The pick came as somewhat of a surprise as most experts had at least three players ahead of Ball on the depth chart, but the Red Sox clearly did their own homework here.
Ball is an 18-year-old left-hander that stands 6-foot-6 and can already throw the ball in the low to mid 90s. Though tall and thin (190 lbs.), the Indiana high-schooler is extremely athletic, evidenced by his additional ability to play centerfield at a very high level.
The Red Sox are expected to try to groom Ball into a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, but having another position to fall back on is paramount for such a high pick. At number seven, Ball is Boston’s highest draft pick since 1993. This of course is due to the team’s 93-loss effort (or lack thereof) in 2012. The value of this pick was a major factor in the Red Sox not signing a top-tier free agent during the off-season.
While many mock drafts had the Red Sox selecting a position player, Ball certainly fills a need. Five of the top six prospects in the organization are non-pitchers, so the selection makes a lot of sense in that regard. Ball was also Baseball America’s top-rated lefty in the draft.
In addition to his quality fastball, Ball also throws a very good change-up and has the makings of an above average curve ball—a pitch that he threw very selectively in high school in an effort to protect his arm.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)