We are now just one day away from the 2017 MLB draft. This is a little more exciting when it comes on the heels of a losing season, but I think all of us would trade a winning season and a mid-20s draft pick for a losing one and a top-ten pick. Even with the late pick, the chances of getting a great player still exist. Mike Trout, the best player in baseball and a guy who has a shockingly decent chance to go on to be the best ever was selected with the 25th overall pick.
This year, the Red Sox are picking 24th overall in the first round, and this is something of an important draft for them. Dave Dombrowski has dealt away plenty of prospects since taking over this organization — a fact of which I am sure you are aware — and that’s a fine strategy if you are able to retool the system. This is a big chance to do so. That will involve hitting on more than just the first-round pick, but for now let’s just focus on what they will possibly with that initial selection. Here are five names to which the organization has been connected in the days leading up to the draft.
Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC-Irvine
Of all the players with at least a tentative connection to the Red Sox, I haven’t seen any mentioned as often as Hiura. That doesn’t mean the right-handed college bat will make his way down to the 24th overall pick, but it does mean there’s a good chance the Red Sox will jump on the opportunity to select him if he does fall that far. According to Baseball America, Hiura has the third-best hit tool among all college bats in this year’s draft class as well as the third-best plate discipline. That’s a pretty great combo, and it helps explain why MLB.com’s Jim Callis called him the best hitter in the draft.
After that, it’s fair to ask why Hiura would fall this far? Well, first of all, he might not. There is talk of him going as far as ten picks higher than Boston’s 24th overall selection. If he does fall, though, it’ll be because of his defense. He doesn’t have a clear position, having spent time both in the outfield and at second base. Furthermore, he’s had elbow issues that have limited Hiura to DH recently and could potentially require Tommy John surgery. The bat seems legit, and the Red Sox would be excited to have its impact in their system, but there are risks here as well.
Nick Allen, SS, Parker High School (San Diego, CA)
Hiura has been directly and confidently connected with the Red Sox more than any other player, but Allen is mentioned as a possibility in just about every mock draft, even if I’ve only seen him as the actual selection in a few mocks over the last month or so. The pros and cons for Allen are pretty straight forward. On the plus side, the high school shortstop is a dynamic defensive player, with Baseball American calling him the best defensive infielder among all potential high school draftees. They also say he has the second best infield arm behind only Hunter Greene, who could go 1-1 as a pitcher. To go with the defense, scouts also reportedly rave about Allen’s makeup.
The downside here is twofold. For one thing, his bat is behind his defense. The power is almost nonexistent at this point, and it’s not clear if any will develop as he progresses in the minors. His hit tool has also drawn some questions, although the reviews on that end have gotten better as the draft has gotten closer. There’s also the issue of Allen’s size. The shortstop is listed at 5’8”, 155 pounds and teams aren’t sure if that can hold up over a full season. We all know the Red Sox aren’t afraid of small players, though, and that’s why he’s been connected to the organization so often.
David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
This is who Baseball America has Boston taking in its latest mock draft, and it’s something of a surprise. Not because I think the Red Sox would pass on him, but rather because I’m not sure I see Peterson falling this far. The southpaw is Oregon’s ace, and while he sort of came out of nowhere this season he has done enough on Friday nights to make a name for himself. He can get his fastball into the mid-90s, and while his secondaries could use a little work the command/control profile is fantastic — Baseball America says he has the best control of any college pitcher. It is worth noting that the Red Sox selected Peterson out of high school a few years ago, so there is some history between the player and the organization.
Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
Houck had been a popular pick for the Red Sox at number 24 heading into the draft season, but he seems to have fallen slightly on draft boards in the time since. He was starting to come back up before struggling in his start in the SEC tournament. Still, Houck is a big righty who can reach back and hit the high-90s while also spinning a slider that flashes plus. Unfortunately, the velocity hasn’t always stayed consistent throughout his starts and the secondaries are even more inconsistent. Dave Dombrowski has a thing for big righties with velocity, and with the Red Sox connected to almost all college players, Houck is one to watch for.
Nate Pearson, RHP, Central Florida Junior College
Pearson is one of the most intriguing names in the entire draft, and I’ve seen him pegged to go as highly as number 18 and as low as out of the first round entirely. It’s easy to see why teams are excited about the JuCo product, as he reportedly topped 100 mph in a recent workout. That alone is enough to get excited about, but he also paired it with a slider that reached the high-80s. Remember what I just said about Dombrowski and righties with velocity? Yeah, Pearson fits this bill. I haven’t actually seen the Red Sox taking him in any mock drafts, but a few have mentioned him as a possibility, and if Hiura is gone and Pearson is on the board, I have a feeling Dombrowski won’t be able to pass up the chance to take the flamethrower.