Although the focus around these parts is undoubtedly the regular season, the MLB draft is just around the corner. The first round is only two weeks away, with things getting started on June 4. As we talked about earlier this past weekend, this is a big draft for Dave Dombrowski and the front office as they look to reset a farm system that was not super impressive heading into the year and has only gotten worse in terms of perception since that time. We’ll have plenty of looks at some specific targets and reports of who they have been connected to, but first let’s take this week to figure out how we got here. Over the next five days we’ll take a look at the five most recent drafts, not only looking for trends in the organization but also how well (or not well) they’ve done at this event. Today, we take a look at the 2014 class.
The Red Sox were coming off a World Series championship in 2014, and were picking with the 26th selection in the draft (the same spot they pick this summer). With their first pick, they went with a high school infielder named Michael Chavis. At the time, he was listed as a shortstop but it was generally understood that he’d eventually have to move to third base. The bat was always what carried him, though, and there was legitimate excitement around him. Fast-forward to today, and Chavis has become the poster boy of patience with high school draftees after a breakout 2017. Of course, his 2018 hasn’t gone as well. He missed most (all?) of camp with an oblique injury, and right before the season started he was hit with an 80-game PED suspension. All-in-all, for a late first round pick this has worked out well enough, but it’s been a bit of rollercoaster along the way.
Boston had a second first round pick, 33rd overall, in this draft thanks to a compensation pick in return for losing Jacoby Ellsbury the previous winter. With that selection, they took high school pitcher Michael Kopech. This was a really intriguing pick at the time, though it came with plenty of risk. It was easy to see the potential with Kopech’s big frame and bigger arm. The issues came with the consistency of his command as well as his erratic delivery. These concerns had many worried he’d end up in the bullpen. Of course, Kopech is no longer with the Red Sox as he was sent to the White Sox in the Chris Sale deal, and he’s now one of the most exciting prospects in the game. There are still some questions about his viability as a long-term starter, but they are much quieter today than they were a few years ago. The Sale deal has worked out for the Red Sox to be sure, but Kopech is one of the relatively rare wins this team has had in selecting pitchers high in drafts, and he’s on another team now.
With their second round pick and third selection of this draft, the Red Sox turned to the college ranks and took Sam Travis out of the University of Indiana. His college teammate Kyle Schwarber understandably garnered more excitement at the time, but Travis had plenty of accolades heading into his professional career as well. Now, the profile isn’t much different than it was back then. His bat is good and he clearly has bat-to-ball skills necessary to succeed as a pro, but the overall package would be a lot more attractive at another position. It worth noting that the Red Sox are trying to get him to be a viable left fielder as well, which can’t hurt. This definitely wasn’t a bad pick, though I do believe that Travis has been overrated a bit by fans during his prospect days.
Boston turned back to the pitching ranks for their third round selection, taking JuCo righty Jake Cosart with this pick. With a big fastball and impressive curveball, there was no question about Cosart’s potential. His lack of a third pitch had some believing he’d end up as a reliever, though. The Red Sox tried him as a starter with his first year in the organization, but that experiment didn’t last super long. He’s been a reliever for three years now, and while his first was eye-opening he’s struggled with his control far too often in the upper levels. The potential is still there if he can harness his command a bit, but it’s looking less and less likely the Red Sox will get a major leaguer from this pick.
The Red Sox stuck with pitching with their fourth round pick, going with a local arm in Kevin McAvoy out of Bryant University. This was not a high-profile selection as they seemingly were trying to save a little bit of slot money to pay their higher picks. McAvoy is in his third season at Double-A now and he’s struggling for the third time at the level. There were never a ton of expectations here, but it doesn’t seem like McAvoy will be more than an organizational arm.
The Red Sox went back to the high school hitting ranks for their fifth round pick, taking their second first baseman of the draft in Josh Ockimey. It was strange seeing this front office take a pair of first baseman relatively early in the draft, and it’s been strange seeing their development side-by-side. Obviously, with Travis being a college bat he’s moved faster, but both players are first baseman who can get on base — Travis will good bat skills and Ockimey with a big walk rate — but who need to hit for more power to reach their potential. Both are in the high minors right now, and for their relatively high stature in the organizational ranks it doesn’t appear at this point that either player is the first baseman of the future.
Other Notable Selections
- In the tenth round, the Red Sox selected college senior Cole Sturgeon. This was a money-saving pick, but the outfielder has turned into a solid player, particularly this year. He parlayed a scorching start at Double-A into a promotion to Pawtucket, and he’s looking pretty good there so far.
- Two rounds later, they selected left-handed pitcher Jalen Beeks out of the University of Arkansas. The southpaw had some injury concerns and questions about his viability in the rotation, but those questions are slowly going away. He was added to the 40-man roster this past winter and his start to 2018 has made him one of the more exciting minor leaguers in the system.
- Speaking of pitchers recently placed on the 40-man roster, Chandler Shepherd was selected in the 13th round out of out of the University of Kentucky. After spending his entire professional career as a reliever, the team has converted him to the rotation this year and it seems to be working out so far. It looks as if Boston got a couple of major leaguers with their 12th and 13th round picks.
Overall, this was a nice draft for the Red Sox despite picking so late. The best player they picked is now in another organization, but he did net them one of the truly elite arms in the game so it’s not a total negative. They also got real potential with their first pick, and while there are some recent questions it looks as if he should turn into a legitimate major leaguer. The book is obviously not closed here, but this was a step in the right direction for the organization.