The Boston Red Sox are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, yet they’re incredibly similar to most other Major League Baseball organizations in at least one regard.
The Red Sox have had their share of both hits and misses when it comes to the annual MLB first-year player draft, which was first held in 1965. It’s so difficult to predict each June which high school and college players eventually will succeed at the big league level, and the Sox, like other clubs, presumably are just as thrilled about some of their selections over the years as they are upset about others.
As the Red Sox prepare to bring in a new crop of prospects over the next few days via the 2016 draft, which begins Thursday night, we thought it’d be nice to look back on Boston’s draft history and pinpoint which of the team’s draft classes stand above the rest. It’s a hard exercise, as some years feature only one player, albeit a good one, who ended up making a meaningful impact, whereas other years feature a few solid contributors yet no players who altered the course of the franchise.
For the purpose of this activity, let’s rule out any of the Red Sox’s draft picks who didn’t sign or whose main success occurred with a team other than Boston. Mark Teixeira had a nice career, for instance, but he didn’t sign with the Red Sox after they drafted him in the ninth round out of high school in 1998. And while Jeff Bagwell posted Hall of Fame-type numbers, the bulk of his success came after the Red Sox traded the 1989 fourth-round pick to the Houston Astros in August 1990.
So, without wasting any more time, here are four Red Sox draft classes worth remembering as Boston prepares to pick at No. 12 in the first round of the 2016 draft.
1976 — notable picks: Wade Boggs, Bruce Hurst, Glenn Hoffman
Boggs, a seventh-round pick, hit .338 with an .890 OPS in his 11 seasons with Boston. He earned eight All-Star selections with the Sox and won five batting titles, including four in a row from 1985 to 1988. His No. 26 adorns the right field facade at Fenway Park.
Hurst, who was selected in the first round (No. 22 overall), was a mainstay in Boston’s rotation throughout the 1980s. He posted a 2.99 ERA in 1986 while helping the Red Sox win the American League pennant, and his 88-73 record over nine seasons with Boston was enough to earn him enshrinement in the organization’s Hall of Fame.
Hoffman, a second-round pick, appeared in 678 games over parts of eight seasons with Boston.
1983 — notable pick: Roger Clemens
The Red Sox have a number of draft classes that can be defined by a single player. After all, Boston drafted Dwight Evans (1969), Jim Rice (1971), Fred Lynn (1973), Mo Vaughn (1989), Nomar Garciaparra (1994), Jon Lester (2002) and Dustin Pedroia (2004), among others.
This isn’t to slight any of those guys, but Clemens, who was drafted in the first round (19th overall), evolved into arguably the greatest pitcher in team history during his 13 seasons with the Red Sox. The Rocket won 192 games, obtained three Cy Young Awards and was named the 1986 American League MVP before leaving Boston after the 1996 season.
2005 — notable picks: Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie
Ellsbury (first round, 23rd overall) and Buchholz (first round supplemental, 42nd overall) are a couple of polarizing players, as the former left the Red Sox for a huge payday with the New York Yankees after the 2013 season and the latter has endured some struggles over the years despite possessing an abundance of talent. But both players have two World Series rings to their credit, which is more than most can say, and their contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Lowrie is a nice player who’s enjoyed most of his success outside of Boston, but he still was serviceable over parts of four seasons with the Sox.
2011 — notable picks: Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart, Travis Shaw, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Noe Ramirez
The verdict still is out on a lot of these guys, but Theo Epstein’s final draft as Red Sox general manager could be an all-timer. The Sox landed several players who currently are making an impact and who look like potential franchise cornerstones.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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