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 2014.
The Top Pick
The 2014 draft, of course, was the draft that took place in the year following the team’s championship run in 2013. We’ll take this trade every time, of course, but the result of that championship was a late pick in 2014. With that selection — the 26th overall — the Red Sox took infielder Michael Chavis out of Sprayberry Senior High School in Georgia.
He was technically a shortstop at the time he was drafted, and was announced as such, but it was clear from the beginning that he profiled best at the hot corner. At the time he was drafted, he was seen as a jack-of-all trades kind of hitter who profiled for modest power but really excelled in terms of consistent contact. He was known for his ability to hit line drives, and while he won a high-profile Home Run Derby before he was drafted, power wasn’t supposed to be the biggest part of his game.
Of course, things have changed since then. Coming into this season, Chavis had been somewhat disappointing as a pro. Other organizations began to discover major holes in his swing that led to high strikeout totals and an inability to show off his line drive skills. On the other hand, he showed off more raw power than most were expecting. This season, his first in High-A Salem after spending two years in Low-A Greenville, has been a breakout for Chavis. He’s improved in just about every area of the game and is working his way back up the organizational prospect rankings. It remains to be seen what he will do against more advanced pitching or how/where he profiles defensively, but Chavis is trending upwards and is no longer looking like another poor first round pick. More than anything, he is a reminder of the patience required for prospects.
The Next Four
The Red Sox had another first round pick in this draft — the 33rd overall — thanks to a compensatory pick after losing Jacoby Ellsbury to the Yankees. With that pick they selected right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech out of Mt. Pleasant High School in Texas. The big righty was right out of the mold of many other famous hard-throwing Texans. He was seen as a raw prospect with big-time stuff but the need to harness his control. Of course, the velocity has proven to be elite, and he has developed a fine slider to go with it. Now one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, he was dealt to Chicago last winter in the Chris Sale deal. Even if he turns into a star in another city, Boston still did well turning this pick (along with other pieces) into one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The Red Sox dipped into the collegiate pool with their third pick, selecting first baseman Sam Travis out of the University of Indiana. This was sort of a strange pick, since Boston usually opts for up-the-middle players this early in the draft, but the organization believed in Travis’ bat. So far, their bet has paid off. Travis is now in his second year at Triple-A and is on knocking on the door of the major leagues. There’s still a question of whether or not his power will play up enough to be a first-division starter at first base, but for a late second-round pick Travis is looking pretty good.
With their fourth selection in the 2014 draft, Boston selected Jake Cosart out of Seminole State Junior College in Florida. A former outfielder at Duke University, Cosart transitioned to the mound in JuCo and showed off a huge fastball with the potential for a plus breaking ball and a solid changeup. Even at the time, there was a question of whether or not he could stick in the rotation. As it turns out, he couldn’t. After shining in his first full season out of the bullpen last year, he has once again struggled with command in 2017. There is still big potential here, but it remains to be seen if he can make the most of it.
Boston’s fifth pick in this draft was Kevin McAvoy out of Bryant University in Rhode Island. He wasn’t the most exciting pick at the time, and while he’s still in the organization you won’t find him on many prospect lists. Currently in his second year with Portland, he struggles some with control and doesn’t strike out enough batters to justify those issues. A move to the bullpen may be in his future.
The Red Sox had some other solid picks later in this draft, starting with their sixth pick, Josh Ockimey. Another first baseman, he was a high school selection who was big bodied but had real power potential. There’s still a ways to go with his development, but if he’s shown real flashes that suggest he could be a major leaguer. Now, it’s just about consistency.
With their next selection the Red Sox went back to the junior college well, taking outfielder Danny Mars. He wasn’t a high-profile draftee, but there was athleticism and he was a typical Red Sox pick playing up the middle. He’s now in Double-A Portland, and while the ceiling isn’t huge there are enough tools to think he could be a future bench piece.
In the twelfth round, the Red Sox selected left-handed pitcher Jalen Beeks out of the University of Arkansas. The southpaw fell a little bit due to a late-season injury, but he was seen as a potential starter with three solid pitches. His delivery was a potential issue, and still is. He’s been outstanding this season and remains a starter for now, but a transition to the bullpen still appears to be possible. Either way, there’s a major-league future here.
Boston’s next pick was right-handed pitcher Chandler Shepherd out of the University of Kentucky. He’s been a reliever since entering the Red Sox organization and made an impression in spring training this year. He’s probably not a future closer or anything, but if he can consistently harness his command he’ll be a fine middle reliever.
In the 19th round, the Red Sox selected center fielder Tyler Hill. He has proven to be a late bloomer, and no longer profiles in center field, but he’s hit well enough as a pro to have some hope.
It’s harder to do this section in more recent drafts because the high school players that didn’t sign are mostly still in college. However, in 2014 Boston took Jeren Kendall in the 30th round. He opted to go play at Vanderbilt and is seen as a potential top-10 pick in this summer’s draft.
It’s taken some time, but this is looking like a strong draft class for the Red Sox. The fact that Chavis is showing much more potential this season certainly helps that case. Kopech is still the crown jewel of the class, of course, and helping net a pitcher like Sale makes this class look even better for Boston. Without Kopech, there may not be a star among the players still in the organization, but there appears to be plenty of potential major leaguers.