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SoxProspects News

May 31, 2018 at 3:00 PM

2018 Draft Preview

It’s that time of year again! The MLB Draft gets underway in a few days on the evening of Monday, June 4. Day One will include the first, supplemental, second, and competitive balance rounds. Day Two will be Tuesday, June 5, covering rounds three through 10, and Day Three will be Wednesday, June 6, covering rounds 11 through 40.

In this year's draft—as well as the upcoming international signing period—the Red Sox practically have a mandate to try to replenish a farm system that has been thoroughly depleted over the last few years due to trades, injuries, and prospect graduations.

Red Sox Vice President, Amateur Scouting Mike Rikard noted on Thursday that this year's draft class "is a pretty balanced group", stating that "we measure the depth in each demographic, and there is not one particular group that we really feel is much stronger than another."

Rikard also noted "a little bit of uncertainty" at the top of this draft class compared to past years. He acknowledged that the rumor mill is churning, and that the organization is "kind of hopeful that by Sunday or Monday morning, things will start to fall into place."

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), 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 have also successfully grabbed 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, 7th overall).

The system can’t afford a first-round miss this year, and the organization hopefully will hit on a couple late-round picks, as they have in past years. The club will have two picks on Day One, #26 overall (1st round) and #65 overall (2nd round), followed by the #100 overall pick (3rd round) on Day Two and the 26th pick in rounds 4 through 40.

The most successful players selected 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 $5,723,300 this year, roughly in the same ballpark as last year's cap.

You can follow the Red Sox draft with us at SoxProspects.com as the picks come in, as we’ll have live coverage of Boston’s selections on SoxProspects News, the 2018 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 nine seasons. Last year, we listed Tanner Houck as the second-most likely Red Sox' first-round pick, and the club ultimately selected Houck at #24 overall. Senior Staff Writer Will Woodward authored our draft preview in 2016, listing Bobby Dalbec (ultimately picked 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 fourth-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 2011Matt 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 VitekBryce 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, we listed several names in our preview and 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 tooting our own horn. Here’s a list of players that I think could be possible targets for the Red Sox this year. Scouting reports are compiled from my review over time of reports available on Perfect GameBaseball America, and 2080 Baseball:

First Round (#26 overall)

Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi - A draft-eligible sophomore, Rolison profiles as a mid-rotation starting pitcher with an impressive three-pitch mix. His fastball has excellent movement, sits in the 91-94 mph range, and tops out at 96 mph. Rolison also throws an above-average to plus curveball that gets a lot of swinging strikes. His third pitch is an inconsistent changeup that flashes average to above-average potential. He may require some mechanical tweaks out of the gate to start his pro career. After being drafted in the 27th round by San Diego in 2005, Rolison has had success in the SEC and the Cape Cod League.

Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma - A college outfielder with solid all-around tools but no one standout tool, Walker is having an exceptional season in 2018, hitting .352 with 13 home runs through 54 games. Offensively, his hit tool profiles as above-average with a plus ceiling. He has a solid approach, good hand-eye coordination, and a quick bat, making great contact to all fields from the left side. At 5-11, 190 pounds, his power is fringe-average. On defense, Walker has played a lot of center field for the Sooners, but projects as corner outfielder in the pros with average range and a decent arm. Walker would be a safe pick as a high-floor player who could potentially move through the system quickly. 

Seth Beer, 1B, Clemson - Beer is a potential cleanup hitter with outstanding power and solid plate discipline, but otherwise marginal tools. He had two excellent seasons at Clemson during his freshman and sophomore years, and in 2018 he's hitting .316 with 20 home runs in 59 games.  Despite that success, Beer has struggled with wood bats during small samples at showcases and with Team USA. While his power/discipline combination could be carrying tools to the majors, his hit tool, speed, defense, and arm are all below-average. High ceiling, low floor.

Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State - While Eierman has had a lot of offensive success over three years in the Missoury Valley Conference, hitting both for contact and power, scouts are still unsure of his bat, particularly given his weak showings for Team USA and in the Cape Cod League. He has plus power and above-average contact potential—a fantastic package for a college shortstop who also excels defensively—but there is a non-zero chance he could turn into the next Deven Marrero. Eierman boasts above-average to plus speed, and defensively, he has a plus arm, average range, and a good glove. He should be able to stick at shortstop, but could play other positions if needed. Eierman's father, John Eierman, was an outfielder in the Boston Red Sox organization from 1991-1994.

Brice Turang, SS, Santiago High School (Calif.) - A high school senior with loads of high-profile national scene experience, Turang could well be off the board before Boston's turn comes up at #26. He has shown above-average contact skills from the left side, projecting as a pure contact hitter with fringe power and plus speed. On defense, he has an above-average glove, above-average range, and an above-average arm. The game just seems to come easy to Turang. He is committed to LSU in the Fall, so he will likely require an above-slot bonus if he slides to the Red Sox.

Other players who the Red Sox could look at in the first round include Stetson University right-hander Logan Gilbert and Cartersville High School (Ga.) catcher Anthony Seigler. (In an earlier draft of this preview, I had also listed Boston College High School right-hander Mike Vasil here. However, Vasil reportedly has a very strong commitment to Virginia and has withdrawn his name from draft consideration. The only way he could officially do that would be if he declined to take the drug test MLB gives to the top 200 draft prospects—something UVA has encouraged previous recruits to do and should not be interpreted, if that is the case with Vasil, as indicating his fear of failing the test.)

Second Round (#65 overall)

Lenny Torres Jr., RHP, Beacon High School (N.Y.) - Slender, athletic, projectable righty with clean mechanics. Fastball sits 92-94 mph with good command. Also mixes in an above-average slider, a cutter, and a changeup. Committed to St. John's.

Parker Meadows, OF, Grayson High School (Ga.) – Brother of Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows. Strong, athletic center fielder with above-average speed and arm strength. Somewhat raw hit tool. Committed to Clemson.

Austin Becker, RHP, Big Walnut High School (Ohio) - Tall, projectable righty with a high ceiling. Fastball sits in the lower-90s but has hit 96 mph. Secondaries include a curveball and changeup, both need some work. Committed to Vanderbilt.

Matt McLain, SS/2B, Beckham High School (Calif.) - All-around player with an above-average hit tool. Otherwise shows average power and decent speed. Likely to stick at shortstop, but could develop some versatility at other positions. Committed to UCLA.

Tanner Dodson, RHP, California - Has served as Cal's closer because he also played the outfield regularly. Could become a starter as a pro. Throws a 92-94 mph fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. Athletic, mid-sized frame.

Third Round (#100 overall)

Josh Breaux, RHP/C McLennan Junior College (Texas) - Live arm. Fastball sits 95-98 mph and gets up to triple digits, but he reportedly wants to be a position player. Has a good power bat that could be developed in college. Committed to Arkansas.

Kyle Isbel, OF, UNLV - Left-handed contact hitter with developing power and plate discipline. All tools are slightly above-average, but none are spectacular. Unclear if he will be able to stick in center field.

Cal Raleigh, C, Florida State - Offensive-minded catcher. Passable defensive tools, shows above-average power potential. Contact has been inconsistent over his college career.

Jeremy Pena, SS, Maine - Plus to potentially plus-plus all-around defender at shortstop. Fringe bat with below-average power, but has some room to develop. Above-average speed. Son of former major leaguer Geronimo Pena.

Austin Bergner, RHP, North Carolina - Former Red Sox draft pick in 2016. Arsenal includes a 94-mph fastball, plus changeup, and a work-in-progress curveball. May profile better in the bullpen.

Later Rounds

Steve Hajjar, LHP, Central Catholic (Mass.) - Large-framed lefty from North Andover, Mass. with a low-90s fastball. Committed to Michigan. Likely slated for rounds 5-10.

Ryan Cusick, RHP, Avon Old Farms School (Conn.) - 6-foot-6 righty committed to Wake Forest. Low-90s fastball with a developing changeup and slider. Also likely slated for rounds 5-10.

Oraj Anu, OF, Wallace Community College (Ala.) - Athletic switch-hitter with massive power potential. Raw. Homeschooled prior to college, was picked by the Red Sox in 2017. Had been committed to Florida International, but went to community college instead. Could go anywhere between the 4th round and the 40th round.

Will Gambino, OF/RHP, Paul VI Catholic (N.J.) - Solid overall athlete could end up in the outfield or on the mound. Committed to Kentucky. Possible late-round flyer based on his athleticism.

Austin Deming, SS, Snow Canyon (Utah) - BYU commit with above-average power potential. Has reportedly received some interest from the Red Sox. Another possible late-round flyer.

Charlie McConnell, C, Northeastern - Smooth defensive backstop hit .289 for the Huskies. Reading, Mass. native attended Belmont Hill. Likely an organizational catcher, but does have some development opportunities on offense. Possible late-round pick.

Chris Chatfield, OF, South Florida - A 23rd-round pick of the Padres in 2015, Chatfield has had a bit of a rough go of it at USF. However, as a good athlete who also may have been able to play college football who boasts great raw power, it is possible the Red Sox or some other team could take a shot at him, especially if his price tag is not too high. And, of course, as I noted in 2015, it would be kind of cool to have SoxProspects Executive Editor Chris Hatfield chatting about Chris Chatfield on the Podcast, no?

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