SoxProspects News

November 2, 2020 at 11:00 AM

2019 Draft Retrospective: The Picks


We welcome you to the 2019 edition of the SoxProspects.com Draft Retrospective series. This is the final Red Sox draft we will revisit, but make sure to check out the other parts of the series starting with the first draft of the SoxProspects.com era, 2003. This retrospective will come in two parts: The first will be a pick-by-pick recap of each selection with very brief comments, including their peak rank on the SoxProspects.com Top 60, as well as some of the notable players the team passed on to make those picks. Players who signed are in bold, those who did not are in italics. Bonus numbers are included where available. 

In the final draft of the Dave Dombrowski era, the Red Sox were coming off a World Series championship season during which they exceed the luxury tax threshold by more than $40 million. As a result, the organization's first-round draft pick moved down ten slots, technically leaving the team without a first-rounder at all. In order to bring in impact talent, Mike Rikard and the Amateur Scouting department needed to get creative, and while this class is lacking in the no-doubt first-round stud that the previous year brought into the system, that creativity did lead to a number of intriguing prospects joining the system in later rounds.

2 (43). Cameron Cannon, SS, Arizona
Bonus: $1,300,000, Slot: $1,729,800
After a junior year in which he hit .397/.498/.651 with eight home runs, the Red Sox selected Cannon with their first pick and signed him for more than $400,000 under slot, setting into motion a strategy that spread their already-decreased bonus cap money into lower rounds. Cannon was seen as somewhat of a reach at the time, ranked as the 94th-best prospect by Baseball America and a bit higher by Perfect Game, who had him at 73. Cannon’s pro debut was delayed by almost a month as a result of turf toe, and he then got off to a slow start, hitting only .200/.284/.324 in 170 at-bats across the GCL and Lowell. In-person looks matched up with his poor statistics, as he looked very off at the plate and seemed to be pressing from the beginning, including a notably aggressive plate approach in which he seemed to swing at the first pitch in every plate appearance. His poor performance at the plate could have been due to the Red Sox trying to tweak his swing mechanics, so it will be very interesting to see how he looks when he gets back on the field. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 12

2 (69). Matthew Lugo, SS, Beltran Academy (P.R.)
Bonus: $1,100,000, Slot: $929,800 
Lugo was the top prospect in Puerto Rico in the draft class and the Red Sox signed him away from a commitment to the University of Miami with an over-slot bonus. His pre-draft rankings were somewhat mixed, as MLB.com had him 38th overall in the class, while Baseball America had him 74th and Perfect Game fell in the middle at 50th. He had a solid debut across the GCL and Lowell (nearly all in the former), hitting .257/.337/.326 with one home run and 15 walks compared to 38 strikeouts in 144 at-bats. Lugo’s physical projection stood out and he seemed like a solid athlete. His development could be slow, as he is on the raw side and does not currently have a potential plus tool. Regardless, the combination of average-ish tools across the board, above-average athleticism, and physical projection is very intriguing and makes Lugo one of the more interesting guys to watch when minor league players return to the field in 2021.
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 11

3 (107). Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP, Kansas
Bonus: $500,000, Slot: $543,500
Though Zeferjahn was ranked ahead of where he was selected in the pre-draft rankings, he signed for slightly under-slot. Zeferjahn had a solid season at Kansas, striking out 107 in 88 1/3 innings, but there were questions about whether he could stick as a starter long-term. Zeferjahn’s time in Lowell failed to answer that question, but he will be developed as a starter for the foreseeable future. He has a much better chance to stick in the rotation long-term if he continues to show the improvement he did in Lowell, as his slider, which was inconsistent in college, showed above-average potential. When you add that slider to a mid-90s fastball, a changeup and curveball, and sturdy starter's frame, you can see why the Red Sox targeted him. Overall, Zeferjahn struck out 31 in 22 innings, but did walk 12 and allowed 24 hits. Fastball command will likely determine his long-term home, and to stick as a starter he will need to improve that greatly. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 11

4. Noah Song, RHP, Navy
Bonus: $100,000, Slot: $406,000
Easily the most intriguing player selected in the 2019 Red Sox draft class, Song (pictured, above) was a borderline first-round talent, but the senior right-hander fell all the way to the fourth round and signed for just $100,000 due to uncertainty regarding whether he would have to honor his commitment to serve two years in the Navy. During his pro debut in Lowell, Song showed why he was so highly regarded, dominating with an improved arsenal thanks to his changeup taking a major step forward. An afterthought in his college arsenal, the offering now has at least average potential, if not more. With a potential plus fastball, above-average slider, and useable curveball, he has a four-pitch mix along with a starting pitcher's frame. In the offseason, the Red Sox got clarity on his service commitment, and he looks like he should be able to return either late in 2021 or in 2022 after he graduates from flight school, assuming he still wants to play baseball and his waiver is approved then (much more of a formality after serving for two years). Since there was not a minor league season in 2020, the extended break seems a bit less of an issue, given that most of his peers also missed a year of development to some degree. If everything breaks right, Song has the chance to develop into a mid-rotation starter, but he has a wide range of outcomes due to the uncertainty regarding when he will return to baseball and how his stuff looks after taking a few years off.  
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 4

5. Jaxx Groshans, C, Kansas
Bonus: $304,200, Value $304,200
In the fifth round, the Red Sox selected Zeferjahn's college battery mate, the brother of 2018 Blue Jays first-round pick Jordan Groshans. Jaxx Groshans had an up-and-down debut, showing off power but struggling to make solid contact at times and striking out at a 19.4 percent rate. Groshans did walk 13.1 percent of the time, but his hit tool is a major question. Defensively, Groshans also has major questions. He is an above-average athlete for a catcher, but his defense looked like a work in progress in Lowell, as he had some trouble receiving and blocking balls in the dirt. Given the lack of catching depth in the Red Sox system, Groshans is an interesting talent, but he has a lot to work on a wide range of potential outcomes. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 42

6. Chris Murphy, LHP, San Diego
Bonus: $200,000, Slot: $237,000
Coming off an inconsistent year at San Diego, the Red Sox were able to sign Murphy (pictured, left) for below slot and have watched him turn into one of the most intriguing members of the draft class. The Red Sox scouting department deserves a lot of praise for advocating for Murphy, specifically then-pitching crosschecker Chris Mears, who advocated strongly for the Red Sox to take him. In Lowell, Murphy was up to 95 mph and mixed in a potential above-average changeup and average curveball and slider. Most interestingly, he showed improved command and control compared to what he had in college, taking his key weakness as a draft prospect and seemingly making it a non-issue overnight. Whether he ultimately ends up as a starter or reliever remains to be seen, but he has the type of profile that could move pretty quickly should his command and control continue to improve. Given where he was taken and how little he signed for, this pick has significant upside potential. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 14

7. Brock Bell, RHP, State College of Florida-Manatee (JC)
Bonus: $465,000, Slot: $187,700
After going at or under slot with five of their first six picks, the Red Sox started to use some of those savings towards Brock Fortress Bell, a right-hander who was committed to Auburn. Bell comes from a strong baseball family, as his father Jay played 18 years in the Major Leagues and is currently the Double-A manager for the Angels, while his older brother is a third baseman in the Reds organization. Originally a two-way player, he underwent Tommy John surgery as a sophomore and stuck to the mound upon his return in 2019, showing increased velocity on a relatively low-mileage arm, something the Red Sox have targeted in the past (as you have no doubt realized if you have read every entry in this series!). In his pro debut, Bell was up to 97 mph, sitting 91-94 mph with an above-average curveball. He is still in the early stages of developing a third pitch, and his command and control need work, but there is definite upside going forward. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 31

8. Wil Dalton, CF, Florida
Bonus: $135,000, Slot: $159,700
Dalton was relatively highly regarded after his sophomore year at Florida when he hit 19 home runs, but he regressed some in 2019, resulting in his falling to the eighth round and signing for an under-slot bonus. Dalton struggled in his pro debut as well, showing raw power but striking out 30.9 percent of the time and really struggling to recognize spin and make contact against velocity. However, he was selected to participate in the Fall Instructional League this season, a potential sign that the organization still is high on Dalton.

9. Cody Scroggins, RHP, Arkansas
Bonus: $100,000, Slot: $148,200 
The Red Sox have had relative success drafting college relievers in rounds 5-10 and signing them to under-slot bonuses, with players such as Kyle Martin and Ben Taylor fitting that profile and working their way into MLB cups of coffee. Scroggins is the latest pitcher to fit that mold, but in his debut, he struggled to throw strikes and got hit around a bit. 

10. Stephen Scott, OF, Vanderbilt
Bonus: $50,000, Slot: $142,200 
An ideal 10th-round senior sign, Scott signed for an under-slot bonus but still has some upside potential. Scott was a jack of all trades at Vanderbilt and one of their top performers on the 2019  College World Series championship team. He played catcher, first base, and outfield in college, and though he has only played first base and outfield in pro games, he has worked out at catcher during the Fall Instructional league in 2019 and 2020, and it seems the Red Sox are committed to giving him a chance to develop there. With his defensive versatility and some power potential, he looks like a solid organizational player at worst, and if everything clicks, particularly behind the plate, he may be a tick more. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 54

11. Sebastian Keane, RHP, North Andover HS (Mass.)
Likely to save a not-insubstantial amount of bonus cap space on their first 10 picks, the Red Sox then began day three with a run of players who would need over-slot bonuses to sign. Keane was regarded as a fourth- or fifth-round talent by many publications, but had a strong commitment to Northeastern and had the dreaded "cold-weather player" tag. The Red Sox made a run at signing him, but in the end, his bonus demands were higher than they were comfortable paying given the other options available to them. Prior to the shortened college season, he was the 19th-ranked player on Baseball America’s Top 50 freshmen list. Keane came out of the gate strong, as he served as Northeastern’s Sunday starter, putting up a respectable 4.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 20 innings with a very good 24:6 strikeout-to-walk rate. As of now, he is ranked 47th on Perfect Game’s 2022 Draft Class College Player Rankings and number 46 on Fangraphs’ 2022 draft board. 

12. Brendan Cellucci, LHP, Tulane
Bonus: $345,000 ($220,000 against bonus cap)
Although they did not sign Keane, the Red Sox did use their savings from the first ten rounds to go over slot for a few players, starting with Cellucci in the 12th round. Cellucci signed right before the deadline after three appearances in the Cape Cod League. He has a solid pitcher's frame and ran his fastball up to 97 mph during a short sample size in Lowell. He was able to miss bats, but at the same time was hittable and has a ways to go developmentally. Regardless it is hard to find left-handers with Cellucci’s arm strength so it is understandable why the Red Sox were willing to go over slot to get him into the system. Even with no minor league season, Cellucci has pitched in games this year for the Alpha Athletics Juice Pigs, a men’s league team in a league in the Philadelphia suburbs. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 47

13. Blake Loubier, RHP, Oviedo HS (Fla.)
Bonus $500,000 ($375,000 against bonus cap)
The Red Sox continued their run on potential over-slot signees in the 13th, and were able to pry Loubier away from a commitment to Wake Forest for the same bonus they gave to Zeferjahn in the third round. Loubier, who grew up a Red Sox fan and attended a workout at Fenway Park during the draft process, saw his stock rise during his senior year due to greatly increased velocity. He has the type of projectable frame you can dream on, listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. He only threw 13 innings after signing, putting up a 5.54 ERA and 1.62 WHIP with a 15:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s raw and has a long way to go developmentally, but he has already hit 94 mph and has flashed a workable curveball. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 48

14. Jordan Beck, 1B, Hazel Green HS (Ala)
There was very little reported about the Red Sox and Beck around the signing deadline, so it seems there may not have been much traction there. As a freshman, Beck established himself as a middle-of-the-order bat for a very good Tennessee team out of the gate, but struggled a bit and moved into a part-time role just before the season was canceled. Overall, he hit .275/.396/.475 with one home run in 40 at-bats. He is currently ranked 45th on Perfect Game’s 2022 Draft Class College Player Rankings.

15. Aaron Roberts, RHP, Desert Oasis HS (Nev.)
As with Beck, there was very little reporting linking Roberts to signing with the Red Sox, and he ended up at Cal. He did not play this year after suffering a season-ending injury in the preseason. 

16. Oraj Anu, CF, George Wallace CC (Ala.)
Anu has now been drafted by the Red Sox twice, having first been drafted out of high school in 2017 in the 28th round. He did not sign here either, ending up at Kentucky, where he hit in the middle of the order and served as the team's designated hitter. A switch-hitter, Anu hit .294/.368/.549 with three home runs in 51 at-bats and was draft-eligible again in 2020, although he went undrafted in the shortened, five-round version, so he will return to Lexington for his senior season.

17. Alex Erro, 2B, Northwestern
Bonus: $125,000
Erro is the quintessential college player every team needs to fill out their minor league rosters. He signed for slot out of Northwestern and showed solid defensive versatility and contact skills in his time in Lowell. He hit .277 in 141 at-bats, but his ceiling is limited by his lack of power and speed. He projects as an organizational type player who sticks around in the minors for a while. Of note, he will work out as a catcher at the Fall Instructional League to give him further versatility.
 
18. Jacob Herbert, C, George Jenkins HS (Fla.)
Bonus: $125,000
The Red Sox signed Herbert away from a college commitment to the State College of Florida for slot value. He has a sturdy frame and raw power, but has a long way to go developmentally at the plate. He only got 56 at-bats after signing, hitting .143/.250/.143. He currently has too much swing-and-miss in his game and there are questions about his contact skills. 

19. Joe Davis, 1B, Houston
Bonus: $5,000
Davis (pictured, right) was a top college performer as a senior, and the Red Sox were able to sign him for only $5,000. He showed his value during his pro debut as one of the key contributors during Lowell’s run to the New York-Penn League championship series. Davis anchored their lineup, hitting .281 with five home runs and had a flair for the dramatic with multiple key late hits to win games. He does not have much upside, but he is the perfect organizational player teams target in the later rounds to balance out a roster.

20. Reed Harrington, RHP, Spokane Falls CC (Wash.)
Bonus: $125,000
Harrington dominated in junior college, striking out 31 and walking only 4 in 25 2/3 innings as Spokane Falls' closer. He was committed to Boise State, but the Red Sox were able to sign him for $125,000 and get him into the system. Harrington has a solid pitcher's frame and reportedly gets a lot of extension. His long-term future is unclear, however, as he only made four appearances after signing.

21. Dylan Spacke, RHP, Long Beach State
Bonus: $75,000
Another college reliever, the Red Sox signed Spacke and he went to Lowell, where he had a solid debut, striking out 16 and walking only 3 in 11 2/3 innings in relief. Spacke does not have much of a ceiling, sitting in the low-90s and mixing in a slider. 

22. Dom D'Alessandro, 1B, George Washington
Bonus: $10,000
Like Joe Davis earlier, D’Alessandro was a quintessential senior sign. He went to the GCL and was one of their better hitters, though he was very old for the level. Overall, he hit .292/.421/.415 with three home runs in 130 at-bats. 

23. Leon Paulino, CF, Florida Virtual HS (Fla.) 
Bonus: $125,000
Paulino, who is originally from Lawrence, Mass., has the frame, listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, as well as the athleticism teams covet, but his baseball skills lag behind, which is why he lasted to the 23rd round. The Red Sox were able to sign Paulino away from Florida International, and he struggled to make contact in his pro debut, hitting .153 in 72 at-bats. Paulino is a long-term project, so early production was not to be expected. 

24. Dean Miller, OF, California – Riverside
Bonus: $5,000 
Another quintessential senior sign, Miller went to the GCL and established himself as one of the team's top hitters at the level, putting up a .289/.370/.508 line with four home runs in 128 at-bats. Miller was old for the level, however, and struck out 27.2 percent of the time, so he will have to make more contact in order to succeed against more advanced pitching. 

25. Karson Simas, SS, Clovis West HS (Calif.)
Bonus: $175,000 ($50,000 against bonus cap)
The Red Sox signed Simas away from a commitment to Fresno City Junior College by giving him a slightly over-slot bonus. Simas only got 38 at-bats in his pro debut, so it is far too early to make any determinations about his future.

26. Brandon Walter, LHP, Delaware
Signing Bonus: $35,000
Another senior sign, Walter excelled at Delaware, striking out 106 in 86 1/3 innings with a 3.86 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He was one of the better pitchers in the GCL against much younger competition, striking out 39 in 33 1/3 innings with a 2.7 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. 

27. Devon Roedahl, RHP, Houston
Bonus: $25,000
Roedahl was a jack of all trades at Houston, primarily pitching in multi-inning relief stints. He was solid in the GCL, striking out 27 and only walking five in 22 innings, but was old for the level so it remains to be seen how he will fare against more age-appropriate competition.  

28. Daniel Bakst, SS, Stanford
Bonus $75,000
Of the late-round draftees, Bakst has one of the most interesting stories. He was a highly regarded high school talent who was drafted by the Orioles, but chose to attend Stanford instead. He excelled as a freshman, but missed most of his sophomore season with an injury and then chose to sit out the 2019 season. Even though he wasn’t playing, he still worked out and was doing some hitting on the side, and he showed enough interest in baseball for the Red Sox to draft and sign him for a modest bonus. He was solid in his pro debut, hitting .306/.397/.469 in 98 at-bats, but evidently his passion for the game did not return and he retired after the 2019 season to pursue other interests.   
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 47

29. Luke Bandy, CF, Dallas Baptist
Bonus: $75,000
Bandy performed very well as a junior for Dallas Baptist, hitting .338/.424/.505 with 6 home runs and 26 steals in 198 at-bats. He struggled with the transition to pro ball in Lowell, however, striking out 40.2 percent of the time and only hitting .165. Bandy is athletic and has some speed, but has to make major improvement to get out of the low minors. 

30. Nathan Martorella, 1B, Salinas HS (Calif.)
Like 15th-round pick Roberts, Martorella ended up at Cal this year after the Red Sox didn’t sign him. He has split time between first base and designated hitter and served as the number three hitter for the majority of the season as a freshman. He was hitting .241/.444/.369 with a team-leading three home runs in 54 at-bats when the college season was canceled. He is not ranked in any 2022 draft rankings. 
31. Feleipe Franks, RHP, Florida
Bonus: $40,000
Sox years after drafting and signing the Gators' starting quarterback in Jeff Driskel, the Red Sox went back to the well again, drafting and signing Franks on the off chance he opts to try his hand at baseball. In the fall of 2019, Franks broke his ankle in the third game of the year and missed the rest of the season. He transferred to Arkansas this winter and was immediately eligible to play as a graduate transfer. So far, he has led the Razorbacks to a 2-2 record as the starting QB. Franks is not a top NFL prospect, but it remains to be seen if he could play his way into a late-round selection in his current preferred sport. On the diamond, Franks hit 94 mph in workouts for the Red Sox after he was selected despite it being the first time he had pitched since high school, so if the organization can get him in the system, he at least has intriguing arm strength. At such a low cost, it was a worthwhile gamble that could pay off at some point down the road, even if the odds are very slim. 

32. Bradley Blalock, RHP, Grayson HS (Ga.)
Bonus: $250,000 ($125,000 against bonus cap)
Blalock was the final over-slot signee for the Red Sox, as they signed him away from Kennesaw State just before the signing deadline. He only made a handful of appearances in the Gulf Coast League, sitting around 90 mph with a changeup and curveball. Overall, he threw 6 2/3 innings with a 6.75 ERA and 1.35 WHIP with four strikeouts and four walks.  

33. Thayer Thomas, CF, NC State
Unlike Franks, fellow football-focused athlete Thomas had played at least some college baseball when the Red Sox took him, appearing in 14 games and hitting .222/.364/.500 in 18 at-bats in 2019. Thomas didn’t sign and then went out and had a solid year on the gridiron for the Wolfpack, grabbing 31 receptions for 334 yards and three touchdowns. He also led the team in average punt return yards at 13.7 and returned one punt for a touchdown. He did not play baseball this spring and still has football eligibility, so whether the Red Sox look to draft him again at some point or sign him as a free agent remains to be seen.

34. Ryan Berardino, 1B, Bentley
The grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Dwight Evans and former Red Sox coach Dick Berardino, Ryan Beradino did not sign and returned to Bentley for his senior season. He served as the number three hitter this year and was hitting .240/.333/.420 with one home run in 50 at-bats when the season was canceled. If 2020 had a full-length draft, he could have been a senior sign given a well-below-slot bonus, but he went undrafted and did not sign with a team.

35. Chris Mauloni, RHP, Jacksonville
Mauloni returned to Jacksonville for his junior season and dominated in a small sample while serving as the team's closer. He struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings while only walking three and putting up a 3.18 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. He went unselected in the 2020 draft and then signed with the Tigers as an undrafted free agent in July.  

36. Caleb Hill, LHP, Montana (Senior)
After finishing his football career as a tight end, Hill thought he would give baseball a try after having Division I offers in that sport as well coming out of high school, and the Red Sox took a flyer on him. Despite seeming likely to sign, he did not wind up in the system.

37. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Tomah HS (Wis.)
The Red Sox never really had a chance at signing Prielipp, who was highly regarded entering the draft but pretty set on going to Alabama. The decision to go to college by Prielipp was a good one. Entering the year, he was ranked 30th on Baseball America’s top freshmen list, but even though he only made four starts, he has established himself as one of the top prospects for the 2022 draft. Prielipp was the Crimson Tide’s opening day starter and dominated in 21 innings, allowing no runs and only five hits while striking out 35 and only walking six. He was named the Perfect Game USA Impact Freshman of the Year and D1Baseball.com's Top Freshman Pitcher after the shortened season and currently finds himself the number one prospect on Perfect Game’s 2022 Draft Class College Player Rankings and the number seven prospect on Fangraphs’ 2022 Draft Board. He is definitely a name to watch in the 2022 draft process.

38. Cameron Meeks RHP Sam Houston HS (La.)
Meeks was pretty highly regarded coming out of Louisiana High School at 2019 having been ranked by both Baseball America and Perfect Game. There was no chatter about him signing with the Red Sox and he ended up at McNeese State where he was ranked 39th by Baseball America in their preseason freshman rankings. He had his struggles this year pitching out of the bullpen walking seven in three innings, but even with that the talent is still there so he is ranked 83 on Perfect Game’s 2022 Draft Class College Player Rankings which were updated after the conclusion of the college season. 

39. Trey Faltine, SS/RHP, Travis HS (Tex.)
The Red Sox never really had a chance at signing Faltine, who was inside of Baseball America’s top 100 draft prospects for the 2019 draft but fell all the way to the 39th round due to a strong commitment to the University of Texas. Coming into the season, he found himself 12th on Baseball America’s top 50 freshmen list and he followed that up with a solid year, hitting .259/.343/.362 with one home run and two steals in 58 at-bats. He served as the Longhorns' everyday shortstop and number five hitter. Faltine has an athletic, projectable frame and as a result, even though the numbers may not jump off the page, he is very highly regarded for the 2022 draft class. He is ranked 13 on Perfect Game’s 2022 Draft Class College Player Rankings and 8th on Fangraphs’ 2022 Draft Board. He is another name to watch a few years down the road as he ticks a lot of boxes the Red Sox look for in middle infield prospects. 

40. Garrett Irvin, LHP, Riverside CC
After not signing with the Red Sox, Irvin headed to the University of Arizona, where he was their opening day starter in 2020. He made four starts, putting up a 3.18 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with a 28:4 strikeout to walk ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He was one of the better starters in the Pac-12 in the short season and led the conference with seven pickoffs. He was not selected in the 2020 draft and looks set to head back to Arizona for his senior season. 

Photo credit: Noah Song, Chris Murphy, and Joe Davis by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @iancundall.

 
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