The Red Sox made their first selection of the 2019 draft all the way down at pick number 43, and they selected a college bat with their first pick for the first time since they took Andrew Benintendi in 2015. This one is a little different, of course, with Benintendi being a top ten pick and 2019 selection Cameron Cannon being taken at the start of the second round. Cannon doesn’t quite fit the mold we saw early in the draft last year from the Red Sox when they took a bunch of power hitters with questionable hit tools. With this selection, they took a guy whose hit tool is the most intriguing quality with power being a question. Here’s a little more information on the 22 year old.
Cannon is from Arizona originally, attending high school in Glendale before being taken by his hometown Diamondbacks in the 21st round as a prep player. He opted to go to college in his home state, though, attending the University of Arizona. The infielder had a hell of a career with the Wildcats. He’s been a full-time player for two years for the program, putting up a .976 OPS last year. Then, he came out as a junior this spring and tore it up at the plate. In 56 games this season, Cannon hit .397/.478/.651. He was ranked 94th in the draft class by Baseball America, 48th by Fangraphs, and 79th by MLB Pipeline.
As I alluded to above, the hit tool is the most intriguing part of Cannon’s game. That is made pretty evident by the fact that he almost hit .400 in his junior year against Pac-12 competition. He also hit .321 as a sophomore. MLB Pipeline has put a 55 on his hit tool, which grades out as solidly above average. Power rules the day in today’s MLB, of course, but you need to be able to make contact before you can do anything in this game. Having a hit tool like this is a good place to start. Fangraphs also notes in their scouting report that Cannon has done this without getting much use from his lower half in his swing. They speculate some mechanical tweaks could get more out of his power. Defensively, he is not going to stick as a shortstop like he was announced, but he has the arm and reactions to stick at third base and should be able to play second base at the highest level as well. As we’ve seen from the Red Sox and other teams in recent years, second base isn’t as demanding as it used to be, and Cannon looks to have the potential to provide similar defensive versatility as Michael Chavis.
As much as Fangraphs may have some optimism about Cannon tapping into more power as a pro, they are clearly the highest on him. Other scouts are not as confident in the power playing up. Baseball America calls his power tool “fringe-average” while MLB Pipeline put a 45 grade on it. BA also notes that his approach at the plate is very pull-heavy, and that combined with a relative lack of power could make him very susceptible to being beaten by the shift. It’s also worth noting that while the scouting reports see him developing into a fine defensive player, Cannon made 18 errors this year. That suggests there’s plenty of development to be done on that side of the ball as well.