The Boston Red Sox will have the 17th overall pick in the MLB amateur draft next June based on their final record in the 2019 season.
As frustrating as it is for the Boston Red Sox to be left out of the playoff picture, the silver lining to their disappointing season is that it leads to a higher pick in next year’s draft.
The 86-win Red Sox will have the 17th overall pick in the 2020 MLB amateur draft next June, according to Baseball America
While this middle of the pack selection leaves the top prizes in next year’s draft class out of reach, their spot is a significant improvement over last year. Boston would have had the last pick in the first round after winning the World Series but that selection was pushed back 10 spots for exceeding the threshold for the top tier of luxury tax penalties.
Between the penalty and extra picks awarded to teams that failed to sign their first round pick the previous year, the Red Sox had to wait until the 42nd overall pick to make their first selection. This is why the front office was adamant about limiting how much salary they added at this year’s trade deadline. It wasn’t about saving ownership a few million bucks, it was mainly to avoid the steep draft penalty.
A Red Sox organization that is in dire need of rebuilding their farm system could use a strong first-round selection to bolster their prospect list and that’s tough to do when you don’t have a pick in the first round.
Boston lost two of their last three games to end the regular season. As humiliating as it was to lose a series at home to the lowly Baltimore Orioles, those two losses bumped their draft stock up a couple of spots. They moved ahead of the 85-win Arizona Diamondbacks who finished the season on a five-game winning streak. If the Red Sox had swept the O’s to get to 86 wins, they would have tied a New York Mets club that won their final three games, resulting in a tie-breaker that could have pushed Boston further down the draft order.
As thrilling as it was to see Mookie Betts scamper home for the walk-off win last Sunday, winning the season finale cost the Red Sox one spot in the draft order. They ended up tied with the 84-win Cubs but a tie-breaker gives Chicago the No. 16 pick.
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The Red Sox don’t pick in the top 20 very often and when they do, the results can be hit or miss. The MLB draft is more of a crap-shoot compared to drafts in other sports since it can take years for baseball prospects to reach the majors leagues.
One of their highest draft picks of the last decade was wasted on Trey Ball, a left-handed pitcher selected with the No. 7 overall pick in 2013. Ball owns a career 5.02 ERA in the minors and never made it above Double-A. The Red Sox tried converting him into an outfielder but injuries wiped out nearly his entire 2019 season.
The last time the Red Sox missed the playoffs, they used the No. 12 pick on Jay Groome. Analysts raved about the pick as the potential steal of the draft yet we’re still waiting for it to pay off. Tommy John surgery cost him the entire 2018 season and Groome pitched only four innings this year. His upside remains high but his health is a question mark.
The previous year, Boston selected Andrew Benintendi with the No. 7 pick. That clearly worked out since Benny is the team’s starting left fielder and played a pivotal role in last year’s championship.
Picking higher in the draft hardly guarantees a player who will make a significant impact but it certainly improves the odds. Drafting a prospect with a bright future is the most efficient way of finding a star player since they will be a cheap, controllable talent for at least six years and you don’t have to give up anything to get them.
Boston’s roster is loaded with homegrown talent, including Benintendi, Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. No team hits on every draft pick but finding talent through the draft is the key to sustainable success.
Missing the postseason is disappointing but if it leads to finding a potential cornerstone of the future with their higher draft pick, we’ll get over this temporary setback soon enough.