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Red Sox front office undergoes numerous changes 11.17.14 at 2:07 pm ET
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Amiel Sawdaye

Amiel Sawdaye

A considerable amount of shuffling has taken place within the Red Sox front office.

Amiel Sawdaye, the Red Sox‘ director of amateur scouting for the last five drafts, has been promoted to vice president with a focus on domestic and international scouting, a role comparable to the one that current assistant GM Mike Hazen occupied (as VP of player development and amateur scouting) between his role as farm director and his promotion to his current position.

Under Sawdaye, the Sox’ drafts churned out prospects in volume. Among them:

2010: Bryce Brentz (supplemental first round), Anthony Ranaudo (supplemental first round),  Brandon Workman (second round), Sean Coyle (third round), Garin Cecchini (fourth round)

2011: Matt Barnes (first round), Blake Swihart (first round), Henry Owens (supplemental first round), Jackie Bradley Jr. (supplemental first round), Mookie Betts (fifth round), Travis Shaw (ninth round)

2012: Deven Marrero (first round), Brian Johnson (first round)

2013: Trey Ball (first round), Teddy Stankiewicz (second round), Joe Gunkel (18th round), Mauricio Dubon (26th round), Nick Longhi (30th round)

2014: Michael Chavis (first round), Michael Kopech (first round), Sam Travis (second round), Jake Cosart (third round), Kevin McAvoy (fourth round)

With Sawdaye moving up, Mike Rikard — who had served as a national cross-checker for the last five drafts — has been elevated to the director of amateur scouting. Rikard has been working closely with the entire scouting department over the last five years since moving up to national crosschecker. He joined the Sox from the Padres in 2005 as an East Coast crosschecker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye breaks down Red Sox draft picks 06.06.14 at 12:19 pm ET
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Red Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye, in a conference call to discuss his team’s three day one picks in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft, expressed excitement about the ability to add premium power to the organization — both in the form of high school infielder Michael Chavis and first baseman Sam Travis as well as in the form of right-handed high school pitcher Michael Kopech.

While the Sox’ decision to take a pair of high schoolers (Chavis and Kopech, who went in the first round at Nos. 26 and 33, respectively) with the first two picks of their draft — the Sox hadn’t engaged in such a strategy since taking Jon Lester and Scott White back-to-back to open the 2002 draft — Sawdaye said that the team drafts based on talent rather than profile.

“We take the best player on the board. If the two best players are a high school pitcher and a high school middle infielder, then that’s who we’re going to take,” said Sawdaye. “We’re not looking to diversify or draft for need. It so happened those were the next two players. Those were players we’re very excited about, have a lot of conviction on, scouted for a long time, had a lot of history with. That’s kind of how it shook out.”

Here’s how Sawdaye characterized the three picks: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2014 mlb draft, amiel sawdaye, michael chavis, michael kopech
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, scouting director Amiel Sawdaye break down draftees 06.05.12 at 1:12 am ET
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The Red Sox acquired three college players on the first day of the 2012 draft, grabbing Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero with their top pick (1st round, No. 24 overall), following that with left-hander Brian Johnson of the University of Florida (1st round, No. 31) and finishing the day by grabbing Monmouth flamethrower Pat Light with the team’s third selection (1st round supplemental, No. 37 overall). Here’s what Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye had to say about the three picks:

DEVEN MARRERO, SHORTSTOP, ARIZONA STATE, 1ST ROUND (NO. 24)

Cherington on whether the Sox thought Marrero — who was slated in some mock drafts as a top-ten selection — would be available when they picked at No. 24: “There were a couple of teams we thought might be a spot where he’€™d go, and he didn’€™t. We were happy he got there. We look forward to trying to get him into the Red Sox organization. He’€™s a talented shortstop who’€™s been a good player at a major program and a good player at Team USA and a guy we liked a lot coming into the spring and like a lot moving forward.”

Sawdaye on his offensive ability: “He has a very quiet swing — functional. He’€™s a guy that sprays the ball around the field. He has what we call sneaky power — a guy that obviously doesn’€™t look like the biggest player on the field but can definitely juice the ball out of the stadium. He’€™s certainly somebody who we feel like has a chance to impact the baseball.”

Sawdaye on how Marrero’s offense compares to his defense: “We think he’€™s advanced on both sides of the baseball. Certainly I think he’€™s probably a better defender. We don’€™t see him moving off shortstop. We think he’€™s a guy that in the long term is going to be a shortstop. I don’€™t think the question of moving him to a different position is even one we’€™re going to tackle right now.”

Sawdaye on the idea that Marrero had a down year as a junior: “I didn’€™t actually the offensive decline was as much of a worry for us. He showed us some things in the box that we really liked and some things that we really look for. Certainly, I think he expected to have a better year statistically but it’€™s not something that is a concern for us either from injury or physical play.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 MLB Draft, amiel sawdaye, arizona state, ben cherington
The Red Sox’ approach in the draft: What best player available means 06.04.12 at 4:58 pm ET
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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington had a straightforward answer when asked what type of player his team might pursue with its top draft picks. His response was broad.

“Get the best players,” said Cherington. “We’€™re not going to go after need. We’€™re going to target the best player available at each pick, looking for the best total return on this draft class. The key with any draft is to again do more with your picks than the 29 other teams do. The nature of the draft is you don’€™t get all the players you want and you don’€™t hit on every player. But our job is to do more with our picks than our competition does. If we do that, more often than not, over a period of years, we’€™ll be building an advantage for the Red Sox.’€

The idea is that the Red Sox do not want to confine themselves to a specific category of player or position. A look at the top overall selections in each of the last 10 drafts by the Sox suggests as much:

2002 – Jon Lester, high school left-hander

2003 – David Murphy, college outfielder (Division 1, large conference program)

2004 – Dustin Pedroia, college infielder (Division 1, large conference program)

2005 – Jacoby Ellsbury, college outfielder (Division 1, large conference program)

2006 – Jason Place, high school outfielder

2007 – Nick Hagadone, college left-hander (Division 1, large conference program)

2008 – Casey Kelly, high school right-hander

2009 – Reymond Fuentes, high school outfielder

2010 – Kolbrin Vitek, college infielder (Division 1, mid-size conference program)

2011 – Matt Barnes, college right-hander (Division 1, large conference program)

That’s six college and four high school top picks; two-left-handed pitchers, two-right-handed pitchers, four outfielders, two infielders. While the team hasn’t selected a catcher with its first overall pick, it is worth pointing out that the team took Blake Swihart last year with its second first-round pick and gave him the biggest bonus ($2.5 million) of any of its picks last year.

Unless they are picking near the top of the draft, major league teams simply can’t pick according to big league (or even organizational) need, given the number of variables in play over the years-long course of a player development trajectory needed from the time a player is selected to when he reaches the big leagues. As such, the Sox believe in taking the best player available regardless of position, given that a team can always make a trade to clear a prospect logjam.

So, when the team talks about lining up its board, it is very literally an exercise in stacking up players in descending order of talent (regardless of position) to simplify the selection process.

A few other final thoughts on the Red Sox’ take on the Monday night draft: Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox first-day draft wrap: GM Theo Epstein and Scouting director Amiel Sawdaye weigh in 06.07.11 at 12:44 am ET
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Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye just took part in a conference call to discuss the first day of the Major League draft. The Sox selected a diverse group of players:

–A college right-handed pitcher in Matt Barnes of the University of Connecticut (1st round, No. 19)

–A high school left-hander in Henry Owens (sandwich round, No. 36)

–A high school catcher in Blake Swihart (1st round, No. 26)

–A college center fielder in Jackie Bradley of the University of South Carolina

Certainly, the Sox were pleased to emerge with four players whom they think can have a strong impact on their organization. They view both Barnes and Owens as future big league starters, and Swihart and Bradley as potential middle-of-the-field lineup members. That said, the team tempered its enthusiasm with the notion that it will require many years before the impact of the draft will be known.

“We’€™re real happy with how today went. I think 30 clubs feel that way coming out of the draft room,” said Epstein. “There’€™s a little bit of anxiety to see if the guys you like are going to be there. More often than not, you end up getting the guys you like because the reality is that all 30 clubs have these guys evaluated differently. We do our high fiving and feeling good coming out of the room, but I feel like 29 other clubs were doing it the exact same way. Then you circle back in five or 10 years and see how you did. Certainly we felt like some things broke our way and we were able to get four players we feel really good about.”

–Barnes had been scouted extensively by the Sox not just at the University of Connecticut, but also while pitching in the Cape League and for Team USA last summer. This draft season, he had been projected as high as a top five pick before slipping a bit among a strong class of college pitchers. Still, the Sox were elated that he remained on the board when they were picking.

Sawdaye said that the Sox view him as a “middle of the rotation guy” with “three plus pitches” (a fastball, curve and change).

“We were excited to get him,” said Sawdaye. “Given the fact that he was at 19, we got really excited. I’€™ll leave it at that.”

–Swihart represents the sort of player whom the Sox have rarely had the opportunity to draft, a powerful, athletic catcher who has a proven ability to perform against advanced competition as a young amateur. Swihart was a force for Team USA in 2010, hitting .448 with a .492 OBP and .845 slugging mark.

Swihart played many doubleheaders as a senior in New Mexico, catching for one game and playing in the field for the next. That schedule permitted the Sox to conclude that he has the attributes needed to remain at catcher.

“We got a really good chance to see him behind the plate but also to see his athleticism in the field, so a guy that we were really excited to get because the tool set and athleticism really fit behind the plate,” said Sawdaye.

Epstein, meanwhile, suggested that Swihart’s bat would have drawn the Sox to him regardless of his position. The fact that he does play a premium position made him even more appealing.

“Yes, he’€™s a catcher, but he’€™s also a very legitimate bat, a switch-hitting bat at that, and an excellent athlete with great baseball instincts as well. It was the whole package. It wasn’€™t so much what position he played. We certainly never draft for need,” said Epstein. “But he stood out for his bat, for his athleticism and the fact that he projects to be able to stay behind the plate and be a solid receiver back there, thrower back there only added to the attraction.’€

–Owens is a high school lefty who competed against advanced competition in Southern California, for Team USA’s 18-and-under group and on the showcase circuit. The Sox, said Epstein, saw him throw up to 94 with good feel for three pitches (fastball, curve, change). Couple that with his 6-foot-6 frame, and the Sox saw a package that they didn’t want to overlook.

“He throws three pitches for strikes,” said Sawdaye. “For a high-school kid, that’€™s unique and certainly something that we covet.’€

The Sox have drafted few high school lefties under Epstein, and none as high as Owens. But the team hasn’t simply dismissed a class of players — after all, without an openness to selecting high school lefties, the team wouldn’t have taken Jon Lester with a second-round pick in 2002, when Epstein was part of the draft room as Assistant GM. The right lefty simply hadn’t been available.

“We always take the best player available on the board,” said Epstein. “He’€™s always performed well against the best competition. Lefthanded or righthanded, he stood out as somebody we liked, and the fact that he’€™s lefthanded was an added bonus.”

–Finally, Bradley represents a player whom the Sox got with their fourth pick of the day in no small part because — after standout performances as a freshman and sophomore — he struggled this year as a junior, and then had to undergo surgery to repair an injured left wrist. When healthy, Bradley was a dynamic player for South Carolina, capable of impacting a game offensively and defensively. The Sox are confident that his long-term health is not an issue.

“He had the wrist injury. Jackie’€™s not officially part of the organization yet, so it wouldn’€™t be appropriate for me to comment in detail. But obviously we reviewed the medical file,” said Epstein. “It’€™s something our medical staff was really comfortable with, that he’€™ll be able to come back at 100 percent.”

–Epstein declined to address the question of signability. Swihart is viewed as someone who may seek a significant signing bonus in order to pass on a scholarship at Texas. He would be draft-eligible at the end of his sophomore year, thus meaning that he has greater leverage than some high school players in that he can return to the draft two, three and four years from now, with more leverage than most college players possess.

“We hope to sign all these guys and obviously every player has options,” said Epstein. “We always feel like the more we get to know the player, the more we get to present what the Boston Red Sox are all about, and the better chance we have of signing these guys. that’€™s the whole point.’€

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, amiel sawdaye, blake swihart, henry owens
The strange story of Darnell McDonald and the challenges of drafting two-sport stars 06.06.11 at 8:22 am ET
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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.

‘€œIt’€™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. ‘€œIt was at least 50 percent of the conversation and it still is.

‘€œYou 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 »

Read More: amiel sawdaye, casey kelly, darnell mcdonald, J.D Drew
Epstein’s drafts in review: A year-by-year look at how drafts shaped the Red Sox 06.03.11 at 2:27 pm ET
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Next week’s Major League Baseball draft will be Theo Epstein‘€™s ninth as the Red Sox general manager. He has worked alongside three directors of amateur scouting: David Chadd in 2003-2004, Jason McLeod 2005-2009 and Amiel Sawdaye in 2010. Epstein and his staffs have had very successful drafts in those eight years, with a number of players who are either still with the Red Sox today or who were used as trade chips to help improve the organization.

Epstein takes pride in his draft work and enjoys the challenge of the entire draft process.

‘€œIt’€™s one of my favorite aspects of the job and it is one of the most important things we do as an organization,’€ Epstein said.

‘€œIt is the ultimate challenge, really,’€ he added. ‘€œAnyone can go make a big league trade, based on a player’€™s track record and a major league scouting report. You see these guys play in perfect conditions, against the best players in the world and the best players rise to the top. Amateur scouting in baseball is much more difficult and much more complicated.’€

That makes it all the more impressive that the Sox have already been able to use each of the first seven drafts under Epstein to acquire All-Star caliber talent, whether a homegrown player who ended up performing at such a level or through a trade to net a player who was named to the Midsummer Classic for the Sox.

In 2003, the Sox’ early picks ended up being trade chips, as first-rounder David Murphy was part of the trade that landed Eric Gagne, while sandwich-round pick Matt Murton was involved in the four-team deal that landed Orlando Cabrera from Montreal and Doug Mientkiewicz from Minnesota while ending Nomar Garciaparra‘s Red Sox career at the 2004 trade deadline. But the most notable selection that year was closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was taken out of Mississippi State in the fourth round.

Chadd’s final draft was in 2004, and it, too, had a significant impact, as the Sox used their first pick (a second rounder — the team had given up its first-round pick to sign free-agent closer Keith Foulke) to take shortstop Dustin Pedroia out of Arizona State. Now a second baseman, Pedroia’s hardware — 2007 AL Rookie of the Year, 2008 AL MVP and a three-time All-Star — speaks for itself about his impact.

Also in 2004, the Sox drafted pitcher Cla Meredith, who was traded with Josh Bard in 2006 for catcher Doug Mirabelli. During his time in the Sox farm system Meredith was named the Red Sox minor league pitcher of the month in April of 2005.

McLeod and Epstein had an outstanding draft in 2005, selecting a number of players who remain on the big league roster in 2011. Jacoby Ellsbury (first round), Clay Buchholz (first round supplement) and Jed Lowrie (first round supplement) were all selected by the Sox, and are now major contributors to the team. Pitcher Michael Bowden was also drafted by the club in the sandwich round, and he has seen major league action with the club. While first rounder Craig Hansen didn’t live up to his billing as the most advanced college pitcher in the draft that year, he became a chip in the deal that landed Jason Bay.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, amiel sawdaye, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon
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