June 2, 2013

On Baseball: Red Sox well-positioned to land a top prospect in draft

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BOSTON - That 69-93 record in 2012 had at least one benefit.

The Boston Red Sox hold the No. 7 pick in this year's major league baseball draft, which begins Thursday. It's the best draft pick Boston has had in 20 years.

Back in 1993, the Red Sox chose a high school outfielder from North Carolina named Trot Nixon with the No. 7 overall pick.

Nixon never reached stardom. But he became a regular in 1999 and went on to play eight seasons for the Red Sox, with a .277 batting average and about 16.5 home runs a year.

Boston has done well with other high school picks, including pitcher Jon Lester (second round, 2002), third baseman Will Middlebrooks (fifth, 2007), catching prospect Christian Vazquez (ninth, 2008) and pitching prospect Drake Britton (23rd, 2007).

Pitcher Casey Kelly (first, 2008), first baseman Anthony Rizzo (sixth, 2007), and outfielder Brandon Moss (eighth, 2002) all were drafted out of high school, though eventually traded by the Red Sox.

But other high picks never got beyond Double-A: outfielders Jason Place (first round, 2006) and Mickey Hall (second, 2003), and pitcher Caleb Clay (sandwich round, 2006).

This year Boston could go with another high school player -- always a gamble. Or the Red Sox could go the college route, although the best college players will be gone by the time Boston gets a chance to make its choice.

The consensus two best prospects are college pitchers Mark Appel (Stanford) and Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma). The Astros will take one of them with the No. 1 pick and the Cubs will take the other at No. 2.

The Rockies have the third pick, and University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant (31 home runs this year) looks inviting.

After that, opinions vary. The Twins, Indians and Marlins pick before Boston. Their picks may or may nor influence the Red Sox.

Using various sources (including Baseball America and mlb.com), here is a list of six players whom the Red Sox might be interested in:

Pitcher Kohl Stewart, a high school player from Houston. He is also a quarterback with a scholarship to Texas A&M. Possibly the third-best pitcher in the draft, behind Appel and Gray. It's unlikely that Boston will get a chance to take him.

Third baseman Colin Moran, from the University of North Carolina. Has that advanced approach at the plate that the Red Sox love.

Pitcher Braden Shipley, from the University of Nevada. A 98-mph fastball with a change-up and curve.

Outfielder Clint Frazier, from Loganville High School in Georgia (the same school as Brandon Moss). The Red Sox traditionally go after high school players from Georgia. Frazier hit 24 homers as a junior and 17 this season.

Outfielder Austin Meadows, another high school player from Loganville, Ga. (but a different high school).

Pitcher Trey Ball, a high school left-hander from Indiana. Has plenty of upside but there's always a risk in taking a high school arm.

Other top prospects include University of Arkansas pitcher Ryne Stanek, Indiana State left-hander Sean Manae (who may fall because of shoulder problems) and high school catcher Reese McGuire of California.

For only the second time in the past nine years, the Red Sox do not have a second pick until the second round.

Boston could go after a college pitcher, like it did with Alex Wilson in the second round of the 2009 draft.

Among the college pitchers who might still be available in the second round: left-hander Tom Windle of Minnesota, closer Corey Knebel from Texas or Trey Masek from Texas Tech.

The first two rounds are Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. The next eight rounds will be held Friday, and rounds 11-40 are Saturday.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

 

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