The 2020 Boston Red Sox were a dumpster fire, and, quite frankly, that’s putting it rather nicely. The 2020 Red Sox offense was serviceable, but the pitching was another story. The Red Sox entered the 2020 season with Ryan Weber in the rotation, and he didn’t make the 40-man roster for the 2021 ballclub. Chaim Bloom went to work and improved on the 2021 Red Sox greatly. The 2021 Red Sox enjoy sole possession of first place in the American League East.
Was there anything good about the 2020 Red Sox? Not really, Xander Bogaerts was his usual elite self and the emergence of Alex Verdugo was fun to watch, but the saving grace of it all was that it only lasted 60 games. 60 games and the 2020 Red Sox finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball. What does finishing with the fourth-worst record mean? Well, for First-Year Player Draft purposes it means that fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft.
The fourth pick in the draft is major, and it will be the highest draft pick for the Red Sox since 1967! The Red Sox had not picked higher than seven in recent memory, taking Andrew Benintendi in 2015 and the complete and utter bust of Trey Ball at seven in 2013. Needless to say, this pick is a big one for Chaim Bloom, and it’s one where he can’t get too cute and take a shocker as he did with Nick Yorke in the 2020 draft. The top of this draft is stacked, so let’s dive headfirst and see which young men might be wearing a Red Sox cap come July 11th.
Jack Leiter, oh Jack Leiter. Does that last name seem familiar? Well, it should, as Jack Leiter is the son of for big leaguer, Al Leiter. Two-time All-Star, three-time World Series Champion, no-hitter owner, former Yankee, Al Leiter. And his son, well his son is forging his own path to baseball greatness at Vanderbilt University. Leiter’s pitching grades, on a 20-80 scale are as follows, 70 fastball, 55 slider, 50 control, 60 curveball, 55 changeup and 60 overall.
Leiter is easily the favorite amongst Red Sox Twitter. And, if he’s available at four, and Chaim doesn’t take Leiter, look for Red Sox Twitter to explode. The Red Sox haven’t been able to produce a homegrown starter since Jon Lester. It’s been quite the hot minute since Lester’s debut in 2006. The Red Sox have homegrown starting potential with Tanner Houck, Bryan Mata, Thaddeus Ward, Aldo Ramirez, Noah Song, Brayan Bello, and Jay Groome. And, while no pitcher is a guarantee, adding a talent like Leiter gives the Red Sox their best opportunity to develop a top of the rotation starter.
Leiter’s sophomore season at Vanderbilt has been elite. He owns a 10-4 record, a 2.08 ERA, 0.837 WHIP, and 171 strikeouts in 104 innings pitched.
Leiter even set a Vanderbilt record of 15 strikeouts in a recent College World Series loss to NC State. Leiter tossed eight innings, and only gave up a solo home run. He possesses elite stuff and would be a welcome addition to the Red Sox.
Mayer was a name linked early on to the Red Sox. As of late, he’s been projected to go early in the draft, even as high as first overall. But, for poops and giggles, let’s see what the Red Sox could possibly get in a player like Marcelo Mayer. The talk of the town is Mayer’s five-tool potential. Standing at 6-3, 190 pounds at only 18-yeard-old, Mayer has the frame of a big-league shortstop. Mayer grades in at a 60 hit, 50 run, 60 field, 55 power, 60 arm, and clocks in at 60 overall.
Mayer is darn good. And he’s probably too good to be at number four, but, it’s cool to dream on. And yes, even though Xander Bogaerts should be a Red Sox player for life, drafting an elite shortstop shouldn’t take away from that. Bogaerts isn’t the greatest defender at short, and might just see himself moved to third base near the end of his career, just in time for someone like Mayer to be ready to make an impact at the big league level at shortstop. Teams do not usually draft for need, but rather take the best talent left at their draft position.
Lawler, like Mayer, is another prep school shortstop. Lawler grades in at, 55 hit, 60 run, 55 field, 55 power, 60 arm, and overall 60. Lawler is also seen as a five-tool shortstop. Lawler is also considered to be a legitimate first overall option. He’s been compared to Bobby Witt Jr., a former second overall pick, yet Lawler is considered, to be more of a polished hitter than Witt was at this stage in player development. Many mock drafts have Lawler as more of an option at four than Mayer. So, time will tell, maybe Jordan Lawler is the shortstop of the future at Fenway Park.
Getting Buster Posey comps is no easy feat. Louisville catcher, Henry Davis is doing just that. 55 hit, 40 run, 45 field, 55 power, 70 arm, and 60 overall from a catcher is elite. The potential for Davis is 20 home run seasons, with extreme plate discipline. The idea of an elite defensive and offensive catcher should make the Red Sox honestly salivate. Davis hit .370/.482/.663 with an OPS of 1.145, 15 home runs, and 45 RBIs in 50 games for Louisville. Davis is elite, and could very well be around at four, for the Red Sox to scoop him right up.
Kumar Rocker, Kumar Rocker, Kumar Rocker. The son of former NFL player, Tracy Rocker, the 6’5″, 245 pound Rocker was the projected first overall coming into the college baseball season. But, since then, his stock has dropped, and he’s being projected to land around six. Meaning, he’s still very much in play for the Red Sox at number four.
Even though Rocker’s stock has dropped he had a rather fantastic junior season for the Vandy Boys. Rocker pitched to a 14-3 record, with a 2.52 ERA, 0.901 WHIP, and 173 strikeouts to 117.2 innings pitched. Rocker was just as elite as Leiter was during the 2021 college baseball season. He grades at 65 fastball, 70 slider, 50 control, 60 curveball, 50 changeup, and 60 overall.
If the Red Sox are looking to add starting pitching depth to the farm system, both Leiter or Rocker would be great additions.
So, who is most likely to land at four in the 2021 draft? At the end of the day, at number four, the belief will be the Red Sox will take either Leiter, Lawler, or Henry Davis. Honestly, adding any one of those young men to the Red Sox farm system would be a welcome addition. Who do I, Red Sox fan, and objective writer of this article, believe the Red Sox will take at number four? Truthfully, I believe that will be Jack Leiter. I believe Pittsburgh and Texas will take the prep school shortstops Mayer and Lawler first and second. That leaves only Detriot to pass on Leiter before he lands at number four to the Red Sox.
Will the Red Sox actually land Jack Leiter? They very much could. Would I be upset if Leiter doesn’t fall to four, or the Red Sox pass on him, sure, I guess? Lawler, Rocker, or Davis would heal the Leiter-sized wound up quite well. At the end of the darn day, the Boston Red Sox are in an amazing position picking fourth overall in the 2021 draft.
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