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Meet The New Guy: Kyle Teel

The Red Sox select a catcher out of UVA with the 14th pick

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Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s Kyle Teel from the University of Virginia, and the Red Sox just made him the 14th pick in the MLB draft.

What position does he play?

He’s a catcher, but he’s athletic enough that he’s played all over the diamond. In fact, during one showcase game last summer, he played every single position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher.

Is he going to be any good?

Literally no one knows! In baseball, even the very best draftees take years to develop into big leaguers, and the bust rate is extremely high. This is not basketball or football, where many amateurs are capable of immediately stepping into the lineup and making a difference.

Nevertheless, the content must be farmed and trucked to the market; so media outlets and fans are increasingly treating the MLB draft as if it is the NFL or NBA, and laughably declaring winners or losers in real time. That’s not possible! Moreover, when reading draft coverage, you have to keep in mind that even the very best analysts haven’t seen these guys play all that much. As a result, it’s not unusual to read two completely contradictory reports on the same player. For example, according to one college baseball data analysis source, Teel was an elite receiver:

And yet Keith Law’s scouting report says framing is something he still needs to work on.

The truth is that we will not know which teams had a good or bad 2023 draft until at least 2026, if not later. Sorry to be a buzzkill, but the best thing to do as a fan is just get to know the players and try to enjoy watching them grow.

You must be fun at parties.

Hey, I am! Invite me to one and I’ll show you! I always bring an interesting appetizer.

Well, anyway, do the experts like the pick?

They do! Teel, who was named the ACC Player of the Year, was considered the top catcher in the entire draft. He was sometimes projected to go as low as #7 in the first round, so the fact that the Sox were able to get him at #14 qualifies as a minor steal — Keith Law says he was “shocked” that Teel slid that far. Shades of Marcelo Mayer dropping to #4 . . .

What’s his game like?

He has a strong arm and is considered to be very athletic for a catcher; so at the very least, the hope is that he’ll develop into an above-average defender behind the plate. Offensively, he does not have a lot of home run power thanks to a small-ish frame (he hit 13 bombs this year, good for a 10-way tie for 23rd in the ACC). But what he does have is an advanced approach at the plate (he walked more than he struck out last year) and excellent contact skills.

As a college player who is already a good receiver, Teel is considered a low-risk, high floor player in the sense that his glove alone should be enough to make him a Major Leaguer. But whether he turns into an impact player at the MLB level will be determined by the development of his bat.

Show me a cool highlight

If nothing else, the dude doesn’t cower from plays at the plate:

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Having a blast playing a game of tag in the middle of a recent ACC tournament semifinal matchup. College baseball is weird, man.