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2010 Draft Preview - Boston Red Sox

The twentieth part of my draft preview series is on the Boston Red Sox and their scouting director Amiel Sawdaye. This will be Sawdaye’s first draft, so I will focus on Sawdaye’s most recent three drafts as the Assistant Scouting Director under former scouting director Jason McLeod.

Owner: John Henry and Tom Werner, bought club in 2001
General Manager: Theo Epstein, first season was 2003
Scouting Director: Amiel Sawdaye, first draft will be 2010

Looking Back

2007 Draft: $4.8 Million Budget as Assistant Scouting Director

1. Nick Hagadone, LHP, Washington, #55 Overall: Hagadone was a complete surprise in his junior season after being a non-prospect during his first two years at Washington. He added almost 10 mph to his fastball between his sophomore and junior years, and he succeeded in the closer’s role there, gaining interest for this supplemental first round. Following players selected: Trystan Magnuson, Mitch Canham, Jonathan Bachanov. Signing bonus: $571,500.
2. Ryan Dent, SS, Wilson HS (CA), #62 Overall: Dent was a very athletic middle infielder with questionable defensive skills and a worrisome hit tool. He was too aggressive at the plate at times, and with average to below-average defensive tools, he looked like a fast second baseman. However, he did get first round draft interest, making this a solid pick. Following players selected: Cory Luebke, Daniel Payne, William Kline. Signing bonus: $571,000.
3. Hunter Morris, 1B, Grissom HS (AL), #84 Overall: Morris was a solid, yet unspectacular first base prospect out of the prep ranks in Alabama, and he flashed plus raw power and a very good batting eye. However, he lacked athleticism and had no defensive value, dropping him to the second round, where his signability came into play, and he ended up not signing and heading to Auburn. Following players selected: John Tolisano, Michael Watt, Bradley Chalk. DID NOT SIGN.
4. Brock Huntzinger, RHP, Pendleton Heights HS (IN), #114 Overall: Huntzinger was a very big, but raw, prep arm from the Indiana prep ranks. He had solid present stuff, though there wasn’t a lot of hope for much projectability coming down the road. This was a solid third round pick. Following players selected: Alan Farina, Austin Gallagher, Tommy Toledo. Signing bonus: $225,000.
5. Christopher Province, RHP, Southeastern Louisiana, #144 Overall: Province might have been the best senior relief arm in the 2007 draft, as he featured a plus fastball and above-average slider. He was projected to go as many as two rounds earlier, making this a great pick and a budgetary bargain. Following players selected: Brad Mills, Andrew Lambo, Lance Zawadzki. Signing bonus: $120,000.
Other Notable Selections: 3B Will Middlebrooks (5th), Liberty-Eylau HS (TX), $925K bonus; 1B Anthony Rizzo (6th), Douglas HS (FL), $325K bonus.

2008 Draft: $10.5 Million Budget as Assistant Scouting Director

1. Casey Kelly, RHP/SS, Sarasota HS (FL), #30 Overall: Kelly was a true two-way player that had promise as a first-rounder as both a shortstop and quick-armed pitcher. The Red Sox picked him as a pitcher with the concession they’d give him chances as a shortstop, making this a solid pick, especially considering they could spread his bonus out over five years as a two-sport athlete for his football prowess. Following players selected: Shooter Hunt, Jake Odorizzi, Brad Holt. Signing bonus: $3,000,000.
2. Bryan Price, RHP, Rice, #45 Overall: Price was yet another Rice arm in a long line of Rice arms, though he was a reliever, which lessened the concerns about overuse. He was a relative unknown coming into his junior year, then showed a plus fastball and slider. He was expected to go in this range to a team that might try him as a starter. Following players selected: Logan Forsythe, Kyle Lobstein, Tanner Scheppers. Signing bonus: $849,000.
3. Derrik Gibson, SS, Seaford HS (DE), #77 Overall: Gibson was a raw, athletic middle infielder from the weaker prep baseball state of Delaware. He featured plus tools, but due to short seasons of baseball weather and weak competition at home, he was considered a major project in the fourth to sixth round range. Following players selected: Jake Jefferies, Jordy Mercer, Tyler Sample. Signing bonus: $600,000.
4. Stephen Fife, RHP, Utah, #85 Overall: Fife was another late bloomer in his career, having only come onto the national scene partway through his draft year. He featured a strong, durable body and rapidly improving stuff, and the Red Sox got a steal here for a guy who could have gone a round earlier. Following players selected: Brent Morel, Danny Espinosa, Chase Davidson. Signing bonus: $464,000.
5. Kyle Weiland, RHP, Notre Dame, #108 Overall: Weiland was a strong reliever with a proven track record of closing at Notre Dame. However, he had a pretty projectable body for a college arm, and it was still fresh, making him a solid third round candidate. Following players selected: Ross Seaton, Jon Pettibone, Sawyer Carroll. Signing bonus: $322,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Pete Hissey (4th), Unionville HS (PA), $1MM bonus; OF Ryan Westmoreland (5th), Portsmouth HS (RI), $2MM bonus.

2009 Draft: $7.1 Million Budget as Assistant Scouting Director

1. Reymond Fuentes, OF, Fernando Callejo HS (PR), #28 Overall: Fuentes gained steam in the last half of the spring as more scouts got to see him and his plus tools. He featured plus hit and run tools, and he flashed good range in center, too. He was supposed to go late in the first round or in the supplemental first round, making this a solid choice. Following players selected: Slade Heathcott, LeVon Washington, Brett Jackson. Signing bonus: $1,134,000.
2. Alex Wilson, RHP, Texas A&M, #77 Overall: Wilson was a 22 year old junior arm that had big-time stuff but a history of injuries that followed him around, as well. He looked like he might be a first rounder early in the spring, but fell off to a solid second to third round prospect. Following players selected: Kenny Diekroeger, D.J. LeMahieu, Pat Corbin. Signing bonus: $470,700.
3. David Renfroe, SS, South Panola HS (MS), #107 Overall: Renfroe was another legitimate two-way draft prospect, featuring a plus arm on the mound in addition to his tools in the field. His biggest assets were raw power and raw arm strength, though most thought he’d have to move to third base as a pro. He was a late first round option for a few teams, making this a solid pick, though the price was right for Renfroe. Following players selected: Todd Glaesmann, Austin Kirk, Josh Spence. Signing bonus: $1,400,000.
4. Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF, Ball State, #138 Overall: Hazelbaker was another late bloomer that blew up during his junior year at Ball State as their center fielder. He featured plus speed and an above-average hit tool, making him a possible third to fifth round prospect, and the Red Sox picked him in the middle of that range. Following players selected: Luke Bailey, Chris Rusin, Wes Hatton. Signing bonus: $191,700.
5. Seth Schwindenhammer, OF, Limestone Community HS (IL), #168 Overall: Schwindenhammer is a mouthful of a name, but he had solid tools that stood out to a few teams. He wasn’t considered such an early prospect for a lot of teams, as he was more of an eighth to twelfth round prospect, but the price was right for a projectable prep bat. Following players selected: Jeff Malm, Wes Darvill, Casey Haerther. Signing bonus: $140,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Madison Younginer (7th), Mauldin HS (SC), $975K bonus; OF Brandon Jacobs (10th), Parkview HS (GA), $750K bonus.

The Red Sox have undergone the biggest change in their amateur scouting department this offseason since Jason McLeod took over as scouting director starting with the 2005 draft, having taken over from David Chadd, now scouting director for the Detroit Tigers. Starting at the bottom, the Red Sox shifted a few area scouts in some critical areas, including Southern California, where they promoted Dan Madsen to West Coast Crosschecker. Despite that void, they filled it with one of the most popular Southern California area scouts in the business, Tom Battista, the former Braves scout and crosschecker who is famous for signing such notable names as Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen, Freddie Freeman and Braeden Schlehuber. Moving around and switching out area scouts is nothing new for teams, but the upper level changes have been more drastic for Boston this offseason. As noted, they’ve changed West Coast crosscheckers, and they’ve also changed National Crosscheckers, promoting David Finley to Special Assistant to the General Manager and filling that spot with former regional crosschecker Mike Rikard. Lastly, but most important, Amiel Sawdaye was promoted from his long-time Assistant Director of Scouting position to the Scouting Director post. Though there have been multiple changes, I expect more of the same from the Red Sox in 2010 when comparing their upcoming draft to their previous few. Sawdaye was AD of Scouting for McLeod for each of their five year stints, and Sawdaye essentially learned the ropes from the more experienced McLeod. Therefore, we have to look at some trends of McLeod’s. The first one is a penchant for helium arms and bats. Quite a few players that McLeod took early were players that moved up boards very fast in the year-plus before their draft. That makes predicting more interesting, but also more fun. There’s a clear preference for prep bats over collegiate bats, but the majority of pitchers were collegiate arms, though that’s less set than the hitter side. In general, power or speed must be present to be a Boston hitter draftee. These are high-level trends, but they’re worth noting.

I think most have already noticed my outspoken support for how the Red Sox have run their drafts in terms of their draft budgets. There isn’t a single large-market team that can match Boston for their draft spending, and that will continually be a competitive advantage for them. Even with the scouting department transitions, I am sure that monetary resources will continue to be plentiful, beating most of the league. In the five years that McLeod ran drafts for Theo Epstein, the Red Sox spent the most total money on draft bonuses in the entire league, teams habitually drafting at the top of the first round included. Considering they haven’t drafted higher than 23rd overall when they took Jacoby Ellsbury in McLeod’s first draft in 2005, that’s very impressive. They spent the 10th-most in 2009 on draft bonuses, and I expect they’ll stay in the top ten in 2010. They own picks 20, 36, 39, 57, 110, 143, and every 30 picks after that. The first and second round picks they own are actually compensation for free agents Billy Wagner and Jason Bay respectively, and they signed a pair of free agents to give away their natural first and second round picks. However, they moved up in each round, as well as gained a pair of supplemental first round picks in the compensation process. That’s not a bad way to do business. A rough estimate of slot for their picks in the first five rounds is equal to about $4.25 million, though their history says they’ll spend more. With the pair of extra picks, I expect them to be closer to $8-10 million in terms of total draft spending in 2010, which should put them in the top five to seven teams for the draft.

Connecting specific players to the Red Sox is tricky, especially since they like players who have draft helium that starts during their draft year. Since the season has just recently gotten under way, it’s impossible to predict who might rise in a way that the Red Sox like. I can, however, offer a few guesses about some players that I think fit into their trends for drafting, which may be slightly altered under Sawdaye. My latest mock draft has them selecting Stetson Allie, a raw power arm that more or less doesn’t fit into anybody’s particular drafting methods because he’s such a unique player. However, the huge talent from a raw arm should at least be appealing to an organization that generally favors tools and raw potential. The pair of supplemental first round picks in my mock draft have them taking Jedd Gyorko of West Virginia and Bryan Morgado of Tennessee. Morgado fits into their organizational philosophy more than Gyorko, but Gyorko has the pop and plate discipline appealing to the Red Sox as an organization more than simply as a scouting department. I’ll probably have Allie and Gyorko going somewhere else in my next mock draft, but they’re both unique players with skillsets that could honestly go anywhere. Other names I have connected to Boston currently are Kevin Jordan, Kaleb Cowart, Sammy Solis, Jake Thompson, Michael Lorenzen, and Stefan Sabol, almost all West Coast names, but that’s more of a coincidence than true preference marker. California just seems to have the upside prep bat talent and power college arm talent for the year at this very moment. Don’t read too much into this sort of team matching at this point, but these are just names to track if you’re a Boston fan.

*Bonus information came from BA.

What do you guys think? What will the Red Sox do?