They’re in a good spot
Officials happy as deep draft looms
The Red Sox usually find themselves picking toward the end of the first round in the draft, and they’re at No. 20 this year. But that might not be a bad place to be, as this draft seems to have less of a distinction than usual between the 10th and 30th picks.
“It’s not one of those drafts where there’s clear elite players in the top half of the first round, it’s more spread out through the middle to the bottom into the sandwich, wouldn’t you think?’’ Sox general manager Theo Epstein said to director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye in a news conference before yesterday’s game.
“Yeah,’’ Sawdaye said. “I’ve had a lot of people who are picking in the top 10 picks saying, ‘God, this would be the year we’d love to trade a pick with you guys.’
“I think we’re in a pretty good spot. Like Theo said, late end of the first round through the sandwich, if you have extra picks, you’re in a pretty good spot to get some players that may end up being just as good as players you’re going to pick in the top 10.’’
That’s good news for the Sox, in a draft Epstein said appears to have its strengths in righthanded high school pitchers. Boston has four picks in the first 57: No. 20 (as compensation for Billy Wagner), No. 36 (for Jason Bay), No. 39 (for Wagner), and No. 57 (for Bay).
“It can make you feel a little bit better about taking a risk, whether it’s a signability risk or a high-risk/high-reward type player,’’ Epstein said. “You have a chance to diversify your portfolio a little bit, but the primary factor is getting the best player on the board.
“When you don’t have a first-round pick and you don’t pick until deeper into the draft, that changes the way you scout a little bit because you have to really focus on players who might fall for some reason or another and make sure you know those players really well. When you have a lot of picks in the first 50, 60, it just means you have to cover that part of the draft really, really well.’’
The one thing the Sox won’t do is draft for need. While that’s an important approach in the NBA and NFL drafts, it doesn’t come into play in baseball because of the lag time on getting draftees up to the big leagues.
“I think bad mistakes can be made when you try to draft for need, especially because this draft is really going to impact our big league club in 2014 or so,’’ Epstein said. “Organizationally, we do have our strengths and weaknesses at the lower levels. We’re not going to use that as a primary factor in putting our board together. It can be a tiebreaker.’’
At the moment, the Sox are sifting through thousands of reports on amateur players, according to Sawdaye, in advance of Monday, when teams will make the first 50 picks of the draft (first round and sandwich round). Rounds 2 through 30 will be Tuesday, with the draft wrapping up Wednesday.
The new three-day schedule could change the dynamic of the draft, Epstein said.
Teams will be able to “take a deep breath and assess what’s gone on in the industry, see if there are any early-emerging trends and see if there are any surprises,’’ he said. “It kind of allows you to plot some strategy for players deeper in the draft. It is a bit of a marathon and endurance test.’’