After going with a pair of prep bats on Day One of the MLB draft, the Red Sox went with college players with their first two selections of Day Two. That continued into their third pick as they used their fifth round pick, and the number 160 selection overall, to take right-handed pitcher Thad Ward out of the University of Central Florida. He is a college junior in his age-21 season.
Ward pitched both in UCF’s rotation and in their bullpen this season, making five starts and 17 relief appearances. In all, he tossed 63 1⁄3 innings with a 3.27 ERA, 84 strikeouts and 26 walks. His starts came early in the year before the team put him in an important bullpen role for the stretch run. Prior to this season, he had pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen, making just one start in each of his first two years with the program. It should be noted that spending your college days as a reliever does not necessarily mean that will be your role in the pros. A recent notable example of this is Shaun Anderson, who the Red Sox developed as a starter after he spent his college career in Florida’s bullpen.
There’s not a ton of scouting on Ward, but he was included in Fangraphs’ pre-draft rankings. They had him listed as their number eight college pitcher who was not listed in their overall top-130 rankings. They don’t have a full repertoire listing for the righty, but they do have him sitting 93-95 with the fastball and topping out at 96, presumably out of the bullpen.
Ward was not ranked by either of Baseball America or MLB Pipeline heading into the draft.