BOSTON (CBS) –The 2020 baseball season remains in limbo, as owners and players continue their fight off the field as they try to figure out a way to return amid the coronavirus pandemic. What is not in limbo is the MLB Draft, which is just around the corner.
And this is a pretty important draft for the Boston Red Sox, as new Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom looks to revamp the team’s farm system in his first year on the job. The Red Sox’ pool of prospects was ranked among the worst in all of baseball last year, though Bloom helped his cause a few months ago when he added shortstop Jeter Downs (the third-ranked prospect in 2019) and catcher Conner Wong in the Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers.
Now, Bloom has just four picks to work with in this month’s shortened draft, after Boston lost their second-round selection as punishment for a sign-stealing scandal, leaving him with just three picks on Day 2.
Bloom’s first pick with the Red Sox will come at No. 17 overall on June 10 (Rounds 2-5 will be held the following day), and many of the mock drafters have Boston going with either a power bat in the outfield or a power arm with their first selection. Here’s a quick roundup of potential Boston picks with the draft just over a week away:
Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com
Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Mitchell continues to be among the toughest players to place in a projection because his raw tools are undeniable, but his performance (especially power-wise) has been spotty and teams need to find a comfort level with taking a player with Type 1 Diabetes in the first round. Boston could go the high school pitching route with someone like Jared Kelley here.
Mitchell was drafted by the Oakland A’s out of high school in 2017 but chose to go to UCLA instead. The 6-foot-3 outfielder had a breakout season as a sophomore in 2019, hitting .349 with 14 doubles, 12 triples and six homers while scoring 57 runs and driving in an addition 41 runs. The lefty bat (he throws righty) hit .355 in 15 games in 2020, finishing his career with the Bruins by slashing .327/.393/.478, showing improvement at the plate in each of his three seasons.
Here are some of Mitchell’s highlights at UCLA:
Kiley McDaniels, ESPN.com (Insider Content)
Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit High School (Oregon)
I’ve heard Boston is kicking the tires on a number of demographics, but I believe the Red Sox are leaning more to upside than quick-moving types. Abel is arguably the top prep pitcher in the draft, and new head of baseball ops Chaim Bloom came from Tampa Bay, where the Rays didn’t shy away from the high-risk group that scares off many teams in the first round.
Abel is a 6-foot-5 righty who was named Oregon’s Gatorade Player of the Year in both 2019 and ’20. He was 9-0 with a 1.34 ERA and 90 strikeouts over 57.1 innings pitched in 2020. He helped lead Jesuit to the 6A state championship in 2019, and is committed to Oregon State in fall.
Here are some highlights of what Abel can do on the hill:
Keith Law, The Athletic
Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
Miller has been up to 98 mph as a starter with an above-average slider, showing some effort in the delivery but missing plenty of bats for the Cardinals, with mid-rotation or closer potential.
The 6-foot-5 righty went 15-2 with a 3.28 ERA in his three seasons with the Cardinals, striking out 175 batters and walking 68 over 170 innings for a 1.124 WHIP. He went 7-1 as a sophomore in 2019 and was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts in 2020 before the season came to an end.
Here is a look at Miller in action for the Cardinals:
Ray Butler, Prospects365
Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit High School (Oregon)
One of the surest bets in the first round: the Red Sox are going to make a splash. General manager Chaim Bloom and amateur director Paul Toboni have no second round pick, and prioritizing a farm system re-stock opens the door to absorbing some risk at opportune times. Here, that means drafting one of the most athletic, explosive prospects from one of the most volatile draft demographics. We’re about to see a gigantic uptick in the Red Sox utilizing technology in player development, and Abel will immediately become a poster child as Boston ushers in a new era.
Dan Zielinksi III, Baseball Prospect Journal
Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny (Pa.) HS
Austin Hendrick, a lefty hitter, has elite raw power for a high schooler and profiles as a middle-of-the-order bat in pro ball. He is a good athlete and has a strong arm. He profiles as a right fielder in pro ball.
Hendricks is a lefty hitter with some pop in his swing. Here are some highlights of what Hendrick can do on the field.
He has verbally committed to Mississippi State.
Mike Axisa, CBS Sports
Ed Howard, SS, Mount Caramel HS (Illinois)
Since our last mock draft the Red Sox were, cutting their bonus pool to just over $5 million. Only four teams have less to spend. Despite that, there is no indication the Red Sox will be conservative here, and Howard is the best high school shortstop in a draft class light on impact middle infielders. On his best days he’ll look like a future valuable hitter who saves runs with his glove. .
The 6-foot-2 Howard could be the first shortstop off the board when the draft gets underway. He hit .419 in 101 plate appearances over 26 games as a junior in 2019-20, recording 12 doubles, three triples and three homers. He hit .396 over his 64 games in high school.
Check out Howard in action:
The 2020 MLB Draft gets underway at 7 p.m. on June 10.