The Boston Red Sox know they can’t replenish their farm system overnight, and they also know they can’t do so with one player.
In some ways, that makes the draft approach simple for the Red Sox, as they get set to tackle the first and second rounds Monday night.
The Red Sox plan on sticking to their general draft philosophy of drafting the best player available as opposed to drafting for need.
“Our philosophy has always been to try to stay out of that mindset (addressing current needs) — we’ve sustained fairly well with a pretty consistent philosophy of lining up our board really based on talent,” Red Sox scouting director Mike Rikard said on a conference call last week, per the Boston Herald.
“There certainly are some things to be considerate of that you’re cognizant of as far as the state of your farm system or major league team, some of those things, but we’ve shied away from lining up our draft board based on some of those things, which are always fluid.”
The Red Sox scouting department always plays an important role, but their work is even more crucial right now. Boston has been able to turn big-name prospects into valuable major league players like Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel, which has come at an obvious prospect price. Once ranked among baseball’s top farm systems, the Red Sox system is viewed in the middle of the pack, at best.
A dearth of prospects manifests itself in multiple ways. It’s hard to see many players in the system ready to join the big-league club anytime soon, and fewer prospects also mean fewer trade chips as the trade deadline approaches.
The Red Sox can’t fix those short-term issues at this year’s draft, but hitting on picks in the early rounds can go a long way in replenishing the farm system sooner than later.
HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE?
That will be the question the Red Sox will wrestle with Monday night. If past history is any indication, Boston might lean toward a lower-ceiling, higher-floor college player. Take a look at their first-round picks since 2011.
2017: Tanner Houck (college)
2016: Jay Groome (high school)
2015: Andrew Benintendi (college)
2014: Michael Chavis (high school)
2013: Trey Ball (high school)
2012: Deven Marrero (college)
2011: Blake Swihart, Matt Barnes (high school, college)
The jury still is out on Houck, obviously, who was drafted a year ago. Groome, like most high school pitchers drafted in the top 10, has enormous upside. But his 2018 season was over before it began after he underwent Tommy John surgery last month. Chavis, another high schooler, failed a drug test and is still serving an 80-game suspension.
Obviously, it takes longer to develop high school players, but it’s very hard to argue with the Red Sox’s success when drafting college players high in the draft.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Red Sox have the 26th pick in the draft. Historically, that’s been a pretty crummy draft position. On the bright side, Boston has held the No. 26 pick three times since 2005, using the selection to take relief pitcher Craig Hansen, Swihart and Chavis. Hansen did pitch in 74 games for the Sox, Swihart is on the big league club right now, and Chavis was a top-100 prospect before being popped for PEDs.
Here’s the rather unimpressive list of players taken at No. 26 since 2000.
WHO’S THE PICK?
Baseball mock drafts, especially once you get outside the top 10, involve plenty of dart-throwing. But here are how a few of the top publications see the Red Sox using that 26th pick.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images