I thought it was about time to start discussing the MLB Draft. We're at around two days away now, as the draft takes place over three days starting on June 7th. We're starting to link the Red Sox to players, but it's never too late to start trying to narrow things down as fans. You can never prepare yourself for a break-out performance from a guy like Reymond Fuentes, and at this point last year most mock drafts had started to home in on Max Stassi as the Sox selection, so take these names with a grain of salt. However, barring injury these are all 1st round talents. Where they fall will ultimately be determined by things like how they perform in work-outs, tournaments, and bonus demands, but for now let's mostly ignore those things. So I've highlighted four high school players that are all possible choices at 20. Keep in mind that the Red Sox have also been linked to college players Matt Harvey, Anthony Ranaudo, Kolbrin Vitek, and Asher Wojciechowski, but for this I'm sticking strictly to the prep ranks.
I figure we can use this FanPost to talk about the upcoming draft, where we can post any Red Sox or player updates until it starts on Monday.
Here are some links to check out, often containing information written by people much more informed than I:
Kaleb Cowart - RHP/3B - Cook County High School, GA
Cowart is probably the most well-known two-way prep player in the entire draft, just ahead of Justin O'Conner. He has admirers of his potential both at the hot corner and on the mound. While he's playing SS now in high school, there's probably no way he sticks there, and will have to move to 3B, where by most accounts he should be a plus defender. He's got pretty good range and has a great arm, and you probably don't have to worry about his defense once you move him over. He's a switch-hitter that has already present power and should develop for more down the line. Being a switch-hitting third baseman from Georgia, you can expect plenty of Chipper Jones comparisons, especially if he stays as a position player. In terms of his hitting, most reports indicate he's better from the right side than the left side, witnessed first hand when he played in the AFLAC All-American game and tried hitting from the left side both times he was up to the plate, striking out in both occasions. He'll need to work on pitch recognition and making contact, especially from the left-side, if he wants to succeed as a pro.
Personally I think I might prefer him ever so slightly on the mound, and it sounds like there are a lot of scouting people leaning that way, but it still seems pretty split overall. It's said he really prefers to play everyday of course and may want a Casey Kelly-type deal to prove himself as a position player and sign him away from college (and there are rumors of him wanting a Casey Kelly-type bonus as well), but he also does seem to recognize that there are a lot of teams out there who would like him on the mound. Right now as a pitcher he possesses a fastball that usually sits around 91-93 but can get it up to 95 when reaching back, with some pretty good movement on it as well. He features a slider as his main off-speed weapon, and it's slightly below-average now, but also features a developing cutter which is also around the same quality level as the slider. He's also apparently thrown a change and curveball at times, but they fall behind the other three pitches. He's still got some projectability left in him too, and with some added weight he should be able to hold his velocity later into games. I've read that he's been more polished than expected this Spring, but he's still splitting his time between being a position player and being a pitcher. At times described as a better version of Ethan Martin, 2008 1st round pick of the Dodgers, who's a picher in their system now. He's a good kid, good grades, competitive, church-going, and active in the community.
Josh Sale - OF - Bishop Blanchet High School, WA
Read any interview with Josh Sale and you'll notice one thing: he likes to talk about the game of baseball. Maybe that's why I like him, because from the way he talks he studies the game, his opposing pitchers, his swing, his defense, his physique, everything to do with his impact on the game. He seems to be a quiet, focused person while on the field and then lets the floodgates open once you get him one on one and talking about his favorite subject: the game of baseball. Of course, this is all my opinion based on reading just a scant few interviews with him, so maybe he's not like that at all. He says he studies his swing more than anything else, breaking it down with his dad and his trainer, analyzing it, making notes of what went wrong during a poor AB and how to fix it next time. There have been a few rumors that he can be a little cocky when he's hitting well though.
As for the swing itself, it should deliver both a plus hit tool in the future along with plus power. He's already showning off his power in BP sessions and assorted scout games throughout the country, and that kind of power will likely continue as long as he can continue to refine his pure hitting talent. He's got a good swing with strong wrists and some great bat speed, so it's no wonder he'll be drafted based purely on how much he hits. At the plate, he's also a picky hitter, waiting for the right pitch before swinging, trying not to be overly aggressive. He'll need to make slight adjustments to his swing or else might be suceptible against advanced breaking balls. You could probably give him the nickname of "The Professional" since he's gone on record as saying he considers every at-bat as a career opportunity. He's been compared early and often of another NW prep OFer by the name of Travis Snider (current Blue Jay), and as comparisons go it's not a bad one. Sale (pronounced like "Sah-lay") has been on the hitting radar ever since hitting for the cycle during the Area Code games in '08.
In the field, however, things aren't quite as rosy. He's a gym rat, although he's stated he doesn't work on pure weight gain as much as quick, explosive movements and short reps with weights, but even still he'll need to watch his weight gain as he gets older. He's not a CF, and there's a question as to whether he's got the arm for RF. I've seen it graded out as either below-average, average, or slightly above average. There's a more than a 50/50 chance he's playing LF by the time he fully develops, although I guess there's always hope. He's not really athletic, and I'm not sure if that's something that will attract the Sox. But they should be interested, despite his less-than-impressive athleticism, because as a prep bat he's quite polished and should display good contact ability to go along with some very good power.
Nick Castellanos - 3B - Archbishop McCarthy High School, FL
Castellanos is a high school player who used to play SS but has already been moved to 3B. He's also, much like Sale, someone who's going to be drafted much more for his bat than his defense. Although scouts have no doubt had him on their lists for a while, Castellanos really burst onto the scene in last summer's Under-Armour game, where pitchers simply couldn't get him out no matter how hard they tried. Going 4-for-4, Castellanos ended up with 4 doubles and a walk, providing the most impressive offensive display during the game. Since then he's been hitting very well this Spring, but reportedly is asking for a lot to sign, which could push him down if he's unwilling to budge much. At the plate he hits well from the right side, and possesses a plus hit tool. However, as he progresses through the minors he'll need to make sure his swing doesn't get too long. But even then, he should produce good power and good contact, as he can drive balls to all fields. He's also fairly patient at the plate, which bodes well for his future.
Defensively he's most likely not going to turn any heads or win any gold gloves, but he should stick at 3B. Most seem to think he'll be okay there, he's got enough arm to play there, and he's athletic and quicker than you might expect. As he fills out his frame some are concerned about him getting slower and having to move to 1B or a corner OF. Still, there are those who see him with good hands and a strong arm and enough range to stick at 3B for a good many years. Keith Law recently said he should be fine at 3B, and Andy Selier thinks he could be average, but might be moved if there's a better defensive player already there. Whoever drafts him will give him as much time as possible at 3B, however, so if he can play there he'll definitely have a chance to prove it.
Austin Wilson - OF - Harvard-Westlake High School, CA
When you think "Prototypical Right Fielder" you'd probably think of someone like Wilson. Strong arm, somewhere between a center fielder and a left fielder in terms of range, hits for power, etc. That description probably fits Wilson pretty well. He's also been described as a "toolbox" type player, very athletic, tall with broad shoulders, and strongly built. This helps him both in the batter's box and out in the field. When hitting, he clearly has plus power potential, and can show it off easily during BP. During games it's a bit different. He can pick apart the less-talented prep pitchers pretty well now, but as he moves up the ladder he's going to need to refine his batting eye. His biggest concern coming into the season was how fooled he could be at times by breaking pitches. While he's not a hacker per-say, he could definitely be someone that strikes out more often than you would generally want, and may not hit for a great average. He also needs to be more patient at the plate. He's a prospect who will probably take a while to get through the minors, and could become anything between Mike Stanton and Jason Place. But from all reports he is also very open to learning and improving and has great make-up.
In the field he's got a plus arm and good range, which when you put it together equals right field. There's always room for improvement when it comes to taking routes to balls, but he does very well once out there, and should be able to make all the plays you would expect a player to. He had a back injury late last year during a showcase and looked pretty poor out in the field, leading some scouts to wonder if he'd need to eventually move to LF. But he's been playing healthy this year and shown more than enough range to stay in RF, and he should stay there for a good long while. He's committed to Standord, both his parents have college degree's from prestigious schools, and he has no advisor, which makes him something of a signability case.
Justin O'Conner - C/SS/RHP - Cowan High School, IN
Coming into the fall, O'Conner was regarded as one of the better high school two-way players that could be found in the draft. On the mound he featured a mid-90's fastball with decent control and some okay secondary offerings, and in the field he had a clearly plus arm and enough range that most thought he would stay at SS. But as the year wore down and players started preparing for the upcoming season, more and more it was reported that some scouts saw O'Conner not as a pitcher or a shortstop, but as a catcher. Blessed with an already very strong arm, O'Conner already had plus power potential at the SS position, but when you move that to the catcher position and people really start to notice. Make no mistake about it though, he is very raw as a catcher, mostly playing as a SS and pitching during high school. But there is potential there, and teams are seeing it. He's put up some good numbers in throws to 2B, I've read times around 1.7 and 1.8 . He's not Bryce Harper, but as a catcher he's probably got the highest offensive potential in the prep ranks. That's thanks to strong wrists and hands and some great extension in the swing. He's got plus raw power, and how much of that equates to in-game power depends on him. He can get a little too excited at times, trying to hit a home run in every at-bat, but if he can quiet down some he should have some good power in the future.
As a shortstop he's solid, and while he probably wouldn't win any gold gloves, he'll make the plays, but may eventually need to move to 3B, and he has the arm and potential bat for the hot corner as well. While teams aren't unanimous about where to play him, if I had to bet I'd put my money down on catcher. He's athletic enough to block balls and has a plus arm with a good offensive ceiling. Sounds like a pretty good base for a catcher to me. But there are some out there who may want him at SS, or maybe even on the mound, so I guess you never know, it only takes one team to pull that trigger.
Of course, now watch the Red Sox draft Aaron Sanchez in the first round and completely surprise everyone...