Entry sports drafts are a primary foundation to building a winning sports franchise. For those of us that play fantasy we know how important a solid draft can be in building our teams. For us fantasy players the stakes can be high, in terms of payouts for winning, in the big leagues each draft pick means a financially controlled player for a certain number of years. If you “hit” on players in a draft, these players can become a financially cheap core to build around. Adding talent through trades and free agency to augment and enhance the skills of your home grown talent makes for a continually successful franchise. If a team “misses” on multiple draft picks it can be a huge stumbling block to overcome in winning games on a regular basis. The same can be said for your fantasy team, with the small caveat that you aren’t going to lose your job because you made shitty draft picks.
This Sully’s 7 list will examine the top 7 picks from the Red Sox draft from 7 years ago, 2005. How have these draft picks contributed to the Sox success now 7 years later? Who was a hit? Who was a miss? Remember MLB is not the NFL, or NBA. Picks often spend multiple seasons in the minor leagues before contributing to a major league team and are far more often traded as assets to acquire established major league talent to help in a stretch run. Even if a player never developed in a major league star or even regular if we was used to acquire a piece or pieces that helped the team win down the stretch or even for multiple years, that player is will be a hit.
Round 1, number 23 overall, Jacoby Ellsbury – The blurb in the Boston Globe on Ellsbury read like this, “Named Pac-10’s fastest runner, best defensive outfielder by Baseball America. Named Cape Cod League’s 17th-best pro prospect by Baseball America after batting .245, 1 homer, 3 triples, 2 doubles, 7 RBIs, 12-for-15 stolen bases. Ellsbury batted .415 with a school-record 86 hits and played errorless defense for Oregon State as a junior.”
Ellsbury has had an MVP season (2nd in the voting) in Boston and was a key contributor to the 2007 World Series Championship team from July on, especially in the World Series when Coco Crisp went out hurt making a diving catch to close the ALCS. The only true worry about Ellsbury has been his ability to be consistently healthy. His games played number since 2008 are as follows, 145, 153, 18, 158, 74. After this season he will be a free agent. Regardless of how he plays this season 3 seasons of over 140 games played, and his World Series contributions make his selection as a 1st round pick, number 23 overall a complete “hit” by any measure.
Round 1, number 26 overall, Craig Hansen – The blurb in the Boston Globe on Hansen read like this, “A closer who finished the 2005 regular season with a school-record 14 saves and a stingy 1.01 ERA in 29 appearances…Struck out 72 batters in 53 2/3 innings of work for the Red Storm…Pitched for the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League last summer allowing zero earned runs in 22 innings while striking out 41 and walking 22 and was tied the league record with 10 saves.”
Touted as one of the best, most major league ready arms in the draft, Hansen’s association with his agent made it clear that the team that drafted him was going to pay handsomely for his services. This drove small market teams who were unable to gamble on the pricey prospect away and dropped him into the lap of the Red Sox. While pitching for the Sox Hansen was unimpressive, but his ceiling was still high and he was traded as part of a 3-team deal that involved Manny Ramirez and netted the Red Sox Jason Bay. Bay was very productive in his year and a half in Boston, even earning 7 place in the MVP voting in his only full season in Boston. Hansen was a key component to acquiring Bay and so as a draft pick he is a hit.
Round 1a, number 42 overall, Clay Buchholz – Boston Globe had this to say about Buchholz, “Finished the junior college season 12-1 with a 1.05 ERA, striking out 129 in 85 2/3 innings. He started 15 games and finished seven with two shutouts and 13.55 strikeouts per nine innings.”
Buchholz has started 105 games for the Sox since debuting at 22 just 2 years after being drafted. His stuff is amazing, his ability to stay healthy though has been suspect, he only has 2 years in which he has pitched over 100 innings. His 46 wins though are far more than many 1st-2nd round sandwich picks every even see so Red Sox baseball operations are batting 1000% so far in the 2005 draft.
Round 1a, number 45 overall, Jed Lowrie – The Boston Globe said about Lowrie, “Lowrie leads Stanford in homers (12, No. 6 Pac-10), RBI (62, No. 3T Pac-10, No. 29T NCAA), batting average (.324), slugging percentage (.594, No. 7 Pac-10), total bases (123, No. 10T), sacrifice flies (10, No. 1 Pac-10), walks (39, No. 4 Pac-10) and multiple-RBI games (18). Lowrie was chosen as a First Team All-American by Sports Weekly and an All-Pac-10 selection in 2005, both for the second consecutive season.”
Lowrie is a talented hitter and versatile defensive player. He has had severe issues staying on the field. He has never had more than 350 at bats. As talented and versatile as he has been, there is no way that even playing multiple positions is valuable enough to justify that few a number of at bats. That being said there was a stretch of time in the 2010 season that Lowrie was the best Red Sox player, and so he has that sort of potential which would justify a first round pick. Lowrie was traded to the Houston Astros for Mark Melancon. Overall Lowrie’s inability to stay on the field and the trade resulting in a bad reliever makes him a miss, not a bad miss, but a miss nonetheless.
Round 1a, number 47 overall, Michael Bowden – The Boston Globe said about Bowden, “Bowden is an Arizona State signee. He is a standout pitcher for Waubonsie Valley High School and was one of 75 players nominated nationally and one of 36 selected to participate in the All-American Baseball Game. “Easily the best prospect to come out of Chicago this year and maybe the best in a long time, Michael throws consistently in the 90-93 range and can reach up to 94. He also has an excellent breaking ball with late movement, and a strong and durable frame with good extension at the release point. The ease with which he pitches should translate into a long, healthy career,” Dana Lehner, director of the AABG, said.”
Bowden pitched less than 40 games for the Sox over the course of 5.5 years. That is less than 8 innings a year. He was traded for Marlon Byrd, who in 100 at bats, was fairly ineffective for the Red Sox and then released. At this point Bowden best projects as a long reliever, spot starter in the majors. While that is an valuable asset in MLB now that he isn’t a Red Sox commodity and Byrd is gone, it is a miss.
Round 2, number 57 overall, Jonathan Egan – Accroding to the Boston Globe Egan, “In February, Baseball America ranked Jonathan Egan the nation’s fourth top catching prospect and projected him to get drafted in the second round. Egan was hitting close to .600 earlier this season…Was the starting catcher on the East team in the AFLAC All-American game last August…Can hit to all fields, but could use more polishing behind the plate…Is committed to play for Georgia.”
Egan retired in 2008 after severe back problems all throughout 2007. Total miss as a 2nd round pick.
Round 4, number 138 overall, William Blue – Globe report on Blue, “Blue features a fastball clocked in the low 90s and a sharp curveball. At Morro Bay high school this season, he struck out 38 batters over a three start period that included a no-hitter. He had previously struggled with his control while posting a 1-5 record and 8.12 ERA in 2004.”
I have no idea where Blue is today, what happened to him after the draft or if he ever pitched again. For round 4 that is a miss.
All said the Red Sox crushed their first 3 picks. Their next 2 were very good picks and their last 2 sucked. That is a hell of a draft, with multiple players who demonstrated multiple ways to contribute to a big league club and one of which contributed to a World Series win and also was second in the MVP voting. Any time you get a player who can make that sort of impact, regardless or round you had a great draft. The Sox even drafted a kid ridiculously local to me, Kyle Fernandes out of Massasoit Community College, and while he wasn’t a hit, it’s a great story. And what else can we ask for out of the ridiculous amount of draft picks from an MLB draft? You need a great first round pick, a couple of good mid round picks, some luck and a great story or 2 to carry the news cycle. The Red Sox achieved that in spades in 2005 and that draft may go down as Theo’s best draft ever.