Breaking down Red Sox recent draft history

Breaking down Red Sox recent draft history
June 5, 2014, 8:15 am
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It may not be quite the prime-time event that is the annual NFL Draft, but MLB is doing its best to make its First-Year Player Draft a television event.

Things get kicked off for the first and second rounds (and compensation picks) on MLB Network tonight at 7 p.m. For those of us paying close attention to the Red Sox, their first two picks -- No. 26 and 33 -- will be the focus.

To get a sense of how this Red Sox front office may use the picks, let's take a look at all Red Sox first rounders (and some early compensation selections) dating back to 2002.

This will be the fifth Red Sox draft run by Amateur Scouting Director Amiel Sawdaye, who has worked under both current GM Ben Cherington and former GM Theo Epstein. Since, of course, Cherington and Epstein worked together closely during Epstein's tenure and may share some similar drafting philosophies, we'll go back to 2002 -- Epstein's first year on the job in Boston -- to try to decipher any patterns.

PICKS
2002: No pick
2003: David Murphy, OF, Baylor Univ. (pick No. 17 overall)
2003: Matt Murton, OF, Georgia Institute of Technology (32)
2004: No pick
2005: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Oregon State (23)
2005: Craig Hansen, RHP, St. John's Univ. (26)
2005: Clay Buchholz, RHP, Angelina College (42)
2005: Jed Lowrie, INF, Stanford (45)
2005: Michael Bowden, RHP, Waubonsie Valley High (47)
2006: Jason Place, OF, Wren High (27)
2006: Daniel Bard, RHP, Univ. North Carolina (28)
2006: Caleb Clay, RHP, Cullman High (44)
2007: Nick Hagadone, LHP Univ. of Washington (55)
2007: Ryan Dent, SS, Wilson Classical High (62)
2008: Casey Kelly, SS, Sarasota High (30)
2008: Bryan Price, RHP, Rice Univ. (45)
2009: Reymond Fuentes, OF, Fernando Callejo High (28)
2010: Kolbrin Vitek, INF, Ball State (28)
2010: Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State (36)
2010: Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Louisiana State Univ. (39)
2011: Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn (19)
2011: Blake Swihart, C, V. Sue Cleveland High (26)
2011: Henry Owens, LHP, Edson High (36)
2011: Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Univ. South Carolina (40)
2012: Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State Univ. (24)
2012: Brian Johnson, LHP, Univ. of Florida (31)
2012: Pat Light, RHP, Monmouth Univ. (37)
2013: Trey Ball, LHP, New Castle Chrysler High (7)

BREAKDOWN
Outfielders taken: 7
Infielders taken: 6
Right-handed pitchers taken: 9
Left-handed pitchers taken: 4

Judging by the totals, the Red Sox have done a pretty good job of not targeting one area of the field with its top picks year after year. (The infield number may be a tad skewed since Casey Kelly eventually became a pitcher.) There are a couple of trends that have become somewhat apparent over the last dozen years, however.

The first is that the Red Sox have spent plenty of draft capital on power arms. From Craig Hansen to Daniel Bard, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and others, their commitment to finding pitching early in the selection process -- whether it always pans out or not -- goes to show that you really can never have enough.

The Red Sox could opt to go the pitching route again in this year's draft as the depth of players with talented arms, especially at the top of the draft, is better than it is at other positions, according to scouts.

The second trend pulled from the above picks: The Red Sox find athletes.

For the most part, the outfielders taken by the Sox over the last handful of years have been fast and versatile. Though they haven't quite pegged a big-time power bat -- Bryce Brentz may represent the best opportunity for power from the outfield -- they have selected a handful of major leaguers whose athleticism has been their meal ticket.

Same goes for the infield group. There's not much power in that list above, but guys like Jed Lowrie, Kolbrin Vitek and Deven Marrero all were draft picks projected to provide good athleticism and versatility to the middle infield.

Could the Red Sox break from that tradition and go looking for a power corner-infield bat early in the draft this year? If they want to, there should be those kinds of options available.