What If the Red Sox Hit a Home Run in the First Round of Every MLB Draft From 2010 Until 2017?

Late last month, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement to cut down on spending in what will likely be a shortened 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting millions across the country and world.

Among the topics covered in said agreement was the 2020 amateur draft. According to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, this year’s draft “will be cut to no fewer than five rounds (MLB can expand it if it so chooses and several scouting departments hold out hope that it could be expanded to 10 rounds). The draft will be held as early as the current June 10 start date and as late as July 20.”

Since 2012, the draft has consisted of 40 rounds, so up to 7/8ths of this year’s draft-eligible prospects could go undrafted if the 2020 draft is indeed only five rounds.

The Red Sox have been a team that has found success in the later rounds of the draft in recent years, so this cutback only means that they will have to be more spot on with the limited picks they have this year.

That notion, as well as this recent article from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, inspired me to look back at past drafts and ponder what could have been for the Sox if they were perfect, or nearly perfect, in the process.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick with just the first round and begin with the 2010 amateur draft. Let’s get to it.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 20 Kolbrin Vitek, 3B Christian Yelich, 1B
1s 36 Bryce Brentz, OF Noah Syndergaard, RHP
1s 39 Anthony Ranaudo, RHP Nick Castellanos, 3B

Analysis: Vitek never made it past Double-A, Brentz has not appeared in a major-league game since 2016, and Ranaudo has been out of professional baseball for three years.

On the flip side, Yelich, who went to the Marlins with the 23rd overall pick in 2010, has emerged as one of the best outfielders in baseball and has finished first and second in National League MVP voting the past two seasons with the Brewers. Syndergaard, who went to Toronto with the 38th overall pick, has been solid with the Mets, while Castellanos, who went to Detroit with the 44th overall pick, earned himself a four-year, $64 million contract with the Reds back in January.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 19 Matt Barnes, RHP Mookie Betts, 2B
1 26 Blake Swihart, C Trevor Story, SS
1s 36 Henry Owens, LHP Blake Snell, LHP
1s 40 Jackie Bradley Jr., OF Mike Clevinger, RHP

Analysis: Barnes was far from a poor pick at No. 19 in 2011, but if Theo Epstein and Co. could do it all over again knowing what they know now, I’d assume they’d jump on the chance to take Betts early instead of waiting for the fifth round like they originally did.

Swihart and Owens, meanwhile, own career bWAR’s of -0.3 and 0.1 respectively. Since they were still on the board at the time Swihart and Owens were selected, Story, who has won Silver Slugger awards in each of the last two seasons with the Rockies, and Snell, who despite struggling last year is still a Cy Young Award winner in his own right, would have been better picks in hindsight.

As for the Sox’ last pick of the first round in 2011, Bradley Jr. was a pretty solid choice out of the University of South Carolina, but given how much the Sox have struggled to develop starting pitching, Clevinger, who posted a 2.49 FIP with the Indians last year, probably would have been the way to go.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 24 Deven Marrero, SS Alex Bregman, 2B
1s 31 Brian Johnson, LHP Matt Olson, 1B
1s 37 Pat Light, RHP Joey Gallo, 3B

Analysis: Marrero was regarded as one of the best infield prospects in the 2012 draft thanks to his glove. That defensive prowess stuck with him as he rose through the ranks of the Red Sox’ farm system, but he was really never able to put it together offensively.

Johnson was another well-regarded draft prospect, but he dealt with numerous on and off the field issues before making his major-league debut in 2015 and has since been taken off the Sox’ 40-man roster. It did look like he had a solid chance to make the team out of spring training before the league shut everything down, though.

As for Light, there’s not much to say, as he owns a lifetime 11.34 ERA over 17 major-league relief appearances between the Red Sox and Twins. He is a quality follow on Twitter, though, so I’ll give him that.

Turning to the ‘perfect’ picks, Bregman himself said he would have signed with the Sox if they took him with the 24th overall pick in 2012, but they didn’t. Instead, Boston took Bregman in the 29th round, and since he had already committed to LSU, the New Mexico native went the college route instead.

Olson and Gallo, meanwhile, were not taken off the board until the former was taken by the Athletics with the 47th overall pick and the latter was taken by the Rangers with the 39th overall pick.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 7 Trey Ball, LHP Aaron Judge, OF

Analysis: Trey Ball, man. Oof. The first left-handed pitcher taken off the board in 2013 never made it past Double-A and even tried to resurrect his career as an outfielder before his minor-league contract expired at the conclusion of last season.

Besides the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the best player taken in the first round of this draft to this point in time has been none other than Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who has mashed 110 home runs in his first 396 games in the majors. Would have been nice.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 26 Michael Chavis, SS Jack Flaherty, RHP
1 33 Michael Kopech, RHP Brian Anderson, 3B

Analysis: Chavis just made his major-league debut last April, while Kopech was a key piece in the blockbuster trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston back in 2017. It’s still too early to say where those two stand in terms of their paths to big-league relevancy. But, Flaherty emerged as a legitimate ace during the latter half of the 2019 campaign with the Cardinals and is still just 24 years old. Anderson, meanwhile, slashed .261/.342/.468 over 126 games with the Marlins last year.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 7 Andrew Benintendi, OF Walker Buehler, RHP

Analysis: As big of an Andrew Benintendi guy as I am, it’s pretty crazy that Walker Buehler was not off the board until the Dodgers took him with the 24th overall pick in 2015. It just goes to show how good Los Angeles is at drafting and developing their own talent.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick ‘Perfect’ Pick
1 12 Jay Groome, LHP Pete Alonso, 1B

Analysis: Groome has pitched in just 20 professional games since signing with the Red Sox in July 2016. He missed the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery and he appeared in three games between the GCL Red Sox and short-season Lowell before last year’s minor-league campaign came to a close. He is still just 21 years old though, and is still ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Sox’ No. 7 overall prospect.

That is certainly encouraging, but after the season rookie first baseman Pete Alonso just put together for the Mets, where he crushed a record-setting 53 home runs and drove in 120 runs over 161 games last year, that certainly appears to have been the pick to make.


Round Pick No. Actual Pick Perfect’ Pick
1 24 Tanner Houck, RHP Nate Pearson, RHP

Analysis: Houck is developing at a solid pace and it looks like he’ll open the 2020 minor-league season, if there is one, as a member of the PawSox’ starting rotation.

Pearson, however, was taken by the Blue Jays shortly after the Sox selected Houck and has emerged as one of the brightest pitching prospects in all of baseball thanks in part to having a 100+ MPH fastball at his disposal.

Neither Houck or Pearson have made it to the majors yet, but as far as projections go, those seem to be favoring the 23-year-old Pearson rather than the 23-year-old Houck.

Pitchers: Noah Syndergaard, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, Jack Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Nate Pearson

Catchers: None

Infielders: Trevor Story, Alex Bregman, Matt Olson, Brian Anderson, Pete Alonso

Outfielders: Christian Yelich, Nick Castellanos, Mookie Betts, Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge

16 players total, 10 All-Stars, two MVP Award winners, one Cy Young Award winner, one top pitching prospect, and no catchers.

It’s far from a complete roster, but it’s certainly a great place to start in terms of building through the draft.

Of course, the MLB draft is regularly regarded as a lottery, so it’s virtually impossible for any club to draft this well in a single year. This isn’t to say that this is how I expect the Red Sox to draft under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in the future, I just thought it would be fun to look back and go back in time to a certain extent. And you know what? It was fun.


Reliving Andrew Benintendi’s ALCS Catch on Its One-Year Anniversary

One year ago Thursday night, October 17th, 2018, the Red Sox were one out away from jumping out to a three-games-to-one lead over the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park.

Entering the bottom half of the ninth inning with an 8-6 lead to protect after allowing one run to cross the plate in the eighth, former Sox closer Craig Kimbrel walked three of the first five hitters he faced in the frame to fill the bases and put the winning run at first for Astros star third baseman Alex Bregman.

Heading into that at-bat, Kimbrel had thrown just 53% of his 34 pitchers for strikes and even plunked Bregman in the previous inning.

On the very first pitch he saw from Kimbrel this time around, a 97 MPH four-seamer on the inner half of the plate, Bregman ripped laced a line drive to left field, one that was falling quickly as Andrew Benintendi was closing in on it.

Per Statcast, Bregman’s liner had an exit velocity of 86.3 MPH off the bat and 79% chance of being a hit.

If that line drive were to fall in for a hit, it certainly had the potential to clear the bases and give their Astros their second win of the series.

Benintendi had different plans though, as he closed in, sprawled out, and saved the day for the Red Sox with an incredible catch for the third and final out of the contest.

According to Baseball Reference, that catch had a Win Probability added of 18%, the second-highest amount for one play in Game 4 behind only Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-run home run off Josh James in the fifth inning.

“I thought I got a good jump on it,”Benintendi later said following the Game 4 win. “It wasn’t hit that hard. I thought I could catch it, I timed it up well. At that point, it was do or die.”

Later named the Associated Press’ Play of the Year for 2018, Benintendi’s game-sealing catch was an altering one, and it could have made the difference between the Red Sox eventually topping the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series or getting sent home early by Houston for the second year in a row.

“It was fun. I’m glad I caught it,” Benintendi added.

It was also one of the few times we had seen Benintendi put his emotions on display while on the field to that point.

The 2019 season may not have gone the way the 25-year-old outfielder wanted it to, but the talent he displayed last October surely shows that he is more than capable of bouncing back in 2020.

Red Sox Reportedly Planning on Offering Rafael Devers Contract Extension This Offseason

The Red Sox are reportedly planning on offering third baseman Rafael Devers a contract extension this offseason, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. An offer has yet to be extended to Devers at this point in time.

Devers, who turns 23 in October, is wrapping up what looks to be a top-seven finish in American League Most Valuable Player voting kind of season, as he entered Saturday slashing .309/.360/.556 to go along with a career-best 32 home runs and career-best 115 RBI over 154 games played.

The budding star infielder earned approximately $614,500 in his second full major league season in 2019, and is projected to earn somewhere around $800,000 in his final year of being pre-arbitration eligible in 2020, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

With all the recent rumblings about the Red Sox wanting to get under the $208 million threshold for the 2020 campaign, it may seem confusing as to why the club would want to commit a large sum of money to one player.

However, as Bradford points out, any extension attached to Devers more than likely would not come into effect until after 2020, meaning the 22-year-old would still earn that $800,000 in salary or so next season.

The same sort of thing happened with the Houston Astros and third baseman Alex Bregman this past March, when the two sides agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension.

Bregman, who will more than likely finish as the runner-up in AL MVP voting this year, is still earning a base and luxury tax salary of $640,500 in 2019 while his extension does not kick in until 2020.

With shortstop Xander Bogaerts already locked up through at least the 2022 season, the Red Sox have a real chance to secure the left side of their infield for years to come.

Rafael Devers Is Your American League Player of the Week

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers has been named American League Player of the Week for August 12th through the 18th.

The 22-year-old put together quite the week at the plate against the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, slashing .593/.633/1.185 with 10 extra-base hits, three of which being home runs, and 11 RBI over his last six games.

That stretch included a run of eight straight hits that began with a six-hit, four-double performance in Cleveland on Tuesday, marking the first time since at least 1908 that a major leaguer had achieved that feat, and extended into Wednesday.

Against the Orioles on Sunday, Devers became the first big leaguer this season to surpass the century mark in RBI with a two-run homer, his 27th, in the seventh inning of a 13-7 victory.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Devers leads American League third baseman in games played (123), runs scored (103), runs driven in (101), slugging percentage (.575), and is tied with Houston’s Alex Bregman atop the fWAR leaderboards (5.5).

2019 has certainly been a breakout year for Devers to say the least. In what is only his second full season in the majors, the breakout star appears to be a lock to finish in the top three for American League Most Valuable Player voting in the fall.

RECAP: Jackie Bradley Jr. Blasts Grand Slam as #RedSox Take 2-1 Edge over Astros in ALCS.

The Boston Red Sox are two victories away from heading to their 13th World Series following an 8-2 blowout win over the Houston Astros in the first of three games at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.

Nathan Eovaldi got the start for Boston in this one, his second of the postseason, and he put together yet another solid outing in enemy territory as he did last Monday night in New York.

Pitching six full innings, the right-hander surrendered all but two earned runs on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Despite dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths, Eovaldi managed to hold his own against a team that can capitalize on mistakes in an instant by holding them to those two runs, the first of which came in the first and the second of which came in the fifth.

Ending his outing by retiring three of the final four hitters he faced in Houston’s half of the sixth, Eovaldi’s night came to an end with his pitch count at 92.

Out of those 92 pitches, 60 of which were strikes, the Houston native threw 30 cutters, 27 four-seam fastballs, 14 cutters, 11 splitters, and 10 sliders, which induced 10 total swinging strikes.


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He also topped out at 101 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning and was responsible for eight of the game’s fastest 10 pitches on either side.

For his first ever time in a postseason, Eovaldi has proven that he is very capable of performing at a high level on a bigger stage.

In two starts this October, the 28-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and only two walks over that span.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves another memorable night, as they accounted for three scoreless innings to close this thing out.

Ryan Brasier got the first call to start the seventh with a one-run lead to protect, and despite allowing the tying run to reach scoring position on a Jose Altuve bunt single and passed ball, was able to escape the jam by getting Alex Bregman to line out to center field to end the inning.

Matt Barnes was next up for the eighth, moments after his team jumped out to an 8-2 advantage, and he followed up a leadoff walk by recording the first two outs of the frame.

That made way for Joe Kelly, who retired the lone hitter he faced on a Carlos Correa, 6-3 ground out.

Finally, Eduardo Rodriguez was responsible for the ninth in his first appearance of this series, and he closed things out in 1-2-3 fashion to secure an impactful win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, and they put up runs before the first out of the contest was even recorded.

Back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi in the first set up a coolish JD Martinez in a nice run scoring spot, and the Red Sox’ DH came through with an RBI double to plate Betts and move Benintendi up to third.

Just a few moments after that, Xander Bogaerts doubled his team’s early lead by scoring Benintendi on an RBI ground out. 2-0 game.

Two innings later, with Martinez and Bogaerts on base following two straight walks from Keuchel, Steve Pearce appeared to come up with a crucial two out RBI knock on a sharp fly ball to left field, but Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who is listed at 5’7”, made an improbable catch to end the third, or did he?

Whether or not you think Kemp caught that ball clean or it hit the wall before it landed in his glove, I’m just glad it ended up not making all that much a difference in the final score.

Fortunately for Pearce, he would have a chance to redeem himself in the sixth, and that he did on a one out, 1-0 88 MPH fastball from Astros reliever Joe Smith.

That ball, Pearce’s first of the postseason, was sent 456 feet down the left field line, which according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, is “the 4th longest Statcast-tracked postseason homer (2015-18), and the longest by a Red Sox.” It also put his team up 3-2, which is a lead they would not have to look back on.

As a matter of fact, that lead inflated some more in the eighth inning, all with closer Roberto Osuna, who entered Tuesday with a career 5.28 ERA when pitching against Boston, on the mound for Houston.

Igniting the rally was Rafael Devers, who didn’t even start this game, with a two out single to move Steve Pearce up to second.

That was followed by consecutive HBPs of Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland, both of whom were pinch-hitting for Ian Kinsler and Christian Vazquez.

The Holt HBP loaded the bases and the Moreland HBP served two purposes. One, it drove in Pearce from third, and two, it reloaded the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Already with a bases-clearing extra base hit under his belt in this series, the scorching Bradley Jr. capitalized on another huge RBI chance by unloading on a 94 MPH fastball that was up and in and pulled it to right for the game-sealing grand slam.

David Ortiz’s reaction:

Some notes from this 8-2 win:

From @SoxNotes: Steve Pearce has recorded at least 1 hit and scored at least 1 run in each of his 6 starts in the 2018 postseason. The only other Red Sox player ever to do that in 6 consecutive starts in a single postseason is Mike Lowell (2007).

From @PeteAbe: Red Sox have outscored teams 28-6 on the road in three postseason games.

From @Sean_McAdam: Bradley was 1-for-17 with seven strikeouts with the bases loaded during season. Last two ABs: 3-run double Sunday; grand slam tonight.

Looking to go up 3-1 in this series tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the starting nod for the Red Sox.

Coming in with a 1.35 ERA over 6.2 innings pitched this October, Porcello has done a little bit of everything at an effective level. Starting, coming in as reliever, it really doesn’t seem to matter for the right-hander.

Opposite Porcello will be veteran right-hander Charlie Morton for the Astros.

Morton, 34, did not pitch for his club in their three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, and his last regular season start came on September 30th, so it will be interesting to see if there is some rust there.

First pitch of the fourth game of the ALCS is scheduled for 8:39 PM ET Wednesday on TBS.


RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez Surrenders Five Runs in Short Start as #RedSox Fall to Astros Again.

After dropping the series opener to the Houston Astros by a final score of 6-3 on Friday night, the Red Sox were back at it looking for some redemption on a Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Making his 21st start of the season today was Eduardo Rodriguez, who dominated against the Chicago White Sox in his first start since returning from the 10-day disabled list in his last time out on September 1st.

Pitching into just the fourth inning of this one, the left-hander found himself not having the same amount of success he had in Chicago. Instead, the Astros got to him early and often, which as you could guess, led to some problems.

In the 3.1 frames of work on Saturday, Rodriguez surrendered five earned runs on six hits, two of which were home runs, and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

It was somewhat a tale of two starts for the 25-year-old in this one, because he began his day by retiring the first four hitters he faced in order.

It was not until Carlos Correa ripped a one out double off of Rodriguez where things really started to go down hill, because that was followed by a Tyler White triple that could have been caught by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a Jake Marisnick sacrifice fly that saw the Astros jump out to a 2-1 lead.

Over the next two innings, solo home runs from Alex Bregman, his 30th, and Martin Maldanado increased that Houston lead to three runs, and after walking George Springer with one out in the fourth, Rodriguez’s evening would come to a disappointing end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (49 strikes), the Venezuela native did not receive much help from his catcher, Christian Vazquez, in terms of calling a quality game, and that resulted in some hard hit balls from the Astros.


Out of those 78 pitches, Rodriguez turned to his four-seam fastball the most on Saturday, as he threw it 36% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 96 MPH with that same pitch in the first inning.

Falling to 12-4 on the season with his ERA inflating up to 3.64, the fourth-year hurler will look to reclaim that form he had on display against the White Sox in his next time out, which should come against the New York Mets next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was surprisingly not to blame for this particular loss.

Brandon Workman was first up, and he closed the book on Rodriguez’s outing by allowing the second Astros run of the fourth to cross the plate on a sac fly, but bounced back with a scoreless fifth inning of work.

Bobby Poyner allowed the first two hitters he faced in the sixth to reach base, then sat down the next six Astros he faced consecutively going into the middle of the seventh.

Finally, Tyler Thornburg, who was pitching on no days rest for the first time since August 20-21st, dealt with his fair share of traffic on base paths, but ultimately held Houston scoreless in the two frames of relief he worked to hold his team’s deficit to three runs.

All and all, the Red Sox bullpen’s final line from Saturday looks like this:

5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Charlie Morton, who was making his first start since August 28th after being placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder discomfort.

Starting the scoring right away in this one was Xander Bogaerts, whose one out RBI single in the bottom of the first drove in Mookie Betts from second and gave Boston an early advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth now, and Bogaerts struck again by mashing his second home run of the series and his 21st of the season that pulled the Red Sox to within three runs of Houston.

That would end up being Morton’s final inning, and despite reaching base a total of nine times off the Astros hurler, those two runs were all the Red Sox could manage through the first five frames on Saturday.

After rookie reliever Josh James and Ryan Pressly shut things down through the end of the eighth, it all came down to the ninth inning with Astros closer Roberto Osuna on the mound for the second straight night.

A Blake Swihart leadoff pinch-hit single, followed by a one out walk from Mookie Betts, brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Andrew Benintendi.

A wild pitch from Osuna allowed both runners to advance 90 feet, and Benintendi capitalized on that mistake by driving in Swihart from third on an RBI single to left field. 5-3 game.

With JD Martinez coming up representing the game-winning run, the Red Sox could not have asked for a better scoring spot to be in with the league leader in RBI at the plate.

Unfortunately, Martinez could not come through with a clutch hit and instead grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Some notes from this 5-3 loss:

With runners in scoring position on Saturday, the Red Sox were only 3/13 (.231)

Xander Bogaerts tied his career-high in home runs today (21) and also set a new career-high in RBI (92).

Going for their 98th win of the season once again tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston.

In his last time out against the Astros on June 3rd at Minute Maid Park, Porcello allowed just three runs (two earned) to score on five hits over 6.1 innings in what would turn out to be a 9-3 Red Sox win.

Opposite Porcello will be another former Cy Young Award Winner in Houston’s right-hander Dallas Keuchel.

Over the course of his seven-year career, Keuchel has made two career starts at Fenway Park.

In those pair of starts, the former seventh round draft pick has given up 11 earned runs in 16 innings pitched. That’s good for a 7.62 ERA to go along with a not so nice 1.69 WHIP.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET Sunday. Time to salvage something.