With the 2016 MLB Draft now a thing of the past, it’s time for some admittedly far too early analysis of this year’s picks. Certainly it is too early, because in baseball, more than in any other sport, draft picks carry not only talent, but a great deal of uncertainty with them to their new teams. Even some of the top picks will need several years of seasoning before they are ready for the big leagues, and most draft picks will never make it to the highest level at all.
With that said, it can’t hurt to take a look at the haul the Boston Red Sox took in this year. Picking 12th overall, Boston was in a position to add a special talent to its minor league system The question is, did they succeed? Let’s take a look at the Red Sox first three draft selections.
Red Sox 2016 Draft Review
Round 1, Pick 12 Overall: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat High School
With their first pick in the 2016 draft, the Red Sox potentially struck gold. The 6’6”, 200 lb lefty has drawn comparisons to the likes of Clayton Kershaw, and was in consideration to be the number one overall selection. However, questions about his character and overall makeup led to his fall to the Sox. These days, when people think of a highly-touted prospect with character issues in any sport, its hard to not immediately worry that the guy is the next Johnny Manziel.
However, there is good reason to believe that in Groome’s case, those concerns are overblown. No criminal activity has come to light, and he hasn’t made news for alcohol or drug use. More likely than not, whatever Groome did that spawned concerns about his makeup was just the product of a teenager being a teenager. Athletes are under a microscope more than most other people. Any minor indiscretion becomes magnified exponentially. That is not to excuse anything he might have done, of course. He is a professional athlete now, and must learn to act the part. But the truth is there is little reason to believe he won’t.
If Groome cleans up his act, assuming he even needs to do so, the Red Sox landed themselves a future ace for a relative bargain. Groome has a nasty curveball, and his fastball reaches the upper-90s. He already has three plus pitches, and the potential for a fourth, and has good command and clean mechanics. He could reach the majors quickly. Groome and Anderson Espinoza could one day make for a deadly 1-2 punch in the Red Sox rotation.
Way-Too-Early Grade: A/A+
Round 2, Pick 51 Overall: C.J. Chatham, SS, Florida Atlantic
This was a weak draft for college position players, and for college shortstops in particular. For whatever its worth, Chatham might have been the best shortstop in the draft. At the very least, he has the best chance to become an everyday shortstop in the majors. However, he’s only average defensively, though he has a good arm, and while he’s a good contact hitter, he has little power and isn’t a threat to steal when on base.
In addition, shortstop is hardly a position of need for the Red Sox. Xander Bogaerts is maturing into one of the best shortstops in the league, and will likely be manning the position for Boston for years to come. If Chatham performs well in the minors, he could become a good trade piece, which is valuable for a Red Sox farm system in short supply of tradeable prospects. Shortstop is a valuable position, meaning even players of Chatham’s limited upside have a good amount of value.
Way-Too-Early Grade: B-
Round 3, Pick 88 Overall: Shaun Anderson, RHP, Florida
While he worked out of the closer’s role at Florida, the only reason Anderson did not start was because of the extreme depth the Gators enjoyed in their rotation. The presences of A.J. Puk and Logan Shore, among others, forced Anderson into the bullpen, where he was effective. However, Anderson features four solid pitches that he can throw for strikes, and many believe he is a starter at the Major League level. He locates his pitches well, and looked like a starter in the Cape Cod League.
Whether he ends up throwing out of the rotation or the bullpen, the Red Sox likely got a solid arm with their third round selection. Versatility is never a bad thing. Assuming Anderson pans out, he will either be an effective bullpen piece, or a solid third or fourth starter in the rotation.
Way-Too-Early Grade: B+