Red Sox embrace picking late in Draft

Red Sox embrace picking late in Draft

The Red Sox could bemoan having to wait until the 28th pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, but that would contradict what their goals are as an organization.

"It's sort of a good thing to be picking at the bottom of the round. It means you were successful the year before at the Major League level," said Red Sox amateur scouting director Jason McLeod. "Though we're often not going to get the best players out there in the country, if you tell me every year we'll pick 30th, I'll be a happy guy."

After another successful 2008 season, in which the Sox advanced to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, they are forced to play the waiting game on Draft day. However, no team in recent years has done a better job balancing success at the Major League level and in the Draft.

In 2004, the Red Sox weren't on the clock until the 65th overall pick and they landed a guy named Dustin Pedroia. A year later, they tabbed Jacoby Ellsbury at No. 23, and Clay Buchholz 17 picks after that. Daniel Bard, who is currently displaying his upper 90s heat in the Boston bullpen, was taken at No. 28 in 2006.

So, yes, the Red Sox are hopeful of again making an impact, even if their first two picks aren't until 28 and 77.

MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. MLB Network will broadcast the first round at 6 p.m. ET on June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.

Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.

Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York, at noon on June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a glance at what the Red Sox have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
The Red Sox will try to continue the recent momentum they've had in the Draft. Unlike some other years, the Boston brain trust doesn't feel that this is a top-heavy Draft. In other words, there could be little difference in the quality of players drafted between 10 and 28. This means that the scouting staff -- led by McLeod -- has done more due diligence than ever in an effort to find another impact player.

The scoop
"There are guys out there," McLeod said. "I think you do have to certainly work a little harder and make sure you get more looks and really try to uncover every stone to make sure you are making the right selection with that first pick, no matter where it is."

First-round buzz
Given the pool of this Draft and where the Red Sox are picking, they are very open-minded.

"It would be fun to be a fly on the wall of any other Draft room this year, just to see how everyone else is lining their boards up, because I think you're going to see, well, if you could see, I think you would see a lot of different boards as far as how they had the players ranked," McLeod said.

Shopping list
The Red Sox never draft much in terms of need. They are far bigger believers in going with the best players. So even though the farm system is already stacked with pitching, the Red Sox will always be on the prowl for more arms. Power bats are also something they'd like to add, but McLeod said they won't force the issue. And yes, every team is always looking for catching prospects.

Trend watch
Though, all things being equal, the Red Sox prefer college players, they know that this year's pool calls for a more open-minded strategy. The college pool isn't nearly as strong as in years past, so the Red Sox will be more open-minded with high school picks. Then again, they took pitcher-shortstop Casey Kelly out of high school last year. Back in 2002, a high schooler named Jon Lester was Boston's first selection.

Recent top picks
2008: The Red Sox are still open-minded on Kelly's future, as the highly talented player is splitting this year between shortstop and pitcher. Kelly was dominant for Class A Greenville, going 6-1 with a 1.12 ERA in nine starts. He was recently moved up to Class A Salem of the Carolina League.
2007: The Red Sox still have big hopes for Nick Hagadone, the college teammate of Tim Lincecum who was taken with the 55th pick in 2007. Hagadone underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and will soon make his 2009 debut for Class A Greenville.
2006: The Sox took high school outfielder Jason Place and Bard with back-to-back picks (27 and 28) in '06. While Bard, a stud during his years at the University of North Carolina, has risen through the ranks, things haven't come so easily for Place. Place, currently playing at Class A Salem, is still trying to find a consistent groove at the plate.

Rising fast
Lars Anderson was the 553rd overall pick in the 2006 Draft, but he's now viewed by many as the most promising hitter in Boston's farm system. The lanky left-handed hitter got off to a slow start for Double-A Portland, but has come on of late.

Cinderella story
A 17th-round pick in '06, Josh Reddick, who is currently battling an injury, has been impressive in the early years of his development. Reddick spent part of this past Spring Training with the Red Sox and impressed the brass with his stroke and his demeanor.

In The Show
Bard is a perfect case-in-point of how quickly a highly touted prospect can rise. Though he struggled mightily in his first year in the organization as a starter, Bard has been dominant at every level since being converted to a reliever.

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