Boston adds Blaze of power among Day 2 picks

Two lefty pitchers round out Draft haul for Boston

June 12th, 2020

BOSTON -- The Red Sox created some excitement with their first pick on Day 2 of the Draft, snagging a high school slugger in Blaze Jordan who has been known to hit 500-foot home runs since his early teens.

Jordan was selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick on Thursday. He was ranked the No. 42 prospect by MLB Pipeline heading into the Draft.

You can just imagine what it might be like in, say, 2024 or ’25 when Jordan steps to the plate on a warm, summer night at Fenway with the warm wind whipping out toward the inviting Green Monster.

The Red Sox had the opportunity to draft the Mississippi masher as a 17-year-old because he decided a year ago to reclassify to the class of 2020.

“Obviously we were really, really excited to have the opportunity to select him,” said Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni. “Quite frankly, we didn't think he'd make it that far in the draft. He's a unique talent. A ton of power upside with a good feel to hit.

“He really recognizes pitches early, and he's doing this all being a year younger than his counterparts, because he reclassified. Just a really exciting talent -- there's really no other way to put it. And we're really happy that he's a Boston Red Sox.”

On the big stage last July, Jordan won the High School Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star festivities in Cleveland. During that event, Jordan got to mingle with several Major League stars, including Pete Alonso and Mookie Betts.

“I think it doesn't hurt that he's been on big league fields taking batting practice and hitting home runs and then slapping five with Mookie Betts and other big leaguers,” Toboni said. “It for sure doesn't hurt, and especially with someone who carries himself with great humility and a strong work ethic, I think it's going to bode well for him in the future.”

Power is something that Jordan has possessed since nearly the instant he set foot on a baseball field. His father Chris first noticed the power when Blaze was 6. He won his first national Home Run Derby when he was 11 years old. At the age of 13, Jordan belted a pair of 500-foot homers during another derby.

Jordan, who stands in at 6-2 and 220 pounds, went to DeSoto Central High School in Mississippi and has a scholarship to Mississippi State. 

As an eighth grader, Jordan made the varsity team. DeSoto Central coach Mark Monaghan has watched the childhood prodigy develop into a near-man in the ensuing years.

“He was every coach’s dream, a kid with the baseball ability he has,” Monaghan said. “He’s much more than just a big power-hitting kid. He brought the complete player to us, performed at a high level as an eighth grader on up. We knew he was going to be a pro one day. I think the Red Sox got it right.”

For all the talk about his bat, Jordan has the defensive versatility to play both corners.

“We’ll let player development decide that,” Toboni said. “He’s plenty athletic enough. I think he is deceivingly athletic. He can play at third base at least to start and we’ll see how it comes out down the line. He’s got the work ethic to really work hard in improving his hands and his lateral agility and the type of things that matter in playing third base.”

The defense will sort itself out. The bat is what will have other players crowding Jordan around the batting cage.

“It’s something to see, it really is,” Monaghan said. “He has some unbelievable hands and just his ability to barrel up a baseball. When it comes to the distance and things like that, you don’t really worry about that. It’s just how it comes off his bat. It’s just different and definitely special.”

However, Jordan is going to have to earn his money at 7 p.m. -- not 5.

“I didn’t really get hung up on how far he was hitting it, but just the swing in general and his hands,” Monaghan said. “It wasn’t just that it was this kid who was bigger than everyone else just swinging real hard. You could tell there was some real hit tools in there. That’s what was awesome about coaching him. You realized it was about so much more than power.”

The Red Sox made two more picks on Thursday to complete their Draft, and they turned to pitching.

Round 4, 118th overall: Jeremy Wu-Yelland, LHP, 20, Hawaii
After taking high school position players with their first two picks, the Sox went the college pitching route with this hard-throwing lefty reliever out of Hawaii. Though it was a shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wu-Yelland made his presence felt, particularly in a March 1 outing against perennial powerhouse Vanderbilt when he struck out six over four scoreless innings. 

What sticks out most to Hawaii head coach Mike Trapasso is the drastic improvement Wu-Yelland made from when he first arrived on campus.

“It’s a real impressive example of what high school kids go through from the outlook of how the maturation process takes place,” Trapasso said. “He was an 88 to 90 mph lefty. The old saying of you can’t hit the broadside of the barn. He couldn’t hit the barn in high school.”

But that all changed and improved strength and velocity made Wu-Yelland an elite reliever by the end of his college career. Toboni credited area scout J.J. Altobelli for his work in spotting Wu-Yelland.

For the season, the Seattle native gave up just one run in 13 innings, pumping in a fastball that was sometimes clocked as high as 96 mph. Seven of his 17 appearances in 2019 were starts, but he was used exclusively out of the bullpen in ‘20, and that’s likely where the 6-2, 210-pounder projects as a pro.

Round 5, 148th overall: Shane Drohan, LHP, 21, Florida State
To close out their Draft, the Sox got a starting pitching prospect in Drohan. Though he had a tough start as a freshman, Drohan bounced back and became a weekend-rotation regular for FSU the last two seasons. He is known for a three-pitch mix including a fastball in the low to mid 90s, a strong changeup and perhaps his best offering, a 12-6 curveball.

Dante Ricciardi, the son of longtime baseball executive J.P. Ricciardi, was the area scout who really pushed for Drohan.

“He’s probably been scouting since he was 2,” said Toboni. “He did a tremendous job. I laugh thinking about it. I remember being down at Spring Training in early March and sitting in our office at JetBlue [Park] and Dante was talking to me about this kid for probably 15 minutes and telling me how good of a football player he was and how he had so much runway left and how he’s just scratching the surface and so we’re really, really excited to get Shane in the fifth round.

“Another unique talent. He just does it so easy. When you watch him throw, it looks like it’s not taking much effort and then you check the radar gun and it’s 94, 95, so we’re excited to get Shane as well.”