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SoxProspects News

May 29, 2020 at 9:00 AM

2020 Red Sox Draft Preview

It’s that time of year again! The MLB Draft gets underway at 7:00 pm ET on Wednesday, June 10. Day One will include the first and supplemental rounds – picks 1 through 37. Day Two will start at 5:00 pm on Thursday, June 11, covering rounds two through five. As a reminder, MLB cut the draft from 40 rounds to five for this year’s draft as a cost-saving measure. Draft bonus slots will hold firm from 2019. After the fifth round, teams can sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for up to $20,000 each. Teams may contact undrafted players starting at 9:00 am ET on June 14. The signing deadline will be August 1.

In this first year of the Chaim Bloom era, the Red Sox will continue to look to replenish a farm system that has been stripped of top prospects due to graduations, trades, and international free agent penalties. The club will look to follow up on the last two year’s draft classes, which look fairly successful at this early stage. The 2020 draft class has some impressive college talent at the top and some overall depth to it, but questions remain as to whether draftees will want to head to the professional ranks or head/return to college during these uncertain times. More than ever, teams will want to be certain that they can sign their draftees before they use of their few picks on them. (That is unless they are purposefully punting until next year, which will be discouraged). 

Boston has one pick on Day One, #17 overall in the first round. The team recently lost its second round pick as a penalty following the sign-stealing investigation. On Day Two, Boston will have three picks - #89 overall in the third round, #118 overall in the fourth round, and #148 overall in the fifth round.

Some of the most successful players selected in the 16-18 range of the draft since 2000 are Nick Swisher (#16 overall, 2002), Cole Hamels (#17, 2002), Brett Lawrie (#16, 2008), AJ Pollock (#17, 2009), CJ Cron (#17, 2011), Sonny Gray (#18, 2011), Lucas Giolito (#16, 2012), Corey Seager (#18, 2012), and Tim Anderson (#17, 2013).

Boston’s bonus pool cap is $5,129,900 this year, which is actually roughly $100,000 more than 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 2020 Draft page, and the @SoxProspects Twitter account. For now, here's a preview of potential picks to whet your palette.

Possible Draft Selections

At SoxProspects, we’ve been covering the draft in depth since 2005. 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 fourteen seasons - except in 2018 when we totally whiffed. 

In 2019, we projected Matthew Lugo as a likely pick at #69 overall, right where the Red Sox drafted him. Nice. We also listed North Andover (MA) RHP Sebastian Keane as a potential local product, and he ended up getting selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round. We also had eventual 4th round pick Noah Song in the last draft of the preview but removed him at the last minute due to the reported military issues. Frowny face. 

In 2017, we listed Tanner Houck as the second-most likely Red Sox' first-round pick, and the club ultimately selected Houck at #24 overall. In 2016, we listed 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 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, 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 we think could be possible targets for the Red Sox this year. Scouting reports are compiled from video review and evaluation of reports available on Perfect Game, Baseball America, and MLB.com:

First Round (#17 overall)

Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (TX). Prep right-hander out of Texas with a rugged starter’s frame, low-effort mechanics, and a big league fastball that consistently sits 95-97 mph and tops out at 99 mph. Also throws an above-average low-80s changeup with plus potential and a work-in-progress slurve. Solid command. Top of the rotation potential. Committed to Texas. 

Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit (OR). Could very well be off the board by the time Boston’s pick rolls around at #17. Very projectable frame. Fastball already sits low-to-mid 90s and tops out around 97 mph. Potential plus-plus slider and a changeup that has the makings of a major league average pitch. Excellent command, clean mechanics. High ceiling. Limited track record. Committed to Oregon State. 

Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee. 6’6”, 220 pound left-hander. Fastball sits in the mid-to-high 90s, tops out at 100 mph. Plus slider. Changeup has above-average potential but needs work. Command can use some work as well. Good arm action. Was a reliever early on with the Vols, doesn’t have a long track record of starting. Previously drafted by Milwaukee in 2017.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF, Harvard Westlake (CA). Prep center fielder committed to Vanderbilt. Athletic build without a ton of projection. Contact hitter from the left side with solid swing mechanics. Gap power. Above-average to plus speed, plus defender, plus arm. Polished for a prep player. Solid track record with Team USA.

Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia. Draft-eligible sophomore. 6’5”, 230 pound frame. Fastball sits at 97-98 mph and hits triple digits with sink and armside run. Plus mid-80s slider. Mid-80s changeup has above-average potential, with some scouts labeling it a potential plus pitch. Marginal control, but showed significant improvement in shortened 2020 season. One question mark might be that draft-eligible sophomores might have the most leverage of any players in this draft.

Other players who the Red Sox could look at in the seemingly unlikely event that they are still available at #17 include Independence HS (TN) OF Robert Hassell and North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey. One other player the team has been tied to is Mount Carmel HS (IL) SS Ed Howard, a toolsy prospect with a plus glove that has been projected to go as high as #10 and as low as the end of the first round. 

Third Round (#89 overall)

Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina. 6’6”, 240 pound right-hander out of ECU. Fastball sits in the high 90s and dials up to 101 mph. Spotty control and command. Curveball and high-80s changeup have both shown above-average potential but need refinement and more consistency. Limited track record of success. High-leverage reliever profile with some starting potential. Previously drafted by Tampa Bay in 2017.

Kala’i Rosario, OF/1B/3B, Waiakeka HS (HI). Committed to California Baptist. Center fielder in high school, projects to play left field in the pros. Plus-plus raw power which has translated well in prep games. Above-average hit tool, doesn't strike out a ton. Good makeup. Decent speed. Fringe-average defensive skills and arm.

Trenton Denholm, RHP, UC-Irvine. Previously selected by Boston in the 26th round in 2017. Smallish frame at 5’11”, 180. Arsenal includes a 90-93 mph fastball, a plus changeup, an average slider, and a show-me curveball. Plus control and command. Great track record as a strike thrower in the Big West and Cape League.

Jeff Criswell, RHP, Michigan. May be off the board well before #89, but he’s the guy you hope slips to the Sox here. Wolverines’ Friday Night Starter. Strong pitcher’s frame with a sold three-pitch mix. Fastball sits 94-97 mph, mixes in an above-average slider and changeup. Questionable control. Tendency to lose his arm slot. Mid-rotation potential.

Jake Eder, LHP, Vanderbilt. 6’4”, 210 pound lefty. Fastball sits in the mid-90s and touches 97 mph. Curveball with plus potential, fringe-average changeup. Very inconsistent over his career, leading some to project him as a reliever. Has starter upside and frame.

Zach DeLoach, OF, Texas A&M. Athletic. All tools are average-ish, but doesn’t possess a plus carrying tool. Average contact hitter with fringe-average power. Average speed, perhaps a tick above. Decent defender at corner outfield with a solid-average arm. Did not have much success early on at Texas A&M but dominated the Cape League in 2019 and then started the 2020 season really strong for the Aggies. Had some helium before the season ended abruptly. 

Fourth Round (#118 overall)

Landon Knack, RHP, East Tennessee St. Top-ranked senior available, could be off the board at this point, as some team might draft him early to even out bonus money for an over-slot pick. He might have been a good option for Boston in the third round if they had a second round pick. While he’s already 23, Knack is no slouch – his fastball sits in the mid-90s fastball and he can dial it up to the high 90s. Good control and command. Four pitch mix. All of his secondary pitches are fringy, the best of which is a passable slider. 

Joe Boyle, RHP, Notre Dame. 6’7”, 240 right-hander with a fastball that can reportedly get up to 102 mph. Decent mechanics. Poor control, marginal secondary stuff. Reliever profile. Worth noting that Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Toboni is a Notre Dame alumnus. 

Luke Little, LHP, San Jacinto. Another hard thrower. 6’8”, 250 pounds, committed to South Carolina. Fastball sits 96-97 mph, touches 100 mph. Jerky mechanics. Questionable but improving command. Above-average low-80s slider. Projects as a reliever, perhaps even to start his pro career.

Daniel Susac, C, Jesuit HS (CA). Brother of MLB catcher Andrew Susac. Big, strong athletic build. Switch hitter with plus power potential. Fringe-average defensive tools with plus arm strength. Committed to Arizona. 

Jason Savacool, RHP, Baldwinsville HS (NY). Medium-framed pitcher used to northeast conditions. Mid-sized frame. Arsenal includes a low-90 sinker, an above-average low-80s slider, a curveball and a changeup. Back-end starter potential. Committed to Maryland. 

Mario Zabala, CF, International Baseball Academy (PR). Pure upside play. Tremendous athlete with three to four potential plus tools. Nice looking swing, but hasn’t shown the ability to hit for contact in games yet. Loves the game. Committed to Florida International. 

Fifth Round (#148 overall)

Jesse Franklin, OF, Michigan. The second Wolverine on the list, 'cuz you gotta keep Ian Cundall happy. High floor, fundamentally-sound player with an all-around set of tools. Likely projects at corner outfield, where he would be above-average defensively. Plus power potential. Good track record in the Big 10 and on the Cape.

Andrew Abbott, LHP, Virginia. I guess you gotta keep Chris Hatfield happy too. Team USA vet drafted by the Yankees in 2017. Smaller frame. Low-to-mid 90s fastball, solid slurve. Low mileage arm. Potential bullpen-to-rotation conversion project if he can add a reliable changeup or a cutter. 

Mason Hickman, RHP, Vanderbilt. Large-framed righty. Great track record on an impressive Commodore pitching staff. Four pitch mix, none of which are major league average at this point, but already has plus command and outstanding pitchability. Would probably cruise through the low minors, but would need some improvements to his arsenal to excel at the highest levels. Smart and potentially adaptable enough to get there.

Trei Cruz, SS, Rice. Son of Jose Cruz Jr. and grandson of Jose Cruz Sr. (hence the Trei). Athletic, high-waisted build. Switch hitter with fringe-average hit tool. Plus raw power. Utility player profile on defense, plus arm. 

Joey Wiemer, OF, Cincinnati. Large-framed outfielder with plus raw power, a plus arm, and above-average to plus speed. Performed well on the Cape in 2019. Hit tool is questionable. Passable defender at all three outfield spots. 

Marquis Grissom Jr., RHP, Counterpane HS (GA). Son on former major leaguer Marquis Grissom. Athletic righty with a projectable frame. Committed to Georgia Tech. Low-90s fastball, power curveball, changeup has solid potential. Likely a tough sign, but an option as an upside pick if the club goes college-heavy early on.

Undrafted Free Agents

After the fifth round, teams can sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents for up to $20,000 each. Clubs may contact undrafted players starting at 9:00 am ET on June 14, and then through the August 1 signing deadline. Teams will have to rely on their reputation, promises of playing time and fit, and scouting relationships to entice undrafted players to sign with them this year. There’s a good chance teams will get some really good prospects for what was previously considered short money.

Local products. The Red Sox haven’t shown a particular penchant for selecting local players in the draft over the last few years, although historically there have often been a couple New Englanders picked each year. Might a local player be more willing to follow through on a dream of playing for the Red Sox this year, rather than signing with some other club for the same amount of money? Quite possibly. Maybe some high schoolers won’t want to roll the dice on what college might look like next year? Who knows? Some New England products who could garner interest from Boston in the undrafted free agent market this year: 

  • Chris Lanzilli, OF, Wake Forest. Hometown of Stoneham, MA. Ranked #336 in the Baseball America 500.
  • Chris Galland, OF, Boston College. Hometown of Sudbury, MA. Cape Cod League All-Star in 2019. Did not play in 2020.
  • Teddy Beaduet, C, Northeastern. Hometown of Franklin, NH. Go Huskies. Solid defensive backstop led Northeastern on offense in shortened 2020 season after a mediocre offensive showing early in his college career.
  • Jake Berger, SS, Buckingham Browne & Nichols (MA). Hometown of Boston. Committed to Harvard, likely will head there in the Fall.
  • Jake Deleo, OF/C, Avon Old Farms (CT). Committed to Georgia Tech.
  • Myles McDermott, OF Braintree (MA). Committed to Wake Forest.
  • Michael Quigley, RHP, Halifax (MA). Committed to UMass Lowell.
  • Brad Lombardi, RHP/IF, East Greenwich (RI). Committed to Boston College.
  • Adrian Siravo, RHP, Gilmanton (NH). Committed to UConn.
  • Hunter Owen, LHP, South Portland (ME). Committed to Vanderbilt.

Former Red Sox picks or signees. Some former Boston draft picks who are eligible to be re-drafted or signed as undrafted free agents this year include: 

  • Oraj Anu, CF, Kentucky. Drafted in the 16th round in 2019 and the 28th round in 2017.
  • Ryan Berardino, 1B, Bentley. Drafted in the 34th round in 2019. Grandson of both Dwight Evans and Red Sox player development consultant Dick Berardino.
  • Chris Mauloni, RHP, Jacksonville. Drafted in the 35th round in 2019.
  • Garrett Irvin, LHP, Arizona. Drafted in the 40th round in 2019.
  • Adrian Torres, CF, New Mexico Junior College. Drafted in the 33rd round in 2018.
  • Cam Shepherd, SS, Georgia. Drafted in the 29th round in 2016.

Other possible targets. Some other draft prospects to watch include:

  • Gavin Casas, 1B, American Heritage (FL). Brother of Triston Casas. Committed to Vanderbilt. Ranked as the #383 draft prospect in the Baseball America 500, and the #283 prep prospect by Perfect Game.
  • Jovan Gill, RHP, Ft, Myers (FL). Committed to Stetson. Well-regarded prep pitcher. Might the Red Sox be able to convince him to stay close to home?
  • Alex Freeland, SS, Mariner (Cape Coral, FL). Committed to Central Florida. Similarly, right down the road from Ft. Myers.
  • Tomas Frick, C, Greenville (SC). Committed to North Carolina. Maybe you want to come play for the Drive in a couple years? That is if it’s still a Red Sox affiliate at that time.
  • Parker Stallard, OF, Salem (VA). Committed to Virginia Tech. See above.
  • DJ Uiagalelei, RHP, Chino (CA). Committed to play quarterback at Clemson to try to become the heir apparent to Trevor Lawrence. Also throws a 95 mph fastball. Boston has a history of trying to nab the baseball rights of two-sport stars. Not sure that $20,000 would get it done for Uiagalelei, but it might for some other two-sport star. Also not sure if the Red Sox will be willing to take those gambles this year. Then again, who’s really sure of anything anymore?

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