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10 Pitchers the Boston Red Sox Should Target in the 2012 MLB Draft

Douglas SiborContributor IMay 31, 2012

10 Pitchers the Boston Red Sox Should Target in the 2012 MLB Draft

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    When the 2012 MLB draft is held from June 4 to June 6, the Red Sox will look to reload their already-deep farm system with their selections from a solid draft class.

    As a team that has done a very good job developing players, the Sox can expect to see several of these prospects make an impact on the MLB level in the near future.

    With four of the five pitchers in the starting rotation having been drafted and developed by the team, the Sox will look to replicate this track record of success and find their next wave of talent this year. They will be selecting 24th, 31st and 37th overall, so there will be several opportunities to get an impact arm (or two) early on.

    While the Sox have traditionally gone the college route with their pitchers, there are also several talented high school players available that the team will be monitoring. Here are 10 pitchers that the Sox should consider taking in the early rounds of the 2012 MLB draft:

Chris Stratton

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    Position: RHP

    School: Mississippi St.

    Weight: 198 lbs

    Height: 6'3”

    Projected Round: 1st

    Stratton is an interesting prospect because of his versatility. He split this past season for the Bulldogs working as both a starter and reliever, enjoying pretty good success in both roles. He throws pretty hard (91 to 95 MPH fastball) and has a nice complement of offspeed pitches.

    The downside is that Stratton is already 22 years old, so his window to reach his ceiling is not nearly as big as other draft picks. If he’s available when the Sox pick first, though, they’d be wise to grab him. The last player the Sox drafted out of Mississippi St. worked out pretty well, too: Jonathan Papelbon.

Hunter Virant

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    Position: LHP

    School: Adolfo Camarillo HS

    Weight: 172 lbs

    Height: 6’3”

    Projected Round: 1st

    As a left-hander, Virant is automatically an intriguing candidate. Like many lefties, what he lacks in raw power on his fastball he makes up for with a strong array of offspeed stuff. His curveball and changeup both project as very good pitches at an MLB level.

    While some teams may be scared off by his slight build, Virant looks to be a solid player who should develop quickly once his body fills out. Many scouts have compared him to Tyler Skaggs, a first round pick of the Angels in 2009 who is zooming through their minor league system and is currently ranked as the 13th-best prospect in MLB by Baseball America.

Ty Hensley

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    Position: RHP

    School: Santa Fe HS

    Weight: 220 lbs

    Height: 6’5”

    Projected Round: 1st

    Given his size, Hensley seems like the type of pitcher who could come into an organization and develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter. He can reach 98 MPH with his fastball and also possesses a strong 12-to-6 curveball, though he lacks any other consistent pitches he can rely upon.

    The issue here is that Hensley does not have the type of control that teams are looking for in a top-tier pitcher. The Sox need someone who can throw strikes, and quite simply Hensley struggles with that. However, given the Sox’s ability to develop pitchers in their system, he’d still be a good fit.

Marcus Stroman

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    Position: RHP

    School: Duke

    Weight: 185 lbs

    Height: 5’9”

    Projected Round: 1st-2nd

    Like Stratton, Stroman has been deployed by the Blue Devils as both a starter and reliever. He regularly throws his fastball in the 92 to 95 MPH range as a starter, but he can dial it up to 97 out of the bullpen if necessary. His offspeed pitches are both hard-moving hybrids, one a slurve and the other a combination slider/cutter.

    The deterrent here is his size. Because he is small, many scouts look at him as a reliever, and teams rarely (if ever) use a high pick on a reliever. However, Stroman’s talent is too much for the Sox to ignore here, and if he’s still available when they pick No. 31, they’d be foolish not to take him.

Lance McCullers Jr.

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    Position: RHP

    School: Jesuit HS (Tampa)

    Weight: 205 lbs

    Height: 6’2”

    Projected Round: 2nd

    McCullers’ best attribute is that he can throw serious heat. This past spring he was clocked at 100 MPH on his fastball, and he regularly throws 92 to 95 into the late innings. He also has a dominant curveball and a decent changeup.

    There are concerns over his mechanics, as the extreme torque he uses to generate the speed on his pitches could eventually cause an injury. Depending on where he is drafted, McCullers may spurn his big league team in favor of a scholarship to Florida, where he’ll have an opportunity both to pitch and to play shortstop.

Brian Johnson

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    Position: LHP

    School: Florida

    Weight: 235 lbs

    Height: 6’3”

    Projected Round: 2nd

    Johnson leads the Gators in innings pitched this season, and the left-hander projects as a middle-of-the-rotation MLB starter. While he won’t overpower hitters with his 88 to 92 MPH fastball, he is very effective at mixing his off-speed pitches and keeping hitters off balance.

    While Johnson will likely never be a top-flight MLB talent, he is the type of pitcher who could be up in the big leagues in just a couple years. The Sox would be well-advised to add someone like this who they can insert into the rotation to provide them with a steady presence for many years.

Pat Light

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    Position: RHP

    School: Monmouth

    Weight: 200 lbs

    Height: 6’6”

    Projected Round: 2nd

    Light was initially pegged as a pitcher who only got by on his fastball (which he throws between 90 and 96 MPH), but this year he has developed a very good slider that has proven effective against left-handed hitters. As a result, many teams will give him a chance to start in their minor league systems.

    Like McCullers, concerns over Light’s mechanics and a lack of a third pitch mean he could be ticketed for a career as a reliever. If he can continue developing his strong fastball-slider combination, though, the bullpen-poor Sox would do well to add him to their organization.

Nolan Sanburn

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    Position: RHP

    School: Arkansas

    Weight: 205 lbs

    Height: 6’1” (Disputed)

    Projected Round: 2nd-3rd

    Despite being deployed mostly in middle relief for the Razorbacks this season, Sanburn is seen by most scouts as either a closer or possibly No. 2 MLB starter. He possesses a powerful fastball that can reach 98 MPH and a hard curveball, although his changeup is pretty lackluster.

    Some scouts have listed Sanburn as closer to 5’10” than his listed 6’1”, which raises questions over his durability as a starter. He also had a shoulder injury this year; while it has not impacted his performance on the mound, it may still give pause for teams looking at drafting him.

Jake Barrett

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    Position: RHP

    School: Arizona State

    Weight: 230 lbs

    Height: 6’3”

    Projected Round: 3rd or later

    If teams drafted on talent alone, Barrett would probably be a first-round pick. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s, has an excellent slider and consistently pounds the strike zone.

    However, the hard-throwing right-hander has a troubling injury history that will prevent teams from using a high pick on him.

    Barrett’s elbow has been the primary source of trouble, as he missed four months last season after the Sun Devils tried to use him as a starter. Despite his difficulty in staying on the field, Barrett has too much talent for the Sox to ignore and is worth the gamble.

Damien Magnifico

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    Position: RHP

    School: Oklahoma

    Weight: 195 lbs

    Height: 6’2”

    Projected Round: 3rd or later

    One of the hardest throwers in the draft, Magnifico at one point this season hit 102 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball. The issue is that the reliever does not have a complementary pitch to speak of; he throws a slider, but it is used really just to keep hitters honest.

    Magnifico also does have screws in his elbow following surgery for a stress fracture, but that has not hampered him in the slightest. In fact, his velocity increased from last season to this one. Despite his lack of a secondary pitch, this intriguing fireballer is worth a look for the Sox.

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