We are now under a week to go until we get to this year’s MLB Draft, and the Red Sox are picking as high as they have in a half-century. With the fourth overall selection, the team has a chance to add real, premium talent to their farm system in a way that is just not common for them in their franchise’s history. With that in mind, in the six days leading up to the draft we are going to take a look at what seems to be a near-consensus on the top six players, plus a few more, for the Red Sox to consider with their first pick. We finish things up today with a quick grab bag of other potential targets at the top of the class.
Brady House, SS, HS (GA)
MLB Pipeline: 8
We’ve already covered three high school shortstops in these profiles throughout the week, but House makes a fourth consensus top 10 player among that group. Once the top high school player in this class, House has underwhelmed a bit relative to expectations at recent showcases, leading to some questions with his hit tool. But there is still a ton to like here, as the 18-year-old is a big kid, standing at 6’3, 215 pounds with power to match. That size does make his defensive future a bit of a question mark, though. Some see him having at least a semblance of a chance at sticking at shortstop, though most see a move to third base coming in the future. FanGraphs even mentioned the possibility he’d have to move to first base or right field. He has a big arm, and right now the athleticism is there, but if he adds more size it’s certainly difficult to see him sticking up the middle. House is committed to the University of Tennessee.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, HS (OK)
MLB Pipeline: 7
High school pitchers are always among the most interesting in any given draft. On the one hand, there is a ton of risk associated with a pitcher being so far away. On the other hand, the major-league clubs get to take care of the early development rather than college coaches who don’t really worry about pitch counts. It’s a balancing act. I bring that up because Jobe is the top high school pitching prospect in this draft, and really the best we’ve seen in a few years. The righty is a spin rate darling with a big fastball and a slider that has the potential to be an elite offering. He adds in two more secondaries in a curveball and changeup that have the potential to be above-average. As I said, there’s always a ton of risk with high school pitching, but the talent Jobe shows is rare.
Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
Baseball America: 11
MLB Pipeline: 10
It doesn’t seem super likely at this point, but there is still a chance the Red Sox go underslot here with their first pick to save money for later in the draft. If they do, Cowser is one of the college players they could be looking at to make that happen. This would not be a bad consolation prize. While Cowser doesn’t possess the upside that some of the other position players ahead of him on the board boast, he has a very good hit tool from the left side with power that is developing as he matures. There is some concern about his playing at a smaller school, but his time with Team USA as a freshman alleviated some of that concern. Defensively, he is in center field right now and with his athleticism there are plenty who see him sticking there, though that is not a consensus opinion.
Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
MLB Pipeline: 11
A couple of months ago, very early in the draft season, there were some whispers that the Red Sox were indeed looking at underslot players potentially with their first pick. Frelick is the first name that came to my mind at that point for a couple of reasons. For one thing, he is a very talented player, showing big-time athleticism that should be able to stick in center field to go with strong contact skills. He has a little more power than you may expect from someone listed at 5’9, but it doesn’t project to be a big part of his game. The thing that makes him even more potentially alluring for the Red Sox is the fact that he’s a local kid, not only playing at BC but hailing from Lexington before that. It still looks unlikely the Red Sox will go underslot, but if they do remember this name.
Ty Madden, RHP, University of Texas
Baseball America: 12
MLB Pipeline: 9
Most of the potential underslot options for the Red Sox are on the position player side, but Madden provides that option from the mound. A tier below the Vandy boys, the righty from Texas has plenty of upside himself. A high school teammate of Cowser, Madden is one of the hardest throwers in this class. He has everything you’re looking for from a potential front-line starter, with a fastball sitting in the mid-90s and nearing triple digits at times and a slider that could be plus. His changeup is solid as well, though it needs a bit more work.
Matt McClain, SS, UCLA
Baseball America: 10
MLB Pipeline: 12
In a class filled intriguing high school shortstops, McClain is the top middle infielder from the college ranks. He saw his stock fall a bit after his freshman year, but bounced back enough this year to get himself back in the first round picture. Offensively, he leans heavily on his hit tool, with an ability to hit pitches all over the zone and use the whole field, shooting line drives gap-to-gap. He’s not an imposing presence, but he did show off some power this past spring. That said, it’s not expected to be a big part of his game at the next level. Defensively, McClain uses plus athleticism and an improved arm to put together a profile that should be able to stick up the middle. There are higher ceilings in this class, but McClain should be a quick riser and should carve out some sort of role in the majors.