Boston Red Sox 2003 Amateur Player Draft in Review

In just his first season as General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, Theo Epstein has already made a unique and unmistakable mark on the club in both the major and minor leagues. His statistical approach to player evaluation and analysis has rubbed many conventional baseball thinkers the wrong way, but has, at the same time, invigorated many observers with a new confidence in the team. Epstein's opinions on the Amateur Draft are as strong and progressive as any he holds.

Along with Director of Player Development Benjamin Cherington, Epstein's draft philosophy this year was to draft as many experienced and talented players as possible in order to quickly restock a weak and barren minor league system left by previous regimes.

The Sox' goals were to draft as many polished collegiate players as they could early in the draft and take few risks on supposedly "high-ceiling" players. Their draft philosophy was executed exactly as planned and has resulted in a group of solid, experienced talent that should produce an above-average amount of major league talent. They filled out the late rounds of the draft with high school and junior college players who they hope to develop into serviceable major leaguers. While they lack any prospects that could be classified as potential superstars, the Red Sox' pool of talent from this draft is strong, reliable and deep, especially among pitchers and outfielders.

Draft Pick Breakdown: 52 total picks (College: 28, HS: 14, Juco: 10), 28 position players, 24 pitchers

Sox' Top 10 Picks

(Round-Pick No., Name, College/HS, Position, Bats/Throws, Ht., Wt., DOB, Comments)
* = Supplemental pick for the loss of Cliff Floyd to the New York Mets via free agency
** = Draft choice from the New York Mets as compensation for Cliff Floyd

1-17, David Murphy, Baylor, CF/RF, L/L, 6'3, 195, 10-18-81
-A mature and professional hitter, Murphy is a fine example of the Red Sox' new conservative drafting strategy under first-year General Manager Theo Epstein and Director of Player Development Benjamin Cherington. Murphy's experience and seasoning at Baylor made him an attractive pick to the Red Sox. In his final season at Baylor, Murphy started all of his team's 68 games and led the team in on-base percentage (.487), hits (121), and walks (42). His 121 hits also set a Big 12 all-time record. Murphy has a very sweet and smooth swing to go with excellent strike zone judgment, which he displayed by posting a walk-to-strikeout ratio of nearly two-to-one. After being rated the 22nd-best prospect in the Cape Cod league last summer, Murphy had been considered a potential 2nd or 3rd round pick in a draft of greater depth, but he impressed the Red Sox who were looking for someone who could help their team as soon as possible. While the Red Sox list him as a center fielder, Murphy normally played rightfield at Baylor and figures to do so when he enters the minor leagues this season.

1S-32*, Matthew Murton, Georgia Tech, CF, R/R, 6'1, 226, 10-03-81
-A teammate of Murphy's in the Cape Cod league, Murton impressed scouts in 2001 by winning the league's MVP Award and finishing with a .345 batting average in two seasons on the Cape. Those performances led Murton to be named as the league's 3rd-best prospect as well as a nod from Baseball America as a 2003 pre-season All-America pick. Murton's 2003 season, however, was considered disappointing by many who had felt he had top ten draft pick potential. Murton led his team in four offensive categories: hits, runs, RBI and total bases, but regressed in terms of BA, OBP and SLG. Despite his falloff in production, Murton still possesses very good power because of great upper body strength and an all-or-nothing swing which ensures that he never gets cheated on a pitch. Murton also possesses good speed, especially for someone with his size, due to his long, thin legs. Unfortunately, it is not likely that he will be able to steal against catchers on the professional level, nor will he able to play center field on a regular basis because of his bulk. Murton projects as a corner outfielder with pop and patience and has a higher ceiling than Murphy although he is less likely to fulfill his potential.

2-49**, Abraham Alvarez, Long Beach (Cal.) State Univ., P, L/L, 6'3, 185, 10-17-82
-One of the most distinctive players in college baseball this season, Alvarez has turned heads at Long Beach for both his appearance and his performance. Sporting an immense dirty blonde coif of hair and a sideways cap that sits atop it, Alvarez helped lead his team to a Big West Championship and an appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals before being defeated by Stanford. Alvarez, who has a tall, lanky build, has impressed major league scouts by frequently displaying multiple arm angles and pitches which he effectively mixes and matches. This has allowed him to throw a seemingly endless variety of pitches to lefties and righties alike. Abe's wicked breaking balls are especially effective from his three-quarters and sidearm deliveries. His mechanics are nearly flawless and Alvarez makes pitching seem effortless with great drive from his lower body. His follow-through leaves him in the perfect fielding position for a pitcher and his deceptive pickoff move adds yet another dimension to his already well-rounded repertoire. Alvarez may need to work on his arm strength in order to improve his endurance at the next level and avoid occasionally overthrowing as he currently does. Overall, though, Alvarez should progress quickly through the Red Sox' system and may be the first player in this class to make the big club. A real steal at this point in the draft, Alvarez projects as a middle of the rotation starter with a very good chance of fulfilling his potential.

2-54, Michael Hall, Walton H.S. (Marietta, GA), LF, L/L, 6'0, 180, 5-20-85
-As the only high school player selected by the Red Sox in the first 16 rounds, Hall's pick came as a major surprise to many observers considering the stated objectives that the club set for this year's draft. Additionally, Hall's pick was surprising because he was projected as a third to sixth rounder by most scouts. Hall also turned off some teams with excessive signing bonus demands and has suggested that he will not sign for anyone unless he receives a top-tier bonus typically only received by first round draftees. Furthermore, Hall has committed to Georgia Tech where his brother Jake plays third base and may use that as further leverage to get a larger bonus from the Red Sox. Aside from his signability concerns, Hall is a very good slap hitter who has shown that he can get on base a lot and maintain doubles power at the very least. Hall swings down on the ball and usually likes to drive the ball into the power alleys and gaps. Since he is barely 18 years old, Hall figures to grow and increase his strength within the next few years which may allow him to develop even greater power. If he does bulk up, Hall's ceiling will be very high and could develop into a Matt Lawton-type player. Unfortunately for the Sox, though, it is more likely that his performance will never match his tools and will never justify the large bonus he will demand.

3-84, William (Beau) Vaughan, Arizona State Univ., P, B/R, 6'4, 225, 6-04-81
-Vaughan's selection in the third round began a string of four consecutive pitchers selected by the Red Sox in the draft. Beau's frame suits him well and allows him to generate good power while maintaining a quick and compact delivery. He possesses a good combination of power and finesse in which he can throw fastballs in the low 90s and still fearlessly throw four pitches for strikes at any time and any count. Vaughan's three-quarters delivery makes him especially tough on right-handed hitters but occasionally forces him to overthrow when he feels that he needs to make a big pitch. This has predictably led him to make mistakes in and out of the strike zone. Like most of the Red Sox's draftees this year, Vaughan should move through the minors at an above-average pace and projects as a serviceable major leaguer.

4-114, Jonathan Papelbon, Mississippi State Univ., P, R/R, 6'4, 220, 11-23-80
-Another pick with a perfect pitcher's build, Papelbon also throws a fastball in the low 90s and has a number of solid off-speed pitches. Unlike Vaughan, however, his mechanics are somewhat unsound and may lead to an injury sometime down the line if not corrected in the near future. Still, his strong stuff allows him to project as a good pitcher if he can work through his mechanical flaws, likely as a short reliever.

5-144, Brian Marshall, Virginia Commonwealth Univ., P, L/L, 6'5, 185, 8-30-82 -Another tall and lanky southpaw, Marshall also uses multiple arm angles and slots. He can throw in the low 90s with very good control. Marshall struck out more than eleven hitters per nine innings in his entire college career and had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of more than three-to-one. Marshall will need to build muscle, however, as he nears his 21st birthday if he plans to succeed in professional baseball. He will also need to avoid the fate of many collegiate and minor league relievers who have the reputation of stalling at Double or Triple-A.

6-174, Jessie Corn, Jacksonville State Univ., P, R/R, 6'1, 190, 7-16-82
-Corn is an average-sized pitcher who doesn't throw anything very hard but uses solid off-speed pitches and changes speeds effectively to stymie hitters. He has the confidence and intelligence of an old veteran at twenty and figures to be yet another draft pick that will quickly slide through the low minors in a year or two. He does not have a very high ceiling either but projects as a back of the rotation starter or swingman if he avoids injury and could even be a Rick Reed-type pitcher if he develops his stuff.

7-204, Jeremy West, Arizona State Univ., C, R/R, 6'0, 200, 11-08-81
-An aggressive and powerful hitter, West has a smooth stroke and can crush the ball. He is patient and will work counts in an attempt to find a pitch that he can wail. He has a short hitch at the beginning of his swing that slows him down and makes for a long stroke. West will not be able to consistently hit for average but should maintain his power in the next level, especially against fastballs. He is a poor defensive catcher and will not last very long behind the plate because of a weak and inconsistent arm and often appears uncomfortable behind the plate. West projects as a slugging first baseman who will walk some but not hit for a high average.

8-234, Lee Curtis, College of Charleston, 2B, R/R, 5'11, 185, 7-21-81
-A thickset and powerful second baseman, Curtis led his team in nearly every major offensive category in 2003. Most impressively, he posted an outstanding slugging percentage of .747 and was named Player of the Year in the Southern Conference. While he won't be posting such gaudy numbers in the minors, Curtis' power does figure to transfer into professional ball. He will need to work hard to maintain it, though, since he will be facing much better competition than he saw on a regular basis in the SoCo. Additionally, it is only a matter of time before he moves elsewhere on the diamond because of his lack of range and shaky fielding. Third base and the outfield corners are the most likely destinations for Curtis.

Rest of the draft with comments for selected players:

9-264, John Wilson, Northeastern (Colorado) J.C., P, R/R, 6'1, 190, 11-24-82

10-294, Christopher Durbin, Baylor Univ., CF, R/R, 6'0, 180, 9-08-81
-A teammate of first rounder David Murphy, Durbin played center field all season for Baylor and posted solid numbers against some of college baseball's top competition. Despite that, he does not have enough talent to survive at the next level. Durbin is a terrific fielder and baserunner and may become an adequate utility man one day but is not likely to become much more than that due to his offensive limitations.

11-324, Barry Hertzler, Central Connecticut State, P, R/R, 6'2, 205, 2-15-81

12-354, Justin Sturge, Coastal Carolina Univ., P, R/L, 6'4, 190, 5-04-81
-Sturge has limited capabilities on the mound: he does not possess any pitches that are better than average and does not figure to improve enough to make any sort of impact at the next level. He does throw strikes and is left-handed, though, and that combination is usually appealing to scouts and executives. Overall, though, Sturge is not a worthwhile use of this draft pick, especially given that the club had already used seven of its previous thirteen picks on pitchers.

13-384, Zachary Basch, Univ. of Nevada-Reno, P, R/R, 6'3, 185, 6-22-81

14-414, Zachary Borowiak, Southeast Missouri State Univ., SS, R/R, 6'1, 185, 5-18-81

15-444, Christopher Turner, Texarkana (Texas) J.C., CF, R/R, 6'0, 190, 12-02-83

16-474, Kevin Ool, Marist College, P, L/L, 5'10, 180, 1-04-81
-Ool is fairly short for a pitcher but has one very good pitch, a slurve. With further development, Ool could become a very good situational reliever along the lines of Mike Venafro or even a lesser version of John Franco if he works extremely hard.

17-504, William Newton, Mountain View H.S. (Orem, Utah), P, L/L, 6'2, 170, 9-03-84

18-534, Robert Cochran, Middle Georgia College, P, L/L, 6'2, 195, 10-16-82

19-564, Jarrett Gardner, Arkansas Univ., P, R/R, 6'1, 180, 3-26-81

20-594, Joshua Morris, Cartersville (Georgia) H.S., LF/RF, R/R, 6'5, 230, 5-11-85
-Morris' best attribute is his size and strength, especially given that he has just recently turned 18 years old. If Morris learns the strike zone and finds a way to become a .275 hitter while maintaining his awesome power, he could be one of the best hitters to come out of this draft for the Red Sox. He may very well end up a bust but is nevertheless a great pick at this point in the draft.

21-624, Michael Dennison, Wichita State Univ., P, R/R, 6'0, 200, 1-09-81

22-654, Isaiah Kaaihue, Iolani H.S. (Kailua, Hawaii), C, R/R, 6'1, 225, 3-29-85
-Kaaihue is a powerful and aggressive slugger with a fast bat and very good upper body strength who can muscle the ball out to all fields. He plays well behind the plate but may not have the arm strength and footwork to make it as a starting catcher in the majors.

23-684, David Coffey, Georgia Univ., LF, L/R, 5'10, 175, 4-15-81

24-714, Ignacio Suarez, Southwest Texas State Univ., SS, R/R, 5'11, 165, 5-03-81

25-744, Andrew Moffitt, Wichita State Univ., LF, R/R, 6'2, 210, 8-19-81

26-774, Jason Ramos, St. Petersburg J.C., SS, S/R, 6'0, 185, 8-09-82
-Ramos is a very good fielding shortstop who also possesses some ability to hit the ball hard for singles and doubles. If he can improve his range and arm strength somewhat to major league quality and develop consistency and reliability at shortstop, he should be able to make a major league roster as a defensive replacement, at the very least.

27-804, Andrew Sharpe, Pierce J.C. (Los Angeles), SS, R/R, 6'2, 185, 9-10-83

28-834, David Penny, East Carolina Univ., P, R/R, 6'3, 210, 9-09-81

29-864, Douglas Fink, Manatee (Florida) J.C., P, R/R, 6'2, 220, 12-14-82

30-894, David Sanders, Wichita State Univ., P, L/L, 6'4, 195, 1-05-82
-Sanders endured one of the biggest drops in the 2003 draft. After being projected as a Top 10 round pick prior to the season, he struggled and plummeted all the way to the 30th round. Sanders had been an All-Star in the Cape Cod league and still has the potential to be a good pitcher. Hard work and guidance will determine whether or not he ever reaches that potential.

31-924, Gregory Schilling, Taravella H.S. (Coral Springs, FL), P, L/L, 6'2, 170, 12-21-84

32-954, Matthew Pike, Centennial H.S. (Pueblo, Colorado), P, R/R, 6'6, 203, 10-29-84

33-984, Kevin Jordan, Texas Tech Univ., LF, L/R, 5'8, 160, 12-15-80

34-1014, Arthur Santos, Florida International Univ., P, R/R, 6'0, 175, 2-20-82
-Santos has deceptively good stuff including a very good curveball and, best of all, knows how to use his pitches effectively. He changes speeds and locations well and should be able to finesse his way through the minor leagues.

35-1044, Erich Cloninger, Liberty Univ., C, R/R, 5'11, 190, 11-06-80
-Erich Cloninger is the son of Tony Cloninger, former 24-game winner with the Milwaukee Braves and current pitching coach for the Red Sox.

36-1074, Benjamin Sosebee, Truett McConnell (GA) College, P, R/R, 6'4, 180, 6-30-84

37-1104, Christopher Johnson, Bishop Verot (FL) H.S., SS/3B, R/R, 6'2, 180, 10-01-84
-Johnson is young and slender and doesn't do any single thing particularly well. However, he can do a lot of different things and is energetic and active. Johnson was rated as one of the nation's best third baseman in 2003 and could develop into a very good player on the left side of the diamond in time. Johnson is another example of a good find in the late rounds by the Red Sox and is certainly one to watch.

38-1134, Michael McBryde, Palm Beach Gardens H.S., CF, R/R, 6'1, 170, 3-22-85
-McBryde is a slender and fast player who uses all fields effectively. He runs and fields well and has much room for growth in his game.

39-1164, Jeffrey Culpepper, Gonzaga Univ., RF, L/R, 6'1, 180, 12-30-81

40-1194, Michael Rutledge, Cullman (Alabama) H.S., SS, R/R, 6'2, 195, 3-29-85

41-1224, Lance Schartz, Garden City (Kansas) C.C., C, R/R, 6'1, 205, 1-26-83

42-1253, Dallas Williams, Pike H.S. (Indianapolis), CF, R/R, 6'1, 160, 11-13-84

43-1282, Scott Thomas, Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis), C, L/R, 5'11, 202, 3-21-85

44-1310, Tom Caple, Univ. of San Diego, CF/RF, R/R, 6'0, 185, 8-20-80
-Caple did a lot of different things effectively as an outfielder at San Diego but any future he has in baseball seems likely to involve pitching, not hitting. At nearly 23 years of age, he must develop immediately if he is to have any future, but don't bet on it.

45-1337, Terrence Cramer, Palm Beach J.C., P, R/R, 6'3, 235, 6-08-83

46-1364, Victor Rodriguez, Cape Coral (Florida) H.S., C, R/R, 5'7, 175, 12-04-85

47-1391, Andrew Loyd, Bishop Carroll H.S. (Wichita), CF, R/R, 6'1, 190, 4-06-84

48-1418, Adam Davis, Middle Georgia College, P, R/R, 6'3, 200, 9-18-83

49-1444, Jason Smith, Bourne (Massachusetts) H.S., P, R/R, 6'3, 196, 7-12-84

50-1470, Mitchel Stachowsky, College of Southern Idaho, C, R/R, 6'3, 220, 10-02-84

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