Mock drafts are always an educated (and sourced) guess of how things will go down, but that has maybe never been more apparent than on the day the 2015 MLB draft is set to begin. As it's still unclear who the Diamondbacks are going to take with the first-overall selection, the rest of the top-10 is unsettled, and that includes the Red Sox at number seven. Let's lay it out like this: Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, and Baseball America all disagree in their final mocks about who the Red Sox will pick, and the two MLB.com authors, in their final mocks, are also hearing different names. We're hours away from the draft, and no one has any idea just what the Sox are going to do.
They have ideas -- there is no shortage of potential draft plans, with Boston letting plenty of draft experts know what they're thinking. Since every plan they have is conditional on what the five teams (and six picks) ahead of them do, though, which plan we're going to end up seeing play out is the real unknown. We'll try to sort things out for you now.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
Benintendi has been linked to the Sox previously, with the idea being they would end up with him because players they wanted more would already be picked by seven. It's not that Benintendi is uninteresting, but if he is forced to move out of center field, his bat might need to take on responsibilities it can't handle, so there is risk with this selection. The decision of whether or not to take him might be made by someone else, though, as Benintendi could pass right on by Boston if someone like Alex Bregman is still available, or the Astros could very well take Benintendi at number five. Remember, Bregman seemed like the consensus favorite of the Sox, but the situations that get him to Boston don't seem numerous enough. If they get the chance to redraft the shortstop they picked back in 2012 out of high school, they will.
BP's Chris Crawford also mentions Brady Aiken as a target here, with the Sox being the first of the teams with a first-round pick to have a notable interest in the lefty, who is currently recovering from both the sting of last year's failure to sign as the 1:1 pick, and also Tommy John surgery. Aiken, as noted elsewhere, is a "longshot," however.
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Red Sox drafted Fulmer in the 12th round in 2012, but failed to sign the right-hander with the leftover draft pool funds they had available to them at that point in negotiations. Now, Baseball America sees a reunion with the pitcher who is considered to be the safest shot at a big-league player in the draft. Will he be the best? Maybe not! But he does have a high ceiling as a starter, with the potential to be a number two in there, and if that fails, he should be a bullpen-altering presence as a reliever, and might even be able to be fasttracked to the majors for the role. Whether that's how he spends his developmental years or it's his actual big-league role is a question that still needs to be answered.
It is worth pointing out that BA has this happening because they have Benintendi going to the Astros at five after Bregman is selected by them at two. So, for the Sox to go back to Fulmer requires them to miss out on the college bats they would prefer. If the Diamondbacks change course and go back to Friday's plan of drafting high school catcher Tyler Stephenson first, then Bregman or Benintendi or both could slip to seven -- because Dansby Swanson would be available at two for the 'Stros -- meaning Fulmer would wear white socks rather than red ones in his future.
Photo credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Got all that? Because there's more confusion coming!
Keith Law, ESPN
Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati
Happ is a latecomer to the discussion, with Law the only analyst suggesting the Red Sox will pick him if it comes down to Happ or Fulmer. Baseball America mentioned it as a possibility in their final mock, since Happ has worked out with many of the teams picking at the start of the draft and Boston can easily end up in a situation where they aren't in love with their available options.
He's got that Cape Cod pedigree the Red Sox love, and since he rates lower on draft boards and in draft rankings than the other options -- but still registers as a first-round talent, with BA ranking him 24th in their top-500 -- he might sign for below-slot value, giving the Red Sox flexibility they can use elsewhere in a draft that lacks high-end, early-draft upside, but not depth. Baseball America suggests that teams who think Happ can stick at second will prefer him to those who see a future in the outfield -- the bat is first-round caliber at second thanks to bat speed from both sides of the plate, but he'd likely end up in a corner in the outfield, and that could put too much pressure on his bat to thrive.
The Sox aren't just going cheap if they draft Happ, however: Law says it's possible Happ has the "best present hit tool of any player in this class." That defense is a question, though, and it's what will decide if he's average or a good use of the seventh pick.
Kiley McDaniel, FanGraphs
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
McDaniel sees Swanson going first, which leads to the now-familiar pick of Alex Bregman to the Astros at two, which all leads to the Sox getting Benintendi at seven since McDaniel is hearing Kyle Tucker to the Astros at five instead of the Arkanas outfielder. It is worth pointing out, though, as McDaniel does, that the number five pick could go in a number of directions, which could in turn change what the Sox do at seven.
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
Jim Callis thinks it will be Carson Fulmer. His MLB.com partner in prospecting, Jonathan Mayo, hears that Andrew Benintendi is going to be the guy just a few lines later. It's fun that two analysts under the same banner are hearing different things that have led them to this point, but what's even more entertaining is the list of alternate options Callis details for the Red Sox, should they decide Fulmer just isn't what they want.
They're also the team in the top 10 most likely to pull a stunning move. Rumors including paying Cameron; being the first team willing to pop IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) post-graduate left-hander Brady Aiken, the No. 1 overall pick from 2014 who's recovering from Tommy John surgery; or saving some of their $3,590,400 pick value with a late-charging prep hitter such as Concordia Lutheran (Tomball, Texas) third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes or St. Joan of Arc Catholic (Mississauga, Ontario) first baseman Josh Naylor.
If you've been following along the past couple months, you know the Aiken situation: if his medicals look good, the Sox might take him, because his upside dwarfs that of the rest of the field even if his arm is possibly made out of pudding. Josh Naylor has been mentioned here before as a possible third-round pick of the Sox, so if they go in that direction, they are clearly going way under slot with the idea being they would have a ton of their draft pool freed up to use on days two and three, rounds three through 40.
Ke'Bryan Hayes ranks 57th on BA's big board, He's the son of former big-leaguer Charlie Hayes, and while he has a lot of potential as a quality defender and hitter at third, he needs to keep the weight off to stay there. On the bright side, he's already managed to do so, with BA explaining that he's kept himself in great shape after dropping 20 pounds through a new workout regimen.
2015 MLB Draft: Sox draft order, budget, schedule
The Red Sox don't have as many picks as usual, but they do pick early in this year's draft.
Naylor is a power prospect and first baseman out of Canada, and there is upside there for him to be a legitimate big-league bat. Someone stuck at first base isn't a great use of a first-round pick, though, not if they aren't coming with an elite bat, so as said, if the Sox get Naylor, it's either going to be in the third with the 81st pick -- BA ranked him the 61st draft prospect -- or because Boston's plan for the seventh pick has more to do with the other players they want to get later than the one they can get Monday.
So, to wrap up: Alex Bregman is unlikely for the Red Sox unless the Diamondbacks draft someone other than Dansby Swanson at 1:1. Boston is probably not going to go well under slot with the seventh-overall pick, but if they do, we have a sense of where their mind is at to do so. Carson Fulmer is a potential Sox pick according to more than one analyst, but there seems to be the lingering perception they would prefer a bat to an arm, meaning Fulmer is more a possibility if they can't get anything else to work out. Andrew Benintendi has his risks, but no more so than other options in the neighborhood, but might not be on the board for the Sox if the Astros jump on the outfielder. Ian Happ is a late and intriguing entrant to the mix, the kind of player the Sox would normally be thrilled about getting at their standard draft position later in the first: in a draft lacking high-end talent like this one, maybe that's still something to celebrate. And last, Aiken is on their minds, but so are his medicals, so if they skip that ride, we probably already know why.
Do you feel more or less confused now after reading this? We hope the answer is the latter, but if it's just "yes", don't worry. There are only a few more hours of confusion to go.