Image credit: Blaze Jordan (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)
After the Red Sox drafted California prep infielder Nick Yorke with the 17th overall pick Wednesday night, they had a long wait Thursday evening.
72 picks, to be exact.
Because the team lost its second-round pick as part of the punishment levied by MLB for its sign-stealing scheme, Boston’s next selection came at No. 89.
Scouting director Paul Toboni said the Red Sox identified a small group of players they thought might slide down draft boards due to signability and tried to focus on them for their third-round selection. Among that group was Mississippi prep infielder Blaze Jordan, whose exploits as a power hitter over the last few years have made him one of the most famous high school players in the country.
As the draft played out Thursday, Jordan did indeed slide, in part due to his commitment to Mississippi State. When Jordan was still on the board for the Red Sox third-round pick, No. 89 overall, Toboni was thrilled to call his name.
“We were really, really excited to have the opportunity to select him,” Toboni said. “Quite frankly, we didn’t think he would make it that far in the draft.
“He’s a unique talent. He has a ton of power upside, a good feel to hit, recognizes pitches early and he’s doing it all being a year younger than his counterparts. He’s just an exciting talent and we’re happy he’s a Boston Red Sox.”
Jordan has built his reputation as a premium power hitter over several years, starting when he was 11 and hit a 395-foot home run at the Rangers ballpark. Soon, he was hitting 500-foot home runs and last year he won the high school home run derby at the All-Star Game at Progressive Field.
All that power brought fame to Jordan, and much more attention than the typical prep player. Toboni said he was impressed with the way Jordan handled it, especially because Jordan is younger this his classmates—a result of his decision to reclassify and graduate from high school a year early.
“He’s mature beyond his years,” Toboni said. “It doesn’t hurt that he’s been on big league fields taking batting practice and hitting home runs and slapping five with Mookie Betts and other big leaguers. It for sure doesn’t hurt, especially for someone that carries himself with great humility and has a strong work ethic.”
Despite Jordan’s fame, he was not rated as a first-round talent. Questions about his defense loomed large in his profile, as some scouts believe he will be limited to first base. He played third base in high school, however, and Toboni said it would be left up to the Red Sox’s player development department to decide where he fit best on the diamond.
No matter what, Toboni said he believes Jordan’s bat is good enough to carry him.
“He can play third base at least to start and we’ll see how it comes down the line,” Toboni said. “The way we thought about it is any untapped upside we can get at third base is a bonus. But even at first base we’d be excited with his talent.”
After taking Yorke and Jordan with their first two picks, the Red Sox finished their abbreviated draft with a pair of college lefthanders—Hawaii’s Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Florida State’s Shane Drohan. Both offer intriguing upside as starters, though Wu-Yelland has mostly pitched out of the bullpen in college and Drohan is still learning to harness his stuff.