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SoxProspects News

June 9, 2017 at 7:01 AM

2017 Red Sox Draft Preview

It’s that time of year again! The MLB Draft gets underway in a few days on the evening of Monday, June 12. Day One will include the first, supplemental, second, and competitive balance rounds. Day Two will be Tuesday, June 13, covering rounds three through 10, and Day Three will be Wednesday, June 14, covering rounds 11 through 40. In connection with this draft, the Red Sox have an opportunity to start to replenish a farm system that has been depleted over the last couple years due to trades and prospect graduations. 

At SoxProspects, we’ve been covering the draft in depth since 2005. During that time, the team’s best selections have included Jacoby Ellsbury (2005, 1st round), Clay Buchholz (2005, supplemental 1st), Justin Masterson (2006, 2nd), Josh Reddick (2006, 17th), Anthony Rizzo (2007, 6th), Christian Vazquez (2008, 9th), Alex Wilson (2009, 2nd), Jackie Bradley (2011, supplemental 1st), Mookie Betts (2011, 5th), Travis Shaw (2011, 9th) and Andrew Benintendi (2015, 1st).  They’ve also been successful nabbing some relievers, replacement level players, and trade chips over that period. 

On the downside, some of the misses include Jonathan Egan (2005, 2nd), Jason Place (2006, 1st), Ryan Dent (2007, supplemental 1st), Kolbrin Vitek (2010, 1st), and, to date, Trey Ball (2013, 1st and 7th overall).  

The system can’t afford a first round miss this year, and hopefully will be able to hit on a couple later round picks as they have in past years.  The club will have two picks on Day One: #24 overall (1st round) and #63 overall (2nd round), followed by the #101 overall pick (3rd round) on Day Two and the 24th pick in rounds 4 through 40.

The most successful picks drafted in the mid-20s portion of the first round since 2000 include Mike Trout (25th overall, 2009), Ellsbury (23rd, 2005), Rick Porcello (27th, 2007), Matt Cain (25th, 2002), Phil Hughes (23rd, 2004), Joe Blanton (24th, 2002), Chad Billingsley (24th, 2003), Matt Garza (25th, 2005), Christian Yelich (23rd, 2010), and Jeremy Bonderman (26th, 2001).

Boston’s bonus pool cap is $5,396,800 this year, a good amount 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 2017 Draft 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 eight seasons. Senior Staff Writer Will Woodward authored our draft preview in 2016, listing Bobby Dalbec (ultimately pick by Boston in the 4th round), Mike Shawaryn (5th round), Stephen Nogosek (6th round) and Nick Quintana (11th round) as possible selections. 

In 2015, we linked Andrew Benintendi as a strong possibility at the #7 overall pick and listed 4th rounder Tate Matheny, and 34th rounder Nick Lovullo as draft targets.  In 2014, we projected Michael Chavis as a leading option at #26 overall, where he ended up getting selected. In 2013, we listed Trey Ball as one of Boston’s top targets at #7 overall, and also tabbed Nick Zammarelli (28th round) as a potential late round pick. In 2012, we nailed Brian Johnson as a possible pick at #31, and mentioned Pat Light (1st) and Jamie Callahan (2nd) 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, Matt Barnes and Blake 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 Kolbrin Vitek, Bryce Brentz, and Anthony Ranaudo – ultimately Boston's first three picks of that draft. We also tabbed Sean Coyle (3rd round) as a potential third rounder, and discussed Kendrick Perkins (6th round) as a possible early-ish 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 tooting our own horn. Here’s a list of players that I think could be possible targets for the Red Sox this year:

First Round (#24 overall)

Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC-Irvine – Hiura is a college junior with possibly the best hit tool in the draft. In addition to making plus contact and leading the NCAA in average and on-base percentage, he has above-average to plus power, excellent plate discipline, smooth mechanics, and fringe-average speed. He has played second base, left field, and center field in college, showing a below-average arm. An elbow injury has left his future projection on defense up in the air – he will likely require surgery. Interest in Hiura has been rumored to caught helium in recent days, so there's a strong possibility he may not be available when Boston's turn comes up.

Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri – Houck has a strong pitcher’s frame at 6’5”, 220, allowing him to work as Mizzou’s Friday night starter and as a two-year starter for Team USA. His arsenal includes a plus 90-94 mph sinker, an average slider, and a work-in-progress changeup, all thrown with above-average control and command. He’ll need to improve his secondary pitches to reach his potential as a top-end starter. Even if he doesn’t, he has a reasonable floor of a backend starter or high leverage reliever due to his combination of control and movement. 

Evan White, 1B/OF, Kentucky – White is an excellent athlete and plus defensive player at first base, with potential to also play right field as a pro.  He shows above-average speed, fluidity, and glovework, paired with a plus arm. He makes above-average contact at the plate but his present power is fringy, especially for his position, but he has the frame to add some strength.  Overall, he projects as a player that could hit over .300 on a consistent basis while providing some defensive versatility. 

David Peterson, LHP, Oregon – The Red Sox selected Peterson in the 28th round in 2014 but didn’t have the cap space to sign him. The 6’6” left-hander is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the draft, demonstrated by the fact the he stuck out 20 batters in a complete game shutout against Arizona State in late April. His fastball sits in the low 90s but has topped out in the mid-90s.  He also throws a plus slider and mixes in an average changeup and an occasional curveball. To take it to the next level, he’ll need to work on maintaining more consistent command, and he’ll eventually be required to mix in his changeup more. 

Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State – Burger is one of the top power bats in the draft, while also making consistently above-average contact.  He’s not the most athletic player and has below average speed on the base paths and range in the field.   Overall, he has the potential to be an impact middle-of-the-order bat, but he’ll need to work on hitting off-speed stuff and improving his defense. 

There’s some chance that all of the above players are off the board by the time the Red Sox pick at #24. Other players who the Red Sox have been linked to in the first round include Houston LHP Seth Romero, Dana Hills High School RHP Hans Crouse, LSU RHP Alex Lange, McGill-Toolen Catholic High School OF Bubba Thompson, and Central Florida JC RHP Nate Pearson.

Second Round (#63 overall)

Matt Tabor, RHP, Milton Academy (MA) – Tabor is a local prep pitcher committed to Elon. He throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a good changeup, and a work-in-progress breaking ball. 

JJ Matijevic, 1B, Arizona – A former Red Sox draftee, Matijevic is a high-average doubles hitter with a below-average defensive profile. 

Jake Eder, LHP, Calvary Christian (FL) – A Vanderbilt commit, Eder would be somewhat of a lottery ticket type draftee.  The high ceiling left-hander has a solid frame, clean mechanics, and mid-90s velocity, but needs to work on his secondary offerings and control. 

Ryan Vilade, 3B, Stillwater (OK) – An Oklahoma State recruit, Vilade has plus raw power, great instincts, an above-average arm, and average speed.  He might slide due to his college commitment. 

Jeter Downs, SS, Pace (FL) – An athletic prep shortstop out of Florida, Downs has the potential to have five average-or-better tools. 

Third Round (#101 overall)

Gavin Sheets, 1B, Wake Forest – A power-hitting first baseman, Gavin is the son of former major leaguer Larry Sheets. 

Donovan Casey, RHP/OF, Boston College – An athletic two-way player, Casey could be a value pick in the 3rd through 5th rounds. His fastball gets up to 95 mph. 

James Karinchak, RHP, Bryant – A local product with the potential for three major league pitches. Boston took Bryant RHP Kevin McAvoy in the 4th round in 2014, to mixed results. 

Colton Hock, RHP, Stanford – A reliever for Stanford with low miles on his arm, Hock has the potential to transition to the rotation if he develops his changeup.  

Ernie Clement, SS, Virginia – A contact hitter from a winning program (Chris Hatfield paid me to write that), Clement won the MVP of the Cape Cod League in 2016. 

Later Rounds

Will Toffey, 2B/3B, Vanderbilt – Another contact hitter from a winning program, Toffey has shown marked improvement during his time at Vandy. He could go in the 4th or 5th rounds. Toffey is originally from Barnstable (MA). 

Trevor Stephan, RHP, Arkansas – The Sox selected Stephan out of Hill JuCo in the 18th round in 2016.  Rather than signing, he transferred to Arkansas.  While still projected as a reliever, Stephan improved his stock and is expected to be picked in the 5th through 8th rounds this year.

Wills Montgomerie, RHP, UConn – The Huskies’ Saturday starter, Montgomerie’s fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range.  He’s likely a future reliever. 

Hugh Fisher, LHP, Briarcrest Christian (TN) – The Red Sox like to draft Vanderbilt commits, although they don’t always sign with the club. A raw lefty, he has starter potential down the line.

Patrick Bailey, C, Wesleyan Christian (NC) – Boston also likes to draft former Team USA standouts.  A backstop with great intangibles, Bailey is committed to NC State. 

Michael Ludowig, OF, Briar Woods (VA) – Ludowig is a prep left-hander committed to Wake Forest. He’s been linked to the Red Sox in some reports. 

Jake Adams, 1B, Iowa – A power-hitting first baseman, Adams led NCAA Division I with 29 home runs in 2017. He’s also somewhat strikeout prone.  Some team might make a deal with him for a reasonable bonus in the top ten rounds. 

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