Red Sox load up on shortstop talent in Draft

July 18th, 2022

The Red Sox didn’t merely take a high school shortstop from California with their first selection in the Draft for the second year in a row.

They took a shortstop with pick No. 24 overall in Mikey Romero who considers Marcelo Mayer -- the five-tool stud the Sox took with the fourth pick in last year’s Draft -- to be his best friend.

“I mean, me and Marcelo, I would say, are best friends,” said Romero. “I text him on a regular basis. We played travel ball together for two years. The relationship is really good and I’m really close to Marcelo.”

Forget, for a minute, about the positional competition that could take place in the coming years between two left-handed-hitting shortstops.

There will be time for that. On Sunday night, the two California kids celebrated together. At least, virtually.

“I heard [I was picked] and probably 10 minutes later I FaceTimed Marcelo, and we're just going crazy just because of that relationship,” said Romero, an 18-year-old who recently graduated from Orange Lutheran High School in Southern California.

If that high school sounds familiar, it should. That’s where Yankees ace Gerrit Cole went. 

Mayer is a product of Northern California (Eastlake High School).

The 19-year-old is having a solid first season of pro ball, slashing .297/.395/.517 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in 209 at-bats at Single-A Salem.

So, who exactly is Boston’s shortstop of the future?

“I mean, may the best man win,” Romero said. “But at the end of the day, we're playing to win. We're both winners. We're both competitors. And ultimately, we’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

The Red Sox are in the business of stockpiling their farm system with the most talent possible, regardless of position.

Almost to drive that point home further, when the Sox picked next at No. 41 as compensation for being unable to sign second-rounder Jud Fabian a year ago, they nabbed shortstop Cutter Coffey out of Liberty High School (Calif.). Fabian wound up going to the Orioles at No. 67 on Sunday night.

Seriously? Another high school shortstop from California? This is becoming a trend.

“I was thinking to myself after we chose Cutter that all of you and all the Red Sox fans and everyone were thinking we only take high school infielders,” quipped Red Sox director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni.

Many scouts think that Coffey, a right-handed hitting slugger, projects as a third baseman or second baseman.

“That’s the great thing about these shortstops,” said Toboni. “They both, without a doubt in my mind, could be really good shortstops. But I think in a vacuum, if you ask either of them to hop over to second or hop over to third, they’d probably do it pretty seamlessly. Once again, I think part of the reason why we don’t take a ton of DH’s is because it’s tough to get a DH to play shortstop, but it’s easy to get a shortstop to play other positions -- or, easier.”

Coffey’s calling card is his raw power.  

In high school, Coffey also excelled on the mound, where he was clocked in the mid 90s.

“He’s a tremendous pitcher,” said Toboni. “He definitely could go out as a pro right now as a pitcher, but we haven’t talked extensively about it. My guess is we’d probably lean toward just having him play a position to start, but you never know. He could pick it up and do it pretty easily and effortlessly and he’s got such a great arm at shortstop, it transfers to the mound. That being said, we do prefer him as a shortstop first.”

Romero is known for his bat-to-ball skills but has projectable power. In fact, MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds said Sunday night that he was impressed with Romero’s pop during the MLB Draft Combine.

“He does have some power there,” said Romero’s high school coach, Eric Borba. “It’s starting to come out a little bit more now, kind of later. He’s been a bit of an undersized kid, a little bit on the thinner side, but we play in a big ballpark and the ball doesn’t go out of there very often and he made it happen regularly in batting practice and workouts and what not. It’s definitely there.”

The Red Sox completed Day 1 of the Draft by taking a big high school bat in Roman Anthony (Marjory Stoneman Douglas) in Florida.

“Basically the story with Roman is he's a tremendous athlete,” said Toboni. “We think he has a really good shot at sticking in center field and he's got this profile where he gets on base, he sees the ball well, but he’s also got tremendous, tremendous power potential. And that's a pretty rare combination to find for a center fielder.”