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While several teams took surprise picks in the first round, including the New York Yankees who took a player outside of most people’s top 100 draft prospects, the Boston Red Sox surprised by going against what many close followers of the team expected. Often, it is the Red Sox picking someone unusual with one of their first picks, but in the first and supplemental round of this draft, the Red Sox took three prospects within Baseball America’s top 26 overall draft prospects.
The Red Sox selected Kolbrin Vitek with their first round pick, and Bryce Brentz and Anthony Renaudo in the supplemental round. Here is a breakdown on each pick:
With the 20th overall pick in the draft, the Sox selected Kolbrin Vitek out of Ball State University. Rated as the 25th best prospect by Baseball America coming into the draft, Vitek is considered to have above-average contact skills with average power. Scouting Director Amiel Sawdaye commented after the pick, though, that the organization sees him as eventually hitting for above-average power. He has slightly above-average speed and is considered a good base-runner. He reportedly has already agreed to the parameters of a deal to sign immediately.
Defensively, there are some question as to which position he will ultimately play. Last season, he played mostly second base, but has also seen time at third base and in the outfield. Many thought that he would be moved to center field as a professional, due to his overall athleticism and questionable hands, but in an interview after the pick, Vitek said that the Red Sox have told him he will begin his career at third.
For his career at Ball State, Vitek hit .359 with a .440 on-base percentage and .664 slugging percentage. This season, he hit .361/.445/.691 with 17 home runs and 16 stolen bases. Following the season, he was named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and a Louisville Slugger First Team All-American. Vitek was also a starting pitcher when he was not playing in the field, leading the team with a 3.28 ERA.
The Red Sox selected outfielder Bryce Brentz out of Middle Tennessee State with their first supplemental round pick, 36th overall. He is a righthanded-hitting player with big-time power potential. Rated as the 28th overall prospect by Baseball America, he was projected to go as high as in the top 10 before the start of the draft.
Coming off a season that started with him fracturing his ankle, he was still able to put up a slash line of .348/.440/.636 for the season. However, two seasons ago he hit 28 homers and .465/.535/.930, leading the nation in both home runs and average. He also has a very strong arm, which projects him as a strong overall right fielder. He is also supposed to sign quickly, and there are rumors already that a deal is in place.
With their second supplemental round pick, 39th overall, the Red Sox selected right-handed pitcher Anthony Renaudo out of LSU. This was a guy that the majority projectors had the Red Sox selecting in the first round, since Theo Epstein personally scouted one of his most recent starts in which he pitched well.
At 6’7”, Renaudo was projected to be one of the best, if not the best, college arms coming into the 2010 season. However, his stock dropped due to an elbow injury, and a season plagued with inconsistency and poor performances. He made 15 appearances for LSU this spring, going 5-3 with a 7.32 ERA in 51.2 innings to go along with 54 strikeouts. It was a drop-off from 2009, in which he went 12-3 with a 3.04 ERA. He had 159 strikeouts in 124.1 innings that year while leading LSU to a national championship.
Ranaudo’s fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range and also throws a 12-6 curveball which hits 78-80 MPH, as well as a developing changeup. As a Scott Boras client, he is expected to be a tough sign that goes down to the wire.
With three picks out of the college ranks, it was a different strategy for the Red Sox as they usually like to take a mixture of high-upside high school players and safe-bet college players with their first couple picks. This was likely a case of good players slipping down the board and the Red Sox simply going with the best guys available. Look for them to take high school guys with some of their early picks on Day 2.