The Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft is held every June. Although not as exciting as the NFL draft, the MLB draft provides hope for the future of an organization. While revisiting the 2010 draft, Brandon Magee points to a playoff contribution as a sign of success.
As Major League Baseball begins their annual draft today, our thoughts turn to drafts past. The 2004 draft brought the Boston Red Sox Dustin Pedroia, but very little other major league talent. In 2001 the Red Sox selected Kevin Youkilis, in the eighth round, and Kelly Shoppach. However, the vast majority of MLB draftees never make it to the big show – most don’t even get close enough to sniff it. Five years ago, in the 2010 Draft, the Red Sox drafted 52 young prospects. This article looks at that draft to judge the Red Sox’ success and to see if any lessons can be gleaned.
First, a couple of disclaimers:
- The 2012 CBA changed the monetary structure of the draft. While MLB had suggested salary for draft picks, there was no punishment for going above slot. The 2012 CBA changed that, as there is now a bonus pool (for the top 10 picks) and punishment for exceeding the pool (a tax on the amount paid and loss of draft picks the next season).
- The front office has changed in the past five years. In 2010, Theo Epstein was the General Manager and Amiel Sawdaye was the director of amateur scouting. This season, Ben Cherington is GM and Mike Rikard is in his first season as director of amateur scouting.
Of course, every draft is different just due to the which players are draft eligible. With that said, let’s look at some basic numbers for the Red Sox draft:
Number of Draftees: 52
Number of Signees: 23
Number of MLB Players (thus far): 5
The 2010 draft has had a number of notable MLB players thus far. Bryce Harper was the number one pick, but the top half of the draft also featured Chris Sale, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey and Yasmani Grandal. However, below the top 13 draft picks, the number of MLB stars are minimal. Christian Yelich is the only other first round pick to have a current career bWAR above 3. Since we are only five years removed from the draft, there are many players, for example Taijuan Walker, who could become stars.
It is in this light that we will judge the Red Sox draft. The Sox had three first round and supplemental first round picks, with two of the three making the Majors. Anthony Ranaudo started seven games for Boston last season before being traded to the Texas Rangers in the off-season. Bryce Brentz played in eight games for the Red Sox last season. Brentz is currently in his third full season with the Pawtucket Red Sox where he continues to show the power that made him a high draft pick, but has an overall batting line (.229/.307/.385) that can only be considered disappointing.
The Red Sox first pick of the draft, and the 20th pick overall, was Kolbrin Vitek, a college hitter who was dominant (.359/.440/.664 career) for Ball State. Alas, he could never adjust to wood bats and he retired after the 2013 season, never making it past AA Portland. However, he is not the only 1st round pick to struggle. The Cubs picked Hayden Simpson at #16 and released him after only two seasons, never getting past the High A Florida State League. Josh Sale, drafted by Tampa Bay at #17, was released earlier this year after multiple suspensions for drugs and behavior. Pick #18, Kaleb Cowart, struggled in his two seasons at AA Arkansas, and started this season back in the High-A California League. The fifteenth pick of the draft, Jake Skole, has also struggled in his two seasons in AA for the Texas Rangers. The two players picked after Vitek, Allen Wimmers and Kellin Deglan, are showing no signs that they will make the majors.
Brandon Workman was the fourth Red Sox pick, their first in the second round and the 57th overall in the 2010 draft. While his regular season numbers in 2013 and 2014 are not terribly impressive (7-13, 5.17 ERA, 1.42 WHIP), his numbers in the 2013 postseason can not be ignored. Workman allowed no earned runs in seven relief appearances against Tampa Bay, Detroit and St. Louis as the Red Sox went on to win the World Series. If that is all Workman ever provides for the Sox, he should be considered a draft success. Workman still has time to add to his legacy once he regains his health.
With few breakouts, the second round is similar to the first. Andrelton Simmons and Drew Smyly have had the best start of the 32 second round picks. In the third round, only nine of the 33 picks have even cracked the major leagues, none of whom who could be considered break-out stars.
The fourth Red Sox pick to make the majors is one of eight fourth rounders to do so, Garin Cecchini. However, like A.J. Cole, Eddie Rosario and Cody Stanley, his experience has been brief and uneventful. As you look through the ensuing rounds, it is more of the same. Certainly, a couple of players have broken out – Kole Calhoun and Corey Dickerson in the eighth round, Jacob DeGrom in the ninth round, Joc Pederson in the eleventh – but the vast majority haven’t sniffed the majors or have gotten only the proverbial “cup of coffee”.
Drafted in the 17th round with the 533rd selection was pitcher Jason Garcia. A player who showed some promise with the Red Sox, but not enough to place on the 40-man roster this past off-season. This isn’t surprising, as he had not advanced past the A level Greenville Drive. Yet, the Houston Astros selected him in the Rule 5 draft and immediately sold him to the Baltimore Orioles where he started the year on the 25 man roster. Garcia was utilized mostly in losing efforts before being placed on the DL with injury.
There are a few other Red Sox draftees that still have the possibility of making the majors. Sean Coyle and Keith Couch are both in Pawtucket, along with Cecchini and Brentz. Henry Ramos is in Portland, but on the disabled list again. Jacob Dahlstrand is slowly progressing up the system and is currently in Salem. However, that is it. The rest of the signees, with the exception of 44th rounder Zach Kapstein, are no longer in the organization.
One interesting thing to look at in any draft are the players who were drafted but not signed. For example, Hunter Renfroe was drafted by the Red Sox in the 31st round. He decided to attend Mississippi State instead. It was likely a lucrative decision for Renfroe, drafted as the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Michael Wagner and Rock Shoulders, two others drafted by the Red Sox in 2010, have seen AAA in other organizations after going back in the draft. In fact, only eleven of the 52 draftees never played in the minors – 18 of the 29 non-signees would eventually sign a minor league contract.
The 2010 Draft will not go down in the annals as one of the Red Sox very best. It is unlikely to generate a Major League All-Star. However, based on the draft as a whole, the Red Sox did not do considerably worse than most teams, the draft class was just a weak one. And, with Brandon Workman’s post-season pitching in 2013, this draft helped produce a World Championship. That is the ultimate goal of any team and based on that alone, the draft has to be considered successful.