Earlier in the week we got a new mock draft from Baseball America, and as I said in the linked writeup the bigger takeaway for me than the mock selection of Jack Leiter at four by the Red Sox was simply how unclear things have gotten. As we’ve discussed, there was a point not too long ago where it looked like a top four was all but locked in with some order of Leiter, Kumar Rocker, Jordan Lawlar and Marcelo Mayer going in that range, with the Red Sox likely just picking whoever was left.
Things have shifted in a big way, however, with the two Vanderbilt pitchers (Leiter and Rocker) starting to slide down rankings and mocks a bit and a few high school position players starting to make more noise. This is not only reflected in Baseball America’s mock either. More recently we’ve gotten two more mocks — one from Jim Callis at MLB Pipeline and another from Keith Law at The Athletic — and the lack of clarity continues to shine through.
As was the case in the BA mock, I am again less interested in the actual players being mocked because it sure seems like things will change many more times in the next six weeks or so until the actual draft comes. But I will mention that Callis has the Red Sox taking Louisville catcher Henry Davis while Law has them selecting Rocker. Both see college players going at this spot, though Callis does mention some interest in the high school shortstops as well. (That would be Lawlar and Mayer, among some others.)
Davis is an interesting one as his stock has risen a ton since the start of the college season. He’s seen as a very good hitter, though there is some disagreement about whether or not he can actually stick behind the plate. Law actually has him going with the number one overall pick. Again, that just speaks to the lack of clarity here.
What I really found the most interesting here were two things. One is that both of these writers seem to think the Red Sox would probably like one of Leiter, Rocker, or Davis. Law says they are “extremely likely” to get one of those three, while Callis mentions them as the absolute floor for Leiter. (He has Leiter going second overall.)
But the other big takeaway here is that Callis mentions a possibility of Boston going underslot here. This is something I’ve been thinking about more since the idea of a clear top four has gone away, and if they really do love somebody projected to be more of a back-end-of-the-top-ten or later, they could make a move here. Sal Frelick from BC is going to be the obvious connection to make here given the local ties, but guys like Jud Fabian (mentioned by Callis in a Twitter Q&A Wednesday night) could be there too. This could give them the ability to take someone they like early but also have money to attract players who fall with their second round pick, or perhaps convince someone like Jaden Hill (a preseason top five pick who has fallen due to injury) to slide a bit further for a sweetened deal.
This is all speculation right now and I’ll have to have a stronger feel for this class before I really decide whether or not I like this strategy, but this is the first time I’ve seen it specifically mentioned in one of these mocks. But for now, we will continue to watch how things evolve for the next six weeks.