With the 118th pick of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Boston Red Sox selected Bobby Dalbec, a third baseman (and right-handed pitcher) out of the University of Arizona.
Dalbec is certainly an interesting player. Before the season began, he was a potential first-round pick, but that stock fell quite a bit as he slumped heavily, to the point where it took a late surge for him to bring his overall line up to .266/.378/.440. That might not seem too bad, but remember, this is college ball we're talking about, and the stars are supposed to put up truly garish numbers. What's more, Jason Bartel of Arizona Desert Swarm suggests this isn't simply a slump:
His batting average has dipped as college coaches have figured out how to pitch to him. After hitting .319 in his sophomore year, he's back down to his freshman year mark of .266 this season. It's become obvious that he has trouble with offspeed pitches, and with high velocity on the outer half.
The reality for Dalbec is that, at the plate, he just can't make consistent contact. He's brought big power to the table both with Arizona and the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod League. Last year, he hit 27 homers between the two in just 305 at bats. But he also piled up a ridiculous 106 strikeouts in that period. That sort of approach to the game is just not likely to work at the professional level.
The hope for Boston is that they can work on his swing-and-miss issues once he's in the organization. If they can get him to repsectable levels there, then his power is one of those rare tools that's worth the risk. He might well even stick at third base, though he's apparently being given some time in left field already.
And if it doesn't work out, there's always a backup option for Dalbec on the mound. One that the University of Arizona has availed themselves of, particularly when Dalbec was struggling at the plate. Per Baseball America:
However, Dalbec, 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, is still having a fine season, thriving as a pitcher for the spunky Wildcats and first-year head coach Jay Johnson. He was 8-3 with a 2.78 ERA and six saves, showing a 92-94 mph fastball at his best with a slider and changeup flashing average if not a tick above. Most scouts still see Dalbec as a hitter, but his pitching has intrigued
The Red Sox drafted Dalbec as a third baseman, so at least right off the bat there's little doubt they'll be looking at him as a position player. But worse comes to worst, there's certainly a chance for him as a pitcher.
For now, though, enjoy this video of Dalbec slowing down on the basepaths as he heads to second because the ball has left the park: