Mike Trout, Noah Syndergaard and other Red Sox what-could-have-beens

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By WEEI 93.7

Have you ever heard of Braxton Davidson?

For those not familiar with the Atlanta Braves minor leagues the name probably doesn't ring a bell. Perhaps you saw a glimpse of Davidson on recent transaction lists, with the outfielder becoming of one of the minor-leaguers cut by the Braves in late May.

But as we head into the 2020 MLB Draft Wednesday night Davidson can offer Red Sox fans a reminder: Nobody is perfect.

It's a fun exercise each year leading into the Draft to look at the what-might-have-beens when it comes to teams missing out on successful major league talent after prioritizing names that didn't quite work out. The reason Davidson can be highlighted is because of one of those times the Red Sox came out on the positive side of this dynamic, with the Braves choosing the then-high school outfielder one spot before the Sox scooped up pitcher Michael Kopech. with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 Draft.

This isn't to pick on Davidson or the Braves or any other player and/or team. This is just the reality when it comes to perhaps the most unpredictable of any of the four major sports' drafts.

So, with that said, there are certainly some interesting what-ifs when it comes to the Red Sox in recent years:

2001: The A's pick Nick Swisher with the 16th overall selection, a pick the Red Sox surrendered when signing Johnny Damon.

2002: Outfielder Adam Jones was taken by the Mariners five spots after the Red Sox selected Matt Murton with the 32nd overall pick.

2008: Gerrit Cole was taken two spots in front of the Red Sox' first-round pick Casey Kelly. (In fairness, Cole didn't sign with the Yankees, going off to play at UCLA.)

2009: The Red Sox almost got a crack at Mike Trout, who was taken just three spots before the Red Sox' first-round pick that year, Rey Fuentes (28th overall). (For an in-depth look at how the Red Sox' approached Trout in that Draft, click here.)

2009: The Red Sox chose Alex Wilson -- who did become a serviceable reliever -- with the 77th overall pick, passing on Patrick Corbin who went three spots later.

2010: One of the bigger misses for the Red Sox came when they prioritized second baseman Kobrin Vitek, who was taken at No. 20 overall, three spots before Florida scooped up Christian Yelich. Vitek's time in pro ball ended in 2013.

2010: Later in the '10 Draft the Red Sox almost got a crack at Noah Syndergaard, who was taken one spot in front of the Red Sox' pick at No. 39. But, according to a source familiar with the situation, the Sox weren't high on Syndergaard and would have taken the Anthony Ranaudo regardless of what Toronto decided.

2010: How about Jacob deGrom going nine spots after the Red Sox took Matthew Price with their fourth-round pick. After a pair of drug suspensions, Price's pro baseball career ended in 2013.

2012: Pat Light did pitch in two big-league games for the Red Sox before appearing in 15 more for the Twins, but the fact that Joey Gallo landed to the Rangers two spots after the Red Sox' first-round pick is certainly a big what-if.

2013: While the Red Sox have had their fair share of first-round hits over the past decade, Trey Ball at No. 7 overall was a big miss. Options? There was Austin Meadows taken two spots later or Aaron Judge at No. 26.

2013: Perhaps it's unfair to surface fourth-round what-ifs, but looking back at Cody Bellinger falling 11 spots behind the Red Sox' pick of Myles Smith is something to think about.

2014: While the Kopech pick undeniably went the Red Sox way, there is a debate about a decision from earlier in that same draft's first-round. Just one spot before the Red Sox took Michael Chavis at No. 26 Oakland went with Matt Chapman.

There are plenty of examples of the good, bad and somewhere in between (there were 171 opportunities to pick Mookie Betts before he ultimately went to the Red Sox in 2011). But that's the fun of it. Welcome to the 2020 MLB Draft, the gateway to another round of what-could-have-beens.