The 2013 MLB draft will begin on this Thursday evening, but despite the waning hours, no one is quite sure who the Red Sox are going to pick at #7. It's Boston's earliest selection since 1993, when they plucked Trot Nixon out of New Hanover High School with, coincidentally, the seventh-overall pick in that draft. Once again, the Red Sox might be looking at a high school outfielder, but which one remains an open question that likely won't be answered until shortly after 7 pm on Thursday.
Looking to the experts for help doesn't clear things up very much. Kiley McDaniel and Jonathan Mayo are sticking with Loganville High School outfielder Clint Frazier, while Jim Callis and Chris Crawford say it's going to be Grayson High's Austin Meadows. Then you've got scenarios in which college righty Ryne Stanek is their top choice, or ones where, if high school starting pitcher Kohl Stewart happens to still be on the board, Boston will ignore the outfielder question altogether in favor of him. Those take some outside interference to occur, though, so let's focus on the two Georgian outfielders.
The rumor -- and this is something Jim Callis mentioned in his latest mock -- is that the Red Sox front office is split on Frazier and Meadows, hence both names being tossed out there in different mocks. It all depends on who the author of those mock drafts talked to, but as you can likely guess, the Red Sox haven't settled on one or the other as of yet.
What's the difference between the two? Frazier is a bit weird -- not in a negative sense, though. He's 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, pale-faced with red hair. He's considered to be both a "gritty" type player who plays at a thousand miles per hour, but is also lauded for his tools that cover every facet of the game. His bat speed is excellent, and is the source of his power much more so than pure strength and size -- all it takes for him to drive a ball is a flick of the wrist. He's already showing in-game power because of it. Dave Perkin went as far to say that if Frazier were just a little bigger, he might be the #1 overall pick -- he then says Frazier's closest MLB comp is the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen. Comps are silly for a lot of reasons, but you can understand where this comes from, at least, given McCutchen isn't all that big, either, at 5-10 and 185, and is a high-quality defender with serious speed.
The 6-foot-3, 210 pound Meadows, on the other hand, has been praised for his tools, but more for what they might represent, should his physicality ever blossom into actual production. He might not be the baseball player that Frazier is right now, but what he could be sounds fantastic -- there are those who question he'll ever be able to get to that level, though, and in an non-shocking revelation, those same folks believe Frazier is the much better bet.
Those who like him do so quite a bit, though: Baseball America thinks his bat is one of the safest in the draft thanks to a "mature" approach, even though they also show concern about the path of his swing and his loft power, and how it could adversely affect him as a pro. There's also the worry that he'll be forced to an outfielder corner due to his size, so if the bat doesn't thrive, it does make it tougher for him to provide value.
So, it comes down to whether the Red Sox want to attempt to maximize this rare opportunity to draft in the top 10 by selecting someone with excellent physicality and promising -- but very raw -- tools, or if they want to go for someone who seems to be much more of a baseball player at this point -- albeit one with his own improvements to make. It's weird to think of high school players, so far away from the majors, as having high floors, but, at least comparatively, that's where Frazier stands in contrast to Meadows, at least from the sounds of it.
Personally, from everything I've read, heard, absorbed, etc. in the weeks and months leading up to the draft, Frazier seems to be the guy we should want. Meadows wouldn't be a bad choice, and the Red Sox should be happy to get him if he falls to them. If both are available, though, one of them just seems more right than the other.
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