As I covered a few weeks back and as many around the Interwebs have noted recently, the Red Sox have the seventh pick in Thursday’s 2013 MLB Draft. This represents their highest pick since 1993, when they selected Trot Nixon at No. 7, and gives Boston an incredible opportunity to add to an already stacked farm system.
With that background in mind, there’s really just one simple question on most Red Sox fans’ minds: who will and who should Boston take with their first pick?
Since we are in year two of the new CBA and modified draft rules, it’s difficult to project how teams plan to draft moving forward. While “best player available” is generally still the best route to go, the cash pools given to each team and max slot deals assigned to each individual pick could lead to some interesting strategies come draft day, and make mock drafting even more of a fool’s errand than it is already.
So rather than bring you a full mock draft, I’m instead going to focus on a group of players who Boston could consider taking when their name is called on Thursday evening.
For the purposes of this exercise, the only players I’m going to rule out are Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray and Kris Bryant. Even if the Colin Moran at 1-1 rumors prove to be true, I don’t see any way these three players are still on the board past No. 4. And since trading in the MLB draft is limited, we can safely assume the Red Sox will not land any of the players above.
Other than that, though, the draft board seems pretty wide open. That being said, here are 10 players the Red Sox could pop with the seventh pick on Thursday. Players are listed in reverse order of their likelihood of being selected by Boston.
10) Sean Manaea, LHSP
Once viewed as a Top 5 pick and as a candidate for 1-1, Manaea hasn’t been as impressive this season as he was in Cape Cod last summer. What’s more, a hip injury has raised some red flags, and his signability is up in the air as well. If the three men who sit atop this list are all gone by the time Boston picks it’s possible they could shoot for the talented lefty and the upside he possesses, but it’s unlikely. Manaea’s landing spot will likely come in the late first or early second round.
9) D.J. Peterson, 1B
This isn’t a rumor I’ve seen linked to anywhere and I haven’t seen Peterson pop up to the Sox in any mocks, but it would be an interesting example of the Sox drafting for need. First base is a very shallow position within the organization now and while Peterson’s upside is modest, he’s fairly polished and could move quickly, perhaps serving as MLB ready as early as late 2014. Taking Peterson at seven would also likely result in an under slot deal, freeing up more cash for the Red Sox later.
8) Colin Moran, 3B
The Red Sox seem like a floor for Moran, who could genuinely go anywhere in the Top 6 perhaps other than to the Cubs at No. 2. There are rumors that the Astros will pop him first overall and sign him to a (very) under slot deal, but Moran really doesn’t have the type of upside to warrant a selection that high. If the Sox take him they’d get arguably the most polished bat in the class, but at perhaps the deepest position in their system. If they truly believe Moran is the best player available (BPA) they should take him regardless, but it would be sort of an odd fit and he’s likely to be off the board anyway.
7) Trey Ball, LHSP/OF
Universally regarded as the best two-way player in the draft, Ball is poised to be a pretty consolation prize for teams picking in the 6-15 range. He doesn’t have the elite upside of last year’s premiere prep lefty, Max Fried, but multiple sources cite him as a potential No. 2 starter and many think he’ll move faster on the mound than in the outfield. The Sox haven’t been linked to him often, but they have taken two-way prospects before (Casey Kelly) and the skill set here is quite intriguing.
6) Alex Gonzalez, RHSP
A player the Sox have been linked to a bit more often as of late – and which Josh Cookson tipped me off to last week – Gonzalez lacks big upside but is viewed as a high probability starter who should occupy a spot in the middle of a big league rotation. This would not be a sexy pick and almost certainly wouldn’t be an example of the Sox going BPA, but again, if the intent is to sign a player to an under slot deal, you can see the logic. Yours truly would be sadface if Gonzalez is the player the Sox take here, but it would answer plenty of questions about how Ben Cherington and co. plan to draft moving forward.
5) Ryne Stanek, RHSP
Stanek is a divisive prospect, as he entered the season as one of the premiere starters in the college game but was inconsistent for most of the year. Some don’t like his arm action and he doesn’t do a great job of commanding his fastball, but the pure stuff is there and when Stanek is on, he can be filthy. He’s a tough guy to peg in terms of the draft as he could pretty much go anywhere from No. 5 to the late in the first round. His career arc could wind up somewhat similar to Anthony Ranaudo’s if he does end up slipping late in the first.
4) Braden Shipley, RHSP
Shipley is sort of a lesser version of last year’s Royals first-rounder, Kyle Zimmer. He’s also new to pitching as a shortstop convert and has plenty of athleticism, but he lacks Zimmer’s feel for pitching at present, and his breaking ball needs work, too. Shipley to the Marlins at No. 6 seems to be a popular rumor, but if the Sox are intent on pitching and want a nice combination of upside and probability, Shipley makes sense here. He could only need two years in the minors, although that’s an optimistic view. It’s hard to envision him falling past the Royals at No. 8.
3) Kohl Stewart, RHSP
The consensus best prep pitcher (and third-best pitcher overall) in the draft, Stewart’s arsenal is pretty ridiculous for a prep pitcher, and he has an ideal pitcher’s frame as well. I’m not in love with the delivery, but that’s something that can be fixed and his fastball-slider combo will give him plenty of room for error. Stewart has an offer to back up Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M next season so signability is a concern, but I think the Sox at No. 7 represent his floor, and most sources have him going to the Twins at No. 4. He may be No. 1 on the Sox’ realistic big board, but he’s unlikely to fall to them.
2) Austin Meadows, OF
On the short list of most athletic players in the draft, Meadows is a two-sport star with a commitment to Clemson to play football, but he might go high enough in the draft to render that commitment moot. A potential four tool monster – Meadows lacks a plus arm and therefor the ability to play right field – Meadows is raw with a hit tool that lags behind his other physical gifts, but if it all comes together you’re looking at an impact defender in center field with the ability to hit for big power as well. It will take Meadows a long time to progress through a minor league system, but his upside would have him play in a few All Star games. He could go anywhere from Cleveland at No. 5 to somewhere in the mid-teens.
1) Clint Frazier, OF
The man most often linked to the Red Sox is also the man who makes the most sense for this team and this organization. Frazier’s drawbacks are that he’s physically maxed out already, is unlikely to retain enough speed to stay in center field, and he’s lost a bit of arm strength due to tendinitis. The positives, however, are very positive. Keith Law says that Frazier has some of the best bat speed he’s ever seen in an amateur, and Frazier is projected to hit for plus power as well. The floor is low but the ceiling is very high here, and in his bat speed Frazier has an enormously important tool, and one that you cannot teach. There are whispers of Frazier going first overall, but it’s more likely that he goes to Cleveland at No. 5 (which I’m actually pretty scared might happen) or Boston at No. 7. He’s a very exciting player.
Since I think the most natural question is “where would Frazier then rank in Boston’s system,” I’ll preempt that here by guessing that I’d rank him ninth behind the Killer Bs, Allen Webster, Garin Cecchini, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo and Blake Swihart, but ahead of the likes of Brandon Workman or Deven Marrero.
And just for the lolz of it, here’s my projection of the first round through Boston’s pick. Note that me making these predictions in public all but guarantees that this is not how the first round will actually play out.
|1. Houston Astros||Jonathan Gray, RHSP|
|2. Chicago Cubs||Mark Appel, RHSP|
|3. Colorado Rockies||Kris Bryant, 3B/OF|
|4. Minnesota Twins||Kohl Stewart, RHSP|
|5. Cleveland Indians||Colin Moran, 3B|
|6. Miami Marlins||Braden Shipley, RHSP|
|7. Boston Red Sox||Clint Frazier, OF|