With the dust settling from the 2021 MLB Draft, arguably the biggest story would have to be the Kumar Rocker situation and the Mets’ utter mishandling of it. Rocker was expected to be a force in the Mets rotation from the minute he was picked, instead he didn’t put pen to paper and his future is murky at best. But he wasn’t the only high profile pick to not sign, as University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian decided not to sign with the Boston Red Sox.
To see Fabian, the 41st overall pick, make it that far in the first place was a little surprising. He entered the year as a consensus top five pick, with the Red Sox at number four overall seeming like a good fit. Instead, Fabian struggled mightily early on in his junior year. Over 59 games and 269 plate appearances, Fabian struck out a whopping 79 times. He began to correct these struggles and show improved power with an impressive 20 homers on the season, but the damage was done.
There were some rumors that a team in the back third of the first round could take him, but he ultimately dropped to Boston’s second round pick.
Fabian is taking a pretty big chance on himself. The slot price for his pick was a little over $1.8 million, but the Red Sox could have offered him as much as $2.1 million without suffering penalties. That didn’t seem to change much as the two sides were reported to never really being close on negotiations. A second report claims that multiple teams could have given Fabian more than $3 million had he fallen a few picks further in the second round. Now, Fabian will return to Florida for his senior year and try and battle back into the first round.
Fabian has an uphill battle ahead of him however, as the 2022 draft class for outfielders looks stacked early on. The top outfield prospect in the class, Elijah Green, also happens to be the top overall prospect, with other guys like Brock Jones, Druw Jones, Jared McKenzie and Cayden Wallace all battling for first round draft spots.
Fabian’s skillset leads to a pretty big boom-or-bust player profile, and he showed both versions of his game that cause scouts to be excited and nervous at the same time. One thing Fabian has going for him is the rare opportunity to prove his college doubters wrong. Unlike last year, he enters the upcoming season as more of a question mark than a sure thing. The talent in Fabian’s bat is real, but there are real concerns if he can harness it at the major league or even high minor league level.
It’s a strange situation for Fabian and the Red Sox both. In a class where everyone who was picked early was expected to sign, Fabian was one of just two top ten round picks who didn’t sign. For the Red Sox, they probably didn’t expect top draft prospect Marcelo Mayer to fall to them, and then had to change their whole draft strategy on the fly. A world where Fabian was seen as a must sign changed to one where he was deemed expendable. Now, Fabian gets the chance to distinguish himself in a deep outfield class and Boston gets an extra draft pick as compensation. Plus, the Red Sox picked him once, what’s to stop them from picking him a second time?