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.

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: Turlock High School Catcher Tyler Soderstrom

In their latest 2020 five-round mock draft, the folks over at Perfect Game have the Red Sox taking high school catcher Tyler Soderstrom with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Perfect Game national scouting director Jered Goodwin writes the following of Soderstrom:

The left-handed hitting catcher raked all summer on the showcase circuit, including the Perfect Game All American Classic. He is athletic enough and the arm plays so there is reason to believe he can stay behind the plate, long term. His average/power potential from the left side is the carrier, however, with impact offensive upside in the cards here. 

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 19 overall prospect in this year’s draft class, Soderstrom, who turns 19 in November, is committed to play college baseball at University of California, Los Angeles.

The Turlock High School (Calif.) product is listed at 6’2″ and 200 lbs. and hits from the left side of the plate.

Per his MaxPreps page, Soderstrom slashed .373/.458/.569 with seven home runs, 21 doubles, and 69 RBI over 82 total games played in high school dating back to the beginning of his freshman season.

The son of former 1993 first-round pick Steve Soderstrom, Tyler is “a hitter first, but he will get to his power. He might be a tick above average as a runner, especially for a catcher, and has shown he has the athleticism to play third and even the outfield,” according to MLB Pipeline.

It’s been reported several times in the past few weeks that the Red Sox are likely leaning towards taking a high school prospect with their top pick in this year’s draft as they pursue prospects with plenty of upside.

Soderstrom is just one of several prep prospects who have been linked to Boston in recent mock drafts. Right-handers Nick Bitsko and Mick Abel, shortstop Ed Howard, and outfielders Robert Hassell, Pete-Crow Armstrong, and Austin Hendrick are among the others.

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, the Sox will have approximately $5,129,200 to spend on the four selections they will be making in the 2020 draft, which is only five days away.