After making a surprise pick in the first round of Nick Yorke, a selection that everyone expected to be an under slot pick to allow them to have more money to spend on Day Two, all eyes were on the Red Sox for Thursday’s portion of the draft. They had three selections here in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, and they ended up selecting Blaze Jordan, Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Shane Drohan. We talked briefly about them last night, but let’s take a deeper look at these guys after a little more time to examine them as players.
Blaze Jordan, Third Round
School: DeSoto Central High School (MS)
College Commitment: Mississippi State University
Listed Height: 6’2
Listed Weight: 220 lbs
Baseball America: 90
MLB Pipeline: 42
The bat is where Jordan gets pretty much all of his value, which certainly makes things riskier. The good news is the bat is extremely exciting and has a legitimate ceiling. Jordan has been a relatively famous name in baseball circles since he was 12 or 13 with his 500-foot home runs making the rounds on YouTube for basically his entire childhood. He got some Bryce Harper comps due to the phenom status, though Jordan isn’t the all-around player Harper is or was as an amateur. That said, the power is very, very, very much real. This is a future potential plus-plus tool as Jordan is a big, strong kid with a swing that taps into that strength extremely well.
The issue is that he has some work to do with the hit tool and the overall approach, and that will ultimately be the difference between him being a batting practice marvel or an actual in-game force. He has shown some issues making contact and after reclassifying himself to be part of this draft class he struggled some against older competition last summer. However, there are plenty of scouts out there who see him developing an average hit tool with the right coaching, and an average hit tool with his power would certainly make him a good major leaguer. The Red Sox have shown some ability in working with kids like this in the recent past, too, from everyone from Triston Casas to Bobby Dalbec to Michael Chavis.
The bat has some real potential, which is good because there’s not likely going to be a ton of defensive value coming from Jordan down the road. He was announced as a third baseman and the Red Sox do plan on giving him a chance there. He’s slimmed down a bit over the last year or so and become more athletic in order to try and stick there, and some scouts see the potential if they squint hard enough. I view this as a Triston Casas-like situation, though, and expect Jordan to be over at first base sooner than later. There he can be an average defensive player.
- As I said, Jordan’s power has been well known for some time now. He has won multiple home run derbies over his amateur career, including the primetime event at the 2019 World Series, where he was congratulated by one Mookie Betts.
- I alluded to Jordan reclassifying above, which puts him among the younger players in this entire draft class. He won’t be playing games this summer, but even so he should make his professional debut next year and still be in his age-18 season.
Jeremy Yu-Welland, Fourth Round
School: University of Hawai’i
Previous Draft Year: N/A
Weight: 210 lbs
Baseball America: 261
MLB Pipeline: N/A
Note: I can’t seem to find any video from college readily available. If you know of some, let me know.
Wu-Yelland was, based on the scouting reports, the worst of the four players selected by the Red Sox in this draft, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad player or that there’s nothing to be intrigued by. Quite the contrary, actually. After not getting drafted out of high school, he has put himself on the map with Hawai’i. He struck out 10 of the first 13 batters he faced right off the bat in his college career, setting the tone for what was to come. He hasn’t always been consistent, to be fair, but the strikeout stuff shows up when it needs to. He also made his way to the Cape last summer, pitching for Chatham, and impressed scouts with his stuff there as well. He’s pitched mostly out of relief in a multi-inning role in college, but he was off to a great start this spring and could have moved back into the rotation if that continued.
Digging a little bit deeper into his arsenal, We-Yelland does have the repertoire necessary to start as well as the frame, though the latter could probably fill out a little bit. That last part shouldn’t be difficult with a professional training regimen. Wu-Yelland’s arsenal is led by a fastball that has gotten up to 96 out of the bullpen but as a starter would likely sit in the 91-94 range. He also brings a big, slow curveball that can keep batters of both handedness off-balance as well as a changeup that has proven effective against righties.
Despite the three-pitch repertoire, many still project Wu-Yelland for the bullpen long-term because of his control issues. He’s generally done a good job of keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate, but his delivery can get violent at times and that can lead him to yank his pitches off the plate. The Red Sox have had some projects come in with control issues in the past that had good early returns, Chris Murphy being the most recent example in a small sample, so there could be some hope at a surprise here. But even if not, there are pieces here for a good reliever.
Shane Drohan, Fifth Round
School: Florida State University
Previous Draft Year: 2017 (23rd Round; Phillies)
Listed Height: 6’3
Listed Weight: 195 lbs.
Baseball America: 189
MLB Pipeline: 147
Drohan is a really interesting pitcher here, and for people who were looking for some upside on the mound out of this draft — and I know there were plenty of you — this is where to look. The southpaw started making a name for himself late in his high school career and in the 2017 draft class he was either just inside or just outside the top 100 prospects depending on who you asked. He ended up getting taken in the 23rd round and opted to go to school to pitch for Florida State. He showed off electric stuff as a starter last year, but also walked almost a batter per inning. The control looked improved — still shaky, but better — early this year as he was firmly established as a weekend starter for the Seminoles, but of course the season got canceled before we could really establish any trends.
There is a lot to like here and the more I look into Drohan the more intrigued I become. Despite the gaudy strikeout rates — he struck out over 12 per nine as a sophomore — his stuff isn’t really anything that will blow you away. He can get the fastball up to the mid-90s if he really needs to but sits more in the 90-93 range. But he pairs that with a solid changeup/curveball combination that just seems to work. On top of that, he has a really clean delivery that needs to be a little more consistent with how he repeats it, but the makings are there for starter mechanics.
There are a few things that need to be worked on, of course, and the control is right at the top of that list. The issue throwing strikes is what leads to the worry that he will be a reliever, and unlike Wu-Yelland I’m not sure there is enough stuff to potentially play into a later inning role. That said, there is more of a starter’s framework here and more reason to believe in the growth. Drohan was a two-sport star in high school and it was relatively recently he started solely focusing on baseball, so good coaching could see dramatic improvement. He’s someone I’ll be very interested to see the reports on next spring on the back fields after a summer and winter with professional coaching.