June 6, 2016 at 8:00 AM
The MLB First-Year Player Draft gets underway on the evening of Thursday, June 9. Day One will include the first, supplemental, second, and competitive balance rounds. Day Two will be Friday, June 10, covering rounds three through 10, and Day Three will be Saturday, June 11, covering rounds 11 through 40.
The Red Sox draft will be led by the same two men, Director of Amateur Scouting Mike Rikard and Vice President of Amateur & International Scouting Amiel Sawdaye, who have overseen the last seven drafts for Boston. Last year was the first time for those men in those roles after each received a promotion prior to the draft. This year, the Red Sox add President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski to the mix for his first draft with the organization.
In hindsight, the team's best selections during the Sawdaye-Rikard regime include Andrew Benintendi (#7, 2015), Mookie Betts (#172 overall, 2011), Blake Swihart (#26, 2011), Travis Shaw (9th round, 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 Mauricio Dubon (26th round, 2013), Nick Longhi (30th round, 2013), Jalen Beeks (12th round, 2014), Chandler Shepherd (13th round, 2014), and Josh Pennington (29th round, 2014).
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). Some have shown some flashes of brilliance, albeit somewhat inconsistently, while others have yet to put everything together in game action.
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 has not had the success rate you might hope 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 total bonus pool the Red Sox have to work with is $6,997,400, just the 19th largest in baseball even though the team picks 12th in each round, the "drop" partly the result of having no compensation or competitive balance picks. The dollar figure is slightly larger than last year’s pool of $6,223,800 when the team did not have a second-round pick (and also forfeited the competitive balance pick it received from Oakland via trade). This year the club will have one pick in each of the 40 rounds. The Red Sox will pick twice on Day 1 (#12 and #51), seven times on Day 2 (#88 and then the 12th pick in rounds 4 through 10), and on Day 3 they will pick 12th in each of rounds 11 through 40. The Red Sox have held the 12th overall pick three times since the draft began in 1965: in 1998 they selected outfielder Adam Everett, they were thrilled to be able to select shortstop Nomar Garciaparra with the pick in 1994, and in 1988 they selected left-handed pitcher Tom Fisher.
The most successful 12th overall picks since 1990 include Garciaparra, reliever Billy Wagner (1993), right-handers Matt Morris (1995), Brett Myers (1999), and Jered Weaver (2004), and outfielder Jay Bruce (2005). The most recent picks are Josh Naylor, Kodi Medeiros, D.J. Peterson, Gavin Cecchini, Taylor Jungmann, Yasmani Grandal, Aaron Crow, Jemile Weeks, Matt Dominguez, and Kasey Kiker.
You can follow the Red Sox draft here on SoxProspects.com as the picks come in, as we will have live coverage of Boston’s selections on SoxProspects News, the 2016 Draft History page, and the @SoxProspects Twitter account. This evening, we will release our Draft Preview podcast featuring an interview with JJ Cooper of Baseball America. For now, here is a preview of potential picks to whet your palette.
Possible Draft Selections
SoxProspects.com Editor-in-Chief Mike Andrews typically handles this column each year, and he has had tremendous success in the past in listing possible targets for the Red Sox in the draft. Despite casting a slightly wide net, the history of success over the last eight years of this preview is evident. Just last year, Mike successfully linked Benintendi, the seventh overall pick, fourth rounder Tate Matheny, and 34th rounder Nick Lovullo (son of Tory Luvullo who did not end up signing) to the club.
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 near 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 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.
But enough looking back. Here’s a list of players that I think could be possible targets for the Red Sox this year:
First Round (#12 overall)
Zack Collins, C, Miami – One of the semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, Collins has been one of the best collegiate hitters in the country over the last year. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior hit .353/.528/.607 with 12 home runs and more walks than strikeouts, improving on his impressive 2015 season. He controls the strike zone very well and has average-or-better power to all fields, but his hit tool is a bit more of a question mark with a longer swing. The real concern with Collins is his defense, and while he has improved, many question whether he will stay behind the plate as a professional, which would severely affect his value.
Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi – Hudson barely pitched his freshman and sophomore years, but after a breakout in the Cape Cod League last summer, he continues to shoot up draft boards after continued success this spring. His two best pitches are a fastball that sits 93-95 mph and touches 97, as well as a very good slider/cutter. He also features a curveball and inconsistent changeup as well, which are solid but lag behind the other two offerings. His command along with the lack of track record give him more risk than a normal top-of-the-draft collegiate pitcher.
Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence (Ala.) High School - Garrett is committed to Vanderbilt, typically a sign that he will be tougher to sign than a typical high school player. Like Hudson, he has taken a big step forward this year while adding velocity. Along with the improved fastball, he has one of the best curveballs in the high school class and a developing changeup that has started to show promise. He pitched for U-18 Team USA last fall, and historically the Red Sox have liked Team USA players and Vanderbilt commits. The potential for three average-or-better pitches combined with good command for a high schooler and strong performances at some of the bigger showcases have made him one of the top high school arms.
Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendohwa (N.Y.) High – Anderson could be the complete package, with a projectable frame, fastball that gets up to 95 mph, plus curveball, and very good command. He has not needed to use a changeup to overmatch the New York prep competition, and pitching in New York, combined with a minor injury and illness, has meant that scouts have gotten limited looks at him. Like Garrett, Anderson is committed to Vanderbilt, and he is rumored to have high bonus demands. That, combined with scouts limited looks, may cause him to fall a bit more than he otherwise would.
Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon (Calif.) High – Manning may be the toughest sign of these three high school arms because he is a two-sport athlete, committing to play baseball and basketball at Loyola Marymount. His father is former NBAer Rich Manning. He touches 99 mph, but his secondary pitches remain inconsistent, with the curveball currently projecting better than the changeup. He is tall and very athletic, and the upside is great, as is the risk.
Second Round (#51 overall)
Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford - He has not pitched in more than a year after Tommy John surgery, but previously showed a great four-pitch mix with a great pedigree (his father is former major leaguer Paul Quantrill) that would have had him near the top of the draft. Although he has not pitched in a game, he has worked out for some teams, and his potential could still keep him in the first or supplemental rounds. MLB.com went so far as to say he could even be under consideration by the Red Sox at 12.
Matt Thaiss, C, Virginia - Thaiss would be a re-draft for the Red Sox, who took him in the 32nd round in 2013. His offensive ability is impressive. He rarely strikes out, controls the strike zone well, and has above-average power, which he put on display for Team USA as well as the Cavaliers. While he has a better chance to stay behind the plate than Collins due to his arm strength, there are still questions about his receiving and blocking abilities.
Dane Dunning, RHP, Florida - Dunning did not pitch for the Gators' weekend rotation this year, but that is more a sign of their impressive depth than a criticism of Dunning. He performed extremely well out of the bullpen, with a sinking fastball at 95 mph and a feel for a changeup and slider. He has the frame and skill set to work well as a starter, but since he did not do so this year it will be based on pure projection.
Anthony Kay, LHP, Connecticut - UConn has put out some top-tier talent in recent years, including Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes and Astros outfielder George Springer. Kay is more pitchability than projectability, with good control while sitting comfortably in the low 90s with a decent changeup and a breaking ball that needs improvement. Despite the seeming lack of upside and the fact he is listed at 5-foot-11, he has done well against advanced competition, both for Team USA's collegiate team as well as on the Cape.
Daulton Jefferies, RHP California - Yet another Team USA guy, Jeffries is only listed at 6-feet tall and has missed time this spring due to a shoulder injury. When healthy, he has very good command and control that allow his fringe-average fastball and curveball to play up. His best pitch is his changeup, which grades out above-average to plus.
Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn - Grier is a tool shed with tons of ability on both sides of the ball. He runs well, has power, profiles to be a center fielder, and shows good contact ability. Since arriving at Auburn, the story with Grier has been about turning those tools into on-field ability and performance. He has done that this spring but is still a bit raw with the need to improve his pitch recognition. The team that takes him will bet that his breakout this year is for real and that he will continue to be able to transition from raw athlete to baseball player.
Third Round (#88 overall)
Ryan Boldt, OF, Nebraska - Another Red Sox selection in the 2013 draft, Boldt fell to the 22nd round after a torn meniscus and signability concerns pushed him out of first round consideration. He largely has the same positives and negatives as when he was drafted. He is a great athlete and a plus runner who looks to stay in center field, but his swing is not geared towards power and some question whether it will be exploited by professional pitchers.
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville - Funkhouser was one of the best collegiate pitchers in 2015 before a late season drop in velocity caused hin to fall to the 35th pick, where he ultimately passed on a $2 million offer from the Dodgers. Unfortunately, he has not reached that early 2015 peak again, with the lower velocity and stuff from the end of 2015 being the standard for 2016. This late, it may be worth gambling that he can find the stuff that once made him a top draft prospect.
Brett Cumberland, C/1B, California - Stop me if you have heard this already - a catcher with good offensive potential but questionable defensive skills? Cumberland too fits this mold and his offensive game really broke out this year, leading scouts to believe that the switch-hitter should hit for average and some power with a good approach.
Bo Bichette, 2B/3B, Lakewood (Fla.) High School - He has strong baseball bloodlines with his father, Dante Sr., and brother, Dante Jr., both playing professional baseball. Just like both of them, he has a very unorthodox setup and swing, leading scouts to question his future hit tool. His power is evident but his future position—likely either second base or left field—is somewhat of a question mark. He seems to be a polarizing player for scouts.
Cole Stobbe, 3B, Millard West (Neb.) High School - He played shortstop for Team USA but will certainly be moving off of the position to either second base or third base. He has put his average or better hit and power tools on display in some major tournaments over the last year, and while he may not have a single standout tool, he might have average or slightly above tools across the board.
Bailey Clark, RHP, Duke - He can hit 99 mph, has a slider that flashes plus, and a good pitcher's frame. With that profile, Clark was seen as a potential first rounder in April, but then his performance and velocity dipped and his changeup never improved. He has significant effort in his delivery and that may make him destined for the bullpen in the end. However, in a later round, a team can dream on him figuring it out enough to stay a starter, with the bullpen the backup plan.
George Kirby, RP, Rye (N.Y.) High School - A projectable righty who currently throws in the low-90s. He is committed to Elon University.
Trever Morrison, SS, Oregon State - Morrison has performed well in a major program but has no standout tool. His ultimate upside may be as a super utility type player with the ability to play the middle of the infield as well as in the outfield with slightly above average speed. He would also be a re-draft for the Red Sox, who took a flyer on him in the 38th round in 2013 even though he had no intention of signing.
Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Maryland - Shawaryn looked prime to capitalize heading into the draft but he was an uneven start to the season that ultimately resulted in losing his spot as the Terps' Friday night starter. He has rebounded with better performance more recently and thus his stock has ticked up. His fastball touches 94 and his slider and changeup could both be average pitches.
Aaron Civale, RHP, Northeastern - After working out of the bullpen, he moved into the rotation this year and had great results. However, his pure stuff lags behind his performance. In the rotation, he has a cutter that sits 88 along with a fringe-average curveball and seldom-used changeup.
Jackson Gillis, LHP, Willmington (Mass.) High School - Already measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Gillis looks the part. Jackson was a two-way player in high school, also playing first base, and is the top-ranked high school draft prospect from Massachusetts according to Perfect Game USA. He will be a very difficult late signing as he is committed to Vanderbilt.
Ryan January, C, San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College - The Swampscott, Massachusetts native was committed to LSU, but ultimately spent 2016 at a JuCo, making him eligible this season. Power is his calling card with very good bat speed, but he has shown solid contact ability at San Jac.
Other Vanderbilt commits – Boston loves to draft players committed to Vanderbilt. Just keep in mind that a lot of the time, these players will not end up signing. Often the club just wants to get an early look at, and get to know, potential draftees for three years down the road. In addition to Braxton Garrett, Ian Anderson and Jackson Gillis, eligible prep draftees who could be selected after the 10th round include OF JJ Bleday, OF Thomas Jones, OF Kobie Taylor, C Tyler Duvall, RHP Joe Fulcher, RHP Reid Schaller, LHP Zachary King, SS Harrison Ray, 3B Alex Brewer, and LHP Michael Sandborn.
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 IF Daniel Bakst, C Michael Amditits, LHP Ryan Rolison, C Cooper Johnson, IF Nick Quintana, OF/1B Will Benson, RHP Kevin Gowdy, OF Nick Banks, IF Garrett Hampson, RHP Zack Burdi, RHP Steve Nogosek, RHP Robert Tyler, RHP/3B Bobby Dalbec, C Chris Okey, RHP Zach Jackson, and RHP Logan Shore.
Scouting info was compiled from industry publications including Baseball America, Perfect Game USA, ESPN, and MLB.com.
Scouting info was compiled from industry publications including Baseball America, Perfect Game USA, ESPN, and MLB.com.
Will Woodward is a Senior Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.