be available to pitch out of the major-league bullpen at some point this year if baseball is played in 2020.

Auburn University right-hander Tanner Burns and University of Tennessee left-hander Garrett Crochet are among the college pitchers who have been linked to the Sox in past mock drafts.

Cavalli, meanwhile, is ranked by FanGraphs as the No. 17 overall prospect in this year’s draft class and fifth among right-handed hurlers. He posted a 4.18 ERA and .281 batting average against over four starts and 23 1/2 innings of work for the Sooners in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A former 2017 29th-round selection of the Atlanta Braves out of Bixby High School (OK), the 21-year-old junior’s pitching arsenal includes a 92-96 MPH fastball that can top out at 98 MPH, a low-80s curveball, and an upper-80s slider/cutter.

Listed at 6’4″ and 226 lbs., Cavalli’s Baseball America scouting report goes as follows:

Cavalli is armed a big fastball that is routinely up into the upper-90s and he gets there with ease thanks to one of the better bodies in the draft and a clean delivery.”

Despite his frame and strong mechanics, Cavalli does have a bit of an injury history, as he was sidelined with a stress reaction during his junior season.

Still, the upside is there with Cavalli, although it would not be too surprising to see the Red Sox, under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, go with a high school prospect such as Hassell or right-hander Mick Abel rather than a guy out of college.

The 2020 MLB Draft is exactly two weeks away and will be just five rounds long, making it the shortest in the sport’s history to this point.

 

 

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: Austin Hendrick

In his latest mock draft for the Baseball Prospect Journal, Dan Zielinski III has the Red Sox taking West Allegheny High School outfielder Austin Hendrick with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Hendrick, who turns 19 four days after the 2020 draft is completed, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 2 prep outfielder in this year’s class behind only Zac Veen.

The Pennsylvania native’s Baseball America’s scouting report goes as follows:

Is there a high school hitter in the 2020 class with a better hit and power combination than Hendrick? We don’t think so. The Pennsylvania product is likely a corner outfielder, but he has light tower raw power and some of the quickest bat speed scouts have seen in years.

Playing for Team USA in last summer’s U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea, the Mississippi State signee didn’t get the chance to display that power, but he did get on base quite a bit by drawing five walks and getting plunked twice over the span of eight games.

Among all the high school prospects who will make up this year’s draft class, the left-handed hitting Hendrick has the best raw power tool of the lot, according to FanGraphs. That likely makes him a very appealing target for clubs whose first-round pick fall within the top 20.

The Red Sox, under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, own the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft, as previously mentioned.

With that, Boston will have up to $3,609,700 in signing bonus money to spend on their first of just four selections in this year’s draft, which will go down as the shortest in the sport’s history.

Because of how limited they will be in the 2020 draft, it would not be surprising to see the Red Sox try and make a splash with their top pick. And what better way to do that than by taking one of the best high school outfielders in this year’s class? If he is still on the board, that is.

Other outfielders who have been linked to the Red Sox in first-round mock drafts include UCLA’s Garrett Mitchell, Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad, Independence High School’s Robert Hassell, and Harvard-Westlake’s Pete Crow Armstrong.

The 2020 MLB Draft, which will consist of five rounds, is just over two weeks away. Stay tuned for more coverage.

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.

Baseball America’s Latest 2020 MLB Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking Arizona Catcher Austin Wells With Top Pick

In his fourth and most recent 2020 mock draft for Baseball America, Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox taking someone that has yet to be discussed on here with the 17th overall pick. That prospect’s name?

Austin Wells, C, University of Arizona

 

Collazo writes the following about Wells:

The Red Sox have to deal with losing their second round pick as a penalty of their sign stealing. They now have a $5,129,900 to spend which ranks 26th among the 30 teams’ bonus pools. That could make it riskier to take a draft-eligible sophomore like Wells who could have a high asking price, but after the run of college hitters in front of this pick, he’s the best bat on the board and would give Boston as close to a sure thing as you could hope for in the draft in this range.

Listed at 6’2″ and 220 lbs., Wells, a former 35th round selection of the Yankees out of high school back in 2018, is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 27 draft-eligible prospect.

Turning 21 years old in July, the Las Vegas native who hits from the left side of the plate slashed .375/.527/.589 with two home runs and 14 RBI over 15 games for the Wildcats this year before the college baseball season was shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last summer, Wells played in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, where he posted a .308/.389/.526 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 26 RBI over 42 games played.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wells “showed that the bat is his calling card and potentially enough in its own right to make him a first round pick in his draft-eligible sophomore season.”

Yes, Wells is just a sophomore. And as Collazo mentions above, that might make him more of a challenge to sign for the right price since he could always return to Arizona for his junior season.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Red Sox took former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon with their top pick of the second round in last year’s amateur draft, so there should already be some familiarity there with Wells even if the team is under new baseball operations leadership.

Remember, in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer, the Red Sox will have approximately $3,609,700 to work with in slot money to sign their first-round pick, whoever it may be.

Wells is the second college backstop linked to the Sox ahead of this year’s five-round draft, which will be the shortest in the sport’s history.

Dan Zielinski III of the Baseball Prospect Journal had Boston taking North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey in a first-round mock draft from last month.

 

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking University of Miami Right-Hander Chris McMahon With Top Pick

The start of the 2020 first-year player draft is exactly four weeks away, and in his latest mock draft for The Athletic, Keith Law has the Red Sox taking University of Miami right-hander Chris McMahon with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Law wrote the following about McMahon:

“McMahon is one of the safer college arms in the class, with solid performance and mid-rotation potential but without the upside of the college pitchers likely to go ahead of him (as well a few of those behind him, like Cade Cavalli or Cole Wilcox, who have more risk).”

Listed at 6’2″ and 205 lbs., McMahon is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 29 draft-eligible prospect.

The 21-year-old out of West Chester, Penn. was a former 33rd selection of the Braves back in 2017 coming out of high school, but he forwent signing with the club and instead honored his commitment to the Hurricanes.

Making four starts for Miami this season prior to the coronavirus-induced shutdown, the junior posted a 1.05 ERA and .207 batting average against over 25 2/3 innings of work.

His pitching arsenal includes a 95-98 MPH fastball, a breaking ball that gets “caught in between” a curve and a slider, and a changeup that can “miss bats and get ground-ball outs.”

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, McMahon “combines athleticism, stuff, feel for pitching and command to make him a complete package. With an arm action that can be a little deep, he can get flat and gets hit more than he should. He got out front more consistently and didn’t leave pitches up for Team USA and early this spring, solidifying his spot as one of the more solid college arms in the class.”

The 17th overall pick in this year’s draft will have an assigned slot value of $3,609,700, so that’s how much signing bonus money the Red Sox will have to work with for whoever they do wind up selecting in the June draft.

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking High School Right-Hander Mick Abel With Top Pick

In his latest mock draft for Prospects365.com, Mason McRae has the Red Sox taking high school right-hander Mick Abel with the 17th overall pick in this year’s June draft.

As we now know, the 2020 MLB Draft will be just five rounds, the shortest in the sport’s histroy, making hitting on the early picks that much more important for Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and company. The club will have $3,609,700 to spend on their first selection.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Abel, an 18-year-old out of Jesuit High School in Oregon, “has touched 97 MPH at times with his fastball, but didn’t get to that regularly last summer. He also mixes in one of the better breaking balls of the amateur class, and has good feel for a changeup that could give him three plus offerings.”

Listed at 6’5″ and 190 lbs., the Oregon State University commit started two games for Team USA in last summer’s U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea, allowing four earned runs over 4 1/3 total innings of work in those appearances.

A pitching arsenal that includes a 60-grade fastball, a 55-grade slider and changeup, and a 50-grade curveball, Abel is “only going to get stronger and throw harder as he physically matures, something he showed a glimpse of in one outing this spring before things got shut down [due to the coronavirus pandemic],” according to MLB Pipeline.

McLean or “Mick,” is expected to be one of the first prep pitchers taken off the board in this year’s draft, so it will be interesting to see if he is still available when the Red Sox are on the clock with the No. 17 pick.