Over the next few days, we’ll be looking back at the most recent draft classes from the Red Sox in advance of the upcoming Rule 4 draft that starts on June 12. We’ll look at their top picks, as well as some hits later in the drafts and see if we can find any trends with the organization. Today, we’ll look at the class of 2013.
The Top Pick
The 2013 draft represented the first time in quite a while that the Red Sox were selecting in the top-ten of a draft. Obviously, that means they did poorly the year before (of course, we don’t speak of that 2012 season), but this is a nice silver lining in an otherwise lousy situation. With the number seven overall pick, the Red Sox selected Trey Ball out of New Castle Chrysler High School in Indiana. Ball was listed as both an outfielder and a pitcher at the time, but Boston did not hesitate in announcing they planned to put him on the mound full-time.
Even at the time, this pick was not well-received by all. This was a very raw high school player who was going to need a lot of development, and that can be a risky strategy so high in the draft. It goes without saying that this pick has not worked out. He hasn’t had one successful season at any stop in the minors, and is now in his age-23 season in Double-A. To be fair to him, he has upped his strikeout rate this season, but there’s still little-to-no hope for him to be a legitimate major leaguer. At some point, they are likely going to have to try him out of the bullpen or possibly even as an outfielder.
It goes without saying that this is one of the worst picks the Red Sox have ever made in the draft. Looking back, they could have had someone like Austin Meadows, Hunter Renfroe, J.P. Crawford or Tim Anderson. Of course, one can play that kind of hindsight game with any draft, but given how risky this pick was at the time it seems a little more fair in this case.
The Next Four
With the second pick in the draft, the Red Sox selected another pitcher in Teddy Stankiewicz. A righty out of Seminole State Junior College in Oklahoma, he had been selected in the second round by the Mets out of high school in 2012 and built up his reputation enough to be a compensatory pick in 2013. The ceiling was never huge for STANK, but he had a solid fastball and with consistent secondaries he was seen as a potential mid-rotation arm. He is currently in his second go-around in Portland, and while he’s improved his command in 2017 the strikeouts still haven’t come, calling into question if he can ever be a successful major leaguer.
With their next pick, the Red Sox selected Jon Denney, a catcher out of Yukon High School in Oklahoma. At the time, this was viewed as a potential steal, as the catcher had a huge ceiling. Of course, things didn’t go as planned. Denney would play out the 2013 season in the Gulf Coast League, but that was the last we’d see of him for the Red Sox. The following spring, Denney was pulled over for driving under the influence as well as driving with a suspended license. While being arrested, he made a scene about how he was a professional ball player as well. The young catcher entered a program to try to help his issues, but never played another game for the Red Sox and was released in 2015. He came back and played in the Royals system in 2016, but that’s the last I can find a record on him.
With pick number four, Boston selected Myles Smith, a junior righty out of Lee University. The pitcher only spent a year-and-a-half in the organization, never impressing and eventually being sent to Arizona in exchange for Zeke Spruill. Smith remained with the Diamondbacks through last season before being cut at the end of spring training.
The Red Sox’ fifth selection was Corey Littrell, a left-handed junior out of the University of Kentucky. The southpaw actually performed pretty well in his short time in the Red Sox organization, shining in Lowell the year he was drafted before putting up solid numbers in a half-season with Greenville in 2014. That summer, he was dealt to St. Louis along with John Lackey in the now-infamous Joe Kelly/Allen Craig deal. He is still with the Cardinals, although he’s currently serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse.
With the 263rd overall pick, and the team’s ninth, the Red Sox selected Kyle Martin out of Texas A&M. Although his time as a starter did not go well, he has thrived since converting into a relief arm and was placed on the 40-man roster this past winter prior to the Rule 5 draft. He’s yet to pitch in the majors, but given Boston’s middle relief issue and Martin’s solid peripherals in Triple-A, that debut could come this year.
Two selections later, the Red Sox nabbed Carlos Asuaje out of Nova Southeastern University in Florida. The small-statured infielder wasn’t a big name since he played Division II ball, but he impressed in the Cape Cod League and the team liked his short, compact swing. He performed well in the majors and was eventually shipped to San Diego as part of the package that netted Boston Craig Kimbrel. He made his major-league debut last season.
With the 773rd selection, the Red Sox selected another small, under-the-radar infielder in Mauricio Dubon, a product of Capital Christian High School in California. Dubon, as many of you probably know, is one of my favorite prospects in recent memory, showing a strong hit tool, plus speed and the ability to play all over the infield. He was part of the package that landed Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee this past winter.
All the way down at the 893rd pick, the Red Sox selected a high school bat in Nick Longhi out of Venice High School. While this was certainly a good find, it’s worth noting that Longhi fell this far largely due to signability concerns as most teams thought he was certain to follow through on his commitment to LSU. He’s still searching for his in-game power, which is the last step holding him back from making a big leap as a prospect, but the potential is certainly here for a major-league career.
The Red Sox drafted Jordan Sheffield with their 13th pick, but he opted instead to go pitch for Vanderbilt. He was drafted 36th overall by the Dodgers last year and was named their number ten prospect by Baseball Prospectus before the season.
Boston selected Matt Thaiss with their 32nd pick but he went on to play for the University of Virginia. In last summer’s draft he was the 16th overall selection, picked by the Angels. Baseball Prospectus named his the organization’s second-best prospect, although it’s worth noting that Los Angeles’ farm system is among the worst in baseball.
All things considered, it’s hard to call this draft for the Red Sox a success. They did make some good calls late in the draft with guys like Asuaje and Dubon and surprised everyone by finding a way to sign Longhi, but the early picks were mostly a disaster. Stankiewicz might still be interesting, and a small part of me is still holding out hope for Ball as a reliever, but that’s not enough for a top-ten pick. When you throw in the awful career arc for Denney and the lack of impact made from Smith or Littrell — both in terms of their performance and what they netted in trades — this is a forgettable draft. It’s also worth noting that they went heavy after pitching early in this draft, but their most successful picks were almost exclusively position players. The inability to develop pitching has been a theme in the organization recently, and this draft is no exception.