With the No. 43 overall pick in the MLB Draft, the Red Sox selected shortstop Cameron Cannon from the University of Arizona on Monday night. Cannon was named a Collegiate Baseball second-team All-American after hitting .397/.478/.651 with eight homers and 29 doubles. He led Division 1 in doubles.
“We like a lot about him,” Red Sox VP of amateur scouting Mike Rikard said of Cannon. “He’s a very good hitter. We like his swing path. He does things as far as controlling the strike zone and limiting his strikeouts that we value. He’s got good power now and we think there may be more evolving power he has a chance to grow into as he continues to mature as a hitter.”
The Red Sox have had plenty of looks over multiple years at Cannon, who established himself as a sophomore in 2018 as a clear candidate to follow as a junior, with area scout Vaughn Williams playing the lead role in the process. Cannon also played last summer for Falmouth in the Cape League.
The Red Sox defined the 21-year-old as a shortstop in announcing his selection, though there are questions about whether he will end up at another position. Indeed, Baseball America suggested that he “may be best suited to play multiple positions in a superutility role.”
Rikard acknowledged that the Red Sox aren’t sure at which position Cannon ultimately will land, but the fact that he’s played short, second, and third creates potential pathways to the big leagues. Meanwhile, his consistent track record of success in one of the better baseball conferences in the country (the Pac-12) makes him a relatively high-probability bet to advance to the big leagues, with upside of an everyday player.
The top Red Sox pick was bumped down by 10 spots in this year’s draft as a result of the team exceeding the 2018 luxury tax threshold of $197 million by more than $40 million. As a result, what would have been the 33rd overall pick at the end of the first round instead became the 43rd, early in the second round. The pick marked the latest selection by the Red Sox to open a draft since 2007, when the team chose lefthander Nick Hagadone in the supplementary first round with the No. 55 overall pick.
This year’s draft marked the first time that the team didn’t pick before the second round since 2004, when the club took Dustin Pedroia in the second round at No. 65.
With their second selection, the Red Sox took high school shortstop Matthew Lugo of the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico. Lugo, a 6-foot-1-inch, 185-pound shortstop, is a player with intriguing — albeit raw — tools.
He was described by Baseball America as someone “who has a chance to provide long-term defensive impact at a premium position” – presumably either shortstop or second – while also showing above-average power potential.
The Red Sox likewise viewed him as a player with an impressive ceiling. As with most high school players, he’ll almost surely have a deliberate development path, but the Red Sox were pleased to get a player who could have an above-average ceiling with their second selection.
“He’s a very talented young player,” said Rikard. “He’s got really good tools. He, as well, has a chance to stay in the middle of the field, for sure. He’s got power potential. And he’s got speed to kind of push the game a little bit.”
Not only did Lugo attend the Beltran Academy, but he is the nephew of the longtime big league star. Rikard said that the newly drafted Red Sox prospect is close with Beltran and has the same agent as the team’s 2018 first-rounder, Triston Casas.
“You always like the players in the offseason who you know they’re in good hands,” said Rikard. “That’s always a good thing, to know that they have backgrounds and people in their lives who have a chance to be such a positive influence.”