Sure, the Boston Red Sox are poised to add a new crop of young players to their organization in the upcoming amateur draft in June.
However, they also keep uncovering prospects already playing in their minor league system, with pitcher Mike Augliera the most recent talent starting to gain recognition down on the farm.
The 22-year-old right-handed Augliera was a fifth-round draft pick out of Binghamton University in 2012.
MLB.com’s Evan Drellich wrote that Augliera left college as Binghamton’s all-time leader in wins (23) and innings pitched (298.1).
According to SoxProspects.com, the youngster inked a $25,000 signing bonus, which was well below the $218,000 that Drellich reported was slotted by Major League Baseball. As a college senior, he didn’t have the same bargaining power as other prospects who can use the threat of returning to school as leverage.
The Providence Journal’s Brian McPherson described how Boston’s drafting strategy has changed in recent years. Drafting and paying lower bonuses to college seniors like Augliera allow the Red Sox to spend more money later in the draft on players who may have fallen because of concerns over their ability to sign them.
The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham reported that the Red Sox used some of the money saved on Augliera to sign last year’s fourth-round draft pick, pitcher Ty Buttrey, to a $1.3 million deal.
Despite his modest bonus, Augliera is proving himself to be a top-notch prospect.
He had a 4.42 ERA and an excellent 43/3 strikeout/walk ratio in 38.2 innings last year at short-season Lowell, but has emerged this season.
Augliera has made seven starts for high-A Salem in 2013 and has gone 4-0 with a 3.12 ERA.
SoxProspects.com describes Augliera’s arsenal as a high-80s fastball, a plus-curveball and a decent slider. The website also note his excellent control, as evidenced by Augliera leading the nation in strikeout/walk ratio as a college senior with an 83/7 mark.
ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required) named Augliera one of his sleeper prospects this year and noted that his fastball was consistently up in the low-90s last season.
Although he doesn’t throw especially hard, Augliera doesn’t need to because of his control and a fastball that WEEI’s Alex Speier described as being an “anvil sinker.” That pitch has helped him last at least five innings in every start this season and he has not allowed a home run yet.
The Red Sox really like his stuff and makeup. Boston area scout Ray Fagnant told the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton that coming out of the draft, “He (Augliera) just threw strikes, attacked guys and trusted his stuff. Really hard sinker, he attacked the zone. There was never anything down the middle of the plate."
Augliera explained to The Baseball Historian blog how he is able to distinguish himself in the Boston organization:
With all of the very good pitching prospects that are in the Red Sox organization, it is tough to set yourself apart. I do believe that with my combination of command and work ethic I will continue to get better each time out there. Being a college senior helps me in terms of having some more experience.
The Red Sox have certainly had players over the years with flash and star quality, but the team has also benefited greatly from lunch pail types like Augliera. He may not throw 98 mph or post gaudy strikeout numbers, but he is proving that he really knows how to pitch.
Through hard work and consistency, Augliera is rapidly building a reputation as a legitimate prospect. If he continues to accumulate impressive numbers, his stock will only continue to rise and could put him in the conversation for a role with the big league club sometime in the future.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference