Now that we’re done the first pro season for 2016 draftees, let’s take a look at how each team’s draft picks have fared so far. Let’s start with the American League East, and the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox
First pick: 12. Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS, NJ
Groome was seen as the best draft prospect for most of the draft season, and as a top three draft prospect by most leading into the draft. Groome fell to #12 due to rumored bonus demands and some whispers of personality and make-up issues. He did hold out until the day before the signing deadline, one of the latest holdouts this year, and signed for over $400,000 more than the slot bonus, but far less than the $5+ million some thought it would take. He’s only pitched 6.2 innings in three games, with ten strikeouts, four walks, three hits, and two earned runs. Barring injury, I expect him to shoot up prospect rankings next year.
Biggest Steal: Jason Groome.
Even at #12, he was the Red Sox’s biggest steal in the draft. However, Bobby Dalbec is a close second. He was seen as a first rounder before the 2016 season, in large part due to a strong sophomore season that he followed up with a stellar Cape Cod stint. But after a rough first half of 2016, many wrote him off and saw him more as a bullpen arm. The Sox stuck with the bat, and he’s rewarded them with a .391/.432/.688 line, with a 237 wRC+ in 139 Low-A plate appearances.
Post-10th Round Sleeper: Hunter Smith, RHP, UNC-Greensboro, 24th Round
Most of their post-tenth round picks were either unsignable high school guys, or underperforming college guys. Smith beats out Robby Sexton due to him making it to Low-A. In 26.1 innings between rookie ball and Low-A, Smith has a 1.71 ERA, 1.83 FIP, 0.87 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, and a 10.7 K/BB ratio. He has average 2.2 IP per appearance, and has a body type that should be able to hold up as a starter. Fastball sits around 90 mph, but an above-average changeup helps it play up. Getting a shot at starting will depend on the development of his breaking ball.
The 2016 Red Sox draft relies heavily on Jason Groome to make or break it. CJ Chatham was perhaps the best college shortstop available, but in a weak crop of players. Shaun Anderson, Mike Shawaryn, and Stephen Nogosek all have talent, but none of them are sure fire bets to succeed outside of a bullpen gig. Dalbec could be the most valuable piece of this draft, but he has to prove he can do it outside of Low-A, and not succumb to the swing-and-miss gods.
Outside of them, Alan Marrero has the highest upside, but he’s a long ways away. The next-best upside is Santiago Espinal, a toolsy but raw JC shortstop. If they could’ve signed even one of the later round lottery picks (Nick Quintana, Jeff Belge, Tyler Fitzgerald, Christian Jones), I’d be a bit more optimistic. But this looks like a B- draft to me.