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Red Sox Draft Preview

By Jim Callis
May 14, 2003

Scouting Director: David Chadd (first draft: 2002).

2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking 22nd)
1. Phil Dumatrait, lhp, Bakersfield (Calif.) JC
2. Manny Delcarmen, rhp, West Roxbury (Mass.) HS
3. Matt Cooper, 1b, Ripley HS, Stillwater, Okla.
4. Brandon Mims, lhp, Prattville (Ala.) HS
5. Brian Esposito, c, Connecticut

2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking 17th)
1. (Choice to Indians as compensation for free agent Manny Ramirez)
2a. Kelly Shoppach, c, Baylor
2b. *Matt Chico, lhp, Fallbrook (Calif.) HS
3. Jonathan DeVries, c, Irvine (Calif.) HS
4. Stefan Bailie, 1b, Washington State
5. Eric West, ss, Southside HS, Gadsden, Ala.

2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 16th)
1. (Choice to Athletics as compensation for free agent Johnny Damon)
2. Jon Lester, lhp, Bellarmine Prep, Puyallup, Wash.
3. Scott White, 3b, Walton HS, Marietta, Ga.
4. Chris Smith, rhp, UC Riverside
5. Chad Spann, ss, Southland Academy, Buena Vista, Ga.

(*Did not sign)

2003 Draft
Red Sox pick 17th in rotation (Gain supplemental first-round pick and second-round pick for loss of Cliff Floyd.)

Overview
This year's Red Sox draft should look radically different from those of recent years. In 2002, the Red Sox gave up their first-round pick for free agent Johnny Damon and didn't make their first selection until No. 57 overall. They took lefthander Jon Lester, one of seven high school players among their first eight choices.

Since then, Boston has performed a makeover on its front office that has included Theo Epstein's promotion to general manager. The Red Sox didn't sign any major free agents over the winter and lost Cliff Floyd to the Mets, which got them two draft choices. They'll make four picks before No. 57 this June, including their own first-rounder at No. 17 and a supplemental selection at No. 32.

Though Boston's scouting director hasn't changed, its drafting philosophy has. Based on their research and need for upper-level prospects, the Red Sox will heavily pursue college players. Both David Chadd and his predecessor, Wayne Britton, showed a preference for high school prospects. While Chadd was scouting for the Marlins, they emphasized prep talent and did well with first-round picks such as Josh Beckett (1999) and Adrian Gonzalez (2000). Chadd does have college connections, however, as a former assistant coach at Wichita State and Kansas State.

Boston hasn't matched the Marlins' success with high school players. Since taking Trot Nixon in the first round in 1993, the Red Sox have missed badly with prep first-rounders Andy Yount (1995), Josh Garrett (1996), John Curtice (1997) and Rick Asadoorian (1999). They've done better when they've spent their top pick on a junior college or college player: Nomar Garciaparra (1994), Adam Everett (1998), Phil Dumatrait (2000) and Kelly Shoppach (2001).

The Red Sox are also using more statistical analysis for the draft than before. Strikeout-walk ratios are important for both hitters and pitchers, as is past performance in the Cape Cod League, the most prestigious of the summer amateur wood-bat circuits.

Boston's farm system lacks depth and thus has many needs. With their two first-round choices, the Red Sox will be able to choose from several of the better college position players, such as shortstop Aaron Hill (Louisiana State), third baseman Conor Jackson (California), and outfielders Shane Costa (Cal State Fullerton), David Murphy (Baylor), Matt Murton (Georgia Tech), Carlos Quentin (Stanford) and Brad Snyder (Ball State).

College pitching is expected to go quickly in this draft, though there's a chance Houston righthander Brad Sullivan might be available at No. 17. Sullivan led NCAA Division I in strikeouts in 2002 and is doing so again this spring. If he's gone, teammate Ryan Wagner may be attractive to the Red Sox. Used as a reliever, Wagner leads Division I with an average of 16.6 whiffs per nine innings. Boston's most notable draft-and-follow target is Middle Georgia JC lefthander Barret Browning, a sixth-rounder from 2002.

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