With the Boston Red Sox 2012 MLB Draft now completed, the natural question on every fan’s mind is, “Who can help the big club the quickest?”
From potential bullpen help to a potential future slugger, the Red Sox added players who may help in the distant future and some who could help as soon as next year.
Here we explore the top-10 draft picks with the potential to be fast risers through Boston's farm system.
Deven Marrero drew some of the highest praise of the 2012 Draft. Long time North Carolina coach Mike Roberts said about Marrero:
He's the best amateur baseball player on the defensive side I've ever seen in 35 years of coaching. He's Omar Vizquel at 20, 21, except he'll be a better hitter and steal more bases. I've seen him do things defensively I've never seen another infielder do. (ESPN)
Roberts went on to say, “To me, the Red Sox got the gem of the draft, another (Dustin) Pedroia, another (Jacoby) Ellsbury, a real hidden gem who will get to the big leagues quickest.” (ESPN)
The Vizquel comparison sounds familiar to another shortstop the Red Sox already have in their system: Jose Iglesias. But the Ellsbury and Pedroia comparisons are something new.
The knock on Marrero is the same. His bat.
He hit just .284 at the college level. To be fair, he was hampered by a sprained ankle and has the potential to turn it around at the plate.
If Marrero can find his swing, the Red Sox may truly have the steal of the draft.
According to mlb.com, "He has the chance to be a very good every-day shortstop. If the bat develops even more, he could be an impact player in the big leagues."
Two factors are in Johnson’s favor that could see him move quickly through the farm system. First, he is a lefty who the Red Sox can place in the bullpen. Second, he has pitched in high-pressure games for Florida.
He also can be imposing on the mound. He stands at 6'3" and weighs 235 pounds.
Per Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, he also pitched well in the elite Cape Cod League. He went 2-0 for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox while striking out 19 in 14.2 innings.
Although Johnson has been a great two-way player in his college career, he is ready to focus on pitching.
According to Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald:
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Johnson is a finalist for the annual John Olerud Award as college baseball’s best two-way performer, but he is ready to hang up his first baseman’s glove and relocate permanently to the mound for the Red Sox.”
About focusing his attention on one position only, Johnson said:
“About being just a pitcher, I’ve never really been (just that) in my life. So I’m excited and looking forward to just throwing, trying to get into a regular routine. I’ve done both my whole life, and I’m looking forward to doing one right now.” (Boston Herald)
Standing on the mound for the Red Sox could come as early as 2013 for Johnson.
Maddox is another Florida Gator the Red Sox hope to quickly polish into a big league pitcher.
Florida's closer has an above-average fastball that he can dial up to plus, hitting 93 mph consistently. It has above-average sink when down in the zone and run/bore when it's up. Maddox's breaking ball is slurvy, but is a tick above-average at times. He does have a changeup, but it's below-average and it's easy to see it being shelved at the next level. He throws strikes, more control than command, and has the kind of mentality to pitch at the back end of the bullpen.
Maddox had a strong 2012 campaign for the Gators striking out 55 batters in 52 1/3 innings. He had a stellar 2.24 ERA and earned 12 saves. (Providence Journal)
Maddox is also a two-way player who will ultimately be a pitcher in the Red Sox farm system. During his sophomore year as a closer for the Gators, Maddox had a 0.67 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 27 innings. (WEEI)
According to Alex Speier of WEEI, "He also has showed the ability to thrive in the spotlight, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in last year’s College World Series."
Maddox could be in the Red Sox bullpen mix as early as 2013.
Size is the first thing you notice about Light. He stands at 6'6" and weighs 215 pounds. For a pitcher who can throw 96 mph, those extra inches can make his heater seem even more dominant.
Light's fastball sits in the 92-93 mph range, but he can reach back for a 95-96 mph when he needs to. The heater has pretty good movement, and with his downhill plane and arm angle, there's the potential for him to sink the ball more in the future.
Light projects to be another bullpen candidate at first, but has the ability to become a starter in the long run.
There is genuine excitement about Light’s electric stuff.
According to Jeff Bradley of the New Jersey Star-Ledger:
In three seasons for the Hakes, he was 14-14 with a 3.84 ERA and 196 strike outs in, 234 1/3 innings. This past season, Light was throwing as hard as 97 miles per hour, which made his draft stock soar.
While Light may be two to three years away from making his debut in Boston, the Red Sox have added a unique pitcher to their farm system. You can’t teach size, you can’t teach speed. Light has them both.
Buttrey fell to the Red Sox at pick 151 because there are concerns he will not sign a contract.
The big right-hander was up to the mid-90s at the start of the season. While he didn't maintain that, he was still sitting in the low 90s as the spring progressed. He's shown the ability to run it in on hitters' hands or cut it away. His breaking ball -- a curve with a good, long break to it -- is also improved. His changeup isn't as good, but it should work as a usable third option once he starts throwing it more.
Buttrey also has a unique knuckle-curve in his arsenal that sets him apart from most other young pitchers.
Buttrey is 19 years old and has great stuff. If the Red Sox can sign him and he can master his knuckle-curve, he may only be a few years away from joining Boston’s pitching staff.
Fulmer falls under the same heading as Buttrey.
If the Red Sox can sign him, they have a gem on their hands. Fulmer is currently slated to go to Vanderbilt, but the Red Sox may still be able to convince him to sign in Boston.
It may be a stretch to call Fulmer a fast riser for the Red Sox, but the fact he attracted teams as a future closer out of high school has to make anyone stand up and pay attention.
According to mlb.com,
It's not typically a good idea to typecast a high school pitcher as a future closer or setup man, but Fulmer's collection of skills on the mound could point him in that direction.Not that anyone has to make that call just yet, but Fulmer's plus fastball, his delivery and his makeup might fill well in the back end of a bullpen. Strong and durable, he has a fastball that can touch 96 mph. He combines that with a tight and quick slider that has good bite, especially when he keeps it down in the zone. It's an out pitch for him at times.
Fulmer has both a strong fastball and curveball, both of which should translate well to professional baseball.
With Haley, the Red Sox selected another pitcher with great size. He stands at 6'5" and weighs 230 pounds.
Haley could be a perfect fit for Boston’s bullpen.
According to WEEI, “The Sacramento, Calif., native caught the attention of many scouts after pitching a perfect 3 1/3 innings of relief against then-No. 1 Stanford earlier this season.”
Haley has the stuff to make hitters swing and miss and led Fresno State with 94 strikeouts. His fastball tops out around 94 mph, and with some work on his changeup, he could be an intriguing option for Boston’s bullpen. (WEEI)
He’s almost 21 years old and has the size and ability to climb through Boston’s farm system.
Augliera was the ace of Binghamton’s staff last season. He had a 3.16 ERA with 83 strikeouts. He only went 6-7 on the year, but threw seven complete games.
He’s smaller than most other pitchers the Red Sox selected (6', 195 pounds), but he has the ability to strike batters out at an amazing rate.
According to Kevin Dillon of WEEI, Augliera “led the nation for most of the year in strikeout-to-walk ratio, and finished the year at No. 2 with an 83-to-7 ratio. As for Augliera’s tools on the mound, he is known using a very good curveball as his out-pitch.”
Per John Hartrick of Inside Binghamton University:
Augliera graduates as the school’s career leader in wins (23), innings pitched (298.1), starts (50) and complete games (13). He leads the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (83 Ks vs. 7 BBs) and finished his four-year career with 253 strikeouts — second all-time. In six postseason games during his four years (America East and NCAA Championships), Augliera went 3-1 with a sparkling 1.87 ERA.
Augliera’s maturity and stellar performances in pressure situations could make him a perfect candidate to quickly climb through the ranks of Boston’s farm system.
The Red Sox took Minnich with the 271st pick.
Minnich is 6'3" and weighs 245 pounds. He is your prototypical slugger. He won the 2012 Tino Martinez Award as the most outstanding player in Division II college baseball.
Minnich posted incredible numbers for Shepherd University. He hit .487, with 21 home runs and 72 RBI. (Charleston Gazette)
He was a power hitter in high school and continued his dominance in college.
The left-handed hitter is intriguing because of his raw power and size. According to WEEI, “The Waynesboro, Pa., native was a 2008 Louisville Slugger High School All-American before attending Shepherd.”
Although the transition from a Division II college to professional baseball is a big leap, Minnich has the raw skills to climb through Boston’s farm system at a rapid rate.
If the Red Sox can sign Callahan they would be getting a young pitcher who already has the possibility of three plus pitches.
Callahan is 6'2" and weighs 195 pounds.
According to mlb.com:
He has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, touching 94-95 mph, but doesn't have a lot of movement. He also has a good 12-6 curveball that could be his best pitch, along with a promising changeup that has the potential to be a plus pitch. His slider needs work as it is inconsistent, and if his changeup keeps developing with his command, Callahan could be a very interesting prospect with significant upside.
Movement is the key for Callahan. Right now, his pitches are too flat to face big league hitting. But Callahan has velocity in addition to a great curveball.
If Callahan can develop movement on his fastball, he could be a major weapon for the Red Sox in the near future.