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While baseball’s selection day doesn’t have the same collegiate star-power of the NBA Draft or the glamor of the NFL draft, its importance is equal. A lot of Red Sox fans may be unaware of how masterful the team has been at the draft process the past few years; but these are the same people who want to trade stud prospects at every trade deadline, and who think all of the team’s problems can magically be solved in free agency (seriously, do we REALLY want to sign Jayson Werth for big money?).
Picking near the end of every first round due to their perennial success, the Sox have still managed to build one of the best farm systems in the majors. Part of this wizardry can be attributed to their great scouting, and the other to their ability to actually sign the players they select, unlike teams in smaller markets.
Signability is always an issue for teams with high draft picks. For example, in 2002, the Pittsburgh Pirates held the first overall pick and selected a pitcher named Brian Bullington. This pick seemed strange because the Pirates scouts themselves had Bullington tabbed as, at best, a No. 3 starter, but the real reason behind the pick was that Bullington would not command the money that other players in that draft like Prince Fielder or B.J. Upton would.
It’s financial issues like this that make it nearly impossible for some smaller-market teams to build a solid farm system, even if they have high picks year after year. Even the Red Sox have fallen victim to expensive draft picks. In 1998, Boston chose a high schooler named Mark Teixiera in the 9th round. When GM Dan Duquette failed to sign Teixiera, he opted to pursue a college career at Georgia Tech. I’ll spare everyone the rest of the story, only because we all know how it ends.
The main roadblock in the quest to sign draft picks is Scott Boras; the most high-profile agent this side of James Bond and someone the Red Sox are constantly dealing with. Boras always demands huge signing bonuses for every player he represents, which sometimes seems like everyone in the league . He also likes to convince draft picks to sit out until he is able to get the money he desires, so the fact that the Sox were recently able to sign draft pick Anthony Ranaudo before the deadline should come as a relief; he was yet another Boras client.
Ranaudo is a 6’7″ 230 lb. right-hander out of LSU. Regarded as one of the best starting pitchers in the country coming into his junior season, a sore elbow reduced his effectiveness in 2010, and concerns about the injury allowed him to fall to the Red Sox at the 39th overall pick. Keith Law of ESPN ranked Ranaudo as the best pitcher in the 2010 draft, and if it’s true that his elbow problems aren’t serious, this guy is a huge steal for Boston.
What’s even more exciting is Ranaudo’s dominance of the Cape Cod League this summer, a league that features some of the most elite collegiate competition in the country. In the past, the Cape League has produced Major League MVP’s (Jeff Bagwell), Cy Young winners (Tim Lincecum) and one mediocre movie (2001’s Summer Catch), so when Ranaudo refused to even give up so much as an earned run in 29 innings, it made signing him an even higher priority.
The Sox were able to sign their other top picks, including:
Kolbrin Vittek 3B/OF- Ball State.
Has potential to be a middle of the order type of guy, if he can improve his power.
Bryce Brentz OF- Middle Tennessee State.
Good power hitter but has struggled recently, could become a solid all-around player in the Majors if he stops swinging for the fences so much.