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Meet the new guys: Looking at Boston’s 2018 MLB 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 2018 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 15 pitchers, 10 of whom are right-handers with just five southpaws. There are 24 position players: nine outfielders, three catchers, eight middle infielders and three corner infielders.

(Note: basic math tells us that this totals just 39. The last draftee is a two-way player; Nick Northcutt was drafted in the 11th round out of Ohio’s William Mason HS as both a third baseman and a pitcher. We’ll see what path he winds up taking.)

Obviously, we don’t have space to discuss all 40, but let’s check out the top 10.

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Tristan Casas, 1B/3B, American Heritage HS (Fla.) – (Round 1, Pick 26 overall)

Boston has trended toward first-round arms in recent years, so picking up a high school bat is a bit of a departure for them. Still, there’s no disputing that Casas has legitimate power potential; scouts have raved about his bat. He’s listed as both a first and a third baseman, but the consensus is that he’ll wind up at first sooner rather than later. If his contact skills play up, he could be a monster down the road.

Nick Decker, OF, Seneca HS (NJ) – (Round 2, Pick 64)

Decker is cut from a similar cloth as Casas, a high school prospect whose most obvious tool is his power. He’s strong and seems to have a fairly thoughtful approach at the plate. Defensively, he’s probably going to be a corner guy; he’s got a good arm, but he’s a bit lacking in speed. If he can harness that power, he’ll be in good shape.

Durbin Feltman, RHP, TCU – (Round 3, Pick 100)

The first pitcher selected by the Sox – as well as the first collegiate player – Feltman has been one of the NCAA’s best relievers for a couple of years. His stuff is strong – a fastball that approaches triple digits and a very good slider. His profile as a reliever might have caused him to drop a bit, much to Boston’s delight. With his stuff and his command, Feltman’s arrival at Fenway could come quickly.

Kole Cottam, C/1B, Kentucky – (Round 4, Pick 130)

Cottam’s an interesting case. He’s listed as a catcher – and came out of high school as a highly touted defender – but regression with the glove means he might be destined for first base. Wherever he winds up, he’ll probably hit – he put up a 1.100 OPS and hit 19 homers in just 56 games. That’s good for a first baseman and incredible for a catcher. We’ll see if the glove plays.

Thad Ward, RHP, UCF – (Round 5, Pick 160)

Another righthander from the college ranks. Another guy who has been used primarily as a reliever, Ward’s had just one start in two years. Still, as a guy with a mid-90s fastball and accustomed to high-leverage situations, he’s another one who could be fast tracked to the big-league bullpen.

Devlin Granberg, OF, Dallas Baptist – (Round 6, Pick 190)

Granberg is widely considered to be one of the best senior hitters in the entire draft. Ut’s tough to argue with a .443/.541/.680 slash line; Devlin Granberg can flat-out hit. That skill projects to play up, but the question is where he fits defensively. The Sox have to hope he can get by in the outfield.

Jarren Duran, 2B, Long Beach State – (Round 7, Pick 220)

This pick marks the first middle-infield selection of Boston’s draft. Duran marks a reversal from earlier picks; power is largely absent from his game. However, he’s well-disciplined and he can move – his speed grades highly. He’s good at second, though there’s centerfielder potential due to his wheels.

Elih Marrero, C, St. Thomas University – (Round 8, Pick 250)

This pick reads like a pretty big roll of the dice. Marrero wound up at NAIA St. Thomas due to issues that led to him leaving Mississippi State. He was highly touted, but one wonders if the attitude will cause problems. It’s a gamble, but one with a real payoff if Marrero hits like they believe he can.

Brian Brown, LHP, North Carolina State – (Round 9, Pick 280)

Another senior, Brown’s not a particularly sexy pick. However, he did produce – 16 starts with a sub-three ERA and a strikeout an inning in nearly 100 innings pitched. Word is that he’s more of a feel guy than a stuff guy, but he’s polished enough that he might find a way to stick.

Grant Williams, 2B, Kennesaw State – (Round 10, Pick 310)

Boston’s pick here is yet another senior, one whose selection here seems like a bit of a stretch. Williams put up decent numbers, but the level of competition at Kennesaw State wasn’t the highest. Sticking at second might be a question as well. A forgettable pick.

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