Logan on 08 7, 2009
While the Yankees have spent an enormous amount of money and resources on big name free agents in an attempt to remain relevant, the Red Sox have taken a slightly different approach. Long gone are the days where the Red Sox filled lineup flaws using their wallets. With every passing year Boston’s payroll seems to shrink, yet they continue to remain one of the most complete teams in baseball. This trend is a result of a larger emphasis being placed on player scouting and development. When looking at the Sox’s roster, you can’t help but notice that the majority of their impact players are home grown talents. The Red Sox have arguably the most impressive farm system in baseball when you consider that they are picking towards the bottom of the draft almost annually. Their ability to find late round draft gems has been one of the biggest keys to their success in recent years. Here’s a list of current players from the active roster who were developed internally:
Jacoby Ellsbury- Ellsbury was drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft out of Oregon State. He is currently hitting over .300 and is approaching his second consecutive season with 50 or more stolen bases. His defensive prowess is unmatched for the most part.
Dustin Pedroia- All “Pedey” has done since being drafted out of Arizona State in the 2nd round of 2004’s draft is won an AL Rookie of the Year Award, an AL MVP Award, a Silver Slugger Award, a Gold Glove, and has been named to two All-Star games. He is hitting .311 for his career and has only struck out 132 times in almost 1700 at-bats.
Kevin Youkilis- Gold Glove, 2-time All-Star, Hank Aaron Award winner. Youkilis has the ability to play both corner infield positions at a Gold Glove level and is one of the toughest outs in all of baseball. “Youk” was drafted in the 8th round in 2001 out of Cincinnati.
Jonathan Papelbon- As a 4th round pick in 2003, Papelbon has already cemented himself as one of the game’s elite closers. “Paps” is a 4-time All-Star and won the 2007 DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award, given to the league’s most valuable closer.
Jon Lester- Everyone knows about his incredible story. From cancer survivor to the winning pitcher in 2007’s World Series clinching game against Colorado to throwing a no-hitter, all by the age of 25. Since being drafted out of high school in 2002’s 2nd round, Lester has developed into someone who is widely regarded as one of the game’s best left handed SP.
Clay Buchholz- Although he has struggled a little bit recently, there’s no denying this kid’s talent. After being drafted in 2005’s 1st round, Buchholz has already thrown a no-hitter and has arguably one of the most unhittable curveballs in all of baseball, despite the fact that many consider his changeup to be his best pitch.
Jed Lowrie- Another product of the 2005 draft (out of Stanford), Lowrie has been one of the best shortstops the Sox have had since Nomar Garciaparra (another home grown talent).
Manny Delcarmen- Drafted in 2000’s 2nd round, Delcarmen has been a very reliable relief pitcher for the Sox to this point in his career. When he locates his upper 90’s fastball, it’s nearly untouchable. This guy could be a dominant closer if the Sox weren’t already set in that area.
Daniel Bard- There’s a reason this kid was labeled “untouchable” by the Sox’s front office during the recent trade discussions heading into the recently passed deadline. Bard’s fastball hits triple digits on a regular basis. He currently sports an ERA hovering around 2.00 and averages well over a strikeout per inning. The 2006 1st round selection stands to be Papelbon’s successor following his eventual departure.
Josh Reddick- Probably unknown to most given the fact that he made his major league debut just days ago, the 22 year-old 2006 17th round selection is already making noise for the Sox. Despite playing only 3 games, Reddick has already logged his first major league home run and is hitting over .350.
Jason Varitek- Little needs to be said about this guy’s impact on this club. There’s a reason he is only the third captain in Red Sox’s history. He has caught 4 career no-hitters, and has been one of the best catchers in the game during the span of his MLB career.
Other players soon to be making an impact: Casey Kelly, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, Junichi Tazawa, Ryan Westmoreland, Stolmy Pimentel, Reymond Fuentes.
International scouting has also been an important element of the front office’s impact. The Red Sox have signed Junichi Tazawa, Che-Hsuan Lin, Yamaico Navarro, Felix Doubront, and most recently Jose Iglesias; all players who will be making an impact on the major league club shortly. While the Sox landed Daisuke Matsuzaka a few years back, the Yankees’ countered with the signing of Kei Igawa…how has that worked out?
Theo Epstein has made a few questionable decisions during his tenure with Boston, but it’s hard to ignore his overall positive impact on the team. His ability to make big trades has not gone unnoticed throughout baseball. Acquiring the likes of Jason Bay, Ramon Ramirez, Casey Kotchman, and Victor Martinez have all been great moves in recent years. Not to mention Epstein’s low risk/high reward signings such as Hideki Okajima, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, and Rocco Baldelli; all players currently making an impact.
The way things are currently set up, the Yankees are going to have to bow down to the Red Sox for years to come…or until the Hal and Hank are out of that front office.