Red Sox draft budget usage shows why one area of organization is massively lacking

2024 Boston Red Sox Rookie Development Workout
2024 Boston Red Sox Rookie Development Workout / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox farm system has racked up some high ranks this offseason. But WEEI radio personality and Red Sox die-hard Tony Massarotti disagrees with some of the numbers. He went as far as to say the Sox prospect pool is "overrated."

The Red Sox's biggest need year after year is quality starting pitching. Yet, Boston's farm system produces next to no starting pitchers, or even relievers of note.

Massarotti noticed this, and others have noticed, too. Zack Scott, a former Red Sox front office executive, noted that Boston's farm system ranks 29th — yes, next-to-last — in pitching prospects.

Ian Cundall of Sox Prospects researched why the Red Sox don't produce homegrown, quality starting pitching candidates compared to other teams. The answer is simple: they don't draft pitchers in the early rounds. But this hasn't always been the case.

Red Sox farm lacks pitching talent because they don't draft pitchers in early rounds

The last pitcher the Red Sox drafted in the first round was Tanner Houck in 2017. Ever since, Boston's drafting model has heavily favored hitters in the early rounds and pitchers as later picks.

The Red Sox draft depth pitchers and have usually relied on trades or free-agent singings to add strengthen to the rotation. Now, Boston doesn't seem to want to do either because Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell are still sitting on the market. Regardless of the signings that haven't been made, drafting pitchers in earlier rounds could have alleviated some of the stress on the starting rotation this year (or any year, really).

Cundall's research concluded that the Red Sox have spent by far the least amount of money in MLB on drafting pitchers since 2018. Boston has given just 19% of its draft bonus money to pitchers in the last five seasons. The Atlanta Braves, on the other hand, have devoted nearly 60% of its bonus money to pitchers since 2018. It shows in the product they put on the field — young pitchers like Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder and AJ Smith-Shawver will carry Atlanta's rotation this coming year.

Developing starting pitching is a tall task, and just drafting hurlers high doesn't necessarily get the job done. Boston's chief baseball officer Craig Breslow overhauled the Red Sox's big-league pitching system and Worcester's pitching resources with new coaches and staff.

But, overall, Boston's lack of pitching depth can be attributed to spending most of its draft resources on hitters in recent years. Eighty-one percent of the Red Sox's draft bonus money has gone to hitters from 2018-2023 and no pitchers have received a bonus greater than $1 million.

The Red Sox now have a surplus of young position player talent rising through its farm system — Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony, Kyle Teel and Ceddanne Rafaela will undoubtedly make the team better someday. But the acquisition of Breslow and the sweeping changes made to Boston's pitching infrastructure may signal a change in priorities from the front office.

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