For the second time in three years, the Boston Red Sox were pleasantly surprised when they went on the clock in the first round of the MLB Draft.
In 2021, it was five-tool shortstop Marcelo Mayer who fell to Boston at No. 4 overall. On Sunday night, the Red Sox had the 14th pick in the 2023 MLB Draft and may have landed a top-10 prospect in Virginia catcher Kyle Teel.
According to Red Sox amateur scouting director Devin Pearson, the team didn't expect Teel to be available at No. 14 and wasted no time selecting the 21-year-old when it was their turn to pick in Round 1.
"We didn’t really know it was going to be a possibility until the draft played itself out," Pearson told reporters Sunday night, via MassLive's Chris Cotillo. "I think we expected him to go higher. But a draft is a draft. To be able to add a catcher in the middle of the first round, a college catcher, doesn’t happen all the time.
"For us, it was kind of a no-brainer at that point to draft him."
The reigning ACC Player of the Year, Teel was the No. 1 catcher prospect in this year's draft class. Multiple mock drafts had him going in the top 10, while MLB Pipeline ranked Teel as the seventh-best prospect overall.
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"Teel sliding this far is a shock, really," The Athletic's Keith Law wrote in his MLB Draft live blog. "A college catcher who stays at the position, has a track record of hitting, is a good athlete, and played for an elite program in one of the two best conferences in the country doesn’t go in the top 10? I’m shocked, but Red Sox fans should be ecstatic."
Teel still has room for improvement; he struggled at the plate in the wood-bat Cape Cod League last summer, and Baseball America notes there are "some big movements to his swing that some scouts think could get him into trouble against better pitching."
But the consensus is that the Red Sox got great value here by landing an elite player at a position of need, considering they have just two catcher prospects in their Top 30. Now, it will be on Teel to prove the Red Sox and draft experts right.
"I couldn’t be happier that I’m going to Boston," Teel said, via The Boston Globe's Alex Speier. "It’s a dream come true."