By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The 2019 MLB Draft begins Monday night as the Red Sox look to bolster a farm system that could use some improvement.
But the Red Sox are clearly hamstrung going into this draft. They don’t pick until number 43 after going over the highest luxury tax threshold in 2018. They also only have just under $5 million in available spending power, the smallest bonus pool of any team in the draft.
Major League Baseball assigns slot values for each pick in the draft and then taxes teams that sign players to bonuses above their assigned slots.
The assigned slot value for pick number 43 is $1,729,800. The Red Sox also pick again at number 69, the end of the second round. That selection is worth $929,800.
Given their limited resources, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Red Sox pick a player that would sign for less than $1.7 million so they can re-allocate some of their funds elsewhere in the draft.
With that in mind, here are five potential Red Sox targets in the second round of the draft, with their Baseball America scouting reports:
RHP Matt Canterino, Rice
Canterino is one of the funkier pitchers in this year’s draft class. As he gathers on the rubber, he raises his arm in a pump, in-sync with his lead leg, brings his arms back to his body, pauses, and then explodes to the plate. While it looks unconventional and seems very segmented, Canterino’s arm is on time with his body and he repeats it well. Not to mention, it’s been very effective. Canterino has been Rice’s ace almost since the day he arrived on campus. He’s been durable, consistent and hard to hit, limiting opponents to a sub-.200 batting average for his three-year career as an Owl. It’s that consistency and solid stuff that appeals to scouts, who also like his solid, 6-foot-3, 222-pound frame. In a draft class without many potential front-of-the-rotation options, Canterino is a potential late first-round pick as a solid back-of-the-rotation arm. His low-90s fastball will bump up to 95 mph at times, and his slider has gotten better and better, to the point where it not earns above-average grades. Even when his slider isn’t at its best, he will still show four average pitches thanks to a decent curveball and changeup. He’s steadily improved his control and now shows the potential for above-average control. Canterino is one of the better high-floor options among the college arms in this year’s draft class. -Baseball America
LHP Tommy Henry, Michigan
Henry has improved each season at Michigan, culminating in a strong junior season that has improved his draft stock significantly in a class lacking top-end college arms. Henry has a solid three-pitch mix, including a fastball that sits 91-93 mph early in games and a slider and changeup that both project as above-average offerings. He doesn’t have a high spin rate on his slider (2,200 rpm), but he makes the most out of what he has by creating good angle and tunneling the pitch effectively. Henry has built up a solid track record in the Big 10 and as a junior is posting the best strikeout-to-walk rate of his career (5.15) through nine starts. -Baseball America
2B Chase Shrumpf, UCLA
A three-year starter at UCLA, Strumpf hit .363 as a sophomore in 2018 and was invited to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, but he was unable to participate due to injury. He entered this spring considered arguably the top draft prospect in Southern California and hit .284/.422/.461 through the end of the regular season in a solid but unspectacular campaign. The 6-foot-1 second baseman has a quiet setup at the plate and has consistently shown excellent bat-to-ball skills, with an impressive ability to backspin the ball the opposite way to right-center field. He has also displayed a strong knowledge of the strike zone, recording nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (106) the last two years. Strumpf is an offensive-minded infielder who can make the routine plays at second base but struggles to make the difficult ones. He has below-average range and arm strength that flashes average but is usually fringy. His offensive tools are strong enough for evaluators to project him as an everyday second baseman even with his defensive shortcomings. -Baseball America
3B Tyler Callihan, Providence High School (Jacksonville, Florida)
Callihan is among the best hitters in the class, showcasing impressive bat speed and strength from the left side. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Callihan has a bit of an unusual profile, as there’s no natural defensive home for him at the moment. But with two plus tools in his hitting ability and raw power, teams should feel fairly confident about drafting the bat and figuring out where he fits in the field later. Callihan barreled up top pitching last summer during the showcase circuit, routinely showing in-game power against 90-plus mph velocity, and he has continued to perform against strong competition this spring. He has played both shortstop and catcher for his high school team, but he might fit better as a second or third baseman in the future, with the potential to move to an outfielder corner as well. Catching could also be a legitimate option at the next level, as Callihan has refined his work behind the plate and has solid arm strength with good carry on his throws, but he’ll still need plenty of work. His arm action can get long and his slot is too low at times, while he would also need to further improve his footwork and receiving ability. However, a strong work ethic leads many scouts to believe Callihan could make catching work if a team thinks that’s the best fit for him. The most likely outcome is that Callihan will move to a less demanding defensive position, which will prevent slowing down the development of his bat. Callihan is committed to South Carolina. -Baseball America
OF/P Trejyn Fletcher, Deering High School (Portland, Maine)
Originally a member of the 2020 draft class, Fletcher reclassified this spring to reach campus at Vanderbilt a year sooner. This complicated the scouting process for teams, simply because of how late it was announced that Fletcher would instead be eligible for the 2019 draft. As a prep player in Maine, it is difficult enough to scout Fletcher, whose season didn’t start until mid-April. But the process has been made even more complicated by the fact that teams have less background information on Fletcher than they have with other 2019 prospects, despite the fact that he played at several well-scouted showcase events as an underclassman. Once he officially reclassified, however, Fletcher immediately became one of the better athletes in the 2019 class. He’s a plus runner who was seen doing backflips at last summer’s Area Code Games, and he makes quick-twitch movements in the outfield and at the plate with impressive bat speed. A 6-foot-2, 190-pound righthanded hitter, Fletcher has plus raw power from an agressive, pull-oriented swing. That same swing leads to some contact concerns, and he’s unlikely to face enough quality pitching this spring to give scouts much confidence in his hit tool. Defensively, Fletcher has the tools to become a plus defender in center field, including plus arm strength that would allow him to play in either outfield corner. But like his hitting ability, he’ll need to refine this part of his game to reach his full potential. Fletcher has shown some ability on the mound, with a fastball in the 91-95 mph range, but most teams like his upside as a position player more than as a pitching prospect. He is expected to be a tough sign away from Vanderbilt, and his late reclassification will surely make things more complicated. On talent alone, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fletcher snuck onto the first day of the draft. -Baseball America
Baseball America and MLB Network draft guru Carlos Colazzo joined The Sports Hub’s Hardcore Baseball podcast to preview the draft. You can listen to that episode here.
Live coverage of the first night of the three-day draft begins at 6 p.m. eastern on MLB Network. The first night will have picks 1-78.