We are now inside a week until the MLB Draft, and the Red Sox projections have been somewhat all over the place at number 17. Sometimes it can be helpful to look back at previous drafts to get an idea of what could happen in the future, but that isn’t really the case this year for a couple of reasons. One, the front office has changed a bit. A lot of the key people are still involved and Chaim Bloom alone won’t change too too much in the draft process, but there is a difference in leadership. More importantly, this simply isn’t a normal draft year. That being said, it’s still always fun to me to look back at recent drafts and see how things look with a bit of hindsight. So, over the next five days we’ll be looking at the five most recent drafts, finishing things up today with the 2019 class. We’ll look at picks from the first five rounds, plus the best hitters and pitchers from beyond those rounds.
Cameron Cannon, SS, University of Arizona
I’m still not entirely sure if we’re supposed to call this a first round pick or a second rounders. Either way, Cannon was Boston’s first selection of this draft with their top pick being dropped ten slots after exceeding the luxury tax threshold by more than $40 million. Cannon, selected 43rd overall, was ranked 94th on Baseball America’s top 500. Although he was drafted officially as a shortstop, it’s been widely accepted that he is going to settle in as either a second baseman or a third baseman. It’s his offense that makes him intriguing, though, as he put up big numbers throughout his career at Arizona. There’s not a huge ceiling here, but a solid infielder with a good hit tool is a player who can move relatively quickly. In his first taste of pro ball he hit .200/.284/.324.
Matthew Lugo, SS, Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy (PR)
Lugo was the top pick in terms of talent for the Red Sox in this round. The nephew of Beltrán and coming from his academy in Puerto Rico, Lugo was seen as a bit of a project but one with potential big reward down the road. There’s been some conflicting reports on the defense but my understanding is that the glove certainly has a chance to stick at shortstop. The bat, meanwhile, could develop into an above-average hit tool with solid pop to boot. That’s a really good player, but obviously there’s a ton of variance coming out of high school. In his first summer as a pro he hit .257/.337/.326.
Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP, University of Kansas
The first pitcher selected by the Red Sox from this draft came from the college ranks and was a big righty from Kansas. Ranked 57 by Baseball America, Zeferjahn was mostly known for his knockout stuff. He came out of college with a big fastball as well as a changeup and a slider that both showed big flashes, although there was some consistency lacking as well. It’s not just the secondaries, either, as his overall command as well as his mechanics tend to come and go as well. Pitching in Lowell last year he pitched to a 4.50 ERA with 31 strikeouts and 12 walks over 22 innings. I think he’s probably a reliever, but he can make a big impact in that role. The Red Sox will, of course, keep him as a starter until he proves he can’t handle it.
Noah Song, RHP, Naval Academy
Song was probably the most interesting player in the entire draft and easily the most interesting player in this Red Sox class. On pure talent alone, the senior and Golden Spikes finalist was probably a first rounder. As we know by now, though, it wasn’t that simple with him due to his obligation to serve for the Navy for two years upon graduation. He was allowed to pitch for the team last year as well as for Team USA in the fall and the numbers (1.06 ERA, 19 strikeouts, five walks in 17 innings for Lowell) as well as well as the scouting reports were off the charts. For now, though, we are waiting to see what the future holds. He is still in limbo as the Navy has not yet ruled on his waiver he filed to try and push his Naval commitment to after his playing career. If he is able to pitch right away, he could end up being the biggest steal of this entire draft.
Jaxx Groshans, C, University of Kansas
Two rounds after picking Zeferjahn the Red Sox went and selected his battery mate as well with Groshans. Ranked 204 on Baseball America’s rankings, Groshans was coming off a big season in 2019 for the Jayhawks. He is a bat-first catcher whose offensive skillset pretty much depends on his ability to stay behind the plate. If he can turn into an average defensive player back there, which he’s capable of but it’s far from a sure thing, then the bat should play well and there’s an outside chance at a starter here. If he can’t play there every day, his best role would probably be some sort of utility player who can serve as a backup catcher and fill in in the outfield from time to time.
Chris Murphy, LHP, University of San Diego
There hasn’t really been enough time for too many players to establish themselves in the short summer season immediately after being drafted, as there were no real Brandon Howlett-type breakouts on the offensive side. On the pitching side, however, Murphy looks like he could be another mid-round steal. The lefty came out of college with good stuff but major control issues, but the Red Sox seemed to think they had a solution to those issues. We need a larger sample before we get too excited, but he was dominant for Lowell, pitching to a 1.08 ERA with 34 strikeouts and seven walks in 33 1⁄3 innings. Even if the control regresses, he at least has the stuff to play a big role in the bullpen down the role.