We are now less than a week away from the MLB Draft, which is going to be a strange one for a bunch of reasons. Most notable, of course, is the fact that the event will be an eighth as long as it typically is, with the total number of rounds reduced to just five this season thanks to an agreement made in March. The Red Sox only have four picks, too, thanks to the league’s punishment stemming from the 2018 sign-stealing scheme. There’s also the fact that there was hardly any baseball played this spring, with some prospects’ seasons never even getting started and most only playing a few weeks before their games were cancelled. Throw in the fact that there may not be any baseball this year and almost certainly no minor-league baseball, and this is one of the more bizarre back drops for a draft ever.
And yet, it sort of feels normal in some ways, at least in terms of my prep for the event. I’m not a major prospect hound outside of players already in the organization. I follow college ball very lightly from afar and am familiar with a few of the top names all year, and the prep names I hardly know outside of elite of the elite. So it was a nice bit of normalcy to get back to my yearly month-long scramble to learn about the top 50 or so prospects in this year’s class, and specifically about the players connected to the Red Sox. That knowledge is partially acquired through reading a whole lot of mock drafts, which brings us to today’s task: Catching up with the latest projections.
Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (OR)
At this point, my less-than-expert opinion would be that the best-case scenario for the Red Sox next week would be for Abel to fall to number 17 where Boston makes their selection. It feels icky to talk about anything going on in the world and the country right now as a positive, of course, but the fact of the matter is that some top talents are going to slide in this draft because of the lack of baseball this spring, and Abel falls into this category. He didn’t get to pitch at all for his high school before the pandemic cancelled his season, and had he been able to show off for scouts more he very well could have been a top ten selection. Instead, he’s likely to fall in the 10-20 range, and whoever gets him gets massive upside who some think has a chance to be the top pitcher in the draft, a possibility even raised in MLB Pipeline’s writeup linked above.
Peter Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake (CA)
If I was a betting man — and I am, but not to the point where I’m betting on individual selections in the MLB Draft — this is where I think the Red Sox are going to end up landing. I suspect Abel is above Crow-Armstrong on their board, but I think the pitcher will be off the board and the outfielder will be their pick. It will be disappointing insofar as I’ve kind of fallen in love with Abel, but Crow-Armstrong is certainly not a disappointing selection in a vacuum. As I mentioned in the outfield preview, there’s a little Andrew Benintendi in Crow-Armstrong’s scouting report as a smooth swinger from the left side whose hit tool is better than the power tool. He has a better shot at sticking in center field and providing value there, too.
Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (TN)
It’s very possible I’m wrong about this, but I don’t believe I’ve seen Hassell going to the Red Sox in any other mocks. That obviously is not to discount the projection, but rather to express a little surprise. Hassell does fit the mold of upside that the Red Sox certainly seem to be looking for with this pick, though, The outfielder, who is committed to Vanderbilt, has mostly been projected to go a bit earlier than 17, but he’s an extremely toolsy player who carried plenty of risk but also a ton of upside if the Red Sox hit. Given their track record with developing position players, taking that sort of risk is certainly worth it.
Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
CBS is the only mock that has a college player going to the Red Sox, but with Mitchell it still makes sense in the upside category at this selection. Although he is not a prep player, there is still some of that boom or bust feel to this outfielder. Mitchell is an incredible athlete with good contact skills, and while he hasn’t shown a ton of power in games to this point scouts still think it is in there somewhere. There are some concerns with his mechanics and, as Mike Axisa points out in the CBS link above, with his Type 1 Diabetes. That said, he’s likely to be off the board at this point.