Of the 612 players selected in the 2021 MLB Draft over the past three days, the only one who was taken at the position of utility was Daniel McElveny -- the sixth-round selection of the Red Sox.
It is a unique way to designate a draftee, as most are picked at the spot they starred at in either high school or college.
But after the pre-Draft workout the Red Sox hosted with McElveny at Fenway Park, it seemed only fitting to give him the utility label. The 18-year-old was mainly a shortstop at Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista, Calif., but the Red Sox found out in short order that he's comfortable with any glove.
“We worked him out at Fenway and he hopped in at right field, he hopped in at second base, third base, shortstop, he was catching,” said Red Sox director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni. “I don’t know how that’s going to play out in the long term, but for now, he’s going to have a lot of ways to keep his bat in the lineup and hopefully string together some really quality at-bats.”
McElveny went to high school less than 10 miles from where Boston’s top selection (and fourth overall pick) Marcelo Mayer attended. That gave the Red Sox two more free looks at McElveny this past spring, when their two eventual draftees played head to head.
McElveny’s Bonita Vista squad downed Mayer’s Eastlake team in both contests.
The two Southern California natives are likely going to have a lot of fun reminiscing when they join up together in Boston’s farm system.
“Daniel McElveny is a cool story. I think he probably first got on our radar in June of last year at an event called PG National,” said Toboni. “We liked his feel to hit. He was kind of a grinder that we thought played the game the right way. We just followed him along the way.
“He played in a couple more events. We saw him in the spring, scouting him and only him, and we also saw him match up with Marcelo, which allowed us to see him a little bit more. We were just drawn to the competitor, the feel to hit, the feel for the stone, and the versatility he had on defense.”
The right-handed hitter seems to thrive on being an underdog.
“He wasn’t a scholarship kid,” said Toboni. “He was planning on going to San Diego State as a walk-on.”
The more the Red Sox saw McElveny, the more they liked him.
“We just saw him play so much. He’s got a really simple swing. He has really good barrel feel,” said Toboni. “Everything in both batting practice and games seems to find the barrel.”
While McElveny is someone Red Sox fans should follow from Day 2 of the Draft, the club started Day 3 with another such player.
That would be big slugging first baseman Niko Kavadas from Notre Dame. Power is his calling card. As in, plus-plus power.
“Top of the scale,” said Toboni. “I guess that’s how we phrase it. If he were in the Major Leagues right now, my guess is that the power would line up with the best of them. He’s an interesting player and a great kid.”
To reach the Major Leagues and show off all that power, Kavadas will have to tighten up other aspects of his game.