ESPN's mock draft prediction for Red Sox could foreshadow future impact trade

West Virginia v Pittsburgh
West Virginia v Pittsburgh / Justin Berl/GettyImages

The 2024 MLB season is one-quarter of the way complete, but it's never too early to think about the MLB Draft.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN published his second MLB mock draft and he has the Boston Red Sox making a strange, but typical (and smart) pick.

McDaniel predicts that the Red Sox will draft J.J. Wetherholt out of West Virginia University. He's posted a .368 batting average with four home runs, 19 RBI, 22 walks and just eight strikeouts in 23 games with the Mountaineers.

Wetherholt is a shortstop and Boston's farm system is already loaded with middle-infield talent. The Red Sox, and many other MLB teams, have a history of drafting shortstops because they tend to be among the most athletic players on the field.

MLB Draft 2024: ESPN predicts Red Sox will select shortstop J.J. Wetherholt

Much of Boston's new playing philosophy leans on athleticism. Jarren Duran and Ceddanne Rafaela are prime examples of the Sox's ideology — middle infielders tend to be athletic, which makes them versatile. Duran and Rafaela are natural infielders, but the Red Sox converted them into outfielders to suit the team's needs. Rafaela is back at short in Trevor Story's absence, but his speed and keen eye make him suitable for almost any position.

If Boston drafts and signs Wetherholt, he would bolster its already stacked middle-infield prospect pool. Three of the Sox's top-10 prospects are shortstops — Marcelo Mayer, Yoeilin Cespedes and Nazzan Zanetello — but more is always better when it comes to hardy infielders.

Since shortstop prospects are so highly coveted, they're also great trade candidates to help teams improve their big-league club without losing many current impact pieces.

Overall, Wetherholt would be of great value to the Red Sox, either with the team or as a potential trade prize. Even if Boston doesn't end up drafting him, McDaniel named three other players who will likely be on the team's radar — infielder Seaver King and pitchers Trey Yesavage and Cam Smith.

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