There seems to be a theme going with the mock drafts to this point, as they have all selected an outfielder for the Red Sox with the 26th pick in the 2014 MLB draft. Chris Crawford of MLB Draft Insider is the latest to name an outfielder to Boston, with Derek Hill getting the nod this time.
Crawford spoke to Over the Monster about Hill, whose key feature is his class-topping defense in center:
In terms of athleticism, Hill is as good -- if not better -- than any prospect in this year's draft. He's a plus-plus runner, and he takes excellent routes, giving him a chance to be a quality option in center in the short and long-term. The bat isn't exactly chopped liver, either, as Hill has a line drive stroke and deceptive strength capable of taking balls out to left field on the inner half of the plate.
From the sounds of it, defense is tops for him now, but he's got contact skills and the potential for some power -- not a lot, but some -- as he moves up the ladder and learns to pull the ball more effectively. He's a high school bat, so there's more projection left for him in that regard than, say, Derek Fisher, a power-first college bat the Sox have also been linked to.
Given the Sox pick 26th, there is a lot of uncertainty about this selection: Hill would need to be available, first of all, and second, we're still weeks out, meaning preferences can change. Crawford suggests that there's a 20 percent chance of Hill going here, while Marcus Wilson -- whom Keith Law projected to the Sox in his own mock -- also has a 20 percent chance. After that, it's another outfielder, Monte Harrison, at 15 percent along with backstop Chase Vallot (who has been linked to the Red Sox in the mocks of Law, McDaniel, and Crawford), then Jeff Hoffman at 10 percent. The rest is labeled as "surprise!" which seems pretty accurate for a late first.
As for Hill, though, he was ranked fourth by Baseball America on their pre-draft outfield rankings, and was designated as the top defensive center fielder in the entire draft class thanks to combining "above-average speed with defensive instincts", resulting in plus range. His arm is also considered "at least" average, so even if he's not the total package on defense, he's close enough to merit a first-round selection