Looking back at Red Sox first-round picks from 2008-2014
The baseball draft is starting to get attention. The scouring of college and high school ranks to determine just who is the best of the best? Baseball America and other sites will toss around just who will be those chosen in various mock drafts. Being the number one draft choice is usually considered a fast road to the major leagues. Scouts, evaluators, media, and the neighbors all feel confident that in a few years said prospect will be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Just how have the Boston Red Sox first-round picks accomplished since being so honored? I’ll start with 2008 and look at the team’s number on picks through 2014.
Casey Kelly was the number one pick in 2008 (30th) and was actually being considered as a position/pitcher combination. Kelly became part of the deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. As a Padre, Kelley had Tommy John Surgery and eventually had innings with Atlanta and the Giants. An MLB record of just 2-11. Kelly transferred his career to the KBO where he has been one of the league’s top starters the last two seasons.
Bryan Price was Boston’s second first-round pick in 2008 (49th). The righty out of Rice University was traded to Cleveland where he surfaced in 2014. Price appeared in three games. The stat line is an ugly 2.2 innings and six earned runs. Price retired in 2015.
Rey Fuentes was the 28th pick in 2009. Fuentes was light on power but a speedy outfielder who stole 83 bases over two seasons in the Red Sox system. He became part of the deal that brought Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Fuentes played in 100 games with three teams over three seasons hitting .238. Fuentes has played independent ball and is still active in foreign baseball.
In 2010, the Red Sox had three selections. The first is Kolbrin Vitek as the 20th pick. Vitek hit 35 home runs in three years of college ball at Ball State and being right-handed with power had the Red Sox most interested. Injuries and lack of advancement finally had Vitek call it quits in 2014. In 304 minor league games, Vitek hit just eight home runs and hit .258.
A second potential “Big Bat” in the 2010 draft was right-hand slugger Bryce Brentz (36th). Brentz had some monstrous home run seasons but, unfortunately, it was in the minors. His MLB career consisted of 34 games and a lone home run. Brentz is still playing in the independent leagues.
Towering Anthony Ranaudo was the last number one pick in 2010 (39th) and possibly the most promising. The righty made it to Boston in 2014 and made seven starts. His reward? They traded Ranaudo to the Rangers. By 2016, his MLB career was done with a 5-5 record. That was followed by a stint in Korea and then retirement.
The 2011 draft was quite profitable with four picks. Matt Barnes (19th) is well known and will possibly be the 2021 closer. Jackie Bradley Jr. (40th) is now a free agent and had a roller-coaster performance ride in eight seasons. Blake Swihart (26th) was derailed by injuries but has picked up a minor league deal with the Nationals. Lefty Henry Owens (36th) was a bitter disappointment. Owens made 16 starts over 2015-2016 for Boston with awful results. He’ll be in an independent ball again for 2021.
In 2012, Boston again had three picks. Infielder Deven Marrero (21st) was a great glove with a tepid bat. Marrero hit just .194 with three teams over five seasons. Marrero is currently on the open market. Lefty Brian Johnson (31st) is quite similar to Owens. 171 innings over four seasons. Johnson was released in August. Right-hander Pat Light (37th) produced an 11.74 ERA in 2016 between Boston and the Twins. Light retired after 2018.
Trey Ball – seventh in 2013 – can join the list of left-handed failures along with Owens and Johnson. Ball struggled on every level and for any non-top pick, his career would have been expired after a few seasons. Ball had a 4.2 BB/9, 6.5 K/9, and 5.02 ERA in six seasons never advancing beyond Portland (AA).
The 2014 draft had two picks. Michael Chavis (26th) is with the Red Sox and the 25-year-old slugger may be facing a make or break season. The power is there – 23 home runs in 137 games – but so are the K’s. A 177 total in 540 late appearances. Michael Kopech (33rd) is now with the White Sox as part of the Chris Sale package. Big things are expected from the hard-throwing righty. The 2021 season will tell.
Being selected number one is not necessarily a path to MLB success. The ones from 20008-2014 are checkered with failure. Bradley is the most successful, but the potential for greatness still lingers for Kopech and Chavis.