Red Sox Shaping Up To Be Biggest Wild Card In 2021 MLB Draft

There are plenty of options for Chaim Bloom

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The Red Sox find themselves in a very interesting position ahead of this weekend’s MLB draft.

Boston owns the fourth pick in Sunday’s first round, the first time they have drafted that high in more than 50 years. That alone makes it a unique experience for Chaim Bloom and his staff, but what makes the Red Sox a fascinating team to monitor is the number of options they have.

“Few teams have more wild rumors running around them than the Red Sox,” Fangraphs’ Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen wrote in their mock draft earlier this week.

Fangraphs has the Red sox taking Henry Davis, a catcher out of Louisville with a howitzer attached to his right arm, the consensus choice as the top positional prospect in college baseball.

But Davis certainly isn’t the only player attached to the Red Sox now or in the entire process. Those wanting to see them draft a relatively polished pitcher were pretty pumped when mock drafts in recent weeks linked Boston to Vanderbilt stud Jack Leiter. Even his Vandy teammate, the less-developed Kumar Rocker, is an interesting option for an organization that has struggled to develop pitching.

However, Leiter has started to move back up the board, according to the industry’s top draft experts, and now the consensus is he goes No. 2 to Texas. Rocker, meanwhile, is expected to fall out of the top five.

There’s pretty strong agreement among the smartest prospect people that some combination of high school shortstops Marcelo Mayer, Brady House, Jordan Lawlar and Leiter would make up the top four picks. The Sox taking Davis, however, which is also the prediction from ESPN’s latest mock draft, would throw a wrench into that, of course. Fangraphs has Lawler dropping to No. 6 to Arizona now, and ESPN has him tumbling to the Rockies at No. 8.

What’s interesting, though, is Boston could go completely “off the board,” so to speak. Fangraphs cites people within baseball who wonder whether the Sox might even draft under slot and take another catcher, high schooler Harry Ford, to save some of their draft pool money. Both the Fangraphs and ESPN mock drafts have Ford going in the middle of the first round.

So, it’s possible the Red Sox could grab him at No. 4 and pay him like a mid-first rounder, effectively saving some money to overdraft later on. That’s not a bad strategy, especially if they like Ford that much. Top high school commits can fall down the draft board if everyone believes it’s most likely they’ll go to college, making signability more difficult. The slotting system makes it more difficult to just buy prospects, but saving on slot money up top could put the Red Sox in a beneficial position as early as their second pick at No. 40.

Two players to keep an eye on in that scenario? According to ESPN, the Sox could opt against the high school shortstops up top before drafting and trying to sign one of another pair of prep shortstops: Payton Green out of North Carolina (NC State commit) and Edwin Arroyo out of Florida (Florida State commit).

It’s all quite fascinating, and it’s made even more intriguing by the fact the Red Sox are playing very good baseball right now. There’s a slightly greater-than-zero chance anyone they draft at No. 4 contributes to the big club this year, and it’s not even a question if they draft a high schooler. But Boston has one of baseball’s best records. The Sox have a talented roster with a handful of impactful players signed for at least two more seasons.

The 2020 season from hell put them in an unfamiliar position, and while Bloom likely never wants to draft this high again, he and the organization have a unique chance to really boost this on-the-fly rebuild with a big week.

Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter
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