The 2014 MLB draft begins in just a few weeks, meaning it's time for the experts to start to tell us who they see landing where. At ESPN, Keith Law has released his first mock draft, and projects high school outfielder Marcus Wilson to the Red Sox with the 26th pick.
Law states that the Sox are a "good bet" to select a talent who high-quality talent who falls to this spot for one reason or another -- we've seen it from them in the past with the likes of Anthony Ranaudo, Deven Marrero, and a little later, Jackie Bradley Jr., all three of whom saw their draft stock slip in the spring before their actual selection. Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder from Serra High School, doesn't quite fit that mold, as he's a high school outfielder who is "more athlete than baseball player". Law says he could be a center fielder, but he's so raw at the moment that he won't look like one immediately, and that his skill set is a volatile one, even if he has seen improvements in his swing.
He's not the only player linked to Boston, as catcher Chase Vallot is also on their list. Law does suggest he's more of a fit for Boston's second pick at 33, though, which makes sense considering there are questions about both his ability to handle higher velocity as well as with his receiving skills behind the plate. Law says the bat could work out at first, but his chances of becoming a major-league regular are better if he's a backstop.
That's a little too Lavarnway-like for my tastes -- it's not a fair comparison, especially since Law states that Vallot has some of the "fastest hands you'll see in the class", but I'm still a little gun shy on the whole sketchy defensive catcher who might hit for power but here are reasons why not thing.
A Tommy John recipient is always a potential selection, especially if the Red Sox are willing to hand them a hefty bonus even though they are set to miss the rest of this year and most of next, if not all of it given their youth. Righty Jeff Hoffman is a possibility for that route -- he was expected to be a top-five pick, but that won't happen now that he needs Tommy John. Should he fall to 26, you could easily imagine the Sox discarding any plans of a raw high schooler for an arm of that caliber. For all the pitching prospects the Sox have, they are very short on potential high-end arms, but with last year's seventh-overall pick Trey Ball possibly the only one in the system.
Law didn't mention Hoffman (or UNLV's Erick Fedde, who is also getting TJ), but he did make sure to include TJ recipients into that high-quality-but-falling-talent pool he brought up in the mock. It's something to think about, and possibly something we'll see some actual linking to in the coming weeks given how Boston likes to handle things.