Somehow, we’re already closing in on draft season. Time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose. The Red Sox aren’t picking very high in this draft, but it is still a very important time of year for every team. It seems particularly important for a Red Sox team that undoubtedly has one of the worst farm systems in the league, and one that’s only gotten worse when they’re two top-100 prospects (Jason Groome and Michael Chavis) have been forced to miss significant time for different reasons.
There are a lot of ways to improve the system outside of the draft — trades, which don’t seem realistic for a team in contention, and the international market, which the Red Sox did well in last year and expect to be a part of again this summer — but the June amateur draft is certainly the most high-profile. It’s become a bigger and bigger event as years have gone on, and it will likely only get bigger as teams continue to prize cost- and years-control more than ever. With that in mind, it’s time to start thinking about who the Red Sox will draft. I figured the easiest way to dive into all this would simply be to look at some names connected to the team by various experts in their latest mock drafts. So, below I have seven mock drafts with six different names being connected to the Red Sox at the 26th overall pick.
Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State
Baseball America seems to think it’s more likely than not that the Red Sox are going to take a college bat with this pick, which makes some sense as these are typically the safest prospects and this organization could really use a win. Eierman is an interesting prospect, ranked 26th in the draft by BA, 23rd by MLB Pipeline and 26th by Fangraphs. The right-handed infielder got off to a slow start this season but has since turned it around in a big way. He was highly thought of heading into the season but he has apparently messed with his mechanics to try and get more power (he was already viewed having at least average power before this season) and scouts have not liked what they’ve seen. Defensively, there are some questions about whether he’ll be able to stick at shortstop with his range, but most seem generally optimistic that he could be able to make it work. To me, this seems like a solid pick of a guy for whom there was a lot of excitement just a year ago. The Red Sox have had success developing position players, and they could be able to find the right tweaks in his mechanics to get the most out of Eierman’s skillset.
Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
MLB Pipeline joins BA in projecting a college bat to go Boston’s way, but they look to the outfield rather than the infield. Besides having a dynamite name, Walker is ranked 32nd by BA, 29th by MLB Pipeline and 45th on Fangraphs. The outfielder isn’t known for his power, but his hitting skills are good enough that the tool could play about average. Those bat-to-ball skills are what really shine here, and the hit tool carries the package. Scouts see a guy with a relatively high floor because of his plus pitch recognition and strong swing path that leads to consistent line drives all over the field. On top of that, Walker has more experience and more of a track record with a wood bat than just about anyone else in this draft. His defense isn’t great, however, and while he’s played center field and right field in college he may be pushed to left as a professional, particularly if he was drafted by the Red Sox given Fenway’s giant right field. As someone who absolutely loves hit-tool-first prospects, I’m intrigued.
Keith Law and Perfect Game
Brice Turang, SS, Santiago High School (California)
Keith Law and Perfect Game both have the Red Sox taking the same player, and both have them looking to the high school ranks here. Turang is a pretty highly thought of prospect, ranking 14th on BA’s list, 22nd on MLB Pipeline’s and 17th on Fangraphs. The young infielder was seen as an early possibility as this year’s 1-1 pick last summer, though his stock has dropped off by some since then. The knock on Turang seems to be that his stock was too high heading into the season and scouts have been a bit disappointed that he hasn’t appeared so otherworldly. He has a plus running tool and is perhaps the best defensive shortstop among high school players in this entire draft. There’s not a ton of power in his game right now, but he makes up for that with good contact skills and a strong overall hit tool. I’m not sure he’ll actually fall this far, but if he does this is the guy I’ll be getting my hopes up. Speed, defense and hit tool is exactly what I want every player to be. It’s worth mentioning that Turang has a commitment to LSU, so he won’t be an easy sign.
Ryan Rolison, LHP, Ole Miss
Law and PG gave us our first potential high school targets for the Red Sox, and Fangraphs gives us the first pitcher. Rolison is ranked 21st by BA, 12th by MLB Pipeline and 14th by Fangraphs, so him falling this far may be a bit of a reach. If he does, though, the Red Sox would likely consider themselves lucky. This isn’t a perfect prospect as the southpaw has shown inconsistency with his command all spring, but he has the pieces to be a legitimate major-league starter. His fastball can get up to 95-96 and sits just a few mph below that, and he pairs that with an above-average curveball, a solid changeup and a solid slider. Most seem to agree that he could use some tweaks in his delivery to make the most of his potential, and the Red Sox don’t have a great track record in that regard, but they shouldn’t let that scare them from taking a potential steal in the opportunity arises.
Triston Beck, RHP, Stanford
Here we have the second pitcher being connected to the Red Sox, though this one doesn’t appear to be as much of a potential boon as Olison. Beck is ranked 31st by BA, 27th by MLB Pipeline and 35th by Fangraphs. The righty is an interesting prospect who is a bit of a wildcard after missing the entire 2017 season with a back injury that came on the heels of an impressive freshman year at Stanford. The early returns in his comeback were strong, but scouts say his stuff has fallen off as the season has progresses. When everything is right Beck is certainly an intriguing prospect, but given the recent Groome injury it wouldn’t surprise me if the Red Sox wanted to avoid this kind of injury risk with their top pick this year.
Will Banfield, C, Brookfield High School (GA)
Here, we have the second high school prospect connected to the Red Sox and the first catcher, a position that is sure to catch the eyes of Sox fans at this moment in time. Obviously, he’s not someone who would help all that soon, but Banfield has some intrigue. The catcher is ranked 48th by BA, 37th by MLB Pipeline and 40th by Fangraphs. It would be a bit of a reach based on those rankings, but it’s not hard to see why a team would jump a bit early at Banfield. He is possibly the best defensive prep catcher in this draft with a huge arm and enough athleticism to keep balls in front of him while also stealing some strikes for his pitcher. The defense certainly carries the package. The bat is a bit behind, but there is some real power potential here to go with swing and miss issues. If a team believes they have the tweaks necessary to figure out those contact problems, don’t be surprised if he goes in the first round. Banfield is committed to play at Vanderbilt next spring.