The Red Sox 2005 draft shows drafting is an inexact science


The MLB Draft, like with most sports, is an inexact science; no team ever truly knows if the player they select is going to pan out. Sometimes a player that appears to have all the potential in the world will fail, while a late round pick who was overlooked by most teams will thrive. In 2005, the Red Sox choices in the first round were a great representation of the challenge of finding future big-league contributors.

The Red Sox had five first round picks in the 2005 MLB Draft as a result of losing some key members of the 2004 World Series winning team to free agency. Here’s how it broke down:

  • The Red Sox gained the 23rd pick from the Angels for losing Orlando Cabrera.
  • The Red Sox gained the 26th pick from the Dodgers for losing Derek Lowe.
  • The Red Sox gained the 42nd pick in the supplemental first round for losing Pedro Martinez to the Mets.
  • The Red Sox gained the 45th pick in the supplemental first round for losing Cabrera.
  • The Red Sox gained the 47th pick in the supplemental first round for losing Lowe.
  • The Red Sox actual pick, number 28, was given to the Cardinals as compensation for the Sox signing Edgar Renteria.

So that’s five picks that Theo Epstein owned in the first round, and here’s what he turned them into:

(23) Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Oregon State University

(26) Craig Hansen, RHP, St. John’s University

(42) Clay Buchholz, RHP, Angelina College

(45) Jed Lowrie, 2B, Stanford University

(47) Michael Bowden, RHP, Waubonsie Valley High School

Most of you are probably familiar with Ellsbury. A September call-up in 2007 eventually led him to a postseason starting role, where he took over for the struggling Coco Crisp, helping the team win the World Series. He became the Sox everyday centerfielder in 2008 and helped the Sox win another World Series last season, before leaving for the Yankees this past offseason. He holds many Red Sox stolen base records and was an All-Star in 2011.

The Red Sox viewed Hansen as close to major league ready when he was drafted, and he quickly made his way to Boston as a September call-up only three months after being drafted. In 2006, he posted a 6.63 ERA out of the bullpen, leading manager Terry Francona to suggest that the team may have rushed Hansen along too quickly. After toiling in the minors for a season, he was traded to the Pirates in the Jason Bay deal, where he was eventually diagnosed with a rare condition called Parsonage-Turner Syndrome that causes pain and weakness in the arms and shoulders. He spent a few more years in the minors with the Pirates and Mets before being released.

Buchholz made his debut during a late call-up in 2007. In his second career start that September, he no-hit the Orioles. In 2010 he was selected as an All-Star and he showed ace potential early in 2013. He has run into problems so far in 2014, but the Red Sox are hoping a DL stint can help him regain top form.

Lowrie spent all of 2005-2007 in the minors, before finally getting a call-up early in 2008. Injuries limited him during his time in Boston, and he was eventually traded to the Astros in 2011 as part of the Mark Melancon deal. He ended up in Oakland in 2013, where he found some success as the A’s everyday shortstop, hitting .290 with 15 HRs. He is once again their starting shortstop this season.

Bowden didn’t make his Major League debut until 2009. He spent time going back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket for a few seasons, finding little success. He was designated for assignment early in 2012, leading to a trade to the Cubs for Marlon Byrd. The Cubs designated him for assignment twice in 2013, and he signed with the Seibu Lions in Japan for the 2014 season.

Five players with very different paths. Hansen, equipped with a 98 MPH fastball that led many to view him as Major League-ready, struggled after an early promotion and could never really figure it out. Bowden was viewed as a top prospect but couldn’t cut out a role for himself and never gave the Sox a reason to keep him around. The other three all spent a few years developing in the minors, and have since proven themselves at the major league level.

Every team, including the Red Sox, has a good idea of who might be a future major-league caliber player, but there’s no such thing as a guarantee. Just something to keep in mind as we head into the Draft tonight.