After saving money against the draft bonus pool with the surprising selection of second baseman Nick Yorke on Wednesday night, the Red Sox entered Day 2 of the MLB Draft with a plan. Armed with plenty of money and time to mull things over during the 72-pick break between their first and second picks, the Sox knew they would be targeting talent when their next selection rolled around at No. 89.
Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni had a select group of high-upside players in mind for the pick but wasn’t sure if any of them would fall to the middle of the third round. As the pick approached, the club narrowed in on a big-swinging, YouTube sensation from Mississippi and made third baseman Blaze Jordan the newest member of the organization.
“I don’t want to say it’s how we drew it up, but it’s pretty darn close to how we drew it up,” Toboni said after the draft.
Yorke will go down in history as Boston’s first pick in 2020, but Jordan — at least at the beginning of his professional career — is the star of the class. The 17-year-old from DeSoto Central High School was known to baseball fans long before he became draft-eligible this spring, with his big bat and seemingly perfect baseball name gaining him fans for the better part of the last decade.
At 11, Jordan was invited to the Power Showcase in Arlington, Texas and hit home runs measuring nearly 400 feet. By 13, he was hitting 500-foot bombs. At 15, Bleacher Report had dubbed him “The 15-Year-Old Baseball Phenom with 500-Foot Power” and a YouTube video — which has now reached 4 million views — referred to him as “the next Bryce Harper.” Last summer, Jordan won the High School Home Run Derby in Cleveland and even celebrated on the field with former Red Sox star Mookie Betts.
Toboni and his staff followed Jordan’s rise, keeping tabs on him throughout his high school career. For Toboni, Jordan’s maturity and humility in the face of national recognition stood out.
“It doesn’t hurt that he has been on big-league fields taking batting practice and hitting home runs and then slapping five with Mookie Betts and other big-leaguers,” Toboni said. “It for sure doesn’t hurt, especially with someone that carries himself with great humility and a strong work ethic. I think it’s going to bode well for him in the future.”
Toboni first saw Jordan hit at a showcase in Georgia early in his high school career and was immediately struck by his raw power. As the Red Sox watched more of the young slugger, they became convinced he could become a strong all-around offensive player instead of a pure power hitter.
“He has got some innate attributes that are very hard to teach and how he generates bat speed, how he’s able to process information out of the pitcher’s hand and transfer that to mechanical action, it’s super unique,” Toboni said. “You don’t see it very often, but when you do see it, it sticks out to you. When it’s coming from a 16 or 17 year old kid, it really sticks out to you.”
Jordan does come with questions, as he’s an unpolished defender at third base and could eventually move to first as his pro career progresses. But those worries will come down the road. For now, the Red Sox are thrilled to get the unexpected chance to tap into Jordan’s extreme talent.
“Getting that kind of upside at pick No. 89, it’s not normal,” Toboni said. “We were able to assume the risk mainly because the expected value we thought we were getting was really, really good in that area of the draft.
“He’s just a really exciting talent. There’s no other way to put it.”