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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dewey to Youk: Best later-round Red Sox draft picks

Much was made of the fact that the Red Sox had a Top 10 draft pick for the first time in 20 years this week -- finishing last will do that for you -- but it's not always the top selections that pan out. For every home run pick like Jim Rice, Nomar Garciaparra, and Dustin Pedroia in the first round, the Sox have also struck out with the likes of Jason Place (2006) and Steve Ellsworth (1981).

Even more intriguing, however, are those later-rounders who almost slip through the cracks and wind up playing far above expectations. As Red Sox fans speculate the future of this year's top pick, lefty pitcher Trey Ball, take a look at some Boston post-fourth rounders who later starred for the team:

DWIGHT EVANS - 5th Round, 1969
The 17-year-old high schooler from the San Fernando Valley League (fur sure!) was in the majors by September 1972 and wound up notching 379 homers and eight Gold Gloves with the Sox. This was a pretty good draft for Boston, whose first selection Rick Miller was an outfield mate of Evans for several years at Fenway and later won a Gold Glove himself with the Angels.

WADE BOGGS - 7th Round, 1976
It took the Chicken Man six years and an injury to Carney Lansford to get to Fenway, but he was a star from the start with a .349 average as a rookie and five batting titles with Boston. This was a gold mine draft for the Sox, with eight future big leaguers including Bruce Hurst, John Tudor, and Glenn Hoffman.


DENNIS BOYD - 16th Round, 1980
The Red Sox don't make the 1986 World Series without Oil Can, who went 16-10 that summer and was Boston's winningest pitcher in the three-year span from 1984-86. The top Sox pick in '80, pitcher Ray Krawczyk, never won a game in the majors.


SHEA HILLENBRAND - 10th Round, 1996
He may have been a head case and (in the end) an underachiever, but Hillenbrand was an All-Star third baseman for Boston in 2002 -- when he tallied 43 doubles and 83 RBIs. Boston's top pick in '96 was pitcher Andy Yount, who threw 95 MPH-plus in high school but was a minor league washout.


KEVIN YOUKILIS - 8th round, 2001
Drafted out of the University of Cincinnati, the Greek God of Walks was a rookie contributor on the 2004 World Series winners and a Gold Glove third baseman for the '07 champs. A three-time All-Star with the Red Sox, he's far outshone '01 top pick Kelly Shoppach, a .224-hitting catcher with Boston and four other teams.

WILL MIDDLEBROOKS - 5th round, 2007
Boston fans and management are hoping Middlebrooks' fantastic rookie debut in 2012 -- when he hit 15 homers in 75 games before being sidelined by a wrist injury -- is indicative of a great future. When he went on the DL this year he was batting just .201, but he's still only 24.  Boston's top '07 pick, left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone, currently struggling as a reliever with Cleveland.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
Some late-round picks by the Red Sox who made it big with other teams:

Amos Otis - 5th round, 1965
Ben Oglivie - 11th round, 1968
Jack McDowell - 20th round, 1984 (didn't sign)
Brady Anderson - 10th round, 1985
Carl Pavano - 13th round, 1994
David Eckstein - 19th round, 1997
Mark Teixeira - 9th round, 1998 (didn't sign)
Freddy Sanchez - 11th round, 2000



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