Ben Cherington ‘Bets There’s A Big Leaguer’ in New England, Hopes to Snag Sleeper in MLB Draft

When it comes to discovering young domestic baseball players, Texas, Florida and California have been perennial hotbeds for talent.

At the 2012 MLB First-Year Player's Draft on Monday, Boston's brass is poised to pluck more youngsters from those three states. But that doesn't mean the Red Sox will neglect the talent in their own backyard.

After speaking with his area scouts in New England, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is a firm believer in the region's talent. He did concede, though, that star power in New England is lacking compared to years past.

"There's some good players, maybe not the high profile that we've seen the last couple years," Cherington said. "There's been some guys that were taken in the first round and guys that were sort of on the national level, perhaps got more attention in the draft. But there are good players this year, and we bet there's a big leaguer out of New England this year even if we don't know for sure who it is."

But that's the challenge of drafting. Based on the Red Sox' draft position — it's typically toward the tail end of rounds — Cherington said the team's philosophy is to unearth and groom the sleeper picks.

In 2007, the Red Sox started that process by selecting infielder Will Middlebrooks from Liberty Eylau High School (Texas) in the fifth round. Now, five years later, the Red Sox are taking great satisfaction in developing Middlebrooks into a young star.

Whether it's with talent in New England or Texas, Cherington is eyeing a similar game plan come Monday.

"Certainly guys that are sort of the furthest away, where a scout really believes in a player for a variety of reasons — whether it’s the combination of physical skill and mental makeup," Cherington said. "But he's projecting 'This is what I think he's going to be three years from now, five years from now, seven years from now,' and then that's combined with good work in development. When that type of player gets to the big leagues, it is very rewarding."

Cashing in on those rewards could start Monday.

Have a question for Didier Morais? Send it to him via Twitter at @DidierMorais or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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