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Red Sox approach Draft with aim to replenish 

@IanMBrowne
June 10, 2020

BOSTON -- In his first year as director of amateur scouting for the Red Sox, Paul Toboni has been tasked with helping the team find impact players in a Draft that will be unlike any the sport has seen before. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Draft will be five

BOSTON -- In his first year as director of amateur scouting for the Red Sox, Paul Toboni has been tasked with helping the team find impact players in a Draft that will be unlike any the sport has seen before.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Draft will be five rounds this year instead of 40.

But the Red Sox will only have four selections. They lost their second-round selection as discipline from MLB for sign-stealing infractions in 2018.

Toboni is determined to make the most of this year’s unique system, and be ready to pounce on free agents once the Draft ends. All teams can sign amateurs who don’t get drafted for $20,000.

Obviously the scouting process has been different this year than in the past.

“I would say, there are a couple different ways to look at it, one from the standpoint of the fact that we were only able to scout four college weekends,” said Toboni. “With the high school kids, many of whom we didn’t see in their spring seasons, it’s difficult. There’s a lot of uncertainty, more than there would be in a normal spring.

“From a standpoint of communicating with our staff, not being able to meet in person, having to overcome the learning curve of getting familiar with Zoom calls, it’s just been different. I would say our staff has handled it great. Our approach hasn’t changed all that much. While daunting at the start, it’s been fine, and I think as a group we’ve handled it well.”

Day 1 of the 2020 Draft airs tonight on MLB Network and ESPN at 7 p.m. ET, and includes the first 37 picks. Day 2 begins at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday on MLB Network and ESPN2, and spans the remainder of the 160 picks.

Comprehensive coverage will be available on MLB.com and MLB Pipeline, which will simulcast MLB Network’s broadcast. Go to MLB.com/Draft to see when teams pick, the Top 200 Prospects list, mock drafts from analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, scouting video and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying and to get each pick as it’s made.

Here’s how the Draft is shaping up for the Red Sox, whose first selection is the 17th overall pick:

State of the system
Replenishing the system is one of the main reasons the Red Sox hired Chaim Bloom as chief baseball officer. Bloom is known for the excellent work he did with the farm system for the Tampa Bay Rays. MLB Pipeline ranked Boston’s system No. 25 in March, demonstrating how much work Bloom, Toboni and others have to do in the coming weeks, months and years. The Sox do have a couple of Top 100 Prospects in SS/2B Jeter Downs (No. 44) and 1B Triston Casas (No. 77).

What they’re saying
“It really doesn’t change our approach. I hate it when people refer to players as assets. But I was thinking to myself, it's almost like a stock. If you think about investing in a blue chip stock, Caterpillar for instance, versus a crazy, early-stage start-up, and the different risks that come with those investments, you come to an expected value on both so your approach doesn’t really change as long as you’re comfortable how you arrived at that value.” -- Toboni, on how the changes to this year’s Draft impact his mindset

Who might they take?
MLB Pipeline gurus Callis and Mayo both project high school righty Mick Abel (Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore.) there for the taking when the Red Sox pick at No. 17. According to Mayo, Abel possesses three plus pitches, including a fastball that consistently registers at 93-95 mph and an 82-86 mph slider that is a “very effective pitch.” The changeup should be a future plus pitch. If Abel is gone, the Sox could target UCLA outfielder Garrett Mitchell, who Mayo considers to be one of the “toolsiest players” in this year’s Draft. The left-handed hitter is also a speedster on the bases and should develop into a strong defender in the outfield.

Money matters
Each team gets an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of its selections in the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. This year, with a five-round Draft, all signing bonuses of drafted players will apply toward the bonus pool total.

For 2020, there is a $20,000 limit on bonuses for non-drafted free agents. There is no limit to the number of undrafted players teams may sign, but they cannot go over $20,000 per player. These bonuses do not count toward the pool total.

The Red Sox have a pool of $5,129,900 to spend, including $3,609,700 to spend on their first selection.

Shopping list
Front-line starting pitching is an area the Red Sox haven’t had much luck with in the Draft in recent years, which only makes it more vital they continue to pursue it aggressively. Noah Song, the team’s No. 6 prospect, has an uncertain timetable due to his Navy commitment. Jay Groome (No. 7) hopes to demonstrate he is all the way back from Tommy John surgery. Adding a couple of big arms to the Song-Groome duo could mean good things for Boston in the future.

Trend watch
The Red Sox have gone with a position player with their first pick the last two years, which could lead to them going with a pitcher this time. Boston doesn’t usually lean heavily one way on whether to take a college or high school player.

The recent top picks
2019: Cameron Cannon, SS
2018: Triston Casas, 1B
2017: Tanner Houck, RHP
2016: Jay Groome, LHP
2015: Andrew Benintendi, LF

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.