The 2016 MLB amateur draft doesn't begin until June 9, but it's already mock season. In fact, Baseball America is on their second mock draft of the year already, so it looks like we've all got some catching up to do.
The Red Sox pick 12th this year, as they were able to keep their first-round selection even while signing David Price as he wasn't eligible for the qualifying offer -- therefore, he didn't cost the Sox their first available pick. In Baseball America's eyes, Boston will use that pick to select catcher/first baseman Zack Collins out of Miami. He was also drafted by the Reds in 2013 in the 27th round, but stuck with his commitment to Miami instead, and now should be a first-round selection. Collins currently leads the NCAA in on-base percentage and has hit nine homers to power a .417/.580/.713 line.
Of course, numbers aren't everything for even a minor-league prospect, never mind one who is still in college. Baseball America describes Collins' catch-and-throw tools as "passable," so it's pretty clear the Sox are interested mostly in his bat. And at 12th in the draft, you can afford to pick like that: 2016's draft class isn't a bad one, but it's not exceptional, either, so someone like Collins who has real upside even with just "passable" work behind the plate makes sense here.
Here's video of Collins, courtesy Baseball America's YouTube page:
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Don't automatically assume Collins will have to make a move to first base, by the way. Baseball America described him as the top catching prospect in the draft just 10 days ago, with emphasis on the strides he's made defensively:
Collins has made impressive progress offensively, but it’s his defensive improvements that have him in first-round consideration. Once thought to be a bat-only prospect, Collins has turned into a potential next-level catcher.
While Collins is not a plus defender, his progress is encouraging, and even if teams believe he’s a below-average defender, he’s made more evaluators believe that he can be a catcher.
“His defense is a 40 (on the 20-80 scouting scale), but when you have that kind of offensive output, he’s still extremely valuable,” an official with an American League club said.
If he has to move to first but he continues to develop his power and patience, then it won't matter much if he has to move off the position. Remember: first base prospects are rarely drafted that way. They turn to that after it's discovered they're a better fit in that role. So, if Collins' defense doesn't improve further or the Sox find themselves in a situation where their current catcher is too valuable to move out from behind the plate, they might just have themselves a power-hitting first baseman who can draw walks.
They have to draft Collins first and then develop him for a few years, though, so we're just jumping a few steps ahead. And let's not forget that it's only May 6, and the chances of all the future mocks and this one coming to a universal consensus are basically zero.