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 2016 class.
With their first pick in this 2016 draft, the Red Sox went with a high school pitcher out of New Jersey in Jason Groome. There was a time leading up to that draft where it seemed possible that the lefty could go with the top overall pick, but signability and makeup concerns caused him to fall down to the teens. It gave the Red Sox a chance at a top-tier pitcher, something their farm system desperately needed. Obviously, things have not gone according to plan. Groome has barely been able to pitch since being drafted two summers ago due to injury concerns, and he’s going to be out until the end of the 2019 season at the earliest. When he has been on the mound, it’s been inconsistent. That being said, he’s still only going to be 21 in his next full season, and the talent is still there. Heading into this season he was still a consensus top-100 prospect despite the lack of action as a pro. There’s no way around the fact that this pick has not gone well for the Red Sox to this point, though I think people are still a little too quick to say it’s a lost cause.
After taking a high-risk high school arm with their first pick, the Red Sox came back and went in the opposite direction with their next one. In the second round, the team picked college shortstop C.J. Chatham out of Florida Atlantic University. This was a bit of a reach at the time, though Chatham was one of the better college shortstops in the draft from a defensive point of view. The bat was a question mark, though scouts acknowledged that any team who was higher on the bat could justify taking him in one of the early rounds. Since joining the Red Sox, Chatham has been hurt by injuries and missed essentially his entire first full season as a professional. He was already on the older side, so missing that year was even more hurtful than it would be for most. His defense still isn’t a question, and he’s back on the field hitting mildly well in High-A. The ceiling is not huge, but if Chatham can stay healthy there’s a good chance at a bench player here and a possibility for a second-division regular.
With their third pick, the Red Sox took their third different type of player of this draft by selecting a college righty out of the University of Florida. Shaun Anderson was a really interesting name in this draft, as he spent his college days on a loaded Gators roster that forced him into a closer role when he could have started for just about any other team in the nation. Still, it was clear that just about every team in the majors was going to convert him back to the starter after drafting the righty. The Red Sox did just that, though he didn’t last long in the organization. To be fair to Anderson, he looked solid through the first half-plus of his first full professional season, but he was traded before that season was through. The Red Sox sent him to San Francisco for Eduardo Núñez, who did help provide a spark and push the team to the division title last year. Still, Anderson went on to a strong finish last year and he’s looking quite good in Double-A this season. I’m still not convinced there’s a huge ceiling here, but given how much trouble the Red Sox have had developing pitching they could regret this one.
Boston went out and selected another college infielder with their fourth round pick here, taking University of Arizona third baseman Bobby Dalbec. The book on the righty was pretty clear at the time and it hasn’t really changed: Dalbec is going to be an all-or-nothing hitter. There was some chance he was going to be drafted as a pitcher, though the power potential in his bat was seen as more enticing to most than the power potential in his arm, particularly after the frequency with which he was used by his college coaches. The summer he was drafted gave Dalbec the chance to beat up on New York Penn League pitching, and he put on a show in Lowell. It gave him a ton of hype heading into 2017, but things have fallen off since then. The power is still absolutely there, but the swing and miss is always going to be a problem. Opinions are very split on Dalbec as a prospect at this point.
The Red Sox took their first college arm of the draft with their fifth pick, and there’s a chance we could look back at this selection as their best of the draft. Mike Shawaryn had been the ace of the University of Maryland staff leading up to that draft, but an inconsistent junior year caused his draft stock to take a bit of a hit as the spring went on. There were some questions about his delivery and the consistency of his command, but the Red Sox weren’t scared by that or his uneven spring in college. So far, they are looking very smart for that. Shawaryn has lost his command at times as he’s flown through the Red Sox system, but more often than not he’s put up big results with big strikeout numbers. Right now he is thriving in Double-A and has seen his stock rise in a spring where most Red Sox prospects are watching theirs fall. Shawaryn is one of the best pitching prospects in the system right now.
- The Red Sox took another college arm with their sixth pick, taking reliever Stephen Nogosek out of the University of Oregon. It seemed as if the Red Sox liked his late-inning potential as they were treating him as a traditional closer in the minors — they very rarely do that — but last summer they sent him to the Mets in the Addison Reed trade. He’s still looking like a potential setup arm.
- With their tenth pick, the Red Sox picked shortstop Santiago Espinal out of a community college in Miami. There’s not a huge ceiling there, but he’s off to a huge start in his first full professional season and could be one of the most intriguing sleepers in the system right now.
It’s hard to judge a draft just two years after it happened, but it’s looking like a mixed bag for the Red Sox here. They swung for the fences on a couple of these picks — Groome and Dalbec specifically — and the jury is still out. It’s not controversial to say that the overall judgement of this class will depend on how Groome develops when he returns from injury. Still, in Chatham and Shawaryn there is a good chance at a couple of major leaguers here, and Anderson and Nogosek got them good short-term pieces while looking like solid long-term pieces themselves.