Red Sox No. 50 pick, 'box of tools' Zanetello beams at Draft

July 10th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

When shortstop Nazzan Zanetello was selected as the 50th overall pick in the Draft on Sunday night by the Red Sox, he made no effort to contain his emotions.

And why should he have?

“This is surreal,” said Zanetello. “I feel like I’m floating on air right now. When I walked on the stage, I didn’t know where I was at. This is honestly just a blessing and a dream come true.”

The 18-year-old St. Louis native was live at Draft headquarters in Seattle and bounced from one interview to another, trying to properly explain to people what this meant to him.

If you didn’t know what it meant, all you needed to do was look at Zanetello’s family. His mom and dad were beaming with pride as the couple embraced their son, who put on a Red Sox jersey and cap seemingly within seconds of being drafted.

“All my life growing up, both my parents made a lot of sacrifices,” said Zanetello. “My dad worked overnight. My mom had multiple jobs. So just putting this jersey on, I can finally give back to them.”

And most poignantly, Zanetello’s younger sister had tears streaming down her cheeks.

“It means she doesn’t have to go to the summer games anymore and get cotton candy from the concession stand,” said Zanetello, who called his sister his No. 1 fan. “She was there every year, every game, every pitch – my biggest fan. I asked her if she was going to cry and she said no.”

Not only was Zanetello full of excitement, but he was also glowing with confidence.

“They can expect to see me in Boston pretty soon,” said Zanetello. “They’re going to get the hardest worker in the Draft, a lot of upside for me.”

While Zanetello had one quote gem after another, here was the best.

“I’m a five-tool player and a five-tool person,” he said.

Who were the Red Sox to disagree?

“I think we would all agree with that,” said Red Sox director of amateur scouting Devin Pearson. “He is a great human and hard worker. Not only are we excited to bring the talent in, but we’re excited to bring the person in as well.”

What kind of player do the Red Sox think they are getting?

“He’s one of the best athletes in the Draft in my opinion. He’s explosive. He’s got speed. He’s got the ability to play a really good shortstop,” said Pearson. “Athletic enough to play a really good center field. He’s just a box of tools and a great kid that we’re really excited to add to the organization.”

The Red Sox drafted Zanetello out of Christian Brothers College High School (Missouri).

A right-handed hitter, some scouts project that Zanetello could develop 25-homer power.  He also had solid speed and a strong throwing arm.

With Boston’s farm system already stacked with shortstops -- including MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 prospect Marcelo Mayer -- it will be interesting to see what position Zanetello ends up playing.

“We’ll definitely develop him as a shortstop, but he’ll also get opportunities to play center field,” Pearson said. “I think you’re seeing it a lot in the Minor League system right now with the amount of up-the-middle players we have, rotating players, getting them exposure at different positions, is just a plus. So, we’re definitely drafting him as a shortstop and then he’ll probably get some time in center field as well.”

Initially, Zanetello was going to stay in Missouri and have a standard watch party during the Draft. But when he got the invite from MLB to be a live participant, he wasn’t about to turn that down.

“I felt like why not come here to be able to experience all of this, all the media stuff, interacting with the fans?” Zanetello said. “When I got an e-mail [invitation] to come here, I told my dad, and he was like, pardon my French, but he was like ‘Hell yeah, we’re going to Seattle. We’re going.’”

And without question, Zanatello and his family embraced the experience to the fullest.