Boston Red Sox: Draft Review

General Manager: Theo Epstein
Farm Director: Mike Hazen
Scouting Director: Amiel Sawdaye

2006-2009 Draft Results:
First three rounds included
x- over-slot signees ($200,000 or more)

2009 1st Round: Reymond Fuentes, OF, Puerto Rico HS
2. Alex Wilson, RHP, Texas A&M
3. David Renfroe, SS, Mississippi HS
7x – Madison Younginer, RHP, South Carolina HS
9x – Kendal Volz, RHP, Baylor
10x – Brandon Jacobs, OF, Georgia HS
11x – Jason Thompson, SS, Tennessee HS
26x – Miles Head, 3B, Georgia HS

Despite the possibility of being hamstrung during each amateur draft due to consistently-late picks from finishing with such a good record each season, this first-class organization uses its considerable finances to award above-slot contacts to deserving talents. Over the past four drafts, the club has handed out 19 above-slot deals worth $200,000 or more, the highest number from any one club.

Considered a bit of a project before the ’09 draft, Fuentes enjoyed his debut in rookie ball by hitting .290/.331/.379 in 145 at-bats. He showed some rough edges in his base running ability and was caught five times in 14 attempts. He could also stand to be more patient at the plate after posting a walk rate of 4.4%.

Health woes prevented Wilson from receiving the kind of money he was looking for and the organization may have a real steal after handing him less than $500,000. Wilson appeared healthy in his debut, as he made 10 starts and allowed just 10 hits in 36.0 innings (He was on a pitch count) in short-season ball. He showed solid control with a walk rate of 1.75 BB/9 and his strikeout rate was good at 8.25 K/9. Wilson also did not allow a home run. Despite his 10 starts, the right-hander profiles as a late-game reliever, if he can maintain his peak fastball velocity for an entire season.

A $750,000 contract swayed Jacobs away from a football ride at Auburn University. After signing, though, he appeared in just six games. Despite his football-sized body, he’s an excellent athlete, but raw as a baseball player. Thompson had just one plate appearance after signing and he walked. Head received 32 plate appearances in ’09 and hit just .103 with eight strikeouts.

Youngsters Renfroe, Younginer, and Volz did not appear in a pro game after turning pro so they’ll make their debuts in 2010. Renfroe, a two-way prep player, has the highest upside of the trio and could reach low-A ball in ’10 with a strong spring performance although he’s more likely to begin the year in extended spring training.

2008 1st Round: Casey Kelly, RHP/SS, Florida HS
1S. Bryan Price, RHP, Rice
2. Derrik Gibson, SS, Delaware HS
3. Stephen Fife, RHP, Utah
4x – Pete Hissey, OF, Pennsylvania HS
5x – Ryan Westmoreland, OF, Rhode Island HS
6x – Ryan Lavarnway, C, Yale
13x – Tyler Wilson, RHP, Georgia HS
27x – Hunter Cervenka, LHP, Texas HS
35x – Carson Blair, SS, Texas HS

The club nabbed three Top 10 prospects with this draft: Kelly, Gibson, and Westmoreland. Price was traded to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez deal. Fife has shown some potential, but the ground-ball pitcher was hurt by a high BABIP in high-A ball in ’09. Hissey is a speedy sleeper to keep an eye on, especially if he can either trim his strikeout rate (23.8%) or improve his strength (.068 ISO). In other words, he needs to commit to being a slash-and-run guy, or drive the ball more.

Lavarnway had one of the quietest 21-homer seasons in ’09, which was odd considering his high-profile organization. He also slugged 35 doubles and posted a .255 ISO rate, while maintaining a solid batting average of .285, thanks to a high (especially for a catcher) BABIP of .348. On the downside, his value takes a hit because he’s probably not going to stick behind the plate.

Wilson, Cervenka, and Blair have all under-performed, but Blair’s value is increasing as he makes the conversion to backstop.

The club took a run at prep star Alex Meyer, a Boras client, in the 20th round after he dropped out of the first couple of rounds due to signability concerns, but he followed through on his commitment to the University of Kentucky.

2007 1st Round: Nick Hagadone, LHP, Washington
1S. Ryan Dent, SS, California HS
2. Hunter Morris, 1B, Alabama HS (Did not sign)
3. Brock Huntzinger, RHP, Indiana HS
5x – Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Texas HS
6x – Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Florida HS
7x – David Mailman, 1B, North Carolina HS
16x – Austin Bailey, RHP, Alabama HS
23x – Drake Britton, LHP, Texas HS

The club went prep crazy in ’07 and the only player signed to a $200,000+ deal from a college program, Nick Hagadone, was traded to Cleveland last season. From the group above, only Rizzo currently projects as a Top 10 talent.

Dent has reached high-A ball, but his bat looks like it’s going to produce utility-player offense. Huntzinger, who posted a 3.18 FIP in low-A ball, is a solid sleeper candidate in 2010. Mailman is another sleeper if he can improve his consistency after posting a wOBA of .379 in the first half of the year in low-A ball, compared to .242 in the second half in high-A.

Middlebrooks had a respectable first full year in the minors, but his strikeout rate of 32.9% needs to come way down for him to succeed at higher levels. Bailey (shoulder, suspension) appeared in just one game in two seasons, and Britton is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Hunter Strickland was a great value in the 18th round, but he was traded to Pittsburgh last season in the Adam LaRoche deal. The club also took a run at two players that slid due to signability concerns: Yasmani Grandal, and Nick Tepesch, but both players went to college.

2006 1st Round: Jason Place, OF, South Carolina HS
1. Daniel Bard, RHP, North Carolina
1S. Kris Johnson, LHP, Wichita State
1S. Caleb Clay, RHP, Alabama HS
2. Justin Masterson, RHP, San Diego State
3. Aaron Bates, 1B, North Carolina State
3. Bryce Cox, RHP, Rice
x- Ryan Kalish, OF, New Jersey HS
x- Ty Weeden, C, Oklahoma HS
x- Lars Anderson, 1B, California HS

Bard is the closer-in-waiting in Boston, and will likely serve as the set-up man to Jonathan Papelbon in 2010. Place has been all over the, er, place with his performances but it’s hard to project him as a full-time big leaguer due to his low power output and high strikeout numbers. Masterson was traded to Cleveland in ’09. Anderson had a rough ’09 season, but he’s still a Top-10 talent, as is Kalish.

The club missed with Johnson and Weeden. Clay has produced underwhelming numbers, but he’s still young. Bates made his MLB debut in ’09, due to a lack of first base depth in the upper minors and is basically a quad-A player. Cox’ value has diminished to that of a middle reliever at the MLB level.

Outfielder Josh Reddick was a steal in the 17th round and he is on the club’s Top 10 prospect list, due out on Monday. First baseman Matt LaPorta, a college junior, turned down the club as a 14th-rounder and was a first-round pick by Milwaukee in ’07 as a senior. Nick Hill would have been a nice grab in the 47th round, but he went to Seattle in the ’07 draft and could appear in the Majors in 2010.

Up Next: The Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


9 Responses to “Boston Red Sox: Draft Review”

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  1. R M says:

    The Sox sure could use a power bat like LaPorta coming up right now.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Joe R says:

      Yeah man, Matt LaPorta and his projected .800 OPS from LF = championship.

      While we’re at it, is Giambi still available?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dirty Water says:

        Eh. The Fans Vote will be the more accurate, albeit still low. Not that I disagree with your premise unless LaPorta is ok with DHing.

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    • Josh says:

      I suppose every team could use a power bat in the system, but where exactly would LaPorta play, with Youkilis cemented at first, Beltre at third, and Ellsbury in left.

      I think it’s still at least reasonable to say that Ortiz would start over LaPorta at DH, and if he wouldn’t, that would present an enormous PR issue for the team.

      Not to mention Lars Anderson and LaPorta would be blocking eachother in some way shape or form in the minors.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Evan Kirkwood says:

      Lars Anderson is a projected power bat…he’s just not close to contributing yet and is very raw. Ryan Westmoreland, if he fills out his body, could become a power hitter, too. Sure, the Sox don’t have a Chris Carter-type in the system, but that doesn’t mean there are no potential power bats.

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  2. Dirty Water says:

    Well, all I’ve got to say is that Martinez better be resigned for safe bucks, because I’ll bet, him for Masterson, Hagadone and Price is gonna look awful stupid in 2 years.

    Never liked it, Joe. Not one bit.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. nateg26 says:

    I think that Reddick is maybe being overlooked by those dumping on the Sox near-MLB ready talent with power. He projects for big power and his defensive skills make him a potentially more valuable player than LaPorta (although he would need to improve his plate discipline without losing any of his pop to do so). I don’t expect Reddick to be better than LaPorta, but his power potential is similar.

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  4. andy says:

    tixlist,

    there’s always one right?

    your friend,
    trc

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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