A half Century of the Red Sox and the Amateur Draft…

Yesterday the Boston Red Sox made Jason Groome their overall number one pick in the 2016 Amateur draft.

The 6’6″ left-handed pitcher from Barnegat High School in New Jersey was the 12th overall pick. His fastball sits between 90-94 and has touched 97 and he sports a “biting” curveball in the high 70s. He also has a change-up in his arsenal. The 17 year old southpaw struck out 81 batters in 35 innings of work his senior year.

Groome was Baseball America’s number one rated prospect for a number of weeks this spring. He was the 34th Red Sox first round pick to come out of high school. He is the 11th left-handed pitcher selected by the Red Sox in the first round and he is only the 8th high school player taken since the year 2000, a total of 31 picks.

Since 1965, the Red Sox have made 74 number one picks in the draft. The first one was a local kid from Swampscott High School, Billy Conigliaro. The fifth overall pick, Conigliaro was drafted behind Rick Monday (first) and ahead of Bernie Carbo (16th). In fact their were three Massachusetts High School kids drafted in the first round that year. Billy spent five years in the big leagues, making it to Boston in 1969 and he shared the outfield with big brother Tony in 1970. It was his best year, hitting .271 with 18 homers and 58 RBI.

Billy Conigliaro played three years with the Red Sox, one with the Brewers and was a member of the 1973 World Champion Oakland A’s.

Of the 74 players drafted in the first round, 29 of them have not seen a day in the major leagues, 39% of them. Now in all fairness, four of them include the last four number ones, one of whom is Andrew Benintendi, recently elevated to Portland and their number two ranked overall organizational prospect.

What does the future hold for Groome, this years number one? Obviously it remains to be seen but let’s take a look back at some of the past number ones. Some of them will ring familiar having made significant contributions and impact on the organization.

Bruce Hurst, the 1976 number one pick, had a 15 year big league career. Nine of them came in Boston where he won 88 games and nearly won the 1986 World Series MVP Award. Hurst was the Red Sox most successful southpaw taken in the top spot.

Mo Vaughn was the 1989 selection out of Seton Hall. The “Hit Dog” hit 230 homers and batted .301 in eight years with the Red Sox and was the 1995 American League MVP.

In 1993, Trot Nixon was the number one out of New Hanover High in Wilmington NC. The original “Dirt Dog”, Nixon was a popular player with the Red Sox for 10 years. He is forever endeared to Red Sox fans as the right fielder on the 2004 squad which unleashed the joy of a World Series Championship.  

The 1994 number one out of Georgia Tech came to be known simply as “Nomah.” He hit .323 in eight years in Boston. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1997 and won back to back batting titles in 1999 and 2000. At his peek he was one of the most popular players in franchise history.

In 2005, Jacoby Ellsbury, out of Oregon State University, was their number one pick and became a key component in winning the 2007 and 2013 World Series.  

He arrived in Boston for the last 33 games of the 2007 season and then hit .438 in the World Series helping the Sox win their second World Series in four years. In seven years in a Red Sox uniform he led the league in stolen bases including a Red Sox record 70 steals in 2009. He was an All Star in 2011, his best year as he hit .321 with 32 homers and 105 RBI, finishing second in the MVP voting to Justin Verlander, won a Gold Glove and led the league with 364 total bases. In 2014 he signed with the Yankees where he has not come close to those numbers.

Jackie Bradley Junior (right) and Blake Swihart (23) were both recent number one picks who are part of today’s Red Sox landscape. Swihart did the bulk of the catching last year and recently was contributing as a left-fielder until felled by a sprained ankle. JBJ has emerged as a star and currently is a top three receiver of votes for an outfield spot at this years all star game.

THE TWO BEST…

There is no doubt that the best everyday player taken number one by the Red Sox was James Edward Rice.

Jim Rice was drafted number one in 1971 out of TL Hanna High School in Anderson South Carolina.

Arriving in 1975 along with Fred Lynn, the “Gold-Dust Twins” as they came to be known, were the greatest rookie tandem in baseball history. The 1978 MVP was among the most feared hitters in the game for five seasons. In 1978 he hit .315 and led the league in hits, triples, home runs, RBI, SLG, OPS, OPS+ and WAR. He also compiled 406 total bases, the only American League player to do so since 1938.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009, Rice’s number 14 joined the elite numbers on Fenway’s right field facade.

The all time number one pick to toe the slab for the Boston Red Sox is Roger Clemens.

Clemens was taken number one by the Red Sox in 1983, the 19th overall pick.

For 13 seasons “The Rocket” toiled on the Fenway mound and he made his mark as one of the Red Sox all time greats at any position. He won 192 games equaling Cy Young for most wins by a Red Sox pitcher, (you know the guy they named the award after). He won three of those awards in a Red Sox uniform. He was the first pitcher in history to punch out 20 guys in a nine inning game and he did it twice in a Red Sox uniform, once at Fenway and once in Detroit. In 1986 he became the seventh pitcher in baseball history to win an MVP and Cy Young Award in the same season. It was a bitter parting when Clemens left the Sox to sign with the Blue Jays in 1997. We all know what transpired with the accusations of PED’s which leaves Clemens today outside the doors of Cooperstown. This despite some of the greatest career numbers any pitcher has accumulated.

The icy relationship between the Fenway Faithful and Roger Clemens has thawed as the years have past and he was well received in a 1986 reunion night at Fenway in May of this year. It is interesting to note that since Roger Clemens left the Red Sox following the 1996 season, no player has worn his number 21.

DRAFT NOTES…SUPPLEMENTAL PICKS

Since these entered the draft equation in 1981 to compensate for players lost through free agency, some interesting picks have emerged.

  • Casey Fossum (LHP) was a pick for the loss of Greg Swindell. He made no great contribution in a Red Sox uniform but was the lynchpin in the trade for Curt Schilling.
  • Clay Bucholz was a 2005 pick for the loss of Pedro.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury was another 2005 pick for the loss of 2004 shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
  • Both Jackie Bradley Junior and Blake Swihart were picks garnered for the loss of Adrian Beltre in 2011.

OTHER TIDBITS…

  • Roger Clemens was drafted by both the New York Mets (12th round in 1981) and the Red Sox. (Imagine the Mets with Clemens and Dwight Gooden?)
  • Jim Rice’s High School TL Hanna High in Anderson SC, claims James “Radio” Kennedy, actor Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in 42) and astronaut Stephen Thorne as alum.
  • Jason Groome said the Red Sox are his favorite team.

And so it is on this day in Fenway Park History, Draft Day One, 2016.

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About fenwaypark100

Hello and welcome, my name is Raymond Sinibaldi. An educator for more than two decades, a baseball fan for nearly 60 years, I have authored four books about baseball and her glorious history; with a fifth on the way in late spring of 2015; the first, The Babe in Red Stockings which was co-authored with Kerry Keene and David Hickey. It is a chronicle of Babe's days with the Red Sox. We also penned a screenplay about Babe's Red Sox days so if any of you are Hollywood inclined or would like to represent us in forwarding that effort feel free to contact me through my email. In 2012 we three amigos published Images of Fenway Park in honor of the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. That led to the creation of this blog. The following year, 2013 came my first solo venture, Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota. This is a pictorial history of spring training in those two Florida cities. The spring of 2014 brought forth the 1967 Red Sox, The Impossible Dream Season. The title speaks for itself and it also is a pictorial history. Many of the photos in this book were never published before. The spring of 2015 will bring 1975 Red Sox, American League Champions. Another pictorial effort, this will be about the Red Sox championship season of 1975 and the World Series that restored baseball in America. I was fortunate enough to consult with sculptor Franc Talarico on the “Jimmy Fund” statue of Ted Williams which stands outside both Fenway Park and Jet Blue Park Fenway South, in Fort Myers Florida. That story is contained in the near 300 posts which are contained herein. This blog has been dormant for awhile but 2015 will bring it back to life so jump on board, pass the word and feel free to contact me about anything you read or ideas you may have for a topic. Thanks for stopping by, poke around and enjoy. Autographed copies of all my books are available here, simply click on Raymond Sinibaldi and email me.
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