The annual MLB draft begins on June 9, so as we do each year, we're looking back at the last few Red Sox drafts to see how the players they've selected are shaping up. The 2011 draft class was a special one -- not just in terms of the Red Sox, but league-wide Boston's success in it is unparalleled.
So, the 2012 draft class is going to seem like a bit of a downer in comparison, but there is still plenty to look forward to here, even if it's now clear that not everyone in it is going to be as productive as hoped. There aren't any future stars on the way from 2012 -- again, that's okay considering 2011 packed in Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Blake Swihart, Travis Shaw, and more somehow -- but there are potential big-league contributors here, some of them even regulars. And that would be a success, especially considering how the 2012 draft played out compared to 2011 due to rule changes.
The 2012 draft introduced the draft budget, and the Red Sox focused heavily on selecting college seniors that could pay well under slot, with the idea being they could then funnel that money into some high-ceiling players who would be available to them later in the draft. They were only able to sign one of them, but it was a solid plan --- one they've replicated to a degree since -- even if it didn't quite work out as hoped.
1. Deven Marrero, 24th overall
Marrero was a potential top-10 pick before a slump during his junior year brought up questions about the long-term viability of his bat. He also struggled in the minors at times, as his plus glove rushed him up the ladder before said bat was ready on multiple occasions. Marrero is now 25 and in Triple-A once again, unable to hit International League pitchers once again, so the shine has come off. The glove is still there, so even an adjustment that makes him into a replacement level hitter would give him a big-league career, but it needs to come soon.
That's not to say drafting Marrero was a bad idea: the Sox were drafting 24th, not fourth, and Marrero had potential they could bet on. They didn't win this bet, but considering five of the six names taken in between Marrero and Boston's next pick -- Richie Shaffer, Stryker Trahan, Clint Coulter, Victor Roche, and Ty Hensley -- they didn't exactly do worse than others here, either.
1. Brian Johnson, 31st overall
Like with 2011, the real value of the draft doesn't start with the first pick the Sox made, but the second. Johnson, until an elbow injury and then treatment for anxiety took him away from the minors, was dominating opponents thanks to a repertoire he had tremendous control over. It's unclear how he'll do when he returns from that treatment, but if we rewind a bit and think of the kind of prospect he was prior to his roadblocks, there is a potential for a major-league starter here.
If his control and command aren't enough in the majors, Johnson might be a devastating lefty reliever, too. That's not as exciting, obviously, but it's still a valuable get from the draft, even if it's disappointing relative to starting. Luckily, he still has the chance to start, but we'll have to wait until he's returned from the inactive list to see that again.
1. Pat Light, 37th overall
Pat Light might also seem like a disappointment since he was drafted as a starter but has ended up in relief, but that was the plan all along. Light was considered a closer prospect who would throw as many innings as possible as a starter until he couldn't anymore. The Sox made the switch to relief for Light in Double-A last year, and allowed him to go back to the splitter that made him an appealing target in the first place, and he dominated the Eastern League.
His control hasn't been quite as good for Triple-A Pawtucket, but he's managed to make it to the 40-man roster and the majors, too, and is far from a lost cause. If he can get to the point where he's "only" walking around four batters per nine, there is going to be a valuable reliever here. Whether he gets to that point remains to be seen, but there is still potential here: don't be fooled by his age, especially not with the switch to relief.
2. Jamie Callahan, 87th overall
Callahan has been one of the youngest pitchers at each stop along the way, which explains part of his struggles. He showed promise after switching to relief last summer, but hasn't been able to replicate those results after a promotion to High-A Salem. His control is awful, he's not striking hitters out, and it's become unclear if there is any future here for the righty at all. Stranger things have happened than a 21-year-old suddenly figuring out how to pitch in High-A, though, so let's not give up on him just yet.
4. Ty Buttrey, 151st overall
Buttrey was the player the Sox moved all that money saved by drafting college seniors to. He was 19 and out of high school back in 2012, and there was the chance with development he could be a successful big-league starter. Buttrey has instead spent as much time struggling as he has succeeding, and while he earned his promotion to High-A based on a strong start to 2015, he was just okay at that level before being bumped to Double-A Portland.
His problems this season might have something to do with that hasty bump, as it feels like Buttrey hadn't quite finished learning, and even struggled a bit down the stretch. He's still all of 23 years old all this time later, though, so there's hope remaining. Just maybe not quite as much as there was back in 2012.
6. Justin Haley, 211th overall
Haley struggled with his control at various points in his minor-league career, but he seems to have put that behind him at Double-A now. He's probably close to a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket's rotation, as he's striking out 8.7 batters per nine with a 2.49 ERA in his 50 innings this spring. It's in Triple-A where we might learn if Haley's future is in the rotation or the bullpen. You're better off learning toward the latter, but if Haley manages to survive his eventual promotion without forgetting how to throw strikes, then the former might still be an option after all.
Either way, Haley seems like a major-league pitcher, and that's not bad at all for a sixth-round pick.
15. Carson Fulmer, 481st overall
18. Shaq Thompson, 571st overall
29. Alex Bregman, 901st overall
The Red Sox didn't sign Fulmer or Bregman, and Thompson left baseball shortly into his career, but these are three intriguing names from 2012 all the same. Boston couldn't scrounge up enough money to convince Fulmer to skip college to go pro, and the same happened with Bregman, so that's how Buttrey ended up being the signability issues prospect the Sox ended up with. Fulmer was drafted eighth overall by the White Sox last summer -- one pick after the Red Sox went with Andrew Benintendi -- and the Astros took Bregman second, so both of them did quite alright after turning down Boston's money.
As for Thompson, you might remember him for his run in the minors, which was arguably the worst ever. He didn't get a single hit, and he struck out 37 times in 39 at-bats. He went back to school, was drafted by the Panthers last year and then was part of their wonderful 2015 campaign, so he's managed to put his baseball experience behind him.
Of course, now Thompson's name is in the news for a car crash where he injured a former Duke quarterback, so not everything is going right in his post-Sox life, either.