The Boston Red Sox have been having a fairly decent 2023 campaign, which made the 2023 MLB Draft a bit more exciting for them. After missing out on the playoffs last year, Boston landed the 14th overall pick in the draft, which gave them the opportunity to add a top-tier prospect to their farm system.
Ever since taking over as the Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Chaim Bloom has put an emphasis on building up a farm system that was largely destroyed by his predecessor Dave Dombrowski. It hasn’t always been pretty, and it’s safe to say that Bloom isn’t a ridiculously popular figure in Boston, but he’s done a good job at adding prospects through trades, and making the right picks in the draft as well.
It’s tough to put a ton of weight into the MLB Draft, especially right after it concludes, due to how many levels of baseball these prospects are going to have to go through just to make it to the majors. But it looks like the Red Sox managed to land a big steal early on in the draft, so let’s take a look at who they picked and why this selection could end up being a steal for Boston.
Red Sox biggest draft steal: Kyle Teel, C, UVA
Over the past few years, the Red Sox had seen a bunch of jokes made at their expense for their continued desire to draft middle infielders with their high picks. It’s yielded top picks such as Marcelo Mayer and Nick Yorke, but there are other needs on the roster, and it could create a backlog of talent at one spot if these guys all ended up developing as expected.
Boston opted to change their plans this time around, and snagged Kyle Teel, a catcher from the University of Virginia, with the 14th overall pick of the draft. Not only could Teel eventually fill a huge position of need for the Red Sox, but he also was supposed to be a top 10 pick who slid to Boston at 14.
Teel has generally put up some big numbers with the Virginia Cavaliers, but he really caught everyone’s attention with his play in 2023. Teel was one of the best hitters in the country (.407 BA, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 1.130 OPS) while playing at the catcher position, where production with the bat is often at a premium.
Teel is obviously a few years away from cracking the majors, even if everything goes right for him in the minors, but it’s safe to say that the Red Sox need some help at catcher, which makes Teel a shrewd pick. Connor Wong and Reese McGuire are holding down the position currently, but it’s not as if they have been outrageously good this season.
Adding a catcher in the first-round is always going to be a bit risky given the wear and tear that comes with playing behind the plate, but Teel has proven himself to be a good enough hitter that his bat should keep him in the lineup. Teel also has spent time playing at the corner outfield positions too, so he could switch to either of those spots if needed, but that’s an issue that’s not worth worrying about right now.
While Teel is a great fit in the Red Sox farm system, he’s also a steal in the sense that he fell all the way to Boston at the 14th overall pick. Teel was widely considered to be a top ten prospect by talent evaluators, with many folks being a bit confused as to why he was staying on the board for as long as he was. Once he made it past the tenth pick, Teel was going to be a steal for whoever took him.
Of course, Teel has a long way to go to make it to the majors, but with his solid bat and catching capabilities, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him rocket through the minors. It’s also worth noting that Teel is already 21 years old, so that may help him figure things out in the minors quicker than some of the younger prospects in the game.
The Red Sox veered away from their typical draft strategy, but it may have netted them one of the top prospects available, and maybe the biggest steal of the entire draft. You can’t put too much stock in prospects in the MLB given how tough it is to make it to the majors once they get drafted, but in terms of pure potential, Teel looks like a home run pick from Boston’s front office right now.