On Thursday the Red Sox will do something they haven’t done since 1993 – pick inside the top 10 of the MLB first-year player draft.
The Red Sox have the No. 7 overall pick, which can be credited to their disastrous 69-win season last year. The last time the Sox had a pick that high was in 1993 when they selected Trot Nixon. This is entirely new territory for the Sox as they’ve only had one pick inside the top 20 (No. 19 in 2011) since 2003. The organization is very excited about the opportunity to grab an elite young player.
“Yeah, as everyone knows there are no guarantees in the draft and good players come from all parts of the draft, but if you look at it historically the odds of getting a really good player are higher than they would be,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “It’s an opportunity to choose from a different pool than we usually would.”
Cherington along with Amiel Sawdaye, Director of Amateur Scouting, work extensively together throughout the draft process. Although Cherington has the final say, Sawdaye plays a significant role in the pick. This is their second draft together, and Sawdaye’s fourth in his current role. His past selections could give some hints as to what kind of player the organization could be targeting with their top pick. The Red Sox have never selected a high school player with their first pick in Sawdaye’s drafts, and of the five first rounders overall, just one was a high school player (catcher Blake Swihart in 2011). Going by the past Sox trends, and with roughly 50 percent of top 10 MLB picks coming from college in the past five years, it’s likely the player the team selects is a current collegiate player.
Although baseball is the most unpredictable sport to predict when it comes to how players will pan out once they become professionals, there have been a number of quality players selected at No. 7. Young pitching stud Matt Harvey of the Mets was selected at this spot in 2010, as well as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw back in 2006. Other players include Troy Tulowitzki (2005) and Nick Markakis (2003). Very rarely do these players selected in the draft make impacts to the organization in the short-term, but the Red Sox have had a number of their selections work out well.
“We take players we like, that is the way we like to do it,” Sawdaye said. “Even later in the draft we’re pulling names of guys we like and guys we’ve seen. Typically you get a lot of those guys.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. was the 40th overall pick in 2011, Ryan Lavarnway was their sixth round pick in 2008, Will Middlebrooks was taken in the fifth round in 2007, Jacoby Ellsbury No. 23 overall in 2005, Dustin Pedroia in the second round of 2003, and Jon Lester in the second round of 2002. The first round of the draft begins Thursday night (7, MLB Network) and continues throughout the weekend with the remaining 39 rounds.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84