|06.06.11 at 8:45 pm ET|
The selections started to diversify in the picks leading up to Boston. Plenty of high-ceiling college pitching remains on the board for Boston, and well-regarded high-school catchers are also there for the taking. There’s greater certainty, of course, with college pitching (including right-hander Matt Barnes from UConn); high school catching is viewed as one of the riskiest, if not the riskiest, class of players. There are also some surprising high school pitchers still on the board.
NO. 11 PICK: The first New Englander is off the board, as UConn outfield standout George Springer was sprung by the Astros. He has bat speed and power rarely associated with center fielders who feature his defensive skills.
NO. 12 PICK: The Brewers grabbed right-hander Taylor Jungmann, the Friday night starter for the University of Texas. He looks the part of a Texas pitching standout, a 6-foot-6 hurler with a low- to mid-90s fastball who powers the ball down in the zone.
NO. 13 PICK: The Mets took high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo out of Wyoming, a state without much of a baseball pedigree. Nimmo projects as an athletic five-tool player whose overall combination of skills could turn him into a terrific two-way player.
NO. 14 PICK: The Marlins love taking high school right-handers in the draft, and they stuck to that philosophy in grabbing Jose Fernandez, a pitcher with four-pitch hurler with power stuff.
NO. 15 PICK: The Brewers grabbed one of the first players who had been linked to the Sox in the mock drafts, grabbing left-hander Jed Bradley out of Georgia Tech. He has a sturdy pitcher’s frame and a good idea of how to pitch, helping to explain how he led the Cape League in strikeouts.
NO. 16 PICK: The Dodgers typically go aggressively after players with the highest ceilings, often from high school or junior college ranks. They went against that approach this year, grabbing Stanford left-hander Chris Reed. He was something of a junior year pop-up guy, and this pick would appear to be the biggest surprise of the first round thus far. One wonders whether this pick of a guy who likely would have been available in later rounds might be a byproduct of the Dodgers’ financial issues at a time when owner Frank McCourt‘s hold on the club appears to be slipping.
NO. 17 PICK: Another player who had been connected to the Sox in at least one mock draft, first baseman C.J. Cron, was grabbed by the Angels. The University of Utah product is considered to have as much raw power as any college player in this year’s draft. Still, as a position player, his lack of athleticism would make him an unusual choice for the Sox with a first-round pick.
NO. 18 PICK: The A’s always grab college players with their top pick — though the degree to which they shy from high schoolers has been exaggerated — and continued that pattern this year, grabbing right-hander Sonny Gray out of Vanderbilt. Gray represents a high-ceiling, high-probability pitcher, who had a terrific career (culminating in an 11-3 record and 2.01 ERA this year) at one of the country’s best college programs. He had been connected to the Sox in several late mock drafts.
|06.06.11 at 8:03 pm ET|
Entering the draft, the Red Sox suggested that the opportunities presented in past drafts, in which a player’s asking price drove teams away from him, allowing him to sink in the draft below the spot that he deserved to be taken purely based on talent, were dwindling. Most teams, they noted, now let a player’s skills determine whom they pick (especially in the early rounds), rather than focusing on his price tag.
This year’s draft would appear to be matching up with that notion. Through the first 10 picks, most of the selections have represented the industry consensus on the draft’s top talents. Signability has yet to leave any top players tumbling towards a position that
NO. 6 PICK: The Nationals made a quick end of the Anthony Rendon speculation, taking the Rice University third baseman — viewed as the best pure college bat in the draft — with the No. 6 pick. For much of the draft season, he had been viewed as a likely top pick or at least a candidate for the top two or three picks. While he fell slightly, he did not slip so precipitously that it would impact the Sox’ selection.
NO. 7 PICK: The Diamondbacks had two of the top seven picks, and so they diversified their selections. After plucking Trevor Bauer with the third pick, they selected Archie Bradley out of Broken Arrow High School with their No. 7 selection. Bradley has a two-sport scholarship offer to play quarterback and pitch for the University of Oklahoma. Presumably, the Diamondbacks are not concerned about Bradley’s signability, since their pick (a compensatory selection for the team’s inability to sign injured pitcher Barret Loux last year) is unprotected. The right-hander is another power arm out of Oklahoma, capable of touching triple digits with his fastball.
NO. 8 PICK: The Indians went with shortstop Francisco Lindor, a high school shortstop out of Florida who is just 17 years old. He’s a switch-hitter with at least a line drive stroke who has advanced defensive skills. His power potential has been questioned, but a middle infielder doesn’t necessarily need to have significant power in order to be a well-above average prospect, and Lindor is so young that there is still time for his tools to develop as he gains strength and physical maturity.
NO. 9 PICK: The Cubs grabbed Javier Baez, a high school shortstop with tremendous right-handed bat speed and power. His defensive skills may not keep him at shortstop, but the Cubs have Starlin Castro at that position for years to come, so if Baez’ bat plays, he would be an intriguing complement on the left side of the infield at third base.
NO. 10 PICK: The Padres took Cory Spangenberg, a potentially versatile second baseman or third baseman who has a solid swing and terrific speed. He’s an athlete who was projected to go in the top half of the draft.
RED SOX IMPLICATIONS: A number of college players to whom the Sox have been connected remain on the board. Both first-round talents from the University of Connecticut — pitcher Matt Barnes and outfielder George Springer, who were both scouted this spring by Sox GM Theo Epstein — are still there for the taking. Georgia Tech left-handed pitcher Jed Bradley, a 6-foot-4 hurler who led the Cape League last summer in strikeouts, is still there as well, as is talented right-hander Sonny Gray out of Vanderbilt and right-hander Alex Meyer of Kentucky.
The top catchers in the draft — high schoolers Blake Swihart and Austin Hedges — are still on the board as well.
|06.06.11 at 7:34 pm ET|
NO. 1 PICK: With the first overall pick of the 2011 draft, the Pirates selected right-hander Gerrit Cole, a pitcher with a fastball in the high-90s, a swing-and-miss slider and a solid changeup. He went 6-8 with a 3.31 ERA as a junior at UCLA this year, striking out 119 batters and walking just 24 in 114 1/3 innings. In a draft that is deep in college pitching, Cole was viewed as a consensus elite arm who projects as a top of the rotation starter.
RED SOX IMPLICATIONS: None this year, since Cole was certain to be snapped up long before the first Sox pick at No. 19 overall. However, the fact that Cole was taken in this year’s draft was significant in its own right.
After all, the Yankees took Cole with their first-round pick in 2008. They were stunned when he refused to sign, instead honoring a scholarship commitment to UCLA. Instead of ending up with another top pitching prospect, the Yankees were left with a compensatory draft pick in 2009. They ended up taking outfielder Slade Heathcott, a player with terrific physical tools but whose performance has been mixed (he is playing well this year while repeating in the Low-A South Atlantic League as a 20-year-old) and whose makeup has been questioned (he recently got in a brawl in a game against the Sox’ Greenville affiliate).
NO. 2 PICK: The Mariners grabbed left-hander Danny Hultzen from the University of Virginia, a bit of a surprise given that many expected Seattle to pluck the top college hitter, Anthony Rendon. Hultzen had a 1.49 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 90 innings as a junior.
NO. 3 PICK: True to a draft that was supposed to be rich in college arms, the Diamondbacks took Trevor Bauer, a right-hander out of UCLA who set a PAC-10 record for strikeouts in a season with 203. Like his teammate Cole, Bauer was expected to go high, so his selection has no real significance for the Sox.
NO. 4 PICK: The draft was also considered to have a short list of elite high school pitching prospects, but none attracted the kind of attention that Dylan Bundy received. He can touch 100 mph, even though he lives in the mid- to high-90s, while also featuring an above-average curve and cutter, along with an average changeup. He is a conditioning freak who is viewed as having terrific makeup, and the Sox expected him to be gone by the first 10 picks in the draft.
NO. 5 PICK: The Royals, who are loaded with what is considered the best farm system in the game, grabbed the first position player in the draft, taking high school outfielder (and Nebraska two-sport recruit) Bubba Starling. Starling was considered the top high school position player in this year’s draft, and some thought that he could go in the first couple picks. It will prove costly for the Royals to sign Starling away from Nebraska, but the franchise will almost surely continue to invest in talented young players in order to build a budding contender in the AL Central.
Of the top five picks, all were expected to go early. The biggest initial surprise is that Rendon hasn’t been selected; the degree to which he slips will ultimately have the greatest impact on the Sox of the first five picks.
UPDATE: Rendon was taken with the No. 6 overall pick by the Nationals, so while the order of the first six picks came as a minor surprise, the effect on the Sox was negligible.
|06.06.11 at 6:46 pm ET|
After their second off day in a span of five days the Red Sox will play the first of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium with a chance to retake first place in Eastern division. The Sox are a game behind New York, but have momentum after a series sweep against the Athletics. The Yankees, who also had an off day Monday, took two of three from the Angels in California.
Jon Lester (7-2, 3.94 ERA) will take to the mound for the Sox, while the Yankees will counter with right-hander Freddy Garcia (4-4, 3.34 ERA). The two also faced one another on May 15 when Lester and the Sox defeated the Yankees, 7-5.
This will be Lester’s first appearance since his worst outing of the season when he took the loss on May 30 against the White Sox after giving up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings, while also walking four.
Lester has had a great deal of success in his career against the Yankees with a 7-1 career record and a 3.49 ERA in 13 appearances. He has 87 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched against the Sox rival.
Garcia is coming off two quality starts. On May 25 he went 6 1/3 innings and gave up just 3 runs in the Yankees’ 7-3 win over the Blue Jays. In his last outing he earned the win against the A’s, going 7 innings, also giving up 3 runs in a 10-3 win.
Garcia has also enjoyed modest success against the Sox. In 18 appearances, he is 8-3 with a 4.56 ERA. He has allowed 17 home runs in those 18 games.
|06.06.11 at 6:11 pm ET|
– Matt Barnes isn’t the only player from UConn in whom Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is interested. Epstein also went to a UConn game last month to check out outfielder George Springer. Springer started in all 63 of UConn’s games this season and batted .350 with 12 home runs. He had a slugging percentage of .628 and an outstanding 76 RBIs. Though it is considered unlikely that either of these two Huskies will be on the board when the Sox pick at No. 19, clearly, the Sox wanted to scout them thoroughly in case either should slip.
– The Red Sox are also reportedly interested in high school right-hander Kyle Crick from Texas. Epstein was one of a dozen scouts who went to check out the righty a few weeks ago. Crick’s fastball tops out at 95 MPH, and also features a 78 MPH curveball. On the year he was 7-2 with a 1.11 ERA. Crick has committed to TCU, but has not ruled out turning professional.
– ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden has an interesting story on the roles of general managers during in regards to their teams drafts. He includes many general managers throughout the league, including Epstein and Padres GM Jed Hoyer, getting their thoughts and insights on their involvement.
– The Red Sox have been connected in some drafts to LSU’s outfielder Mikie Mahtook. ESPN.com’s Jeff Sackmann took a look at some prospects that teams might want to reconsider where they draft them (Insider only). Sackmann says that while Mahtook bats .430 against lefties and .354 against righties, he may be a liability because of his defense. He says that he ranks below average in terms of defense, a fact that might force him to switch to one of the corner outfield positions where his bat would have to be an even bigger asset in order to allow him to have an impact.
|06.06.11 at 4:04 pm ET|
Here is the latest of what the experts are saying regarding the Red Sox and their first round selections:
– Baseball Prospectus has changed its prediction for the No. 19 pick. Earlier they had the Sox taking right-hander Alex Meyer from Kentucky. Now, the site predicts the club will take C.J. Cron, a first-baseman out of Utah. Cron is predicted to go as early as No. 10, so he might not be available at No. 19. In that case, the site suggests, the Sox might target outfielder Josh Bell or outfielder Brandon Nimmo. They are staying true with their prediction with the No. 26 pick as they say the Sox will take high school catcher Blake Swihart from New Mexico.
– Baseball America has also posted its final mock draft. They expect the Sox to be fairly conservative with the No. 19 pick and then get aggressive with their next three picks. They say the Sox are hoping for a big-name college pitcher to fall to them, and predict that they will select right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray out of Vanderbilt. At No. 26 they predict the Sox will pick high school catcher Austin Hedges out of California.
– Yahoo! Sports has posted its final mock draft as well. They say the Sox will select the best player available with the No. 19 pick and they believe that will be Taylor Guerrieri, a right-handed pitcher from South Carolina. At No. 26 they predict the Sox will select left-hander Matt Purke out of TCU. Purke was once predicted by some as the number one pick in the draft, but has slipped because of shoulder concerns and a loss in his velocity.
– MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has published his final mock draft. With the No. 19 pick he has the Sox selecting Alex Meyer, a right-hander out of Kentucky. He says after two years of struggling, he has started to pitch well and because of that has moved up into the top 2/3 of the first round. At No. 26 he predicts high school catcher Blake Swihart, out of New Mexico will go to the Sox. He says he is one of the best high school catchers in the draft and will come with a high price tag.
|06.06.11 at 2:29 pm ET|
– Last week the Sox worked out Keene State right-hander Corey Vogt at Fenway Park. Vogt, a lifelong Yankees fan, reportedly joked with general manager Theo Epstein before taking to the mound.
“I told him you better draft me if I’m doing this for you,” Vogt said about pitching on the Fenway Park mound.
On the year, the reliever was 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA. Vogt had an impressive 30 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings.
– The Red Sox actually used Skype to conduct a psychological review with prospect Dillon Maples, a high school pitcher from North Carolina. The right-hander was recently named the Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina. He has accepted an offer to play baseball at the University of North Carolina, and is also interested in joining the football team as a kicker/punter.
Maples’ father, Tim reached the Triple-A level of the Orioles organization. He was selected No. 45 overall in the 1979 draft.
– Red Sox scouts were in attendance at last week’s Virgin Islands Future Stars pre-draft workout in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Top prospects that worked out there were Deshorn Lake and Richard White. Lake, who has signed to play at East Carolina University, has a fastball that tops out at 90 MPH. White, who did not play baseball last year for academic reasons, reportedly has a fastball that can top out at close to 96 MPH.
– Many of the experts have the Sox connected with right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer out of Kentucky in the first round. ESPN.com draft expert Jason Churchill says that he has the best breaking ball (slider) of the entire draft (Insider only). He says that it can occasionally be “unhittable.” WEEI.com’s Alex Speier looks at the Sox’ attempts to sign Meyer after drafting him in 2008.
|06.06.11 at 1:38 pm ET|
Back in 2008, the Red Sox considered their negotiations with Alex Meyer exciting for the sheer fact that they had no idea what the outcome would be. The team had taken the giant right-hander with a pick in the 20th round, viewing him as the ultimate wild card.
The team felt confident that it would be able to land first-round pick Casey Kelly. As the signing deadline approached, the club also reached a point where it believed that outfielder Ryan Westmoreland — whom it viewed as one of the top 10 players in the 2008 draft class — would also pass on his scholarship offer at Vanderbilt to begin a pro career with the team he’d spent his life rooting for.
But most teams viewed Meyer as completely unsignable, considering his commitment to the University of Kentucky to be iron clad. Based on where they were able to select him ‘ a place where they hadn’t expected the then-18-year-old to be available ‘ the Sox were willing to take a shot on a player who was being advised by Scott Boras.
At the time, Meyer screamed projectability. At 6-foot-7, he showed an ability to command a sinking mid-90s fastball and a hammer curve that made him one of the more impressive high school pitching prospects that year. Baseball America tabbed him as the No. 5 prospect coming out of high school in 2008.
Meyer hailed from a small town in Southeast Indiana. He was named the state’s Mr. Baseball as a senior, when he went 8-0 with a 0.95 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 51 innings. He had power stuff, though he remained raw (as evidenced by his 30 walks that year).
Still, the potential was tantalizing. Meyer looked like a pitcher who would be a project, requiring time to develop consistent mechanics given his size, but the potential upside was obvious.
Meyer and Boras recognized the pitcher’s standing in the draft class. Shortly after the draft, the Sox were told that it would take $4 million for the right-hander to sign.
For most of the rest of the summer, the Sox had little to no contact with him. He met the Sox when they played the Reds in Cincinnati that summer, getting escorted around the clubhouse by then-Assistant GM Jed Hoyer. But there wasn’t much contact after that.
The Sox became pessimistic about the odds of signing Meyer when Kentucky pitching coach Gary Henderson (who had recruited Meyer) was promoted to head baseball coach that summer. That, the Sox expected, would likely seal the deal on convincing Meyer to head to college. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.06.11 at 12:05 pm ET|
With the countdown to tonight’s draft now in full swing, here are the latest suggests about who the Red Sox might take with their early picks, as well as more reports about players whom the team has scouted and/or worked out:
– MLB draft expert Keith Law of ESPN.com has published his final mock draft. He has the Red Sox selecting right-hander Alex Meyer out of Kentucky with the No. 19 pick. He also notes that they could select Jed Bradley (LHP, Georgia Tech), Sonny Gray (RHP, Vanderbilt) or Mikie Mahtook (OF, LSU) if they were to be available when the Sox are on the clock. With the No. 26 he has them picking left-hander Chris Reed out of Stanford. A lot of experts have the Sox selecting high school outfielder Josh Bell from Texas but according to Law those rumors are “overheated.”
– Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus published his mock draft on Friday. With the No. 19 pick he has the Sox picking Alex Meyer (RHP, Kentucky). He, like Law, says the Sox are hoping a few players drop and are available when they pick. At No. 26 he has catcher Blake Swihart, a high school catcher out of New Mexico going to the Sox. He also notes that Meyer could fall and the Sox could get him with No. 26 instead of at No. 19.
– The Red Sox have interest in high school outfielder Williams Jerez from Brooklyn, NY. He would most likely be drafted within the first two rounds. The Mets, Yankees and Blue Jays have also shown interest. He worked out with the Mets before their game on Sunday and he belted two home runs into the second deck in right field. If he does not end up signing with a team he has plans to play Junior college in Texas.
– Chaz Hebert (LHP, Breaux Bridge HS) is also reportedly on the Sox radar for day two of the draft. “I’ve seen projections between the third and fifth rounds, but the teams do what they want to do. It’s a big business. You never know what’s going to happen,” Hebert said. Hebert was the District 6-4A MVP and made the Class 4A all-state team (Louisiana), going 6-2 with a 1.36 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings. He has signed to play for Louisiana-Lafayette, but could turn professional.
|06.06.11 at 8:22 am ET|
Judging whether or not a young man has enough potential for a future in Major League Baseball is hard enough. Judging whether or not he has the desire to pursue it and dealing with his family and agents takes it to a whole other level.
That’s what amateur scouts and big league executives get paid to judge this week as they deal with thousands of high school and college-age athletes and their representatives. The challenge of understanding a player’s makeup is viewed as almost as important ‘ sometimes more important ‘ than scrutinizing his tools on the field.
‘It’s a huge factor. I remember when I first started in the draft room in San Diego in 1998, I was shocked how much of the conversation was about makeup and personality and a player’s background, talking about what his parents did for a living, if his parents were still together, what his guidance counselor thought, what this kid did off the field,’ Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. ‘It was at least 50 percent of the conversation and it still is.
‘You have to think about, you’re drafting a high school kid and you’re making him a professional. He’s never been away from home before. So, you’re dealing with homesickness, and you’re dealing with how disciplined and independent an individual this person is, and whether he can survive off the field to put himself in a position to let his baseball ability manifest. You’re projecting a 17-year-old kid from a small town in the middle of nowhere and how he’s going to be 10 years later when he’s 27, pitching in a pennant race at Fenway Park with 40,000 people looking at him. You really have to figure out what makes a kid tick.’
That challenge is significant enough in its own right. It becomes even greater when it comes to the question of multisport stars who have scholarship offers to pursue a path in other sports.
The Sox have made such multisport talents a staple of their recent drafts. In 2006, they signed Ryan Kalish away from a football commitment at the University of Virginia. In 2007, one of their top prospects, Will Middlebrooks, passed on a two-sport scholarship at Texas A&M to begin his career with the Sox. In 2008, Casey Kelly walked away from the opportunity to quarterback at the University of Tennessee to sign with Boston. The following year, powerful running back Brandon Jacobs passed on a chance to play football at Auburn to start his pro career. And in 2010, the team signed Kendrick Perkins away from a football scholarship at Texas A&M to begin the long process of honing his baseball skills as a minor leaguer.
There is a concern about giving a player money to pull him away from a second sport only to have him second-guess the decision when he finds life in the minor leagues challenging. Read the rest of this entry »
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