The 2014 MLB Draft will take place on June 5, which gives us a few weeks to analyze some of the recent Red Sox drafts. They serve as a reminder of how things can work out -- or not work out -- for prospects that we'll all be excited and intrigued by early next month. The 2010 draft, in which the Red Sox had three first-round selections but just one major-league player from the entire crop, is as good a place to start that reminder as any.
There are legitimate reasons that just one major-league player has come out of the 2010 draft class for Boston -- many of their earlier picks were high school players who take time to develop -- but that excuse doesn't exist for the trio of first-round selections.
1. Kolbrin Vitek, 20th overall
There were legitimate reasons to be concerned with Vitek even without the benefit of hindsight. He was a man without a true position, meaning he was going to need to hit, and hit well, to be a productive big-league player. Things started out well enough for him in short-season Lowell that same summer -- though breaking balls were a problem -- but his 2011 jump to High-A Salem didn't produce a full-season breakout. He then spent two years in Double-A batting a combined .222/.272/.295. With his age-25 season coming and his playing time reduced with a younger wave of prospects hitting Portland, Vitek retired prior to the 2014 season.
It didn't work out, but it's worth pointing out that Vitek was considered one of the top hitters in the draft class. While it's easy to point at the rest of the first round and pick out players like Noah Syndergaard, Tajiuan Walker, or Nick Castellanos who were selected after Vitek, they were all sandwich-round selections, not hyper-obvious 20th-overall candidates that were immediately snatched up by the teams picking after the Sox.
Vitek's selection was unfortunate because he didn't develop properly, and it was always risky, but it made a certain kind of sense for where the Sox were picking and the year's draft class. With that being said, it's not exactly a position a team wants to be in, either, where they are almost forced to take a player with Vitek's risks attached given where they are drafting. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes your first-rounders never get past Double-A.
1A. Bryce Brentz, 36th overall
Brentz had serious power, leading the NCAA in batting average, home runs, and slugging percentage in his sophomore year. He was successful on Team USA -- the Red Sox love their Team USA guys -- but he also had some obvious problems. Baseball America described his approach as "all-or-nothing" following the 2010 season, and that hasn't changed much in the subsequent three-plus seasons. Brentz is now at Triple-A Pawtucket for the second year, is 25 years old, and has batted .249/.314/.450 at the level. There have been signs his all-or-nothing approach has shifted to one with a bit more patience, but he's still looking like, if he has a big-league career, it will be as a lefty masher with a strong arm in a corner, not as an every day contributor.
That's not terrible for a sandwich pick, but given his power, you're allowed to hope for more.
1A. Anthony Ranaudo, 39th overall
Ranaudo represents the first-round selection with the most promise left. He could be a mid-rotation starter if he could develop a consistent change-up to give him a reliable third pitch, and if not, there is still a potentially bright future in relief for him in the majors thanks to his fastball, a productive curveball, and the natural benefits that come with being 6-foot-7 on a baseball mound. If not for injuries that limited him in 2012, he might already be in the majors, but that sort of thing was a risk coming in: Ranaudo went at the back of the top-40 instead of in the top-10 specifically because he was as inconsistent as he was promising in terms of both his delivery and his health.
It's very difficult to pass up someone who has that kind of potential this late in the first, however, and even if he ends up being a reliever, it's tough to say the Sox made the wrong pick here.
Baseball America mock draft projects Fisher to Sox
That's two mock drafts saying Boston is interested in the college outfielder.
2. Brandon Workman, 57th overall
I told you it wasn't all bad in 2010. Workman might also end up in relief alongside Ranaudo, but he's been mostly best-case scenario in his rise to the majors, and it's kept him in the rotation this long. He'll stay in that role, whether with Pawtucket or Boston, until he proves he shouldn't be. If he can keep the ball down in the zone and show consistent command, the "shouldn't be" conversation won't happen. If he fails in that regard, however, at least the Sox will have someone who can pitch in the seventh inning and beyond in their pen on the cheap.
3. Sean Coyle, 110th overall
Coyle was one of the high school picks who can't be totally evaluated just yet. He's in Double-A batting .316/.381/.474, is still just 22 years old, and has a future in the majors ahead of him if he can keep his contact rates up, so he's still in the mix among those who might help erase the lackluster results of the first round.
4. Garin Cecchini, 143rd overall
The best chance of that goes to Garin Cecchini, however. In fact, Vitek's failure to develop might be completely erased by Cecchini, who is a high-contact, disciplined hitter at Triple-A whose largest remaining question is likely his glove. He's still just 23, and while the lack of power against International League pitching has been disheartening, he's still making consistent, quality contact and drawing walks without seeing his strikeout rate skyrocket. He might see himself in the majors at some point in 2014, should he discover some pop or the Sox completely fail to solve their current problem at third.
5. Henry Ramos, 173rd overall
Ramos is still a project, but he has a ton of athleticism, has maybe started to break out as a 22-year-old, and could very well have a big-league future. It might not be as anything more than a fourth outfielder whose speed makes him a solid defender with a useful enough bat, but if things have finally clicked for him in the years since he gave up on soccer, then maybe there is more to him than that. He's been having smarter plate appearances, but still needs to work on his discipline, so it's not a question we'll see answered soon.
13. Keith Couch, 413th overall
Couch won't be a big-league starter, and cracking 90 mph seems tough for him, but there is a chance his ground ball tendencies could land him a role in the majors as a reliever. He's not a setup type, but not everyone can be -- getting anything out of the 413th pick, especially when a significant bonus isn't attached, is a positive.
26. Dillon Overton, 803rd overall
Overton was a high school arm who was drafted this late because there was the chance he would go back into the draft looking for a larger bonus once he had put some college years behind him. The Athletics selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft, so he wasn't wrong.
There is no getting around Vitek and Brentz being disappointing, but they were defensible picks, and the work outside of the first round might end up erasing all of that in the next few years, anyway. Of course, you'd love to have both successful first-round selections as well as thriving players from outside of it, but so wouldn't every team -- it just doesn't work that way. Missing on Vitek flat-out sucks, but if Cecchini -- who was passed over 142 times before the Sox got him -- can be what Vitek was supposed to be, then it helps erase that sting and more.