The MLB Draft is today, which means hope springs eternal and a whole lot of other corny metaphors that make us feel better about 18-to-23-year-olds accomplishing more in one night than we ever will. Yesterday, Ben Carsley previewed some of the names that may be in play for the Red Sox with their first pick tonight. Go read that, because he’s my boss, and I have to plug the things he writes.
Instead of looking forward, I’m going to look back at Boston’s last five drafts. I’ll look at some “hits,” some “wildcards,” and some “dudes on other teams.” The hits are the good picks, because the object of baseball is to hit the ball, and this is a baseball website. Do you get it? The wildcards are players who haven’t totally panned out yet but still could. Wildcards are also baseball teams that weren’t quite good enough to win a division but they still make the playoffs. Do you get it? The dudes on other teams are dudes on other teams, and I couldn’t think of a psuedo-creative name.
You get it.
When I was preparing to write this post, my plan was to pick one player for every draft. That was too difficult for this one, which may go down as one of the greatest individual drafts for any team in recent memory. This is a draft in which the Red Sox picked Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Travis Shaw. That’s not even to mention a couple of other guys I’ll talk about in a few seconds. I don’t feel the need to go in-depth on any of these names. We know they are good baseball players.
Wildcard: Williams Jerez
Jerez was a second-round pick by the Red Sox in 2011, but he was the fifth pick the team made thanks to the old compensation rules. Although he was drafted as an outfielder, he converted to pitching after flaming out as a position player. Since then, he has rocketed up the organization and was placed on the 40-man roster this winter. He’s having some trouble transitioning to Double-A Portland, but there is still plenty of potential for him to carve out a major-league bullpen role.
Dude On Another Team: Mac Williamson
Mac Williamson was the Red Sox’s 46th-round pick in 2011 who went back to college. He was drafted in the third round the following season by the Giants. He’s in the majors now and could possibly carve out at least a share of an everyday role down the road.
Hit: Brian Johnson
This wasn’t nearly as successful as the 2011 draft class, but there are still some intriguing names. Johnson is clearly on top of the list, though. A polished lefty coming out of Florida, he was the second selection in Boston’s draft in 2012, and he’s flown through the minors, getting a little taste of major-league action last season. Right now, he’s dealing with some personal anxiety issues that should clearly be his priority over baseball, but a role as a No. 4 starting pitcher still seems part of his future.
Wildcard: Justin Haley
Haley was Boston’s sixth round selection in this draft and has slowly made his way through the system with little fanfare in that time. He reached Double-A Portland at the end of 2014, and repeated the level last year with horrible results. However, he turned things around in the Arizona Fall League, putting up a 12:2 K:BB ratio in 14 innings of work. Heading back to Portland this season, he has continued that success and should get a chance at Pawtucket soon. The ceiling isn’t huge, but he’s showing he can carve out some sort of role in the majors.
Dudes of Another Team: Carson Fulmer and Alex Bregman
The Red Sox took a chance on two late-round high schoolers in this draft, but both of them decided to go to college instead. It was a good decision for both Bregman and Fulmer, as they were both first-round picks in last year’s draft and are currently among the best prospects in the game.
Hit: Mauricio Dubon
Hey, look, it’s my favorite prospect in the system. I’ve written extensively about Dubon on these pages and even more on Twitter dot com, so I won’t go too in-depth here. Still, as a 26th-round pick, this is one of the most impressive picks the Red Sox have made in recent history. He’s a fun guy to watch and should be in Portland at some point this summer.
Wildcard: Trey Ball
So, this is weird. A 26t- round pick ends up in the “hit” category, while the seventh overall pick is a wildcard. If you’ve followed their professional careers, though, it makes sense. On the one hand, Ball has been a disappointment after being drafted so highly, never being able to put it together on a consistent basis. On the other hand, he was supposed to be a project when he was drafted and he’s still only in his age-22 season. The early results in Salem this season have been fine, and I’d expect to see him there all season. There’s no guarantee he’ll ever come close to his potential, but the possibility still exists.
Dude on Another Team: Carlos Asuaje
I talked about Asuaje in the piece linked to in the Dubon section, as he’s another high-floor infielder. I’m a big fan of his line drive-oriented swing and think he’ll be a fine bench piece for the Padres, who received him in the Craig Kimbrel trade.
Hit: Sam Travis
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not as high on Travis as many are, since the power still hasn’t come through in a big way, and it’s hard to succeed at first base with that profile. However, he’s still a really good hitter and counts as a hit in this draft. An unfortunate knee injury has ended his season prematurely, taking away the chance of him reaching the majors this season. He should get his shot at some point in 2017. For what it’s worth, I almost included Michael Kopech here, but his off-the-field issues knocked him off the list even though he’s still the more talented prospect.
Wildcard: Josh Ockimey
Ockimey was someone I loved watching in Lowell this season, but I never expected him to do what he’s doing in Greenville in 2016. He’s another first-base prospect, but he doesn’t share Travis’ lack of home run pop by any stretch. With nine home runs to his name already in 2016, there is easy power in his swing. Even better, he’s cut down on the strikeouts in full-season ball and is walking quite a bit as well. Who knows how Ockimey will perform in the upper levels of the minors, but he’s certainly someone to keep an eye on going forward.
Dude on Another Team: N/A
Hit: Andrew Benintendi
Well, this was obvious. Benintendi has been unbelievable since his selection at seventh overall last season, and as we all know, he’s among the top prospects in the farm system. After seeing Boston (possibly) mess up their early pick in 2013, it’s refreshing to see the organization hit on this one. Benintendi could be up this season, and will almost certainly make his debut at some point in 2017 at the latest.
Wildcard: Austin Rei
So, full disclosure: It’s hard to pick a wildcard exactly one year after all these players were drafted. Rei is another guy I saw a bunch in Lowell this season, and I’d be lying if I said I was impressed. However, people a lot smarter than me see potential here, and he was included in BP’s top 10 Red Sox prospects. His first full season isn’t going extremely well, but it’s important to remember catchers are typically slow to develop. As a third-round pick from college, one would hope we start to see signs of life soon, though.
Dude on Another Team: Logan Allen
Allen is not your typical high school pitcher, lacking the huge ceiling possessed by many of his counterparts but also boasting a higher floor. He draws a lot of Jon Lester comparisons, and aesthetically speaking they are accurate. Allen doesn’t have that kind of talent, but as another piece in the Kimbrel deal, the Padres got another relatively safe piece in that package.
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