We're less than two months out from the 2015 MLB draft, so expect to hear more and more about who the Red Sox will be looking to pick up, especially as they have a top-10 pick for the second time in three years. We were reminded of this recently when Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was caught on television watching Vanderbilt starter Carson Fulmer pitch, and that was no coincidence, according to Kiley McDaniel, who said in a recent chat that Boston's interest is a rumor that just won't go away.
Fulmer isn't the only player Boston is targeting seventh overall, however, as McDaniel reports the "strongest rumor" attached to the Sox so far is once again drafting LSU shortstop Alex Bregman. The Sox picked Bregman in 2012, a year after he was a high school teammate of current Red Sox top prospect Blake Swihart, but as a 29th-round pick, the bonus the Sox could offer just wasn't working for Bregman. Now, though, at seventh overall when the Red Sox are sitting on a draft budget of around $6.5 million, they can make something work this time.
Aiken is injured but the Sox should draft him
The Red Sox have an opportunity to take a risky but worthwhile bet with the number seven pick in the 2015 MLB draft.
McDaniel believes Fulmer should go to the Sox if one of his top five are no longer left on the board, even though there is some concern that the 5-foot-11 right-hander is maybe a little small with too high-effort of a delivery for major-league starting. Christopher Crawford argued in his annual draft book that Fulmer was worth the risk, though, because he might turn into a high-leverage reliever if he's not a starter, and the upside for Fulmer as a starter is worth the risk of "only" getting an important bullpen piece.
The Red Sox likely believe this, too, as, like with Bregman, they drafted Fulmer in 2012. He was a 15th-round pick, though, and with the then-new rules about draft budgets in place, they couldn't afford all of Deven Marrero, Brian Johnson, and Ty Buttrey as well as Fulmer. As Fulmer didn't have a draft budget penalty for a failure to sign, no deal was reached.
In a draft where selecting a pitcher who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery could make reasonable sense, risk like what's attached to Fulmer isn't ridiculous.
In fact, given how decimated the draft is, McDaniel doesn't expect Bregman to even be available at seven for the Sox to select. That's a shame, since he's considered one of the best college bats in the draft class, but it's not as if Fulmer is some consolation prize. He sits in the low-to-mid-90s with his fastball, his curveball is an out pitch, and his change-up, while not at the same level as those two offerings, has potential as more than just a third pitch for the sake of one. Crawford thinks there is a potential number two starter in Fulmer at his ceiling, and when combined with the potential left in recent first-round arms like Trey Ball and Michael Kopech, that would give the Red Sox some serious 20-ish arms in the lower levels of their system.
Things could change between now and June 8, but with so few high-quality draft picks out there thanks to what was already a weak class further limited by injuries, Fulmer could very well be the guy Boston goes for. Maybe they want Bregman more, and still might even on draft day, but you can't pick a player who isn't available.