The Red Sox finished up the draft with plenty of high school backup plans should Jason Groome decide not to sign.
he MLB Draft is over, and the Red Sox are done. We’ve still got 10 picks left to analyze, though, so let’s get to it.
Round 31: Christian Jones, 928th overall
Jones has power, and it’s why the Red Sox drafted him. The question, according to MLB’s scouting report, is if the power is due to bat speed or just strength — strength might work in high school, but it’s not enough in the pros. Even with this concern, Baseball America rated Jones 140th on their pre-draft top-500, so there is a prospect here.
Jones is also limited to first base since scouts don’t believe he’ll have the mobility for left field, and while that’s something the Sox could certainly work with, they probably won’t get the chance. Jones is committed to Washington, where we’ll get a better sense of how real the power is. If it plays at Washington, he could get paid much more in three years, anyway.
Round 32: Jeff Belge, 958th overall
Besides first-round pick Jason Groome, Belge is the highest-ranked player that the Red Sox selected in the entire draft by Baseball America’s reckoning: Belge entered the draft ranked at 68, topping the next-highest Sox pick, fifth-round Mike Shawaryn. You can guess what that means about Boston’s chances of signing the high school lefty.
There are some real concerns with Belge, too, so in some ways it’s amazing he’s even ranked this high. He’s nearly blind in one eye and his velocity has been all over the place in the past — the latter is more of a problem, given you can wear glasses that help you see, but can’t do much about the velocity. At the same time, Belge has three pitches and is a 6-foot-4 teenage lefty, so you can see why it is he was both ranked there and drafted. It feels unlikely the Sox would sign both Groome and Belge, though, so the latter might be more of a backup plan than anything.
Round 33: Chad Hardy, 988th overall
Hardy is a 6-2 center fielder out of a junior college who just turned 19 a few weeks ago. Perfect Game thought highly of him a couple of years back, grading him as if he was a definite pick to go to college and thrive. That was a couple of years ago, but maybe the Red Sox can help Hardy tap into whatever brought that optimism up to begin with.
Round 34: Aaron McGarity, 1018th overall
McGarity worked in relief exclusively in 2016 for Virginia Tech, so he only threw 11 innings in 10 games. However, he made an impression on the Red Sox, as he struck out 19 batters against just four walks in that time. He never struck hitters out at that rate in the past when he split time between starting and relief, so Boston might think there is something here so long as he’s kept in a bullpen role. In the 34th round of the draft, when you’re betting on maybe finding a reliever? You take that chance on what was, by definition, just a small glimpse of who he is and could be.
Round 35: John Rave, 1048th overall
Another high school pick, and another up-the-middle one, too. Rave is a center fielder, who just missed out on being born in 1998 by two days. He’s committed to Illinois State after receiving interest from Notre Dame and others, and this is a bit of an intriguing pick since he has no MLB scouting report and went unranked by Baseball America.
Round 36: Jordan Wren, 1078th overall
This is the second family member of a Red Sox employee selected in the draft, as Jordan Wren, an outfielder and lefty, is the son of executive Frank Wren. He hit .285/.350/.378 as a junior for Georgia Southern — come on, like you didn’t know what state Frank Wren’s kid was going to be playing baseball in.
Round 37: Carter Aldrete, 1108th overall
Aldrete is committed to Arizona State and has baseball in his blood, as his father made it to Triple-A ball and his uncle, Mike, was a big-league player. Baseball America ranked him 456 on their top-500, but said that his bat is “raw” and that he’s a better fit at second or third than shortstop in the long run. It’s not impossible to sign him if the Sox have some more room in the budget, but given he’s a second-generation player who for now is at short, Arizona State then trying again in three years certainly feels like the likely outcome.
Round 38: Austin Bergner, 1138th overall
Bergner ranked 165 on Baseball America’s top-500, and also has a background as a USA Baseball player — you know the Red Sox love their USA Baseball players. His spring was a little rough, however, thanks to a fastball that saw more of the low- than mid-90s. BA also warns that he’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore in two years should he go to North Carolina, so there’s little reason for him to take a deal that isn’t perfect. Like with many others in these later rounds, Bergner is likely part of a potential Plan B should the Sox miss out on Jason Groome than anything.
Round 39: Jake Wilson, 1168th overall
Another high school center fielder, Wilson is committed to Salt Lake Community College, which means he’d be draft-eligible again next year. He’s also unranked and without any scouting reports from either Baseball America or MLB, so make of that what you will.
Round 40: Carter Henry, 1198th overall
A tall but lanky right-hander, Henry is 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds according to MLB’s numbers on him, and 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds if you believe Perfect Game’s. He’s also spent time at third base and shortstop, but the Red Sox drafted him as a pitcher. Of course, as a 40th-round pick with that height, you can assume he’s going to go to college and try again in a few years.