The 2020 MLB Draft will be held on June 10, and even though it is significantly shortened to just five rounds, it will provide general manager Ben Cherington his first real opportunity to restock the Pirates' farm system.
This isn't Cherington's first turn as a general manager, as he served as the Red Sox's GM from 2012-2015. He left Boston one of the strongest farm systems in baseball in 2015. How many of those top prospects came from the draft?
FIRST ROUND PICKS
2012, Pick 24: SS Deven Marrero
2012, Pick 31: LHP Brian Johnson
2012, Pick 37: RHP Pat Light
Marrero was considered a potential top-10 pick heading into his junior year, flashing solid field, throw and run tools. The bat was the only concern, and he ended up slumping in his junior year at Arizona State. The Red Sox still drafted him 24th overall, and Marrero did eventually make the majors and play parts of three seasons with them. He just was never able to hit Major League pitching and has bounced around as a replacement-level backup the last couple years. The Red Sox were able to trade him for lefty reliever Josh Taylor, who turned in a quality season in 2019.
The Red Sox also had two compensation first-round picks this draft after losing Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency. Johnson was one of the best players for some good Florida Gators teams and was considered one of the best collegiate lefties in the draft. He battled injuries and anxiety in his professional career but has finally become a part of the Red Sox's pitching staff, providing middle relief and the occasional spot start.
Light was a bit of a stretch at 37th overall, with most draft experts pegging him to be about a third-round pick. That stretch was understandable though since the Red Sox had to sign three first rounders. Light had the frame and a mid-90s fastball, but he was never able to consistently repeat his mechanics and left too many pitches over the plate. Still, his stuff was good enough for him to reach the majors in 2016, and the Red Sox ended up trading him for bullpen help. Light drifted through the minors for a few years -- including passing through the Pirates organization in 2017 -- before hanging it up.
2013, Pick 7: LHP Trey Ball
Ball was one of the most-hyped high-schoolers in the 2013 draft, showing a plus fastball and breaking pitch. He was the type of projectable pitcher scouts go for, so few were surprised when the Red Sox took him seventh overall. Ball never had much success in professional ball though, struggling with his delivery and control. His pedigree got him to AA, but that's as far as his first-round promise could take him. There was a brief experiment to turn him into a two-way player in 2019, but the writing is on the wall for his career.
2014, Pick 26: SS Michael Chavis
2014, Pick 33: RHP Michael Kopech
Chavis was the only high school position player the Red Sox selected in the first round under Cherington. He struggled for the first two and a half years in the minors, not really finding a groove until he reached A+ ball. It looked like he might be a bust for a while, but he was finally able to start to translate some of that raw power into game situations. He clubbed 18 home runs in his rookie season last year, and now he is being considered as the future long-term second baseman for the Red Sox.
Kopech was another projectable high school arm like Ball, but he panned out. He was traded to the White Sox as part of the Chris Sale trade after the 2016 season, and he has become one of the top pitching prospects in the game. MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the 20th best prospect in baseball. Kopech really broke out in the White Sox's system, and even after missing 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery, he has one of the most dynamic fastballs for any starting pitcher prospect.
2015, Pick 7: OF Andrew Benintendi
The Red Sox signed Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval the previous offseason, losing picks in the process, so they needed to nail their first-round selection. They did, getting arguably the best collegiate player in the draft with the seventh overall pick. While Cherington's successor, Dave Dombrowski, traded most of the prospects he inherited, Benintendi was the one he was not willing to trade. So far, Benintendi has justified that faith, posting 10 career WAR and finishing second for the 2017 Rookie of the Year vote. His 2019 breakout did not go as planned, but he has another gear. If he finds it, he will be one of the game's best left fielders.
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