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A call to arms for Red Sox
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2004 First-Year Player Draft
06/08/2004  9:20 PM ET
A call to arms for Red Sox
Boston uses 25 picks on pitchers
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Theo Epstein, talking with Padres manager Bruce Bochy Tuesday night, wanted to stockpile hurlers. (Jim Rogash/AP)

BOSTON -- The Red Sox did enough homework to know that the 2004 First-Year Player Draft was full of promising pitchers. And because pitching is always a priority for any baseball franchise wishing to be successful, the Sox made it a point to go after all the arms they could over the last two days.

The result was that the Sox used 25 of their 49 draft selections on pitchers.

"We thought this draft was really deep in pitching and that's a need as well," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "With pitching, there's so much risk and so much attrition that you have to attack it with volume and numbers and so we wanted to do that. We wanted to get as many pitchers as we could in Rounds 2 through about 10."

After taking shortstop Dustin Pedroia with their first selection (No. 65 overall), the Sox took pitchers with eight of their next 12 picks.

Epstein was intrigued by the franchise's next crop of pitching prospects, particularly left-handers Andrew Dobies and Thomas Hottovy, who were taken in the third and fourth rounds.

"We think [they're] going to move through our system really quickly," said Epstein. "They're strike throwers with good clean deliveries, plus breaking balls and the ability to miss bats. They get hitters out the right way. They really fit our profile of what we're looking for."

The Sox followed up the two lefty starters by getting two of the nation's top collegiate relievers -- righties Ryan Schroyer (San Diego State) and Cla Meredith (Virginia Commonwealth).

The plan -- assuming they can sign him -- is to convert Schroyer into a starter.

"He's got a really good arm and a four-pitch mix," said Epstein. "Outstanding command and not a lot of innings on his arm."

They'll keep Meredith in the bullpen.

"He's very, very tough on right-handers with a side-arm delivery," Epstein said. "A lot of natural sink on his fastball, and a good breaking ball. He's not too far away from getting good hitters out with the stuff he has right now and I think he's going to get better."

Epstein was pleased with the crop of talent the Sox drafted over the last two days. But as he noted, that is usually the case.

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"I think all clubs like the draft right now, and you have to check back in five years," he said. "But I think we got a lot of big league players and some big league players who can make an impact. We spent a lot of time and energy scouting the country and doing a lot of performance analysis as well."

A day later, Epstein was still bubbling over the fact Pedroia was still on the board at No. 65.

"He was somebody that we thought was going to be gone. We were picking 65 and I got really excited when we get to the 50s and he was still there, and counting it down to 65, and he was on the board. He's a pretty exceptional talent and we're excited to have him in our system."

The Sox went the family route with a couple of their selections. With their 40th-round selection, the Sox took manager Terry Francona's son Nick. The 18-year-old left-handed pitcher has a scholarship to Penn, which he is likely to honor.

"I think three or four years from now he'll be high on some team's draft boards," said Epstein. "He's a great kid. He'll be a prospect."

The same can be said of Beau Mills, whom the Sox selected in the 44th round. Sox bench coach Brad Mills made it known that his son is planning on going to Fresno State, which is why the talented third baseman didn't get drafted sooner.

With another draft in the books, the Sox will look to quickly sign their players and then get their development going in the minor leagues.

Last year's class -- which featured outfielders David Murphy and Matt Murton, as well as left-hander Abe Alvarez -- is progressing nicely.

"We still like all those guys and most of them are performing really well, which is nice," said Epstein. "Our first pick, David Murphy, is probably off to the least prolific start in terms of stats, but we really like his development in other areas. Matt Murton is doing an outstanding job, he was named to the Florida State All-Star team. He's showing a great combination of patience and power and pretty good defense in left field.

"Abe Alvarez [pitching for Double-A Portland] is having a lot of success. His numbers are good, but not indicative of how well he has pitched. This guy is very polished, very advanced, commands both sides of the plate, has above average command, above average changeup. He's really developed well this year. He's not too far away from making an impact in our plans."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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