Evaluating the 2017 Draft- Pick by Pick Scouting Report

Bryan Mauro- Contributing Writer (@threecolorbeard)

In the 2017 MLB Draft the Red Sox had a plan and they followed it. They wanted pitching and went after a lot of it. The Red Sox took a lot of quality arms in the first two days of the draft and the Red Sox found some gems in the third day of the draft.

Kelsey Walling
Round 1- Tanner Houck- RHP Missouri- Tanner was the top target on the Red Sox board and the Red Sox were thrilled to have gotten him. Houck is one of the hardest throwers in this entire draft. He throws around 98. He throws a tight slider and is still developing his third pitch. The Red Sox hope that he can be the anchor to the rotation for years to come. While Houck is still a few years away from the majors, as he still needs to develop a third pitch and work on a little bit better command of the two he has. The ceiling for Houck is high. Houck entered the College Baseball season as one of the top MLB prospects and was initially
projected to go in the top 10. He had a slow start to the season and Missouri did not overall have a great year. Houck turned it around as the year went on and fell to the Red Sox in the back end of the first round. Tanner Houck has signed with the Red Sox and he was assigned to Lowell.

Round 2- Cole Brannen- OF- Westfield School- This Georgia High School outfielder is one of the better athletes in the draft. Cole’s best asset is his speed which enables to get on base more frequently. When he is on base he should have no problem stealing a base. He has a nice compact swing from the left side with some power. The MLB.com scouting report projected a ceiling of a Centerfielder who hits about .270 with 15 homers and 40 steals per season. If this is what Cole turns into, the Red Sox got a first round talent late in the second round.

Round 3- Brett Netzer-2B- UNC Charlotte- Brett is a junior who consistently in college has hit for an average. He hit .349 last summer in the wood bat Cal Ripken League. He has a great eye at the plate and will take his walks. In college, he showed a penchant for swinging at quality strikes. Brett is a left-handed hitter who projects to have good gap to gap power and should hit for a high average. Brett played a little bit of the outfield is Freshman year in College. I look for the Red Sox to move him to a corner outfield spot. He struggled in the field in college this year, and doesn’t have enough power to become an everyday DH.

Round 4- Jake Thompson- RHP- Oregon State- Jake Thompson was the Sunday starter for the Oregon State Beavers who went 55-4 on their way to the College World Series in Omaha, NE. Jake was given the nod to open the College World Series for Oregon State. I watched him pitch on Saturday afternoon. While he didn’t have the greatest game on the mound by his standards, what I saw suggested a late inning reliver. His fastball sat about 94-98, he throws from a low ¾ angle and has a ton of movement on his fastball. He also has a slider that sweeps all the way across the plate as his out pitch. His changeup was a work in a progress. The concerning thing that presented itself early and often in this outing is his control seems to come and go. In his outing, he walked the leadoff hitter, hit the second hitter, and gave up a three-run home run, followed by retiring the next 10 in a row with six strikeouts. If the plan is to make him a reliver, the control will have to get better.

Round 5- Alex Scherff-RHP-Colleyville Heritage HS- What can you say about Alex Scherff, a potential first round talent who slipped all the way to round five because of potential sign ability issues and the fact that he played at 4 different High Schools in 4 years. That turned a lot of potential suitors off. Scherff already signed with the Red Sox and at 19 could move fast through their system. He possesses arguably the best changeup in this entire draft and can already touch 98 consistently. Some scouts have shown that he is touched triple digits but not consistently. I feel he better projects as a reliever as he has a big fastball, a dynamite changeup, and no good breaking pitches. If Scherff shows that he can improve his command he should move very fast through the Red Sox system. He was a Texas A and M commit.

Will Geoghegan
Round 6- Zach Schellenger- RHP-Seton Hall- Schellenger really impressed on the Cape last summer. He was the closer for the Harwich Mariners and was consistently throwing mid to upper 90’s and showing the ability to make hitters swing and miss. His Junior season at Seton Hall did not go as well. His velocity dipped and he pitched rather sparingly. Only throwing 13 total innings this year. That should bode well for him once he gets into the Red Sox system as he should be able to take on a full work load in the minors. He has closer potential in the Majors because of two plus pitches and a third pitch that he can throw for strikes. He also has cl
oser potential because of the swing and miss ability he possesses.

Round 7-Tyler Esplin- OF-IMG Academy-Tyler Esplin is a UNC Charlotte baseball commitment. He is a big bodied left-handed hitter with Power. He is not the most fleet footed of runners on the base paths, but he does take good routes to the ball in the outfield. He also has a good arm in the outfield and his throws will carry and show accuracy. Don’t know how high of an average he will hit for, but he was taken in the top 10 rounds because he is a corner outfielder who is left handed and can hit for power. Esplin hit .432 with seven doubles, two triples, 4 home runs, 20 RBI and 36 runs scored in 26 games during his High School baseball season.

Round 8- Zach Sterry- 1B- Oakland University- Zach Sterry is a senior sign from Oakland University in Michigan. This is usually the portion of the draft when teams will try and save a little bit of money by drafting college seniors. College seniors will save teams some money because they really have no leverage in their negotiations as they have no other options if they wish to keep playing baseball. Sterry had a very productive season at Oakland. He was leading hitter and he was a prolific power hitter in the college ranks. He led Oakland in batting average at .344, had 13 home runs and drove in 44. He also seems to have a good eye at the plate as he walked just as many times as he struck out.

Bruce Hulse
Round 9- Tanner Nishioka- 2B- Pomona-Pitzer College- Nishioka has signed with the Red Sox. This Hawaii native majored in Neuroscience in College. He is also a senior sign. Nishioka is not your average save money candidate though as the numbers he possesses suggest he will be a very good major league player for a long time. In 39 games this year he hit .444 with 18 home runs, 53 RBI and 8 Stolen bases. Not only does he project to hit for a high average he should have 10-15 home run power at the major league level. Tanner was drafted as a second baseman but he played all over the diamond in college and should do so for Boston in their system. He may be a quick mover.

Round 10- Jordan Wren- OF- Georgia Southern University- Jordan has also already signed with the Red Sox. He was a senior sign. Jordan put up pedestrian numbers in his college career. He was a career .276 hitter with 9 home runs and 75 RBI. He seems to strike out a decent amount. I would project Jordan to be a fringe prospect at best and looks to be best suited for minor league depth. He was taken in the 10th round as a senior sign to offer a discount to Boston for signing him and to use the extra money to sign a player like Alex Scherff.

After the first 10 rounds, the players taken in the draft become harder to sign. That is not to say that a few gems and major league players can’t be found. The Red Sox stayed consistent with their theme of pitching on the third day of the draft. The picks were as follows:

11th Round: Andre Colon-SS-Washburn Bilingual School Puerto Rico
12th Round: Beau Hanna- C- Winder Barrow HS
13th Round: Garrett Benge- 3B- Oklahoma State
14th Round: Aaron Perry- RHP- Hurricane HS West Virginia
15th Round: Marcus Ragan- CF- East Mississippi CC

These players will all likely sign with the Red Sox, and some extra money may be thrown their way from the senior signs from the first two days. Colon and Ragan are speed guys. Ragan being the better hitter as he hit .395 this year in Junior College. Colon is a very aggressive hitter with range in the field. Hanna is a power bat who probably won’t stick at catcher. He is better profiled with his bat to move to 1B or a corner outfield spot. Benge was a Cape Cod league star last year hitting .321, he should hit for a good average in pro ball, but may not hit for much power. Aaron Perry is the prospect I am most intrigued about in this group. His fastball touches 95 and he has a plus curveball. He is not very big and projects as a reliever because of that. He slipped in the draft due to a stress fracture in his elbow suffered in his High School season.

Round 16- Kutter Crawford- RHP- Florida Gulf Coast
Round 17- Frankie Rios- SS- Southern California
Round 18- Dominic LoBrutto- LHP- Florida International
Round 19- Angel Gonzalez- CF- Colegio Hector Urdaneta Puerto Rico
Round 20- David Durden- Emanuel County Institute

Kutter Crawford is from the same school that produced Chris Sale. Florida Gulf Coast University is also located in Fort Myers, FL, or the home of the Red Sox spring training facility. Crawford put up impressive numbers for an NCAA regional team as their ace. He was 7-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 99 Strikeouts against 31 walks. Frankie Rios was the cleanup hitter for Southern California and hit .354. LoBrutto profiles as a lefty specialist because he can hide the ball with his delivery. He put up impressive numbers in his Sophomore season of a 1.04 ERA but struggled this year and his ERA rose to 4.80. Angel Gonzalez is another project from Puerto Rico who has a lot of speed. He is committed to Alabama State and may not sign with Boston. David Durden is a reach for the Red Sox and is a player who most likely won’t sign as he is committed to play football at Mercer as a Wide Receiver.

Round 21- Lukas Young- RHP- University of Mobile
Round 22- Hunter Haworth- RHP- Cal State- Chico
Round 23- Donny Diaz- RHP- San Jacinto College North
Round 24- Charlie Madden- C- Mercer
Round 25- Kory Behenna- LHP- Wingate

Donny Diaz Photo Credit: Jack Keyes
Lukas Young was the ace of the NAIA powerhouse. He had 9 complete games, struck out 83, and walked 18 all while throwing to a 2.67 ERA. If he does sign with Boston he will most likely not pitch much until next year due to the massive amount of innings he threw this year already. Hunter Haworth is a tall lanky right hander who pitched to a 2.57 ERA this year. Perfect Game baseball said that Donny Diaz was the best player the Red Sox seized on day three of the draft. They had him ranked 252 out of 500 in their pre-draft rankings. He was a closer at San Jacinto. He throws mid 90’s has a plus curveball and slider. He struck out 60 batters in 30.1 innings pitched this year. He slipped this far in the draft due to his strong commitment to the University of Texas next year. If he pitches like this next year, the Red Sox may be able to redraft him. If they cannot sign him this year. Madden is a senior at Mercer who will be in the Red Sox system. His best tool is his power. He hit 17 home runs for Mercer this year. Kory Behenna from Wingate pitched to a 3.92 ERA this year.

Round 26- Trenton Denholm- RHP- Oak Ridge HS
Round 27- Xavier LeGrant- 2B- Spartanburg Methodist College
Round 28- Oraj Anu- OF- Home School- Florida
Round 29- Tyler Dearden- OF- Rancocas Valley Regional HS
Round 30- Andrew Carber- RHP- Chipola College

Trenton Denholm was another top 500 ranked prospect who slipped because of a strong commitment to UC-Irvine. He is only 5’11” but has a fastball with movement that tops out at 91. Xavier LeGrant is a former NC State baseball player with a lot of speed and quick hands. His quick hands could lead to the ability to hit for an average, but he is better with the glove. Oraj Anu was home schooled in Florida and his family traveled between his native Bahamas and Florida a lot. He is a switch hitter who can hit for power from both sides of the plate. I think he will sign with Boston. Dearden is a Penn State baseball commit and is a left-handed hitter with a lively swing who can hit for power. If he chooses to go to college he will be a draft eligible sophomore. Carber is a 6’9” pitcher from Chipola. Chipola is a powerhouse in the Junior College ranks and Carber was originally a pitcher at Clemson.

Round 31- Michael Osinski- 3B- Longwood University
Round 32- Taylor Ahearn- RHP- Cal State San Marcos
Round 33- Tanner Raiburn- LHP- Grambling State
Round 34- Luis Torres- CF- Elvira M. Colon Puerto Rico
Round 35- Trey Ganns- 1B- Northern Kentucky

Osinski has a solid arm for an infielder which is why he projects as a third baseman. He most likely won’t sign as he has already signed a contract to play in the Cape Cod league this summer. Ahearn is a senior who will play in the Red Sox system. He threw a lot of innings so I don’t think he will get started until next year. He threw 99.1 innings this year in College. Tanner Raiburn is a senior who will play in the Red Sox system. He is only 5’9” tall. I could not find any information about Luis Torres. Trey Ganns is a junior and will probably return to Northern Kentucky for his senior year. He is a two player but projects more as a 1B as a pro. He hit .348 and had 57 RBI in 58 games played.

Round 36- Rio Gomez- LHP- Arizona
Round 37- Carson Teel- LHP- Oklahoma State
Round 38- Jose Garcia- C- Doral Academy
Round 39- Ridge Chapman- RHP- Spartanburg Methodist College
Round 40- Cody Masters- CF- Coppell HS

Rio Gomez Photo Credit: Jason Bartel
Rio Gomez is a draft eligible sophomore who is the son of ESPN personality Pedro Gomez. He seemed to have control problems this year and will probably return to school. Carson Teel is another draft eligible sophomore who struck out 77 in 60.2 innings. I would guess he returns to school as well. Jose Garcia will be honoring his commitment to Florida International University. Chapman was teammates with 27th round pick Xavier LeGrant. He is a strikeout pitcher having 94 in 63 innings. Cody Masters is going to honor his commitment to Texas Tech university.

I think the Red Sox addressed some needs in this draft and got potential all stars. If they can sign some kids away from their commitments this draft may go a long way in replenishing the once bright farm system.