No more mock drafts or prospect rankings. It's June 5th, the first day of the 2014 MLB Draft. Here's what you need to know as a Red Sox fan.
When is this thing?
Day 1 of the draft is today, starting at 7 p.m. ET. That will cover all of the first round, the second round, and the Competitive Balance rounds that follow. If you're only looking to catch the real meat of the draft, where the future stars are selected, most of that will come in this first day. The league has been pretty good about weeding out the best talent early, and while there are certainly still stars to be found later, they're relatively rare, particularly in this day and age of slot bonuses.
Day 2 of the draft is, as you might have guessed, tomorrow, starting at 1:05 p.m. ET. That will cover the rest of the first 10 rounds. While it's true that the best of the best will be gone by then, there's certainly a chance for teams to find talent here as well. Two of Boston's top prospects right now in Mookie Betts and Garin Cecchini were products of the fifth and fourth rounds respectively. Old friend Kevin Youkilis came in the eighth. These are names you'll be hearing for the next few years as they work their way through the system, even if only a few actually have significant major league careers.
For the truly obsessive, Day 3 comes on Saturday. and largely consists of teams reading off names by phone in robotic fashion. It's not that rounds 11-40 (yes, 40!) ever succeeds at the highest levels, but information on these players is usually sparse outside of private team dossiers, making this something of an exercise in futility.
How do I watch it?
Day 1 of the draft will be broadcast on the MLB Network and streamed from MLB.com following an hour-long preview show. If all you want is a bunch of former players and team personnel sitting at desks on that weird baseball diamond set the MLB Network has, then this is when you'll want to pay attention.
Day 2 is a rather more muted affair, generally consisting of a few guys at a news desk waiting for teams to make their picks via. phone and then doing the usual draft business of providing a brief look at the pick and endless talk over the best remaining players available, etc., etc. This will be available only by way of stream from MLB.com.
Come Day 3, the desk goes away and all we get is an audio stream of the selections being made. In case you're not picking up on the trend here, maybe don't bother with Day 3?
So what's Boston's part in all this?
We've covered this before, and the full pick order is available here, but for a quick recap, the Red Sox will be picking 26th, second-to-last ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, and then again at no. 33 thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury's departure to the Yankees. If you're wondering why there are fewer than 30 picks in that first round, it's because of teams like New York losing their first-round pick after signing big name free agents who received qualifying offers from their old teams.
The Red Sox will pick again on Day 1 in round two at 68, then move on to making one selection every round from there on. Given other compensation picks, their third round selection will be no. 104, and their fourth round selection no. 135, with every other pick coming in increments of 30.
While the Red Sox will be picking nearly last, they will have just under $6.7 million to spend in the first ten rounds thanks to their compensation pick. That's good for 16th in the draft, meaning that if they won't necessarily come away with the best player, they should at least manage a well-rounded class with the financial resources available to them.
Alright, who are they going to pick?
Who knows? There's been plenty of speculation to say the least (yes, every last one of those words is a different link). The consensus seems to be that the Sox are focusing in on a college bat with their first round pick, the only question is which one? There are bigger bats with questionable gloves, strong athletes in need of polish, and Jack-of-all-Trades types.
From there...well, the Red Sox have, in the past, put emphasis on drafting pitchers and good defensive players in recent years. If you're a shortstop, a center fielder, or can throw the ball 90 feet at speed, the Red Sox are probably interested in you for a middle round pick.
That being said, some of these early projections don't exactly fit the bill. Boston's system has had a dearth of power production, save rising star Xander Bogaerts. Generally speaking, baseball teams don't exactly draft for need...but it's possible with the massive contracts being handed out to star first basemen, the Red Sox will try to stock up on some bigger bats.