Billy Conigliaro – Red Sox primus inter pares


Billy Conigliaro became the Boston Red Sox primus inter pares or first among equals in 1965. That was the first year of the baseball draft and Conigliaro was selected fifth in the first round. The Red Sox have had 70 first round picks with pitchers being selected 31 times. The Red Sox have also never had the overall number one selection with Mike Garman at number three being the highest selection.

As with any drafts the Red Sox have had some great hits such as Jim Rice, inductee into the Hall of Fame, a multiple Cy Young Award winner in Roger Clemens, an MVP in Mo Vaughn, 30-30 club member Jacoby Ellsbury and a string of players that have left a lasting positive impact on the team and baseball. Every coin flip also has tails.

Tom Maggard, draft class of 1968, was the first Red Sox first round pick not to make it to MLB. Maggard went as far as Pawtucket and tragically died in 1973 of an insect bite. Since then the list of Red Sox number one picks have had the occasional Rob Parkins, Corey Jenkins and Tom Fischer and even Sam Horn, after whom a popular baseball site is named. Horn never did live up to that promise when he hit 14 home runs in only 177 plate appearances in 1987.

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The Red Sox have had one player, Greg McMurtry of Brockton, Massachusetts, who did not sign. McMurtry was also one of three first round picks that were from Massachusetts. McMurtry eventually did sign, but with the Patriots after a career at University of Michigan with Jim Harbaugh as the QB.

Billy joined his brother, Tony Conigliaro, in the Boston outfield in 1969. Billy managed a slash of .269/.329/.461 with 33 home runs and 98 RBI in 914 plate appearance with Boston spread over three seasons. Conigliaro was sent to Milwaukee in a blockbuster trade and eventually Billy was shipped to Oakland and out of baseball by age 25.

The Red Sox top ten prospects have Blake Swihart (2011) and close behind is Henry Owens (2011), Matt Barnes (2011), Anthony Ranaudo (2010) and Brain Johnson (2012). Some such as Bryce Brentz (2010), have dropped and Jackie Bradley (2011) have disappointed. Deven Marrero (2012) is near the top ten breakthrough.

With the science of drafting the uncertainty is clearly demonstrated in the picks over the years. Some had injuries and others simply had talent deficiencies. No team is immune. Teams have remarkable success and others not so remarkable.