Red Sox know Draft can pay dividends
Boston looks to build upon success of recent years
Look around Fenway Park these days and you'll see living, breathing proof of the value of the First-Year Player Draft. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a second-round selection in 2004, won the American League Rookie of the Year Award last year, sparking Boston's World Series run in the process.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the 23rd overall selection in 2005, is a strong candidate to win that award this year. Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, another 2005 selection, fired a no-hitter last September. Left-hander Jon Lester, selected in 2002, reeled off a no-hitter on May 19 against the Royals. Jonathan Papelbon, a fourth-round pick in 2003, might be the most dominant closer in the game.
Yes, the Draft can pay huge dividends. The Red Sox will try to keep up their recent momentum this year, starting with their first selection at No. 30.
MLB.com will carry every pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively at MLB.com, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo.
Several of the top amateur prospects are expected to be in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League clubs will be represented by front-office executives and baseball luminaries. Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.
Day 2 will get under way at 11:30 a.m. and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.
Here's a glance at what the Red Sox have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
Though Eric Gagne was a bust during the three months he spent with the Red Sox, his brief tenure could pay off in the Draft, where Boston gets a supplemental pick -- No. 45 overall -- to make up for his departure to the Brewers. As usual, the Red Sox will seek impact players rather than identifying positional needs.
"In terms of the top of the Draft, there's probably not as much impact talent throughout the first round as there normally is. I think, really, after about the first eight to 10 picks, a lot of teams will probably have a lot of different guys in that 12 to 35-40 range. I think you'll see a lot of volatility in those picks. You might have someone pick a guy at 15, where another club might have had him at 40 on their board." -- Jason McLeod, Red Sox director of amateur scouting
Jason Varitek can't catch forever. In other words, don't be shocked if the Sox go with a catcher early. They almost always take a starting pitcher early in the Draft, be it with their first or second selection.
The Sox will look hard for catchers and corner bats with power.
The college pool is weak this year in terms of starting pitchers and outfielders, which means that the Red Sox could be more apt to go for high school players this year than in years past.
Recent top picks
Left-hander Nick Hagadone, the Red Sox's first-round selection from a year ago, is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on his elbow once a foot infection clears. Before the injury, the Red Sox were enthused with Hagadone's makeup and arsenal of pitches. Recent history shows that pitchers can regain full effectiveness after Tommy John surgery.
Jason Place, the outfielder the Sox took with their first pick in 2006, is still struggling to find his way offensively. He is playing in Lancaster of the California League. However, Boston's other first-rounder from 2006, right-hander Daniel Bard, is having a breakthrough season at Double-A Portland.
During Theo Epstein's time as general manager, Boston's most effective Draft was 2005. Both first-rounders from that year, Ellsbury and reliever Craig Hansen, are on the Major League roster, and Buchholz was taken No. 42 overall as a compensation pick.
Less than two years from being drafted, Justin Masterson is considered the best starting pitching prospect in the organization. The sinkerballer has already turned in two quality spot starts for the Sox this season, and there will likely be more in his future. Masterson will likely be in the rotation on a full-time basis in 2009.
An 18th-round pick in 2006, Lars Anderson has one of the most promising power bats in the organization. The left-handed hitter is off to a solid start at Class A Lancaster.
In The Show
Ellsbury and Buchholz have become Fenway fixtures. Masterson might not be far behind. Hansen is trying to prove to the Red Sox that they no longer need to keep shuttling him back and forth from the Minor Leagues.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.