Rays, Red Sox Also Had Vintage Drafts

One of the favorite parts of my job is poring over the history of the First-Year Player Draft. So I enjoyed today’s installment of our Pipeline Perspective, in which Jonathan Mayo and I identified the best single Draft by a team in the last 10 years.

I chose the 2009 Angels, a crop headlined by Mike Trout that also included Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards and Patrick Corbin. Jonathan Mayo stayed with the same year and opted for the Cardinals, who got Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Adams.

The 2009 Cardinals made my list of five finalists. Here are the other three Drafts that stood out:

2006 Devil Rays. The Royals (Luke Hochevar) and Rockies (Greg Reynolds) whiffed horribly with the first two picks, allowing Tampa Bay to steal Evan Longoria with the No. 3 overall pick. The Devil Rays got two more keepers in Alex Cobb (fourth round) and Desmond Jennings (10th), and two fringe big leaguers in Josh Butler (second) and Ryan Reid (seventh). This Draft would have been even better had they signed Mike Minor (13th) out of high school.

2005 Red Sox. Boston had five picks before the second round and got five big leaguers. Jacoby Ellsbury (first round) and Clay Buchholz (supplemental first) contributed to World Series championship clubs in 2007 and 2013, and Jed Lowrie (supplemental first) has enjoyed a solid career. Craig Hansen (first) and Michael Bowden (supplemental first) also pitched in the Majors, and Luis Exposito (31st) got a cup of coffee. Imagine how much stronger the Red Sox would be had they been able to sign Pedro Alvarez (14th) and Jason Castro (43rd).

2007 Devil Rays. Tampa Bay had back-to-back outstanding Drafts. Having the No. 1 overall pick and taking no-brainer David Price was a great start in 2007. Finding another potential Cy Young Award winner in an obscure New Mexico high school left-hander (Matt Moore, eighth round) was a stroke of scouting genius. Stephen Vogt (12th) became an unlikely postseason hero for the Athletics this October.

Because very few players from the 2010-13 Drafts have made an impact in the Major Leagues at this point, it was too early for any of them to crack my Top 5. But I won’t be surprised if the Red Sox’ 2011 effort eventually muscles it way onto the list. Their first four picks — RHP Matt Barnes (first round), C Blake Swihart (first), LHP Henry Owens (supplemental first), OF Jackie Bradley (supplemental first) — all will make our soon-to-be-released Top 100 Prospects list, as will 2B Mookie Betts (fifth).

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