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 2015.
The Top Pick
In 2015, the Red Sox found themselves with a top-ten pick for the second time in three years. This is not a good thing, of course, since it means they had bad seasons twice in a three-year span. It was even worse considering their last top-ten pick, Trey Ball, was already looking like a bust at that point. I think it’s fair to say things went better this time around.
With the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft, the Red Sox went in the complete opposite direction of the one they went in with ball. Instead of taking a projectable, high school pitcher, they selected a relatively safe and developed college outfielder out of the University of Arkansas by the name of Andrew Benintendi.
There’s not much more I need to say on this pick, since we all know how things have gone for Benintendi. He’s hit at every professional level in which he’s played, and worked his way up to his major-league debut in 2016 and top prospect honors heading into this season. There’s been peaks and valleys in his first full season at the highest level, but it’s looking like the Red Sox hit the lottery with this selection.
The Next Four
The Red Sox stayed in the collegiate ranks for the second selection, and stuck on the position player side of things as well. With the 81st overall pick, they took Austin Rei, a catcher out of the University of Washington. In terms of talent, he looked like a player who could go even earlier than this selection. However, a thumb injury caused him to miss time as a college player and docked his draft stock. The Red Sox had high hopes for the catcher when they drafted him, but he struggled out of the gate as a pro. He’s now in High-A Salem, and while there have been encouraging flashes he’s yet to put together a consistent enough run to get overly excited about his potential.
With their third pick, the Red Sox selected yet another college outfielder, taking Tate Matheny out of Missouri State with the 111th overall pick. The son of Cardinals manager Mike, Matheny was seen as a player with a solid bat and glove and a personality that helped those tools play way up. After struggling in Lowell the year he was drafted, the outfielder had a decent but unspectacular year in Greenville in 2016. He’s now in High-A Salem and has put together a strong start to this season. The ceiling isn’t huge, but with his makeup there could be a future major leaguer here.
Boston’s one high school selection among their top five was in the form of outfielder Jagger Rusconi out of West Ranch High School in California. To this point, Rusconi hasn’t made much of a mark in the Red Sox organization. Most of that is due to a lack of action on the field, as he’s played in just 42 games since being drafted in June of 2015. He’s currently playing in Greenville, and while he’s certainly off to a slow start he doesn’t look completely lost. He’s also still only 20 years old, so there’s time for development.
The Red Sox went back to the college well with their fifth selection, taking their first pitcher of the draft. With the 171st overall pick, Boston selected Travis Lakins, a right-handed pitcher out of Ohio State University. He had some interesting potential out of college, although there were questions about the command that made some wonder if he’d stick in the rotation. Lakins struggled mightily in 2016, his first full season, after the team aggressively pushed him to High-A. Injuries were also a factor in that performance, of course. Lakins was right back in Salem to start this season and dominated the level, earning himself a recent promotion to Portland. In a farm system lacking impact pitching, Lakins is one of the more intriguing prospects to keep an eye on.
With their sixth pick, the Red Sox took right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor out of the University of Alabama. This was a selection made as an attempt to make room in the budget, as Taylor was a college senior with little national profile. Of course, he’s turned into a fairly effective reliever and is currently in the majors. There likely isn’t a future closer here or anything like that, but Taylor was never supposed to amount to much of anything. This is already looking like a win.
As it turns out, one of the players the Red Sox wanted to make room for was selected next. Boston’s seventh pick was Logan Allen, a left-handed pitcher from the IMG Academy in Florida. He was a fascinating high school pick, as he wasn’t the project you typically expect from players his age. Instead, he was relatively polished and even received comps to Jon Lester. Those were more based on aesthetics rather than performance, though. Allen is no longer in the organization, as he was one of the pieces included in the trade for Craig Kimbrel. There’s an argument to be made that the Red Sox should have been able to make that deal without him, but at least he helped return an elite closer.