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SoxProspects News

June 4, 2015 at 7:05 AM

2015 Red Sox Draft Preview

It’s that time of year again, as the MLB First Year Player Draft gets underway in a few days on the evening of Monday, June 8. Day One will include the first, supplemental, second, and competitive balance rounds. Day Two will be Tuesday, June 9, covering rounds three through 10, and Day Three will be Wednesday, June 10, covering rounds 11 through 40. 

Technically, the Red Sox have a new Director of Amateur Scouting this year in Mike Rikard. However, that may just be semantics given that was the result of former director Amiel Sawdaye’s promotion to Vice President of Amateur & International Scouting and Rikard's promotion from National Scouting Coordinator. So this will basically be the sixth draft with Sawdaye and Rikard at the helm of the Red Sox ship. 

In hindsight, the team's best selections during that time include Mookie Betts (#172 overall, 2011), Blake Swihart (#26, 2011), Henry Owens (#36, 2011), Matt Barnes (#19, 2011), Brandon Workman (#57, 2010), Jackie Bradley (#40, 2011), and Brian Johnson (#31, 2012).  There have also been a few late round picks that could develop into serviceable major leaguers, such as Jacob Dahlstrand (10th round 2010)Travis Shaw (9th round, 2011) Carlos Asuaje (11th round, 2013), Joe Gunkel (18th round, 2013), Mauricio Dubon (26th round, 2013), and Nick Longhi (30th round, 2013), but none are knocking at the door at this point.

The jury is still out on some of the more recent early picks, including Deven Marrero (#24, 2012), Pat Light (#37, 2012), Trey Ball (#7, 2013), Teddy Stankiewicz (#45, 2013), Michael Chavis (#26, 2014), and Michael Kopech (#33, 2014). However, each have shown some flashes of brilliance, albeit somewhat inconsistently. 

On the downside, some of the misses include Kolbrin Vitek (#20, 2010), Jon Denney (#81, 2013), Cody Kukuk (#232, 2011), and Cody Koback (#322, 2011). Former first-rounder Vitek was out of professional baseball after just four seasons, never making it past Double-A. The latter three are no longer actively with the club due to alleged legal issues. Additionally, the team hasn't had the success rate you'd expect to see after the fifth round - and that bar is low.  In 2013, the team left almost $1 million in bonus cap room on the table that it could have spent on later round picks.

The Red Sox will have only a couple shots at the top of the draft this year, with only two selections in the top 100 picks.  The club will pick at #7 overall on Day One, #81 overall (3rd round) on Day Two, and then the sixth pick in rounds 11 through 40 on Day Three. The good news is that clubs have had a lot of success at #7 overall in recent memory.  The most recent selections at #7 overall are Aaron Nola, Ball, Max Fried, Archie Bradley, Matt Harvey, Mike Minor, Yonder Alonso, Matt LaPorta, Clayton Kershaw, Troy Tulowitzki, Homer Bailey, Nick Markakis, and Prince Fielder.

Boston’s bonus pool cap is $6,223,800 this year, a shade lower than last year's cap.

You can follow the Red Sox draft here on SoxProspects as the picks come in, as we’ll have live coverage of Boston’s selections on SoxProspects News, the 2015 Draft History page, and the @SoxProspects Twitter account. For now, here's a preview of potential picks to whet your palette.

Possible Draft Selections

While we typically cast a wide net by listing a handful of potential targets at each slot, I still like to think that our draft preview has been somewhat prophetic over the past seven seasons. In 2014, we projected Chavis as a leading option at #26 overall, where he ended up getting selected. In 2013, we listed Ball as one of the top options for the Red Sox at #7 overall. (Of course, it's much easier to project a few options for a higher draft slot, but we also tabbed Nick Zammarelli as a potential late round pick). In 2012, we pegged Johnson as a possible pick at #31, and mentioned Light and Jamie Callahan among the club’s other potential targets at the top of the draft. They ended up being three of Boston’s top four picks.

In 2011, Barnes and Swihart were both among the first few players we listed, and they ended up as Boston’s two first round picks. In 2010, the first three players we listed were Vitek, Bryce Brentz, and Anthony Ranaudo – ultimately Boston's first three picks of the 2010 draft. We also projected Sean Coyle (3rd round) as a potential third rounder, and discussed Kendrick Perkins (6th round) as a possible mid-round pick in our draft preview podcast.

In 2009, we projected Reymond Fuentes (1st round), David Renfroe (3rd round), and Seth Schwindenhammer (5th round) as potential high picks, and noted Mike Yastrzemski (36th round) as a local product who could get drafted by the Sox in the later rounds. In 2008, while we admittedly listed several names in our preview, we nailed nine in Casey Kelly (1st), Peter Hissey (4th), Ryan Westmoreland (5th), Ryan Lavarnway (6th), Tim Federowicz (7th), Alex Meyer (20th), Anthony DeSclafani (22nd), Seth Garrison (23rd), and Matt Marquis (29th), all of whom were selected by Boston in the respective rounds listed.

OK, I’ll stop honking my own horn. Here’s a list of players that I think could be possible targets for the Red Sox this year:

First Round (#7 overall)

Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt – The Red Sox selected Fulmer in the 15th round in 2012 and were not able to sign him out of his commitment to Vanderbilt. The Commodore ace throws a 95-97 mph fastball, a plus curveball, and an above-average changeup. Some scouts believe his delivery is too arduous to remain a starter, but he posted a 1.92 ERA in 107.2 innings over 16 starts this season. 

Alex Bregman, SS, LSU – Similar to Fulmer, Boston drafted Bregman in 2012 but was not able to sign him away from LSU. A close friend of Blake Swihart, he is reportedly the club’s primary target, but he could go as early as #2 overall. Plus contact hitter with solid speed. Defensively, projects as an average shortstop or an above-average second baseman. Good leader. 

Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas – Draft-eligible sophomore with a powerful bat, solid approach, excellent speed, and above-average defense in center field. Lots of helium – he kind of came out of nowhere this season. A little undersized, but not a lot of other downside except a lack of an extensive track record.  As a sophomore, he’ll have some leverage in signing bonus negotiations. 

Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara – Expected to be off the board by #7, but there’s an outside chance he could slip, in which case the Sox would very likely jump at the opportunity to scoop him up. His arsenal includes a 94-98 mph fastball, a plus slider, a work-in-progress changeup, and a developing cutter. Solid, athletic build. Balanced delivery, but it has some effort to it. He’s been projected as a possible #1 overall pick, so it would be a coup for the Red Sox if he fell in their laps, but he could also require upwards of $4 million to sign, possibly more than half of Boston's draft pool.

Daz Cameron, OF, Eagle’s Landing (GA) – Mike Cameron’s son, committed to Florida State. Cameron is extremely athletic with good instincts, making him a potential elite five-tool player. However, his game needs a lot of refinement to take it to the next level, which might scare off teams at the top of the draft. The Red Sox have shown some interest, but in my opinion the club is more likely to go with one of the above college players with this pick.

If all of the above players are off the draft board when Boston’s pick comes up, which seems unlikely, three other possibilities include Plant HS (FL) OF Kyle Tucker, Illinois LHP Tyler Jay, and IMG Academy LHP Brady Aiken

Third Round (#81 overall)

Chris Shaw, 1B/OF, Boston College – Local product out of Lexington, Mass. had previously been projected to go as early as the top of the second round.  However, he could slip to the third round or lower due to a broken hamate bone that limited his playing time in 2015. Good physique. Lots of raw power but overly aggressive at the plate.

Ryan Burr, RHP, Arizona State – Reliever excelled out of the bullpen for ASU and Team USA. Fastball hits 97 mph with nice movement, secondary pitches need work. Could progress quickly through the minors.

Taylor Ward, C, Fresno St – Excellent defensive catcher with a great arm. Reminiscent of Christian Vazquez. His bat is questionable, but he might hit enough to be a capable long-term backup or defensively-focused starter. 

Andrew Suarez, LHP, Miami – High floor senior with another year of eligibility remaining. Average stuff with good pitchability. Projects as a back of the rotation starter. 

Christin Stewart, OF, Tennessee – Power bat projects as a left fielder. Excelled offensively in high school, college, and for Team USA. Will need to mash to succeed in left at the MLB level, and it’s unclear if he has that type of bat. Certainly not out of the question.

Fourth Round (#111 overall)

Rhett Wiseman, OF, Vanderbilt – Local product out of Buckingham Browne & Nichols in Cambridge, Mass. Might also be a target in the third round. Weismann has performed well for Vanderbilt and excelled in the Cape Cod League last year. Contact hitter with average power potential. Corner outfielder long-term, might start his pro career in center field.

Bryce Denton, OF/3B, Ravenwood HS (TN) – Solid prep hitter with untapped power potential. Committed to Vanderbilt. Good makeup. 

Elih Marrero, C, Coral Gables HS – Son of former MLB catcher Eli Marrero. Plus defensive backstop with excellent makeup and instincts. Played for Team USA last fall. Decent contact potential from both sides of the plate. 

Mark Mathias, 2B, Cal Poly – Contact hitting infielder with some pop. Plus potential bat. Average defense at best, marginal runner. One of the top second baseman in the draft, could slip due to shoulder injury.

Tate Matheny, OF, Missouri St. – Mike Matheny’s son. Projects as a 4th outfielder. Good instincts and makeup, marginal tools. 

Later Rounds

Chris Chatfield, OF, Spoto HS – Athletic outfielder with lots of potential and limited track record of success. Committed to South Florida. He could get drafted in the 5th – 10th round range. We don’t have any insider knowledge that Boston is targeting Chatfield, I just think it would be kind of cool if our Executive Editor Chris Hatfield sits down to chat with Chris Chatfield for a feature story next spring. Hatfield can get a bit chatty himself. 

Jake Nelson, RHP, Phillips Andover (MA) – Hopkinton, New Hampshire native committed to UPenn. Could be picked in the first ten rounds. Fastball, curveball, changeup mix. Easy arm action with good frame. However, it’s often tough to sign players away from Ivy League commitments. 

Sikes Orvis, 1B, Mississippi – One of the top seniors available. The Red Sox previously drafted Orvis in the 19th round in 2011. He could be an inexpensive senior sign in the 7th to 10th round range. 

Marquise Doherty, OF, Winnetonka (MO) – Four-sport athlete committed to play football and baseball at Missouri. Could be drafted as early as the 11th round. Good bat speed. He could be Boston’s annual multi-sport athlete draft pick.

Gian Martelini, C, Bishop Hendricken (RI) – Top eligible prospect out of Rhode Island. Leader behind the plate. Projected to be picked in the middle of the draft. 

Dexter “DJ” Neal, OF, Stephenson HS (GA) – Athletic outfielder committed to South Carolina for baseball and football. Large frame, solid power potential, strong arm. Possible below-the-radar late round pick. Another possible multi-sport athlete draftee. 

Chad Luensmann, RHP, Bellwood-Antis (PA) – Right-hander with a low-90s fastball committed to Nebraska. Possible late round pick.

Nick Lovullo, SS, Holy Cross – Tory Lovullo’s son could be a nepotism pick. He’d make a solid org player. Possible late round selection.

Other Vanderbilt commits – Boston loves to draft players committed to Vanderbilt. Just keep in mind that a lot of the time these players won’t end up signing – oftentimes the club just wants to get an early look at potential draftees for three years down the road. In addition to Denton and Martelini, eligible prep draftees who could be selected after the 10th round include RHP Matt McGarry, OF D.J. Wilson, RHP Nolan Watson, OF Reggie Pruitt, IF Julian Infante, RHP Maddux Conger, LHP Evan Steel, IF Ethan Paul, and RHP Patrick Raby.  

Former Team USA players – The Red Sox have selected roughly 25 former Team USA players since 2005. Some potential draftees this year (beyond those already mentioneD) include Elk Grove (OR) SS Nick Madrigal, West Memphis (AR) RHP Gray Fenter, Oregon State RHP Andrew Moore, Marvin Ridge (NC) LHP Max Wotell, and College Park (CA) RHP Joe Demers. These players are more likely to go in the third to sixth round range. 

Mike Andrews in the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeAndrewsSP.