Red Sox

5 things to know about the Red Sox’s 2nd-round draft steal Jud Fabian

Fabian had a down year in 2021, but the power and defense that once made him a top prospect could make him a draft steal for the Red Sox.

Jud Fabian Red Sox
Jud Fabian. Gary McCullough/AP
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The Red Sox already got one of the best players in the first round of the MLB Draft, nabbing shortstop Marcelo Mayer with the No. 4 overall pick.

Then, the team grabbed a prospect many thought could be just as good with the fourth pick of the second round, taking University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian at 40.

The 20-year-old Fabian certainly didn’t go as high as some experts predicted he would coming into the 2021 college season. His batting average dropped 45 points during his junior year, thanks to a rash of strikeouts.

But his draft-day slide might benefit the Red Sox as they could be getting an above-average glove and arm in centerfield combined with tantalizing power that he showed off this year to the tune of 20 home runs.

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Here are a few things to know about the Red Sox’s second-round pick.

He was once considered a top-10 pick.

The fact that the Red Sox got Fabian with the 40th-overall pick is extraordinary, given how evaluators projected him coming into 2021.

But as CBS Sports draft analyst R.J. Anderson wrote Sunday, this season didn’t go as planned for the new Sox outfielder.

“Fabian entered the season ranked as the third-best prospect in the class,” Anderson wrote. “He had an impressive track record against SEC competition; he was young for a college junior; and scouts foresaw him having plus power. Then Fabian, a wrong-way guy (he bats right, throws left), went … well, the wrong way. He punched out in 29.4 percent of his regular season plate appearances, including 36 percent of those he took in February and March.”

Though Fabian eventually cut the strikeouts down some as the season went on, his struggles clearly made an impression on teams and contributed to his draft-day slide.

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Though he hit 20 home runs and had an OPS of .924, he finished the 2020 season hitting just .249, which was down from the .294 average and 1.010 OPS he put up as a sophomore (though with just five home runs).

But, as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo added, “There are some tremendous tools in Jud Fabian — a ton of power, he runs very well, he plays a very good defensive center field. It’s just that hit ability that has some concern, if he’ll get to that power enough.”

Baseball runs in his family.

When Fabian’s strikeout epidemic was hitting his peak during the 2021 college season, he turned to his “lifelong hitting coach” for advice: his dad, Eric.

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In particular, the two worked on his two-strike approach, including simplifying his swing.

“My dad and I had a bunch of phone calls and it was just talking with each other about my swing, because that’s what we’ve done my whole life, seeing what feels best for me and what looks best to him,” Fabian said. “We had a bunch of talks this year and it was a tremendous help. He was the biggest help for me this year in changing my approach … and he’s definitely a big part of why I am the player I am today.”

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Fabian also says some of his earliest sports memories are of watching his uncles Matt and Andrew Fabian play high school baseball.

He homered twice off another top prospect this year.

The young power-hitter still had his moments this year, though.

As Red Sox fans will know, not a whole lot of college hitters got the better of Vanderbilt fireballer and No. 2 overall pick Jack Leiter this year.

Fabian was one of the few.

The outfielder touched up Red Sox fans’ favorite draft prospect for two home runs in consecutive at-bats when the two faced each other earlier this season – one of which was a game-tying blast.

He idolizes a few all-time great center fielders.

An aspiring Gold Glove centerfielder, it’s no surprise Fabian has an affinity for watching great players at his position.

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In particular, two of his favorite players might be the two best to ever roam a Major League outfield at any position, let alone center field.

His favorite baseball player of all time? “Ken Griffey Jr.,” he’s said in a past profile. “Just watching his highlights, he is probably one of the best there ever was.

As far as current great centerfielders he watches, the name at the top of his list is almost a foregone conclusion: “Mike Trout. I mimic my game off of him.”

Fabian’s not shy about how he sees his own game translating to the Major League level eventually: “I know I can be a Gold Glove center fielder who hits 25 or more homers a year for a long time.”

He has a surprising off-the-field hobby.

Like a lot of other 20-year-olds, Fabian says he likes to play video games or listen to music during his downtime.

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But he also has a pretty unique side hustle: bow fishing.

“I would be a pretty good bow fisherman if I had the time,” he said while in high school. “I am actually OK at it now, and do it like every two months or so because my grandparents have a house in Crystal River.”

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