Brady to Boston? MLB Pipeline’s latest 2021 mock draft has Red Sox selecting prep shortstop Brady House with No. 4 overall pick

In his latest mock draft for MLB Pipeline, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has the Red Sox selecting Winder-Barrow High School (Ga.) shortstop Brady House with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 first-year player draft, which begins in just over seven weeks.

With shortstops Marcelo Mayer — who has been linked to the Red Sox in past mocks — and Jordan Lawlar going to the Pirates and Rangers at picks No. 1 and 2 and Louisville catcher Henry Davis going to the Tigers at No. 3, Mayo decided against having the Sox select either one of Vanderbilt right-handers Jack Leiter or Kumar Rocker and instead had them take another high school infielder in House.

“He might be able to stick at shortstop and even if he can’t, adjustments he’s made at the plate have allowed him to show off his immense raw power more consistently,” Mayo wrote of the young shortstop on Wednesday.

In an earlier mock draft from late April, Mayo projected Boston to take Mayer at No. 4, while House fell to the Orioles at No. 5. But he also noted then that House “had entered last summer as the front-runner top pick, had an up-and-down showing, but righted the ship this spring, with his name starting to pop up at least as high as right above this pick.”

Though this is just pure speculation, it would appear that there is now more evidence connecting the Red Sox to House given how Mayo changed things up in his latest mock.

House, who turns 18 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the sixth-ranked prospect in this summer’s draft class, which is six spots higher than he was at this point in April.

While his high school career came to a close earlier this month, the Georgia native finished his senior season by compiling a .549/.675/.967 slash line to go along with eight home runs, 20 RBI, and 21 stolen bases over 31 games played for the Bulldoggs, per MaxPreps.

At the moment, House is committed to play college baseball at the University of Tennessee, though it seems unlikely he would go the college route if he is indeed selected in the early stages of the first round.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, the right-handed hitter’s MLB Pipeline scouting report goes as follows:

“At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds with plenty of strength and bat speed, House looks the part of a power hitter and has well-above-average raw pop to all fields. But after showing the ability to crush good velocity and handle quality breaking balls in past years on the showcase circuit, he got excessively aggressive and his right-handed stroke got longer and slower. Since learning what happens when he sells out for home runs, he has made adjustments, shortened his swing and gotten back to doing damage. 

“An average runner, House likely will move to third base in pro ball but may be athletic enough to stay at shortstop. The Tennessee recruit should be at least a solid defender at the hot corner and possesses a plus arm that can pump fastballs up to 96 mph off the mound. Scouts compare him to a more athletic version of Joey Gallo or 2018 Cardinals first-rounder Nolan Gorman.”

The assigned slot value for the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft is approximately $6.664 million, the same as it was in 2020.

Put another way, the Red Sox will have $6.664 million to spend in regards to signing whoever they take at No. 4 without incurring any sort of penalty.

(Picture of Brady House: Doug Bower)

Could Red Sox take exciting shortstop prospect Marcelo Mayer with No. 4 pick in 2021 MLB Draft?

The 2021 MLB Draft is still over three months away, but with the college and high school baseball seasons in full swing across the country, some prospects are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

The Red Sox will be making their top selection in this year’s draft with the fourth overall pick, marking the first time since 1967 that the club has made its first pick that early in a draft.

Because they will make their first selection so early on in the draft process this summer, the Sox will surely have their pick of prospects to choose from outside of the players who will be taken by the Pirates, Rangers, and Tigers at picks 1, 2, and 3.

“Right now, at this point in the process, we would be scouting everyone just as hard as we possibly could,” Red Sox area scout Danny Watkins explained last month on Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast.

Earlier this week, MLB.com’s Jim Callis wrote that “it’s very possible that” Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter and Dallas Jesuit High School shortstop Jordan Lawler could be the first three players off the board in July.

That would lead up to the Sox making their first pick at No. 4, and the best player available in this scenario would be none other than Eastlake High School (Calif.) shortstop Marcelo Mayer.

In their most recent top-300 draft rankings, Baseball America had Mayer listed as their fourth-ranked draft-eligible prospect behind only Rocker, Leiter, and Lawler.

“Mayer started getting attention from scouts at Eastlake as a freshman, where he showed a smooth left-handed stick at the plate and advanced defensive actions up the middle,” BA’s Carlos Collazo wrote of the 18-year-old infielder. “Mayer is arguably the top defensive shortstop in a class that is deep at the position. He glides around the infield dirt with silky smooth actions and has the hands, footwork and arm strength to stick at the position long term. He always seems to slow the game down, and has no problem throwing from multiple angles with an accurate arm.

“Mayer also has upside offensively,” Collazo added. “He has fringe-average power now, but evaluators believe he could tap into above-average power down the line and he controls the zone well with a swing that’s leveraged for fly balls.”

Mayer, who does not turn 19 until December, is listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. As of April 7, the Southern California commit was slashing .381/.600/.761 with two home runs, 11 RBI, and six stolen bases through his first eight games of the year for Eastlake, per MaxPreps.

As their fourth-ranked draft prospect, Baseball America also had Mayer going to the Red Sox at No. 4 in their most recent mock draft from March 29.

“It seems like Mayer is the clear No. 4 after the top trio of players on the board,” Collazo wrote of the California native. “Whether he is in the mix of the top tier or just on the cusp of joining that top tier is still to be determined. Some scouts believe he has a chance to be the best pure hitter in the draft — college or high school — and with an impressive glove at a premium position, that gives him a two-way toolset that shouldn’t last long on the board.”

Collazo added that “at the moment, it seems like the ‘place to pick’ in this year’s draft class is either No. 3 or 4.”

Last year, in Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Red Sox chief baseball officer, Boston had to wait until pick No. 17 to make their first pick. This year, that wait will be a lot shorter.

“You don’t have control over who’s picked ahead of you at 17,” Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier last month. “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.”

The Sox will have more of a chance to get a look at Mayer — as well as the other top high school talent expected to comprise this year’s draft class — at the first-ever MLB Draft Combine, which is slated to take place in Cary, N.C. from June 20 through June 28.

Per Collazo, the combine will feature “the top 88 high school players eligible for the 2021 draft,” all of whom will partake in an eight-game tournament as well as a “pro-style workout.”

Also, for what it’s worth, the recommended slot value assigned to the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $6.64 million.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: Bodie De Silva, SBLive)

Red Sox promote Ben Crockett to senior vice president of baseball operations, Brian Abraham to director of player development in slew of personnel moves

The Red Sox announced several major- and minor-league personnel moves on Friday afternoon, highlighted by Ben Crockett being promoted to the club’s senior vice president of baseball operations and Brian Abraham being promoted to the club’s director of player development.

Crockett, 41, previously served as Boston’s vice president of player development from 2016-2020 and has been with the organization since 2007 after interning in their baseball operations department.

His promotion to SVP of baseball ops. comes a few weeks after longtime Red Sox executive Zack Scott left the organization to become assistant general manager of the New York Mets.

Scott has since been named New York’s acting general manager after the club fired Jared Porter on January 19 for harassing a female reporter in 2016.

Crockett, a Topsfield, Mass. native, played college baseball at Harvard University, and emerged as a legitimate right-handed pitching prospect there as evidenced by him getting drafted twice.

The first time around, Crockett — a junior — was selected by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2001 amateur draft. He did not sign with his hometown team.

The second time around, Crockett — now a senior — was selected by the Rockies in the third round of the 2002 amateur draft. He went on to sign with Colorado and spend five years in their minor-league system.

Since calling it a playing career, Crockett has undertaken a variety of roles within the Red Sox’ scouting and player development machine. From 2008-2009, he served as an advance scouting coordinator; from 2010-2011, he served as assistant director of player development; and from 2012-2016, he served as director of player development.

That role has now been taken over by Abraham, who, like Crockett, attended a local school in the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.

The 36-year-old was born and raised in Worcester, too, and he got his start in professional baseball by spending six years in the Blue Jays’ organization “primarily working in advance scouting and video operations” from 2007-2012.

With Boston, Abraham has worked as a major-league staff assistant (2013-2014), assistant director of player development (2015-2018), and most recently director of minor-league operations (2018-2020).

In addition to the promotions of Crockett and Abraham, the Red Sox also announced that Chris Stasio has been promoted to the role of manager of baseball development, Shawn Haviland has been promoted to the role of senior pitching coordinator, Kirby Retzer has been promoted to the role of assistant strength and conditioning coordinator, Paddy Steinfort has been promoted to the role of senior mental skills coordinator and Adan Severino has been promoted to the role of Latin American mental skills coordinator.

In terms of new additions, Harry Roberson has been hired as the club’s coordinator of player development, Julio Rangel has been hired as the club’s performance pitching coordinator, and Gabriela Alfonso has been hired as the organization’s minor-league sports dietician.

Minor-league coaching staffs finalized:

The Red Sox’ pipeline of minor-league affiliates will be without the Lowell Spinners for this coming season, while Worcester is now the new home of the club’s Triple-A affiliate and the teams in Greenville, SC. and Salem, Va. have essentially switched places.

With that, here is how each affiliate’s coaching staff will stack up to start the new season:

Triple-A Worcester Red Sox
Manager: Billy McMillon
Additional Coach: Bruce Crabbe
Pitching Coach: Paul Abbott
Hitting Coach: Rich Gedman

Double-A Portland Sea Dogs
Manager: Corey Wimberly
Additional Coach: Ako Thomas
Pitching Coach: Lance Carter
Hitting Coach: Lance Zawadzki

High-A Greenville Drive
Manager: Iggy Suarez
Additional Coach: John Shelby III
Pitching Coach: Bob Kipper
Hitting Coach: Nate Spears

Low-A Salem Red Sox
Manager: Luke Montz
Additional Coach: Frankie Rios
Pitching Coach: Nick Green
Hitting Coach: Nelson Paulino

Fort Myers Complex
Manager: Tom Kotchman
Additional Coaches: Mickey Jiang, Bianca Smith, Chris Hess
Pitching Coaches: Dick Such, Brett Merritt, Jason Blanton
Hitting Coaches: Josh Prince, Junior Zamora

Dominican Republic Academy
Latin American Field Coordinator: Jose Zapata
Managers: Ozzie Chavez, Sandy Madera
Additional Coaches: Juan Hernandez, Claudio Sanchez, Carlos Vallejo, Leonel Vazquez
International Instructor: Amaury Garcia
Pitching Coaches: Oscar Lira, Humberto Sanchez
Hitting Coaches: Eider Torres, Danny Ortega

For more information on the Red Sox’ minor-league coaching staffs, check out this press release from the team.

(Picture of Red Sox logo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bradley Blalock reflects on unique 2020 for minor-leaguers, looks ahead to 2021

This year was supposed to serve as Bradley Blalock’s springboard into professional baseball.

After being selected by the Red Sox in the 32nd round of the 2019 amateur draft, the right-hander made just four appearances (three starts) in the Gulf Coast League on account of how much he had pitched earlier in the spring while still in high school.

2020 was going to be the year in which Blalock formally introduced himself as a legitimate pitching prospect, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented that from fully happening.

Rather than pitch a full season at one or multiple minor-league levels, Blalock was limited to just the fall instructional league in terms of throwing in front of team officials.

The 20-year-old hurler recently spoke with BloggingtheRedSox.com about how this year has gone for him as well as a number of other topics.

“Once I got [to fall instructs], I definitely started working,” Blalock said. “Got to pitch in two intrasquad games. First one, just threw one inning but it was a little rough since I got hit around a little bit. In my second outing, I pitched six innings — went six up, six down — so it was definitely really exciting to do that in front of everyone that was there. And my third one, I was supposed to throw three innings on the last day, but it got rained out. But, I was able to throw a bullpen, so it was good.”

While fall instructs this year were certainly different from fall instructs the year before, Blalock has enjoyed his time with the Red Sox organization thus far. The Georgia native signed with the club for $250,000 last July as opposed to attending Kennesaw State University.

“It was a personal decision for me,” Blalock said of his choice to go pro out of high school. “Me and my family talked about it, and we thought that was the best decision because you don’t know if three years down the road, you’re ever going to get that opportunity [again]. You might get hurt or something, so we just took a chance and we love it so far. I do.”

As a 32nd round pick, Blalock could have signed with Boston for just $125,000, that round’s assigned slot value, but he actually managed to sign for double that amount last summer.

“We just did some negotiations and we found a price that worked for both of us: me and the Red Sox,” said Blalock. “So we definitely came to an easy deal, quick deal on that.”

Even before signing with the Sox, Blalock started to garner at least a little major-league interest starting his junior year of high school in Loganville, Ga. He provided some insight on what that whole process was like.

“I didn’t really talk to a lot of pro scouts my junior year,” Blalock said. “I talked to one [with the Minnesota Twins] and we built a close bond. My senior year, I definitely had a lot more attention. Had to fill out a couple questionnaires that I had to fill out from each team.”

One of those interested teams was obviously the Red Sox, and their interest in Blalock gave the righty the chance to get to know his eventual signing scout Brian Moehler, who covers Georgia and South Carolina for the team as an amateur scout.

“Once I met him, we built a close bond,” Blalock said of Moehler. “He was the one that was really talking to my dad, because I don’t have an agent right now so my dad’s really my agent. So, we built a close bond and we talk a couple times every month.”

The Red Sox viewed Blalock, who originally committed to Kennesaw State as a two-way player, as a pitcher from the get-go. That likely had something to do with his pitch selection, which the 6-foot-2, 190 lb. righty broke down in-depth.

“In high school, I threw a four-seam fastball, a slider, a changeup, and a knucklecurve,” he explained. “When I got to the GCL, I didn’t bring the slider along because my curveball was definitely my better offspeed pitch as the year advanced. So, I had my fastball, curveball, changeup — but my changeup wasn’t really there so I was really just a two-pitch guy.

“After instructs last year, they were like ‘Hey, let’s work on a changeup,'” Blalock continued. “So, all instructs and all offseason I worked on getting my changeup back to where it needed to be. I came into spring training with a four-seam fastball, a knucklecurve, and a changeup. And during spring training — during my bullpens — my curveball was always down for a strikeout pitch. It was like an 0-2 or 1-2 pitch, so we working on trying to get that and land it for a strike.

“But then I realized I need something better that I know I can land for a strike,” he added. “So I talked to [Lowell Spinners pitching coach Nick Green] and [performance pitching coordinator] Shawn Haviland about going back to my slider and figuring that back out. During quarantine, I worked on getting my feel back for my slider. They were excited, and I brought that into instructs with me.”

While he was able to hone his pitch mix in the weeks leading up to fall instructs thanks to tools such as video and Rapsodo, Blalock also continued to use training methods inspired by Driveline Baseball, which is something he has done since his freshman year of high school.

“At the facility I train at, it’s called Full Count Baseball, we do Driveline stuff,” he stated. “We have all the Driveline balls, shoulder tubes, wrist weights, and we have core velocity belts, which helps you get your core engaged.”

The use of Driveline’s weighted balls specifically seemed very important to Blalock, as he attributed them to his uptick in fastball velocity over the past few years.

“To think my freshman year, I was probably [sitting at] 75 mph,” Blalock said. Just to think that then I was like ‘Hey, I don’t even know if I’ll get to play college baseball.’ Just to continue to work, keep staying with the process, and using the weighted balls and the jaeger bands. It’s definitely been [something] I really like and I’m going to keep doing it.”

Blalock’s fastball, which today tops out at 95 mph, can be attributed to the proper use of weighted balls, weight lifting, and two to three long toss sessions per week. He still believes his four-seamer has room to grow, though.

“That still has room to grow,” Blalock said of his heater. “I’ve been working this offseason still trying to gain some velocity. I mean, it’s always good to try and get some more. One of the guys I work out with, he throws 99-100 mph, so I’m trying to get there with him.”

As for how Blalock will get there, the 2021 season serves as a good first step. Though it’s unclear which affiliate he will start the season with, Blalock does not necessarily care about which role — starter or reliever — he undertakes as long as it helps him contribute at the major-league level sooner.

“I just want to be able to help [the Red Sox] get to the World Series. Starter or reliever, I just want to be able to make it to the bigs and help the Red Sox get there, again.”

Blalock, who does not turn 21 until next December, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the organization’s No. 35 prospect. He is projected to begin the 2021 campaign with the GCL Red Sox, though he certainly would not mind getting called up to Salem, or even Greenville, either.

Major League Baseball Places Temporary Ban on All Scouting Activity

Major League Baseball is temporarily prohibiting all scouting activity on both the domestic and international level, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Per Rosenthal, no public or private tryouts will be permitted, while amateur games, showcases, workouts, and in-home or in-person visits are off limits as well. This has been done because Major League Baseball “does not want any clubs seeking a scouting advantage over any other.”

With the amateur draft set to take place from June 10th through the 12th, it appears that the league is trying to be as cautious as possible in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

The draft, which had been done at MLB Network’s studious in Secaucus, New Jersey since 2009, was set to take place in Omaha, Nebraska, the host city of the annual College World Series, this year.

But, with the NCAA announcing last Thursday that all remaining winter and spring championships had been cancelled due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, that went for the College World Series as well.

Although nothing has been made official yet, it doesn’t make too much sense anymore to hold the amateur draft in Omaha when nothing will be going on there by the time June rolls around.

In this case, though, the logistics of when and where the draft will take place are not all that important. It’s the events leading up to the event that I am now more interested in.

Why is that? Because with high school and collegiate athletics seemingly being shut down across the country, MLB clubs no longer have the chance to scout and evaluate potential targets after sending their scouts back home.

Of course, these same teams are diligent in the pre-draft process and presumably already have plenty of information on plenty of prospects from previous seasons.

But, as Tigers general manager Al Avila told The Athletic’s Keith Law, “The unfortunate part is if you had the rest of March/April/May, there’s some players you may have not liked, didn’t have as high, all of a sudden they had a really good spring to elevate them, and some players maybe would have fallen a little bit. it doesn’t happen that drastically that many times, (but) we can only go on the information we have now.”

If the draft does still take place in June, and some executives suggested to Law that it be pushed back, it would be interesting to see how teams approach it given the reality that it really is just a crapshoot that also involves millions in signing bonuses.

Narrowing things down to just the first round of the draft, the Red Sox have had a diversified approach of taking both high school and college players with their first selection in recent years.

Of course, former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon was Boston’s first pick in 2019 despite being drafted in the second round. That was related to luxury tax penalties from 2018.

This year, the Sox are set to make their first selection with the 17th overall pick in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer. This is not to say that Bloom is solely responsible for draft preparations, but I would assume that he has final say in who the team drafts over that three-day span in June, or whenever it takes place.