LOS ANGELES — No stranger to draft-day surprises, the Red Sox once again defied industry expectation by selecting high school shortstop Mikey Romero with their first-round selection, the No. 24 overall pick in the draft.
Romero, 18, excelled at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High School in 2022, showing an advanced lefthanded swing and the ability to get to a variety of pitch types — including mid-90s velocity — all over the strike zone. The LSU commit hit .372/.419/.659 with four homers in 30 games as a senior.
“The hit tool on Mikey is as good as I’ve ever seen,” said Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba. “Having been a high school coach for 25 years, I’ve never seen a kid that has the ability to just find the barrel as well as he does. He has an understanding of the strike zone, but his barrel awareness is as advanced as anybody I’ve ever coached. . . .
“The ability that he has to make adjustments in-game is way more advanced than anything I’ve ever seen,” he continued. “He’ll come back to the dugout and talk about what a pitcher is trying to do. And he’s got a true understanding of what it takes to be successful.”
That said, Romero was seen as having modest or below-average power, and some evaluators questioned whether he’d stick at shortstop. Those questions led to expectations that he might be taken in the competitive balance round or the second round.
But the Sox are not afraid to buck consensus, and not willing to risk missing out on a player they regarded highly. (Cleveland, another team that scouted Romero heavily, held the No. 37 pick, four before Boston’s second selection.) Borba — who also had pitcher Cole Winn as a first-rounder in 2018 — wasn’t surprised.
“I actually told a lot of people that I thought he would go a lot earlier than anticipated. I think there were a lot of local scouts that really fell in love with him, watching him at our high school. And I was gonna be shocked if he fell past the first round,” said Borba. “I think the Red Sox got a shortstop that’s gonna play for 15 years in the big leagues and be a Hall of Famer. That’s the kind of kid they just got.”
Romero is the team’s fourth straight high school position player taken in the first round, following Marcelo Mayer (2021), Nick Yorke (2020), and Triston Casas (2018). He played against Mayer in high school, and received a congratulatory tweet from his former rival.
The Red Sox took another high school position player in the second round, tabbing shortstop Cutter Coffey out of Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif., at No. 41. Coffey was announced as a shortstop, though he was one of the better two-way prep players in the draft. He hit .442/.581/1.021 with 12 homers in 31 games as a senior, while also striking out 42 in 35⅓ innings and showing the potential for three average or better pitches.
But the 6-foot-2 18-year-old appears likely to enter pro ball as a shortstop, where he has the potential to emerge as a strong defensive infielder with power potential, albeit with some swing-and-miss concerns.
The draft kicked off with a pair of high school position players who were the sons of multi-time All-Stars. Shortstop Jackson Holliday (the son of Matt Holliday) went first, followed by outfielder Druw Jones (son of Andruw Jones) with the second pick. While both were expected to go at the top of the draft, the Rangers shocked the industry with the No. 3 pick, taking righthander Kumar Rocker — a pitcher connected by many to the Sox at No. 24.
UConn standout Reggie Crawford — a two-way player who has shown both enormous power and an electric fastball that topped out at 102 miles per hour in the Cape League in 2021 — was taken by the Giants with the 30th pick of the first round. Crawford missed the 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the fall.
The Red Sox have one more selection on Sunday night in the compensatory second round: No. 79 overall, received as a result of the free-agent departure of Eduardo Rodriguez. Day two of the draft on Monday will feature rounds 3-10, and day three on Tuesday will feature rounds 11-20.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism