College hitters Red Sox could potentially be targeting in MLB draft

Amin Touri
May 30, 2019 - 8:53 am

The 2019 MLB draft is just days away, with the first round set to start on June 3.

Having exceeded the luxury tax threshold by $42.5 million en route to a World Series title, the Red Sox will pick No. 43 overall — in the middle of the second round — with their first selection in this year’s draft. Exceeding the threshold by more than $40 million dropped Boston down 10 slots, but since the draft loses all structure and predictability after the first few picks, there should plenty of talent left once the Red Sox are on the clock.

Not every big-leaguer is top 10 pick like Andrew Benintendi — Michael Chavis went in the late first round, Dustin Pedroia went in the second, Mookie Betts was a fifth-rounder, and the list goes on.

So with the Red Sox picking 43rd and 69th in the second round next week, and the mock drafts starting to heat up, let’s take a look at a few names that Dave Dombrowski might have his eye on.

1. Cameron Cannon, 2B, Arizona

FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel have a pair of Wildcat infielders — Cannon and second baseman Nick Quintana — as possible targets for the Red Sox, and we’ll start at the hot corner.

Cannon’s in the midst of his best season at Arizona, slashing .397/.478/.651 in the Pac-12 in 2019. A plus contact hitter with a bit of pop, Cannon has come into his own at the plate. Though he’s a fairly pull-heavy righty that doesn’t profile as a superstar hitter at the next level, he’s probably one of the better bats in this year’s draft.

Cannon also has the ability to play multiple positions, and could transition from second to third to anywhere else he might be needed, with decent hands and a strong arm. Taking most of his reps at second base or shortstop this season with occasional starts at third, Cannon could profile as a good utility guy that could be a very good bat, if not one with too much pop.

2. Nick Quintana, 3B, Arizona

Staying in Tucson but moving a bit to Cannon’s right, Dombrowski is familiar with Nick Quintana, as the Red Sox drafted the infielder — then a shortstop prep prospect out of Las Vegas — in the 11th round in 2016.

Quintana’s moved around the infield, having played shortstop in high school, but splitting time at second and third in his time at Arizona. Similar to Cannon, he could probably stick in a couple different spots.

Quintana’s slashing .342/.462/.626 for the Wildcats, and having launched 15 homers this season boasts the above-average raw power that Cannon lacks — whether that translates to above-average game power at the next level (and whether Quintana can cut down on his strikeouts) is the question. Quintana struggled at times in the Cape Cod League over the last two summers, and was especially strikeout-heavy in Yarmouth.

That said, Dombrowski could still be enamored with Quintana’s smooth swing. He’s not exactly the most unique prospect — a corner power bat — but he’s a promising one.

3. Braden Shewmake, SS, Texas A&M

Braden Shewmake is probably less likely to slip out of the top 40 than Cannon or Quintana, but the Texas A&M infielder is also probably the most polished of the three. A tall, lanky middle infielder, Shewmake’s hand-eye and bat-to-ball abilities are probably his biggest plus, a very good contact hitter that gets on base but has only some fringe power, at least over the last two seasons.

Shewmake is one of the best-hitting middle infielders in the draft, currently slashing .327/.378/.484 in the SEC. Oddly, Shewmake slugged .529 with 11 homers in his freshman campaign in 2017, but just .453 with five homers as a sophomore, and he’s only managed to put six out this season.

Despite that dip in power, Shewmake is one of the best bats available up the middle, and if he can ever put some muscle on frame that’s more Chris Sale than it is Xander Bogaerts, the power might still be there.

4. Greg Jones, SS, UNC Wilmington

Greg Jones might be a reach — the UNC Wilmington shortstop could very well go at the end of the first round, but if he’s there at 43, the Red Sox might be interested.

Jones is the best athlete of the four, a very good runner with an average (if inconsistent) glove and a good arm. Unlike Cannon, Shewmake and Quintana, Jones has the athletic profile to perhaps move into the outfield if necessary with his arm and speed, but could stick up the middle.

Jones is a high-upside bat, a switch hitter with some power from both sides that can drive the ball into the gap. He struggled during his freshman year in Wilmington but bounced back for an excellent campaign as a draft-eligible sophomore, though his numbers — .343/.491/.551 with five homers and nine triples, the latter proof of his upper-tier speed — can be taken with a grain of salt in the CAA. Still, Jones has plenty of upside and plenty of promise.

Related: Red Sox Farm Report: Marcus Wilson picking up the pace in Salem