Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Red Sox 2010 Draft, Day 1

The first round as well as the sandwich round of the MLB draft finished was yesterday. The Sox selected at 20, 36, and 39. Picks 20 and 39 are from the Atlanta Braves signing Billy Wagner, while pick 39 is for the Mets signing Jason Bay. Because the Mets finished in the bottom half of the league, their first round pick was protected. Instead, the Red Sox will receive the Mets 2nd round pick, which is 57th overall. The Red Sox also lost their first round pick to the Blue Jays to compensate the Jays for the signing of Marco Scutaro.

Unlike last year, when the Red Sox selected Puerto Rican high schooler Reymond Fuentes with their only first or sandwich round selection, the Red Sox went with three college players this year: 3B Kolbrin Vitek at 20, OF Bryce Bretz at 36, and SP Anthony Ranaudo at 39.

Vitek was originally a second baseman in college, however very few teams believed he could stay there in the big leagues. Because of his excellent speed, many teams thought he would end up as a center fielder, although according to Pete Abraham at the Globe, the Red Sox seem to have him pegged as a third baseman.

Both Bryce Brentz and Anthony Ranaudo are juniors who had disappointing seasons after strong sophomore years. The Red Sox have tried to use this strategy in the past, drafting current Indians prospect Matt Laporta in the 14th round in 2005. It is a much bigger commitment to use a sandwich round pick, however, so the Red Sox must be hopeful they can sign both players. Ranaudo is a huge (6'7") right hander who can hit 95 MPH at times, but typically in the low to mid 90's. According to the scouting report from ESPN, he also has a deceptive delivery. Ranaudo missed some time early this season with a minor elbow injury, and ended up posting some fairly ugly numbers in 11 starts and 4 relief appearances - a 7.32 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. However, the Red Sox are banking on his upside here, as he was exceptional in 2009, with a 3.04 ERA and 159 strike outs in 124 innings.

As an aside, the list of players the Red Sox have drafted, but failed to sign is pretty amazing. They include this year's 12th pick, catcher Yasmani Grandal, who dropped because of signability concerns, current Pirates top prospect Pedro Alvarez, the aforementioned Matt Laporta, and finally, Mark Teixeira. For those who enjoy learning missed opportunities like these, Fangraphs has been running a series on "The Ones that Got Away", the best players who were drafted, but not signed.

Bryce Brentz was hobbled by a stress fracture in his ankle during most of the season. He only missed a handful of games, but his junior season was considered a disappointment. While a .348/.444/.636 with 18 home runs is nothing to sneeze at, it is a let down following a .465/.541/.930 sophomore year. Another thing to keep in mind is that the level of competition is highly variable in college baseball, so numbers from the Sun Belt conference aren't equivalent to numbers from the SEC. Despite the weaker competition, ESPN's Scouts Inc wrote that he could end up second best college hitter in the draft, behind uber-prospect Bryce Harper.

Overall, the Sox seem to have done pretty well with the draft. Of course, it is impossible to really determine how good a draft is until you get four or five years down the line, but they scooped up some players who were viewed as potential top ten guys coming into this season. Keith Law listed the Red Sox among his "winners" of day 1 of the draft, and Epstein seems pretty pleased with it too, saying "We felt the draft broke our way."

Update: As I was writing this, the Red Sox picked another college pitcher, Texas SP Brandon Workman. Jason Churchill, of ProspectInsider.com writes that the Sox have received "absurd value" so far. Also, he noted that because all four draftees have been college players, they could make an impact soon.

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