The 2007 Draft: Looking Back After Five Years

This guy was one of the few who made it to the majors.

The major league draft is just two weeks away on June 4th. They say that you can't judge a draft until five years have passed. I hope you'll forgive me the two extra weeks and join me as I take a look back at the Red Sox 2007 draft.

To quickly refresh your memory, this wasn't the strongest of drafts, but it wasn't the weakest either. David Price was the first overall selection by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Matt Wieters went fifth to Baltimore, Madison Baumgarner went tenth to San Francisco, and Jason Heyward went 14th to the Braves. Those are the standouts so far. Some pretty good players, but none were available to the Red Sox.

That's because, based on their 2006 record, the Sox had the 20th pick in the first round. However they forfeited it to the Dodgers when they signed Julio Lugo*. We all think of Lugo as an ex-Ray, or at least I do, but Lugo had been dealt at the deadline to LA. The Dodgers used that pick to select pitcher Chris Withrow, a big, hard throwing right-hander from Texas. Tell me you've never heard of that before. Withrow is currently in Double-A for the fourth consecutive year and sports a career 4.95 ERA. So, dodged a bullet there.

*If i was trying to make you all ill I'd put Lugo's contract terms there, but I'm not.

The Red Sox did have two first round picks though, owing to the 'loss' of both Alex Gonzalez, who signed with Cincinnati, and Keith Foulke, who signed with the Cleveland Indians. (Foulke never pitched for the Indians though as he spent the '07 season on the Disabled List.) The Sox were awarded the 55th overall pick for Gonzalez and the 62nd pick for Foulke. Beyond that they had what was effectively the 20th pick in each round.

Following the jump, we'll see how the '007 draft has turned out. (Be glad nobody calls it the 007 draft.)

First Round

With the 55th pick the Red Sox took big, hard throwing lefty Nick Hagadone. Hagadone had some success in the low minors with Lowell and Greenville before becoming the second most important part of the trade that sent him, Bryan Price, and everyone's favorite non-Red Sox player, Justin Masterson, to Cleveland in return for Victor Martinez.

Shortly after being dealt to Cleveland Hagadone underwent Tommy John surgery. He has since recovered and converted to relief pitching. He was called up to Cleveland at the end of last season and is there currently. He looks to be a valuable lefty power arm out of the pen, but considering the Red Sox bullpen and the general value of relievers it's hard to retroactively* fault the deal that brought back a year and a half of an All Star catcher who hit for power and average.

*A quick note: you can't really retroactively fault deals. You have the information available at the time and that is what they must be judged on.

The 62nd pick didn't turn out quite so well for the Sox. They took high school shortstop Ryan Dent with the pick and Dent simply hasn't developed. He's in Double-A now, but considering this is his sixth season and he's shown just about zero progress (he's currently hitting .244/.347/.280) he probably isn't long for the organization.

Second Through Fifth Rounds

The Sox picked third baseman Jeffrey Morris in the second round but he didn't sign. Considering this is his Baseball Reference page, it's probably for the best:

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In the third round the Sox took pitcher Brock Huntzinger. Huntzinger is currently repeating Double-A and sports a sub-7.00 ERA, so that's, uh, something. (Last year he had an ERA over 7.00 so this is progress.) Huntzinger isn't a hard thrower and he probably doesn't have much of a major league future in front of him (short of Mariano Rivera teaching him the cutter), but he could be a back of the bullpen guy at some point. Maybe.

Pitcher Chris Province was the Sox fourth round pick. He was good enough to bring the Boof Bonser Experience over from Minnesota in 2009. He's currently out of baseball. So, it seems, is Bonser.

But all that middling-ness is made right by the Red Sox fifth round selection: pitcher Will Middlebrooks. Yes, pitcher. Middlebrooks was a pitcher with a 90+ m.p.h. in high school, but he also played shortstop. The Red Sox bought him out of a commitment to play baseball and football for Texas A&M. We probably don't need to go into Middlebrooks too much here except to say he destroyed pitching at every level. He is currently hitting .286/.313/.558 for the Red Sox and looks like the future at third base for the organization. In this case, we'll know much more in five years than we do now, but this is a very promising pick to say the least.

Sixth Through Tenth Rounds

We'll do this section backwards. In the tenth the Red Sox signed Kenneth Roque. Roque played in the Sox system for four seasons never advancing past the Single-A Greenville. He was released in 2010.

Outfielder/first baseman Kade Keowen was the Sox ninth round selection, but he never hit and was similarly released from the organization in the Great Purge of 2010.

In the eighth round the Sox took pitcher Adam Mills. Mills did eventually make it to Triple-A Pawtucket, but posted a 5.47 ERA as a 25 year old there and was released in 2011.

Now we're getting to the meat of this draft. In the seventh round the Red Sox took speedy outfielder David Mailman. They gave Mailman $550,000 to sign which is more than they gave Province, Roque, and Huntzinger combined. In 2011 after his third season in Single-A Greenville, Mailman retired from baseball. He may have had some personal reasons behind that decisions but professionally speaking he was terrible. He just never learned how to hit professional pitching.

In the sixth round the Sox took first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo blew up in Salem in 2010 and was called up to Double-A Portland where he was even better. At this point he was twenty years old and one of the best prospects in the Red Sox system. That, as we all know, has it's advantages and drawbacks. Rizzo experienced probably a bit of both when he was one of two center pieces (yes, that deal had two centers) along with pitcher Casey Kelly that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. Rizzo crushed the ball in Triple-A for San Diego last year and earned a call to the majors where he struggled. He was sent back down and oddly traded to the Cubs.

Part of the reason for that was that San Diego's GM Jed Hoyer who was with the Red Sox when Rizzo was drafted, left to become the GM in Chicago with Theo Epstein, who had become the club's president. As a 22 year old in Triple-A Iowa Rizzo is hitting .344/.413/.681 and may earn a call up to Chicago soon. It wouldn't surprise me if we're looking back at the Gonzalez trade and thinking about Rizzo as the big talent that the Sox dealt away. That said, you don't get a guy like Gonzalez without giving something up and the Sox definitely got both a big talent in Gonzalez and probably gave one up in Rizzo. Why the Padres were snookered into giving Rizzo is harder to figure.

Eleventh And Every Round Afterwards

The Red Sox signed a bunch of players in the later rounds of the draft but most of them didn't turn in to much if anything. Two stand out in the sense that they're still in the organization. The first is reliever Will Latimer who is now a 27 year old in Double-A with an ERA that isn't mentioning here. The second is Drake Britton. Britton is a pitcher that much was expected of and the Red Sox underlined that by giving him $700,000 to sign. By all accounts Britton has amazing stuff, but little idea of what to do with it. He struggles with consistency and maintaining his mechanics, but the 32 strikeouts in 34 innings this season are promising, even if the 18 walks, 5 homers, and 7.15 ERA aren't. There could still be something valuable there, so put a bookmark on it and check back in few years.

Conclusion

The Red Sox ended up with the kind of success that you usually expect from the team's drafts. They took a chance on a bunch of high ceiling guys and so far only one of them has panned out in Middlebrooks. The jury is still out on Britton though he's going to have to show something eventually. Dent was a huge swing and miss and my guess is he'll be out of the organization by this time next year. Hagadone and Rizzo both look like they'll have productive major league careers, and Rizzo has some very serious potential as a middle of the order bat. But they served their purposes well for the Red Sox in allowing the team to add two All Stars at positions of need and in Victor Martinez's case, at a moment of need as well.

One could say they'd have liked to get a bit more out of the six picks in the first five rounds but if things continue as they are, Middlebrooks and portions of Adrian Gonzalez and Victor Martinez are a pretty good return. If there's a bone to pick with this draft it's the lack of quantity, though I think that might be a weak bone to pick. Yes, only six of the 46 guys they picked are still in the organization compared to 14 for the 2008 draft, but the farther you go back the fewer that stick around. That's the nature of it. There are only five left from the 2006 draft and four from the 2005 draft. If you go back to the 1932 draft there are zero left.

One final note, the Red Sox draft might have been stronger had they signed a high school catcher by the name of Yasmani Grandal who they picked in the 27th round. They didn't. Grandal went to college and was picked by the Reds in the first round three years later. He is now one of the best minor league catching prospects in baseball, hitting .317/.430/.512 for Triple-A Tucson in the Reds organization.

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