The marathon 50-round baseball draft began today and finishes tomorrow. Of particular note, the Red Sox had four of the first 44 picks, and seven of the first 103.
With nine selections in the first five rounds, the Red Sox, are tied with the Braves for the most picks. Though the top of the draft was widely regarded as weak, without any obvious "can't-miss" prospects, early indications are that the Sox have done well.
With their first pick, at number 27, the Sox chose high school center fielder Jason Place. The 6'3", 205-pound, 18-year-old hit .478 over the course of his high school career, including .544 this season. Scouts see Place as a five-tool player.
As a result of the free agent loss of Johnny Damon, the Sox also had the 28th pick and used it to select Daniel Bard, a 6'4", 200-pound pitcher from UNC Chapel Hill. The 20-year old righty is projected as a No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher in the majors.
With five of their seven remaining picks, the Sox chose pitchers -- three righties and two lefties. Four are college players and one is a high schooler.
The Sox were also in search of a catcher and some power bats to fill out their system. With that in mind, the Sox chose Jonathan Still, a 6'3" 215-pound catcher from North Carolina State University. The 21-year-old bats right and is considered a solid power hitter. The Sox also chose first baseman Aaron Bates from North Carolina State. Another power hitter, the 6'4", 232-pound Bates is rated as one of the best hitters in this year's class.
The draft hasn't been good to the Sox in over a decade. Before Craig Hansen, who was chosen No. 26 overall last year, the last Sox first-round pick to reach the majors with the club was Nomar Garciaparra, taken in 1994.
There are plenty of superstars who've slipped in previous drafts -- Dontrelle Willis (eighth round, 2000), Albert Pujols (13th round, 1999), Roy Oswalt (23d round, 1996), Mark Buehrle (38th round, 1998), and Mike Piazza (62d round, 1988).
Lets hope the Sox have landed a gem of their own.