The Red Sox aren't afraid to spend money to acquire big-name free agents — just check out this past offseason, when they landed a couple of big bats in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. But the Sox also have a number of home-grown players that have been instrumental in the team's success.
Daniel Bard, 25, has been one of the most reliable relievers the Red Sox have had the past two and a half seasons. His electric stuff has led to him being coined a "closer in waiting," but he's been just as valuable to the Sox in his current role, which usually entails setting up for closer Jonathan Papelbon in the seventh or eighth inning.
Bard, a first round pick in 2006, compiled a 1.93 ERA in 73 appearances in 2010, and has continued to pitch well thus far in 2011.
Papelbon, drafted in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, is another pitcher that's come up through the Red Sox system and enjoyed a great deal of success. A four-time All-Star, Papelbon has been one of the best closers in baseball since taking over the role in 2006. He's seventh among active saves leaders, saving a career-high 41 games in 2008.
The hard-throwing right-hander was also a major component of the Red Sox' 2007 World Series title, racking up three saves in the four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies, including the Game 4 clincher.
But the Red Sox haven't just had success when it comes to drafting relievers. They've drafted quality starters, most notably Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, who are two anchors of the starting rotation.
Lester was taken in the second round of the 2002 draft by the Sox, and has since worked his up through the system to become an ace despite a bout with cancer. The 27-year-old southpaw was an All-Star in 2010, when he won 19 games — He finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting last season.
Buchholz, whom the Red Sox refused to deal despite his name coming up in multiple trade discussions, threw a no-hitter in his second career start and hasn't looked back.
The 26-year-old right-hander, who was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft, put together an All-Star campaign in 2010. He also finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting, as he finished the season with a 17-7 record and a 2.33 ERA.
The Red Sox offense has also been the recipient of some key draft picks.
Jacoby Ellsbury has blossomed into one of the league's premier leadoff hitters and base stealers. He set a franchise record with 70 stolen bases in 2009.
The outfielder was a first-round pick in 2005, and has since helped the Red Sox win a World Series and continues to improve upon his offensive ability.
Kevin Youkilis was drafted in the eighth round of the 2001 draft and worked his way up through the Red Sox organization with a reputation as a patient hitter.
A two-time All-Star, Youkilis has been particularly important to the Red Sox because of his versatility. He's bounced around between first base and third base. He won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007, but he's since shifted back across the diamond with the addition of Adrian Gonzalez.
In 2008, Youkilis finished third in MVP voting. One of the players he trailed was Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who won the award that year.
Pedroia, who was drafted in the second round in 2004, is a three-time All-Star. Like Youkilis, he has a Gold Glove to his credit, winning the award in 2008.
In his first three seasons, Pedroia had already pretty much accomplished it all. He won the Rookie of the Year, a World Series title and an MVP award in 2006, 2007 and 2008, respectively. Still, the gritty second baseman would like to add to his trophy case.
Who has been the best Red Sox draft pick of the 2000s? Share your thoughts below.
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