© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/04/07 10:00 AM ET

It's how you draft, not where you draft

Even with no first-rounder, Sox still confident about later picks

BOSTON -- Though they are without a first-round pick in Thursday's First-Year Player Draft, the Red Sox have good reason to suspect that there will be plenty of meat in their sandwich picks, which come at Nos. 55 and 62 overall.

The last two times the Red Sox were in this position, they landed players who are currently at the core of their short- and long-term plans. Back in 2002, the Sox landed a high school left-hander named Jon Lester with pick No. 57. And in 2004, the Sox, again without a first-rounder, took an infielder named Dustin Pedroia with the 65th overall pick.

"I thought those years we did a good job of preparing for the unexpected," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "You never know who's going to fall to those picks. We have to be prepared for any scenario. We can still make an impact.

"Even though we don't have a high selection, we have more than the standard allotment. We have two sandwich picks. We don't miss a pick from the second round on. We have one additional pick compared to a normal allotment; we just don't pick until 55."

And unlike when Epstein first took over as general manager in Nov. 2002, the Red Sox farm system is now regarded as one of the most fruitful in Major League Baseball. That allows the Red Sox -- led by amateur scouting director Jason McLeod and his staff -- to swing for the fences a little more when it comes to Draft strategy.

"I think one thing that I've asked Jason to do is to focus on impact players," Epstein said. "Maybe five years ago we were more concerned with not missing on guys. We had to make sure our selections high in the Draft would return value, whether in the form of big-league players for the Red Sox or prospects who would move through the system and have value in trades. We couldn't really afford to miss, even if we weren't necessarily getting the same ceiling.

"Now that our system is almost right where we want it to be, or at least making progress toward that end, we can afford to take an educated risk on certain picks in the hope of getting players with real upside and balance that out with some safer picks down the line. Really, the goal is to come away with an impact players. Looking back on the drafts, in '03, we got [Jonathan] Papelbon, '04, Pedroia, '05, [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Michael] Bowden, [Clay] Buchholz. And last year, a lot of promising guys with high upside. I hope we're able to do that again this year."

MLB.com will broadcast every pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, which will take place June 7-8 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. Video coverage of the remaining rounds on Day 1 will air on MLB.com, with live interviews and analysis from Orlando by Casey Stern, Jonathan Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Dave Rawnsley.

Day 2 of the Draft will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live on MLB.com with analysis from Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Allan Simpson.

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
Top MLB Draft Picks
Pick POS Name School
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
Complete Draft list >

Also once again this year, fans can follow every pick with MLB.com's live Draft Caster, a searchable database of every Draft eligible player featuring biographical data, statistics, scouting reports and rare scouting video.

Epstein is pleased with the increased exposure the Draft is getting and never underestimates how important a day it is for the Red Sox.

"I think it's great," Epstein said. "There are some inherent limitations on how popular the Major League Baseball Draft can be just because you're generally talking about players the average fan has never heard of. I think the more attention the better.

"It's probably the single most important day of the year for us. The quality of the 2012 Red Sox or 2015 Red Sox might well be determined on Thursday by the people in that room, at least it will play a large role in determining the quality of that team. It's a very important day, and I think the more attention the better. It gives fans some insight into the real inner workings of scouting and player development operation."

Recent first-round picks
Jason Place, OF, 2006, pick No. 27: The Red Sox bucked a recent trend by taking a high schooler with their first pick. Thus far, the brass likes what they've seen out of the right-handed slugger from South Carolina. "Jason Place is a player with a lot of raw ability and potential to achieve a very high ceiling in the big leagues, but he's not as polished a high-school player as some other first-rounders," said Epstein. "So he has a longer development path, more adjustments that need to be made before he's able to succeed in professional ball."

Daniel Bard, RHP, 2006, pick No. 28: As thrilled as the Red Sox were to be able to pounce on the talented righty out of the University of North Carolina, Bard has suffered some early lumps. After getting off to a rough start in the California League, Bard was sent to extended Spring Training. The Red Sox will soon evaluate what the next step is for Bard.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, 2005, pick No. 23: Scouts liken the lefty hitting and throwing speedster to a young Johnny Damon. Ellsbury began the year blazing hot at Double-A Portland before earning a ticket to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Oregon State product appears to be on the fast track.

Craig Hansen, RHP, 2005, pick No. 26: The lanky right-hander, according to some scouts, was just about Major League-ready when he was drafted. However, things have gone a lot rockier than the Red Sox or Hansen expected. He's had trouble locating his fastball and the slider that made him a superstar at St. John's has lacked consistency. Hansen, who had stints with the Red Sox in 2005 and last year, has spent the first two months of this season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Dustin Pedroia, 2B, 2004, pick No. 65: The diminutive right-handed hitter is giving the Red Sox just the type of offensive pop and defensive consistency the club hoped for in his rookie year. Pedroia has often been compared to David Eckstein and Red Sox fans have recently discovered why. He has more power than Eckstein, but has the same type of scrappy mentality.

Rising Fast: Boston's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006, Buchholz has rocketed through the system after being taken 42nd in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. The right-hander, who has a filthy arsenal of pitches, is off to a dominant start at Double-A Portland.

Cinderella Story: The Red Sox took second baseman Jeff Natale in round 32 in 2005, and the right-handed hitter has made it a smart decision. Last season, the native of New Haven, Conn., was named the Minor League offensive player of the year for the Red Sox. He is currently playing at Double-A Portland.

In the Show: Pedroia (class of 2004) is the starting second baseman for the Red Sox. Cla Meredith, also selected by the Sox that year, is now a setup man for the Padres. He had an ill-fated stint in Boston in 2005. Hansen has had multiple stints in Boston since being selected in 2005.

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