Legends On Deck

Red Sox June Draft History A Mixed Bag

Monday evening, when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s Earth Band lands in Secaucus, New Jersey for the 2015 Major League Baseball June draft of first year amateur players, the Boston Red Sox will attempt to uncover the next Roger Clemens or Nomar Garciaparra.

MLB’s draft, despite attempts over the last eight years by both ESPN and MLBTV to televise the first round remains a low key affair unlike the glitz and glitter of the NFL and NBA drafts which have become a made-for-TV dream. After MLB’s first two rounds, the other 38 rounds (not televised) feature monotone voices documenting each team’s picks.

“Philadelphia Phillies”…..”Philadelphia selects redraft number 6,789 right-handed pitcher Joe Jones of the College of Southern Idaho”……and on, and on, and on….

The Red Sox have the seventh pick in this year’s first round. Two Vanderbilt Commodores are among players discussed as possible Boston choices. Pitcher Carson Fulmer, drafted by the Red Sox out of All Saints High School in Polk County, Florida despite a commitment to Vandy, and fellow Golden Spikes award candidate infielder Dansby Swanson have both been scouted by Red Sox officials.

The June amateur draft began in 1965 and the Red Sox first pick (and fifth overall) was outfielder Billy Conigliaro , brother of Tony, Boston’s reigning star. The following year, pitcher Ken Brett was drafted by the Sox. Years later, Ken Brett’s brother George would become American League batting champion with the Kansas City Royals.

The highest pick the Red Sox ever had in the June draft was in 1967 when they chose pitcher Mike Garman third overall. Garman reached the majors with the Red Sox, but enjoyed most of his success in the National League with St. Louis.

After three years of first round picks who did not reach the major leagues (Tom Maggard, Noel Jenks and Jimmy Hacker) The Red Sox hit it big in 1971, drafting South Carolina high school star outfielder and eventual baseball hall of famer Jim Rice.

1972 through 1975 saw another run of first round Red Sox choices with limited or no major league action except for a short stint by infielder Ted Cox who was eventually shipped to the Cleveland Indians in the trade which brought Dennis Eckersley to Boston in 1978.

In 1976, lefthander Bruce Hurst was chosen number one by Boston and enjoyed a successful major league career with the Red Sox .

In  the same draft the Sox fourth round choice was Florida State University pitcher Larry Jones , who did not sign with Boston. You probably know his son. Larry Jones Jr. AKA Chipper Jones who became the Atlanta Braves top pick in the 1990 June draft. The senior Jones became a teacher and coach at T. DeWitt Taylor High School in Pierson, Florida,the same high school his son would later attend and play baseball well enough to be the second MLB draftee in his family.

It’s a good thing Boston’s seventh round choice that year signed though. That was Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs.

In 1977, top pick, right-handed pitcher Andy Madden struggled with injuries and never reached the major leagues.

The late 70’s and early 80’s were a dismal time for first round Red Sox until Roger Clemens was chosen in 1983 out of the University of Texas. Clemens was drafted by the Mets out of high school but opted for a collegiate career with the Longhorns.

1986’s top Sox pick ended up in New England eventually , but as a member of the  Patriots. Outfielder Greg McMurtry turned down the Red Sox offer for a football scholarship to the University of Michigan and was a productive NFL wide receiver for several years.

The June draft of 1989 featured first rounder Mo Vaughn, a compensation pick, and also included future major leaguers Jeff Bagwell and Paul Quantrill. Top choice for the Sox that year, outfielder Greg Blosser struggled and never put together a successful major league career.

1991’s top pick for Boston, outfielder J.J. Johnson from Pine Plains, New York never played a game above class A ball.

Georgia Tech shortstop Nomar Garciaparra topped Boston’s list in 1994. That worked out OK.

Current Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was one of five first round picks (due to free agent compensation) the Sox had in 2005. The others show the fickle nature of the draft process….outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, pitcher Craig Hansen, pitcher Michael Bowden and infielder Jed Lowrie. All have had major league experience, but with varying degrees of success.

2006’s number one, outfielder Jason Place is out of baseball, but current Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart was a 2011 number one pick, as was Jackie Bradley Jr. and pitcher Henry Owens.

2013 ‘s Trey Ball has struggled as a pitcher since being drafted number one by the Sox and there have been rumors of a possible position change in the works.

Boston’s two top picks last year, infielder Michael Chavis and righthanded pitcher Michael Kopech have impressed thus far in limited action.

The bottom line is, a lottery ticket sometimes is more of a sure thing than baseball’s June draft. Let the prospecting for 2015 begin…

Brian Mullen

Brian is a Boston native and art school student who took a summer job with a baseball team and never left. He has been employed by the Boston Red Sox in one capacity or another since 1982. He also follows and blogs college basketball. Follow him on Twitter @BostonBrian2015