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Red Sox 2013 draft review: High ceilings and higher floors

The Red Sox drafted upside early and late, and in between, selected from high-floor future big-league players.


The 2015 MLB Draft will begin on June 8, and the Red Sox pick seventh for the second time in three years. With that date coming up on us fast, it's time to take a look back to see how the last few drafts went for Boston. We already started things with a look at the 2011 draft, which has produced five major-league players and counting, then moved on to 2012 and its trio of future big-league players from the first round. Now, we turn to 2013, which understandably hasn't produced any major-league players yet, but is loaded with potential.

First Round

1. Trey Ball, 7th overall

This was the first time the Red Sox had picked seventh (or in the top-10) since 1993, when they selected Trot Nixon out of high school. They once again went the high school route with lefty Trey Ball, who had been a position player and a pitcher there, with the Sox choosing a career on the mound for him. To this point, the pick hasn't worked out, but that wasn't unexpected: Ball was -- and is -- a raw pitcher, and while he's in his age-21 season by the literal reading of those classifications, he was born just a few days short of being classified as 20 for 2015. He's still very, very young, and there is no reason to give up on him just yet.

Ball needs to not only throw more strikes, but throw better ones, too, so that he can cut down on his walks and the number of long hits he's giving up. More time and refinement should get him there: if he's still looking like a project in a couple of years, then you can start to regret this selection, but we're not there yet.

trey ball Kelly O'Connor
Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor

Second Round

2. Teddy Stankiewicz, 45th overall

Stanky was selected out of a junior college one year after he was drafted out of high school by the Mets, so the Sox managed to pick up a 19-year-old arm with a little bit more experience than your typical teenager. While he's not missing a ton of bats, he also won't even be 22 until 2015 is near its end: Stankiewicz is still younger than a number of prospects for this summer's draft. There is plenty of time for him to figure out how to utilize his arsenal to get more swing-and-miss out of his opponents. On the plus side, he seems to have control down already, with fewer than two walks per nine allowed in his pro career, and he's started to induce more grounders this season.

There is a potential mid-rotation arm here, though, that's going to be a difficult ceiling to reach if he doesn't start to strike out more batters. Still, with his control and his youth, there are plenty of reasons to keep dreaming on Stankiewicz.

Third Round

3. Jon Denney, 81st overall

Denney was a promising pick as a catcher who could hit, but then he was arrested after receiving a DUI while driving with a suspended license. Oh, and he was underage, and it wasn't his first run-in with the police. Good life choices there, Jon.

Character is part of the player acquisition equation, and like Cody Kukuk two years before him, not every young baseball player grows out of their faults with time. Some of them end up erased from the system the next time they make a terrible, unnecessary choice. Denney is in the more disappointing group.

The Rest

4. Myles Smith, 113th overall

Smith had a lot of promise as a raw arm who converted to pitching late, but seemed to have a feel for it. He never quite put it together for the Red Sox, but he was traded to the Diamondbacks this offseason in the deal that brought Boston Zeke Spruill, who does have some potential as a reliever. You could do a lot worse with a selection after the first round, you know. (See Denney, Jon.)

5. Corey Littrell, 143rd overall

Losing John Lackey to the Cardinals for Allen Craig -- who hasn't hit for Boston -- and Joe Kelly -- who is probably a reliever in the AL -- hurts. Losing Littrell on top of that might make things even worse in the long run, as Littrell showed a lot of promise as a future big-league starter during his time in the Sox' organization. He seems to have stropped striking hitters out in his year with the Cardinals, but his control also seems to have improved, so he might just be a work-in-progress still. Sometimes, prospects work on one thing at a time, until it can all click at once down the road.

9. Kyle Martin, 263rd overall

Martin is something of a high-floor, low-ceiling relief prospect. His change-up is a legit pitch, and his fastball is in the low-90s, but he doesn't have a whole lot more than that to offer in his repertoire, which limits him a little since it's not as if both are plus offerings or anything like that. He might be an up-and-down, sixth-inning type reliever, bouncing between Triple-A Pawtucket and Boston, but there is value in that. And hey, for a ninth-round pick who signed a well below-slot $10,000 bonus, that's more than enough.

11. Carlos Asuaje, 323rd overall

Asuaje signed for $100,000, the maximum bonus that can be given to any player outside of the top-10 rounds while still avoiding draft budget implications. He's rocketed through Boston's system, succeeding at short-season Lowell out of the gate before dominating both Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem in 2014. After 48 games for Double-A Portland, Asuaje is batting .266/.375/.412, with just 30 strikeouts on the year against 26 walks.

asuaje Kelly O'Connor
Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor

He's a disciplined hitter who can waiting around for his pitch, but has no trouble striking early if the pitcher gives him what he wants then. He might just be a utility player going forward, as nothing he does stands out in such a way where he's going to push anyone from their position in Boston, but there is talent and usefulness here that could make him more than just that. And even if "all" he turns out to be is a utility player in the majors, that's a win from an 11th-rounder.

18. Joe Gunkel, 533rd overall

Gunkel is yet another later pick from the 2013 draft who has made it all the way to Double-A already. The Red Sox traded him to the Orioles on Wednesday after claiming Alejandro De Aza on waivers, so Baltimore is now in possession of this future big-league reliever who can miss bats. He still has work to do, particularly against more advanced lefty hitters, but he should turn out to be a productive bullpen piece in time.

26. Mauricio Dubon, 773rd overall

Dubon is a 20-year-old batting .304/.352/.440 in his first year of full-season ball with Low-A Greenville. He's split his time between second base and shortstop -- he's seen more games at short since Yoan Moncada joined the Drive -- and projects as a future big-league utility player. Dubon was drafted, but he is originally from Honduras -- were he to make the majors, he would be the first Honduran-born player to do so since 1987, and only the second overall.

30. Nick Longhi, 893rd overall

Longhi signed a $440,000 bonus that kept him from pursuing a commitment to college, and while he was drafted three-quarters of the way through the draft, it was due to signability concerns, not a lack of talent. Longhi was ranked the 298th-best prospect on Baseball America's pre-draft board, and some scouts saw him as having talent that fit in the first five rounds of the draft.

He's still just 19 years old, even two seasons later, and the Massachusetts-born right-hander plays first base and the outfield. He's hitting .277/.335/.415, with his power potential not quite coming through consistently in games yet, but it's there. Players like Longhi, Dubon, and Asuaje, all coming outside the first 10 rounds, could help offset some of the disappointment from the pick wasted on Denney. The first two are pretty young, though, so they'll need some time to manage that feat.


Trey Ball is a long way off, and so are Nick Longhi, Mauricio Dubon, and Teddy Stankiewicz. Carlos Asuaje is getting close to moving up to Triple-A, though, while Kyle Martin looks like he could be a future relief piece. Joe Gunkel, too, but he's Baltimore's concern now, not Boston's. It's hard to gauge just what the Sox are getting from their 2013 draft, but two years later, there is still a lot of potential here, much of it as young or younger than the players who will be picked in the 2015 draft. This mix of high ceilings and high floors isn't a bad place to be, even if Jon Denney was such an obvious miss that can't be ignored.