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Meet the new guys: A look at the Red Sox’ 2017 draft

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The Major League Baseball draft is vastly different from those of the other major sports leagues. In the NFL and the NBA and to a slightly lesser extent the NHL, draft picks are expected to join their new teams and start performing more or less immediately.

Not so with MLB.

Due to the sport's massive minor league infrastructure, baseball draftees aren't immediately thrust into the spotlight with the big club. In fact, it's a rarity for a player to have any real impact in the first couple of years after they've been selected. While the other drafts feature names and faces that we're likely to see quickly, we probably won't see our team's baseball selections at the big league level for at least a little while.

Obviously, this makes draft grading an even more ludicrous prospect in baseball than it is in other sports. Predicting the future is already impossible - predicting the future of an 18-year-old high school pitcher with great stuff and questionable maturity is even more so.

Still, it's fun to look at the choices our team makes - even if we won't get the payoff until sometime further down the road.

So what does Boston’s 2017 draft class look like?

The Sox have added 40 new players to their system. Among them are 26 collegiate players and 14 high schoolers. There are 18 pitchers, skewed largely toward right-handers; only five of the 18 are southpaws. Among the 22 position players are 10 outfielders, along with three catchers, five middle infielders (three second basemen, two shortstops) and four corner infielders (two first basemen, two third basemen).

Let’s check out the top 10.

Tanner Houck, RHP, University of Missouri (Round 1, Pick 24)

The big righthander was generally ranked right around 20th on most prospect lists, so landing him at 24 was a bit of a coup. He’s got a live arm, touching the upper 90s with his fastball and averaging about a strikeout an inning over the course of his collegiate career. Word is that his secondary pitches aren’t particularly impressive, but he still has the potential to be a number two or three starter.

Cole Brannen, OF, The Westfield School HS (Round 2, Pick 63)

If you’re going to take a swing at a toolsy high school hitter, Brannen’s a pretty good choice. The general consensus is that he’s a top-70 prospect, an excellent athlete with good speed and defensive range. Scouts like his contact skills and think there are power possibilities as well. Raw, but there’s a pretty high ceiling here.

Brett Netzer, 2B, University of North Carolina-Charlotte (Round 3, Pick 101)

Netzer is a quality hitter, having shown great contact and on-base skills during his three collegiate seasons. Whether the hit tool can sufficiently compensate for his lack of power and less-than-stellar defense remains to be seen, but that’s the kind of gamble you make in the third round.

Jake Thompson, RHP, University of Oregon (Round 4, Pick 131)

Another collegiate righthander for Boston. And one who’s potentially a major steal – some pundits had him rated in the 70s as a prospect. His fastball sits mid-90s, but both his slider and his changeup are considered promising. If he can master his command, he could surprise.

Alex Scherff, RHP, Colleyville Heritage HS (Round 5, Pick 161)

The Sox take their first high school pitcher in the fifth. It’s unclear why Scherff fell so far – most had him rated close to 100 slots higher than this – but fall he did. Boston landed a hard thrower who, if he can overcome some sketchy mechanics, could be the real deal.

Zach Schellenger, RHP, Seton Hall (Round 6, Pick 191)

Another round, another righthander. Schellenger’s a fastball/slider guy that could wind up being a quality bullpen piece.

Tyler Esplin, OF, IMG Academy (Round 7, Pick 221)

Esplin had a great senior season, but is committed to play in college. He might think that he can play himself into a higher round, and with his skill set, he might not be wrong.

Zach Sterry, 1B, University of Oakland (Round 8, Pick 251)

It’s tough for a collegiate first baseman to stand out, but Sterry can flat-out rake. He had a monster senior year; dude can hit. However, he’s also on the older side at 23; he’s going to have to hit the ground running.

Tanner Nishioka, 2B, Pomona-Pitzer College (Round 9, Pick 281)

There are two things to love about Nishioka. First, he’s a high draft pick out of a Division III program. Second, he graduated with a degree in neuroscience. He showed something with the bat, but he’s also got a heck of a fallback.

Jordan Wren, OF, Georgia Southern (Round 10, Pick 311)

Near as I can tell, the primary reason Boston picked this guy is because he’s the son of team advisor Frank Wren. This pick is basically the MLB draft equivalent of a shrug.


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