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Remembering Anthony Rizzo’s Red Sox origins 06.09.11 at 1:43 pm ET
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Former Sox prospect Anthony Rizzo will make his much-anticipated big league debut on Thursday. (AP)

The opportunity to acquire Adrian Gonzalez was almost too good for the Red Sox to pass up, and the reason for the club’s longstanding crush on the first baseman is now entirely evident. Gonzalez is a classic middle-of-the-order run producer. He’s a player with power and plate discipline who seems destined to put up huge numbers for several years as a member of the Red Sox.

Even so, the Sox were never under any illusions that they’d pulled a fast one on the Padres in sending four players to San Diego to acquire the superstar. The Sox sent three of their top prospects (pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes) along with utility man Eric Patterson to complete the deal, well aware that San Diego might be acquiring three players who can serve as key future contributors.

That future return starts now for the Padres. Rizzo, who slammed a remarkable 25 homers at two levels for the Sox last year, was off to an outrageous start in the Padres system, hitting .365 with a .444 OBP, .715 slugging mark, 1.159 OPS and 16 homers in 52 games for Triple-A Tucson. He has emerged as one of the best power-hitting prospects in the game and the Padres have summoned him to the majors for his big league debut. Rizzo will be unveiled against the Washington Nationals.

The timing comes as a slight surprise. One member of the Sox organization recently hypothesized that the Padres might wait until after they visit Fenway Park later this month before calling up Rizzo so that he would not have to be subjected to the compare-and-contrast game with Gonzalez (an exercise that would not have been unflattering to either — especially given that Rizzo’s performance in Double-A as a 20-year-old bore striking similarity to Gonzalez’ when he was in Portland as a Marlins minor leaguer at the same age).

Even so, that Rizzo is about to make his debut — even in another uniform — offers grounds for tremendous excitement among several members of the Sox organization on multiple levels. First and foremost, the personal relationship between Rizzo and the team that drafted him runs deep — not only with his teammates, but also with the many coaches, instructors, front-office members and scouts who became close to him when he was being treated in 2008 for Hodgkins’ lymphoma.

Yet while the team’s ties to the prospect deepened as he recovered from his illness — in the process, becoming an inspiring picture of strength — the connection with Rizzo started earlier, and helps to explain how it was that the Sox drafted a player who is now one of the top prospects in the game in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, after 203 other players had been selected.

The discovery of Rizzo, in fact, was somewhat accidental. Area scout Laz Gutierrez, like most scouts, had been more interested in Daniel Elorriaga-Matra at Douglas High School, which produced a somewhat incredible three draftees in 2007. Matra would end up being taken in the 26th round by the Braves.

Gutierrez saw both in the summer after their junior years and again in the fall. Rizzo did not jump out as a prospect. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, laz gutierrez, mlb draft
Felipe Lopez’ reported minor league deal with Rays bad news for Sox 02.01.11 at 8:39 pm ET
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According to a report from Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via twitter), veteran infielder Felipe Lopez is expected to sign a minor-league deal with the Rays in the coming days. If accurate, the report would represent a bit of bad news for the Red Sox, who signed Lopez during the penultimate weekend of the regular season (after he’d been released by the Cardinals and refused a waiver claim by the Padres) in part because of the possibility of netting a draft pick.

Lopez, who played on a one-year, $1 million deal last year, hit .233 with a .311 OBP, .345 slugging mark and .656 OPS for the Cardinals and Sox last year. He was a Type B free agent who turned down the Sox’ offer of salary arbitration, meaning that the Sox could have gotten a sandwich pick (around No. 55-60 in the coming draft) had he signed a major league deal with another club.

But, if Lopez signs a minor league deal, according to multiple major league sources, the Sox would not be entitled to any draft pick compensation.

In four games for the Sox, Lopez was 4-for-15. The Sox paid him approximately $50,000 (the balance of what he would have made on his 2010 deal had he not rejected the Padres’ waiver claim) during his brief time in Boston, and then declined an option on his services for the 2011 season, and instead paid him a $15,000 buyout.

Read More: Cardinals, draft pick compensation, felipe lopez, mlb draft
Picking a winner? A look at the draft picks gained and lost by the Red Sox 01.16.11 at 8:14 am ET
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Last time the Red Sox had the No. 19 overall draft pick, they took Roger Clemens. (AP)

It was not long ago that teams signed free agents without regard for the draft pick they would have to sacrifice to do so. Clearly, that has changed.

Indeed, the pick that a team must sacrifice to sign a Type A free agent who rejects salary arbitration from his former club has become so significant that it reportedly became the subject of significant contention in the Yankees organization. Earlier this month, New York GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees — after being spurned by Cliff Lee — wouldn’t sign a Type A free agent because they were unwilling to sacrifice their first-round pick. But he was reportedly overruled at the ownership level, resulting in the decision to give up the No. 31 overall selection and sign Rafael Soriano as the most expensive setup man in history.

Just how valuable is the No. 31 overall pick? The answer varies significantly by year.

In 46 June drafts, just 15 players taken at the No. 31 spot have reached the majors. (For the complete list, click here.) Only two of them emerged as above-average players. One was Jarrod Washburn, who won 107 games after being taken by the Angels in 1995. The other? Greg Maddux, whose 355 career wins are the most by a right-hander whose career started after the World War…World War I, that is.

The Red Sox’ free-agent activity resulted in their losing their own first-round pick (No. 24 overall) while gaining two (Nos. 19 and 26). Under GM Theo Epstein, the Sox have used compensation draft picks to acquire a number of their key prospects. (For details, click here.)

But historically, what kind of players have been selected with the first-round picks gained and sacrificed by the Sox this winter? Here is a look at the history of the three first-round draft picks that were affected by the Red Sox’ free agent activity this offseason:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, Adrian Beltre, carl crawford, draft pick compensation
Minor Details Ep. 6: Why the Red Sox draft football stars 01.07.11 at 5:03 pm ET
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Brandon Jacobs chose to do his running on the bases and in the outfield for the Red Sox, instead of in the Auburn Tigers backfield. (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

An emerging Red Sox prospect just as easily could have been playing in the college football BCS championship game.

Brandon Jacobs was recruited to play football and baseball at Auburn, but the Red Sox drafted him in the 10th round of the 2009 draft and convinced him (with the aid of a $750,000 signing bonus) to start a baseball career. Jacobs isn’t alone.

In recent years, the Red Sox have drafted a number of players who were viewed as outstanding college football prospects and convinced them to hang up their pads in order to begin their professional careers. Ryan Kalish, Will Middlebrooks, Casey Kelly and Jacobs are among the many two-sport athletes whom the Sox drafted and paid dearly to sign. (And, of course, three-sport high school star Carl Crawford just signed a seven-year, $142 million deal to come to Boston.)

Why do the Sox pursue these sorts of players? How is their development affected by their two-sport status in high school?

To answer those questions, Minor Details was joined this week by outfielder Brandon Jacobs as well as Red Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye to discuss the phenomenon of baseball players who were multi-sport stars.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Previous episodes of Minor Details:

Ep. 5: The human side of the Adrian Gonzalez trade, with Padres (and former Red Sox) prospect Anthony Rizzo, Sox scout Laz Gutierrez and Sox farm director Mike Hazen. The episode also includes a discussion with Baseball America’s Jim Callis about the state of the Sox farm system following the trade for Adrian Gonzalez

Ep. 4: Evaluating prospects and making blockbusters, with former Diamondbacks GM/Red Sox Assistant GM Josh Byrnes and former Red Sox manager Butch Hobson (who was Jeff Bagwell‘s manager in the Red Sox system when he was traded to the Astros)

Ep. 3: Red Sox catching prospects, with Sox roving catching instructor Chadd Epperson, as well as a conversation with Arizona Fall League manager Mike Sarbaugh about the Sox’ prospects in the AFL

Ep. 2: Red Sox trade chips with Keith Law of ESPN.com

Ep. 1: Baseball America’s list of the Top 10 Red Sox prospects, with Mike Hazen and Jim Callis

Read More: amiel sawdaye, auburn, bcs, brandon jacobs
Video: The Full Count Show 06.10.10 at 11:34 am ET
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Read More: mlb draft, Red Sox,
‘Spread out’ draft should help Sox 06.03.10 at 3:10 pm ET
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Usually, having the 20th pick in the first round of any draft leads to getting someone who may be a solid player but is not of the talent level of the player who went 11th or 12th. That may not be the case for the Red Sox as they approach Monday’s first round of the MLB draft, according to general manager Theo Epstein and first-year director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye.

Along with picking 20th in the first round, the Sox will make the 36th and 39th picks in the sandwich round, so named for its place between the first and second rounds, as compensation for losing free agents Billy Wagner and Jason Bay in the offseason. The more picks the team has in the late first round and sandwich round the merrier, especially in this draft.

“It’s not one of those drafts where there’s clear elite players in the top half of the first round,” Epstein said. “It’s more spread out through the middle to the bottom and to the sandwich.”

In fact, the first-round talent in this year’s draft is so spread out that many teams that have early picks would be looking to trade down, if only they were able. However, because teams are not allowed to trade at all in the MLB draft, teams like the Red Sox who own those lower picks will have just as good a chance at a good player in a draft like this.

“I’ve had a lot of people who are picking in the top 10 picks that say, ‘God, this would be the year we would love to trade a pick with you guys,’” Sawdaye said. “I think we’re in a pretty good spot. Like Theo said, late end of the first round through the sandwich, if you have extra picks, you’re in a pretty good spot to get some players that may end up being just as good as you’re going to take in the top 10.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: amiel sawdaye, Boston Red Sox, mlb draft, Theo Epstein
Red Sox finalize draft class of ’09 by signing Volz 08.18.09 at 12:16 am ET
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As first reported by Baseball America, WEEI.com has confirmed that the Red Sox signed ninth-round draft choice Kendal Volz for a bonus of $550,000. Volz, a right-handed pitcher from Baylor, was considered a likely first-round draft choice entering this draft season on the strength of dominating performances for Team USA last summer. But the junior struggled this year, and showed a decline in velocity. He had thrown a sinking mid-90s fastball, but he became more hittable this year as his fastball lost some zip and movement. Even so, the Sox were intrigued sufficiently by the potential to draft him and then to commit a bonus in line with the slot recommendation for a mid-second round pick to the right-hander.

“I saw him real early this year and he threw very well that night. It kind of tapered off very quickly for him,” Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod said of Volz earlier in the summer. “If he can get back on track where he thinks he should be or the way he was throwing for Team USA last summer, that could get real interesting for us if we can sign him a little later this summer.”

The Sox signed 14 of their first 15 draft picks this year, the lone exception being right-hander Branden Kline, a sixth-round selection who will instead attend the University of Virginia. Some players with notable blood-lines decided against signing. Those included:

–16th rounder Luke Bard: the younger brother of the Red Sox reliever will instead go to Georgia Tech

–36th rounder Michael Yastrzemski: the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski will attend Vanderbilt, fulfilling a promise to his father that he would attend school

–39th rounder Gavin McCourt: the son of the Dodgers owner will attend Stanford, and he plans to try out for the Cardinal as a walk-on

Read More: gavin mccourt, kendal volz, luke bard, michael yastrzemski
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