Red Sox continue focus on power arms
Team not afraid to take chances on high-ceiling prep stars
BOSTON -- No sooner did the 2007 First-Year Player Draft come to an end, and Jason McLeod, Red Sox director of amateur scouting, was already looking ahead to what's next for the 47 players the club selected Thursday and Friday.
"Right now, I'm just going through our signing spreadsheets, sending e-mails to our scouts, and I've already called a couple of agents since the Draft ended," McLeod told MLB.com less than five minutes after the two-day process ended shortly after 7 p.m. ET. "I'll definitely try to relax a little over the weekend, but now starts the process of signing these guys, and that can be more of a pain than actually scouting them."
But that's not to say the work that went into this year's Draft wasn't a labor of love. Starting with their first selection on Thursday, Nick Hagadone, a power lefty from the University of Washington (55th overall) and continuing with right-hander Chris Providence from SE Louisiana (144th overall), the Red Sox showed once again they are intent on loading the organization with impact pitchers.
"And when you look at our college guys, with Hagadone, Chris Providence, those are big power-arm guys, with one from the left side that's reached 95 [mph] and the other from the right that's been up to 96," McLeod said.
As the Red Sox have deepened their pool of talent in the organization, general manager Theo Epstein has instructed his lieutenants not to be afraid of drafting more and more high school players with potentially higher ceilings than more polished college players.
"I think we felt the strength of this Draft was generally in the high school class," Epstein said. "We were very fortunate to get Nick with our first pick. We expected to be able to make an impact if the right high school kids were available at our pick, and [that's considering] talent, tools, performance, makeup, health, signability and the whole package."
"Certainly, you do bring on an added element of more risk at times when you go for the higher ceiling kids," McLeod added. "We feel really good about where we're at right now, organizationally. That's our goal going in, and actually [it has been] the last couple of Drafts."
The Red Sox and McLeod executed that plan Thursday and Friday, with four of their six selections on the first day coming from the high school ranks, including two pitchers.
"For the Red Sox, I would characterize [the Draft] as one in which we were looking to go in and get as many impact players that have high ceilings as possible," McLeod said. "We certainly feel we were able to do that. You just look at the Draft, there were a lot of high school players that were taken. Certainly we feel they have a high ceiling."
Since adopting a more mixed approach to drafting high school and college players, McLeod said the bottom line has remained the same in the last three years.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
"It doesn't change that much," McLeod said. "The overall goal is still to find Major League players, hopefully find those guys that can provide an impact for the organization. As Theo has said time and again, we feel our Minor League talent is at a place where we feel we don't have to stabilize anymore at this point. We can really go try and find kids who we feel can become stars."
One of the highlights of the second day for the Red Sox came with the selection of Adam Mills, a collegiate right-hander who was 14-2 with an almost unreal 1.02 ERA in 18 starts.
"With Adam Mills, he's a kid that just had an incredible year this year at UNC-Charlotte," McLeod said. "He has a smaller frame than most pitchers in that he's 5-11, six feet but he's up for the Golden Spikes [awarded to the best player in college baseball]."
With the organization producing big leaguers like Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis and with names like Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz on the way, McLeod realizes there are bigger expectations for Red Sox prospects.
"After the '04 Draft, we felt pretty confident where we were, and once '05 rolled around, we were able to follow athletes and kids with high ceilings. I think that's why you're seeing the Ellsburys, the Buchholzs of the world prospering in the system now," McLeod said.
The Red Sox selected 41 players on the second day, including Northeastern catcher Daniel Milano, who the Red Sox saw up close during the Huskies' exhibition March 1 in Fort Myers.
"I'm still trying to assess last year's Draft," McLeod said. "I think you truly find out after a couple of full seasons of your players playing in the Minor Leagues. You look back at the last couple of years and the way Baseball America has rated our Draft as one of the top [classes]. I think two years ago, in '05, some of those claims are warranted. I think last year they rated our Draft as the best [class] right after the Draft. A lot of those kids haven't gone out and performed from a statistical standpoint so far this year, but they are developing.
"This year, as we're sitting here today, we're all really excited about the players we've selected and I'm sure we're all hopeful that two years from now, we'll have players who are Major League prospects," he added.
McLeod says he will take a moment to take in all of the prospects this Draft has yielded.
"We'll get to rest a little, but there's still work ahead of us," he said.
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.