It’s been a long time since there was such significant buzz surrounding the Boston Red Sox ahead of a Major League Baseball draft. In fact, this might be the most hyped draft ever from a Boston perspective.
But which player will Chaim Bloom and Co. land with the fourth overall pick?
The MLB draft is weird. Sure, some teams draft for need while others draft whom they deem to be the best available player. But some, including those at the top of the first round, care more about which player will cost them less to sign.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who own the No. 1 pick this year, are considered such a team.
So, nobody really knows what will happen at the top of this draft, which is absent a sure-fire, slam-dunk No. 1 pick. For the most part, experts and insiders agree there are six players — four high school shortstops, a college pitcher and a college catcher — who could go in any order with the first six picks.
Let’s go over those players, all of whom could be available to the Red Sox at the fourth spot in the draft.
(Note: This is not a “ranking” of the players.)
Jordan Lawlar, SS — Dallas Jesuit High School
If there’s one player who could be considered the “consensus” top talent in the draft, it’s Lawler. Viewed as a five-tool talent, Lawler was excellent during his prep school career, hitting over .400 all three seasons. He showed an alarming amount of swing-and-miss early in his final season, but struck out just once over his last 15 games. Lawler’s potential to develop into an above-average player is the primary reason why some scouts view him as a potential regular All-Star.
Marcelo Mayer, SS — Eastlake High School
Not quite as athletic as some of the other shortstops on this list, Mayer nevertheless is an exciting prospect, one whom some believe could go first overall to the Pirates. Also known for his great defense, Mayer hit .410 with 13 homers against top competition in his final season. The main knock on him is questions about whether he’ll improve upon his fringe power.
Jack Leiter, RHP — Vanderbilt
Often mentioned in the same sentence with the Red Sox, Leiter largely is viewed as the top pitcher in this draft class. Multiple reports indicate the Vanderbilt product wants to fall to Boston, which could provide him an accelerated path to the big leagues. Leiter dominated this season, posting a 2.12 ERA over 13 starts while striking out 127 batters and walking 34. He possesses a legitimate five-pitch mix, headlined by a mid-to-high-90s fastball and above-average curveball. He’s small, but displays a ton of confidence and swagger on the mound — remind you of anyone, Red Sox fans?
Henry Davis, C — Louisville
What a difference a few years make. As a high schooler in 2018, Davis was viewed as an arm-first (and elite arm, at that) catching prospect with iffy offensive ability. He wasn’t even considered one of the 200 best high school prospects. Now, he generally is viewed as the best collegiate hitter in the draft, as well as a catcher who has an arm that currently would rank among the best in the majors. Davis hit a career-high 14 homers last season while showing above-average contact ability. His skills behind the plate need refining, but such is the case with all catching prospects.
Kahlil Watson, SS — Wake Forest High School
Watson has a ton of upside. He’s fast, has a great glove and can really hit. Some believe his athleticism would play better in the outfield, but sticking at shortstop seems like a realistic outcome. However, Watson is viewed as “toolsy,” and someone who is far from a finished project. As such, there would be some risk with this pick. But hey, that’s life in the MLB draft.
Brady House, SS — Winder-Barrow High School
Tired of shortstops yet? A few months ago, some viewed House as a player who could go first overall. But he didn’t quite live up to the hype this season, striking more than expected and not showcasing his considerable power at a level many believe he’s capable of. Plus, there are concerns over whether he can stick at shortstop. Still, House is a player with enormous raw power, who could be a middle-of-the-order force if he fully taps into it.
Also worth mentioning:
Kumar Rocker, RHP — Vanderbilt
Rocker’s stock dropped during this draft cycle due to concerns over his fastball consistency and potential reliever risk. But he has a ton of talent and was a dominant pitcher in college. It would be a surprise if he fell outside the top 10.
Jackson Jobe, RHP — Heritage Hall High School
Teams seemingly are trending away from taking prep school pitchers inside the top 10, so it would be a surprise if the Red Sox took Jobe with the fourth overall pick. Nevertheless, Jobe is viewed as the top prep pitcher in the class, and generally is regarded as one of the 10 best prospects in the class.