Mock drafts are good exercises. They show some possibilities based on who's projected to remain on a board, all a product of evaluating each team's needs.
But we don't know what each team is thinking. Rival teams don't know what the other teams are thinking. Just as often, the drafting team doesn't know which player it will take until moments earlier, as the available players changes with each prior pick. Even more so than in other drafts, evaluators are having trouble agreeing on picks near the top this year.
In the days leading up to the 2015 first year player draft, the Red Sox have been projected to pick a few different players. In many – such as several editions by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and one by Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs – three names have been mentioned repeatedly.
Carson Fulmer – RHP, Vanderbilt
The 21-year-old has no shortage of talent. And Boston is clearly interested – the team drafted him in the 15th round of the 2012 draft out of high school. It's reported that he would have been selected much earlier if teams thought he would sign instead of attending Vanderbilt.
Scouts' opinions of Fulmer differ – having converted from a closer to a starter last season, many feel the bullpen is where he belongs. It seems unlikely that any team drafting him in the top 10 would feel the same, at least not before having him in the organization. On the 20-80 scouting scale (80 being the best), MLB.com has his fastball at a 70 and his curveball at a 60 already. That's really, really good for an amateur. But some concerns about his delivery and his control have some scouts relegating him to the pen and farther down in the round.
Regardless, McDaniel wrote that teams picking around the Red Sox believe they will pick a batter at seventh.
Andrew Benintendi: CF, Arkansas
The lefty, who turns 21 in July, is said to make good, hard contact and have plus speed on the basepaths. He also showed some pop this year, hitting 19 homers this year. Take college stats for what you will, but that power is a bonus for a guy projected as a potential leadoff hitter.
Previously drafted by his hometown Cincinnati Reds in the 31st round two years ago, Benintendi's speed and fielding ability leads MLB.com to believe he'll be able to stick in center.
Alex Bregman: SS, LSU
Scouts can't agree on much in this draft. But there are some constants: There are three elite shortstop prospects who will be picked early. The first of them to go off the board isn't set in stone, but is more likely to be Dansby Swanson of Vanderbilt than Florida high school senior Brendan Rodgers or Bregman, a 21-year-old righty.
Beyond that, evaluators have gone back and forth on whether or not any of them would make it out of the top three. In the last-posted mocks by Callis, Mayo and McDaniel, none do. Furthermore, Houston picks second and fifth, so if interested, they'll have a second shot before Boston is called.
That said, Houston already has a top shortstop prospect in Carlos Correa – he was called up on Monday, actually. And he's YOUNGER than Swanson and Bregman. At second base, Jose Altuve has the job pretty much locked up.
So if he's available, should the Sox take him? Probably. In every mock I've seen where they didn't take Bregman, Bregman had already been taken. And the Sox are interested – like Fulmer, they picked him late in 2012 before he chose to go to college. He has consistently been compared to Dustin Pedroia, and his high bat speed as a middle infielder make him very interesting.
Picking a top-of-the-draft talent outside the top five would not be an indictment on Xander Bogaerts – previously the No. 2 prospect in baseball on all of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. Early in his career, he has not been the dominant powerhouse some have expected him to be, but he has been good, and he's still just 22. Some question whether he'll stay on the position, and even if both are long-term Major League shortstops, we're still pretty far away from a roadblock being a problem. That's a bridge a team will gladly cross further down the road.
Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy in Florida
Aiken, who turns 19 in August, was selected first overall by the Astros last year. But the team cut its bonus offer after he took a physical and red flags were raised on his elbow. He became just the third player not to sign after being taken first. He underwent Tommy John Surgery this March and is now the epitome of high risk, high reward.
More than any other team, the Dodgers have been linked to Aiken. But I've seen several evaluators entertain the possibility that the Sox chuck up that hail mary earlier in the draft. It seems highly unlikely, but if the Red Sox feel that Aiken will make a full recovery and return to the form he showed in high school, they could take that risk.
Truthfully, we don't know who Boston will pick – how could we? But it's always fun to look at the possibilities. After a player is chosen, we'll all have plenty of time to (over)analyze him.