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 2016.
The Top Pick
The Red Sox entered last summer’s draft, Dave Dombrowski’s first as the President of Baseball Operations, with the number 12 overall pick. It was in the first half of the draft, of course, but it was a bit lower than where they had been in a few of their previous recent drafts when they selected Trey Ball and Andrew Benintendi. They were still able to make good on the selection, though.
With the 12th overall pick, the Red Sox were able to select a left-handed pitcher out of Barnegat High School in New Jersey by the name of Jason Groome. (Or, Jay Groome. He goes by both monikers.) In the spring leading up to the draft, the southpaw was looked at as a potential number one overall pick and arguably the most talented player in the draft. The only thing that would hold him back was makeup and signability concerns. The former kicked up in the weeks leading up to the draft, and that helped him slip all the way down to Boston’s pick.
On the one hand, we still haven’t really gotten to see Groome pitch as a professional. He had a couple of quick outings after being drafted last summer, and they went mostly fine. Of course, we can’t really tell much from one- or two-inning starts. He was set to debut in full-season Greenville this year, but was hurt in his first outing of 2017 and has been unable to appear in a game since. The good news is the team appears to just be taking it cautiously with Groome, and the injury doesn’t seem to be that serious. Plus, the talent is still there. Despite having little-to-no professional track record, scouts haven’t found a reason to stop believing in Groome’s arm, and he remains one of the most highly thought of minor-league pitchers in the league. There’s still a ton of time left in his development, but as of now this still looks like a strong pick by the Red Sox.
The Next Four
With Groome having been selected with their first pick and the southpaw demanding a large signing bonus, the Red Sox needed to go cheap at some point(s) later in the draft. They didn’t waste much time, using their second pick to select shortstop C.J. Chatham out of Florida Atlantic University. He was seen as more of a fourth or fifth round pick with good defensive abilities and a modest chance at becoming a major-league quality hitter. Like Groome, he has been hurt for the majority of this season, playing in just one game in 2017. The ceiling isn’t huge here, but there’s a chance Chatham can be a solid major leaguer even if he was taken a bit before his talent level would suggested.
The Red Sox stuck in the college ranks with their third pick, selected right-handed pitcher Shaun Anderson out of the University of Florida. Anderson, a college junior, was a closer in his time with the Gators. However, even when he was drafted it was clear that this was not necessarily his future role. Florida simply had a loaded rotation that forced Anderson into the bullpen. The Red Sox have used him as a starter after being drafted, and he’s performed well enough to already earn a promotion to High-A Salem. The ceiling certainly isn’t as high as Groome’s, but Anderson is looking to be a strong pick early in his career.
With the fourth pick, the Red Sox went back to the infielder well, taking Bobby Dalbec out of the University of Arizona. Dalbec, now a full-time third baseman, was also a pitcher in college. The Red Sox want him to focus solely on his bat, and he was fantastic in 2016. Going to Lowell after being drafted, Dalbec showed off huge power against New York Penn League competition. After some speculation the organization may push him to High-A to start his first full season, Dalbec ended up in Greenville. He’s struggled with contact so far this year and the power hasn’t shown up to nearly the same extent. Currently, he finds himself on the disabled list. There is still legitimate upside with Dalbec, but the shine has worn off slightly after his impressive professional debut.
For the fourth consecutive pick, the Red Sox selected a college player with the 148th overall selection in this draft. The pick was Mike Shawaryn, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Maryland. Heading into the 2016 NCAA season, he was seens as a potential first or second round pick, but was inconsistent in his junior season. That, combined with a three-quarter release that concerned some scouts, caused him to fall to the fifth round. Now in Low-A Greenville, Shawaryn has impressed in his first full season, particularly with his 36 percent strikeout rate.
As I said in the last edition of this series, it’s hard to find later round hits this soon after a draft. There simply hasn’t been enough time for players to outperform their draft slot in a meaningful way. The one interesting pick I’d like to point out is, unsurprisingly, the sixth pick in the draft. This was right-handed reliever Stephen Nogosek out of the University of Oregon. It’s usually hard to get overly excited about relief prospects, but Nogosek has looked like a future back-end arm so far in the minors. He’s currently in Low-A Greenville and is looking like a promotion may soon be in order. He’s striking out over a third of his opponents while walking under eight percent.
We are less than a year removed from this draft class, so it’s hard to make a definitive statement on how it went. This is especially true considering the top two picks have hardly had a chance to make an impact. The early returns are mostly positive, though. In an organization that has had trouble developing pitching in recent years, there are some intriguing arms coming from the 2016 draft class.