The Red Sox went back to the position player side of the draft after picking their first pitcher in the third round, taking University of Kentucky catcher Kole Cottam with their fourth round selection at number 130 overall. The college junior is in his age-21 season having just celebrated a birthday at the end of May. He had gotten more and more playing time over the last few seasons at Kentucky, and this year he has 219 at bats in 56 games. In that time, he is slashing .352/.438/.667 with 19 home runs. That’s a 55-homer pace over 162 games. Pretty good!
In terms of scouting, things have flipped on Cottam since he arrived at Kentucky a few years ago. He came out of high school as a defense-first backstop, which obviously has huge value in today’s game. However, Baseball America indicates that his defense has regressed over his college career and this past season he split catching duties while also spending time at first base. He was listed as a catcher upon being drafted and I’d assume the Red Sox will put him there to start his pro career at least, but there’s no guarantee he’ll stay there.
The good news is that, while his defense has regressed, his offense has only improved as time has gone on. This past year, as you can see from the numbers above, were mighty impressive. The hit tool is described as potentially average, but the power certainly seems to be legit and if it plays up to its full potential a first base profile isn’t the worst thing in the world. In other words, this appears to be yet another pick where the Red Sox are looking for a power bat, just this time they did so in the college arena.
Cottam came in as the number 361 prospect on Baseball America’s list. Fangraphs only ranked their top 130 prospects before breaking down the rest of the class by level and position, and Cottam was their number 16 college hitter than did not make the overall top 130. MLB Pipeline did not include him in their top 200.