The 2016 Major League Baseball Draft is mere hours away. The Boston Red Sox have the twelfth overall selection in the first round; the third time in four years they have picked inside the top 15. Rumors are rampant as to who the team will choose. In 50 years of drafting, the team has run the gamut with the success of their first round picks. Here are some of their biggest hits and misses (keeping in mind that they currently have one of the best farm systems in baseball with a number of former first rounders either just making their mark (Jackie Bradley Jr.) with the club or on the verge of doing so (Andrew Benintendi).
Pitcher, Roger Clemens: The 19th overall pick of the 1983 draft, the big Texas right-hander became one of the greatest hurlers in baseball history, racking up 354 wins (192 with Boston) in 24 seasons (13 with Boston). Despite allegations of PED use, his seven Cy Young Awards, 20-strikeouts games, and overall length of dominance put him in elite company when it comes to his achievements.
Outfielder Jim Rice: The Sox grabbed the South Carolina product with the 15th pick in 1971 right out of high school. He rapidly became one of the greatest sluggers in the game, leading the American League in home runs three times and cultivating a legend of strength by doing things like snapping bats while checking swings. His .298 batting average, 382 home runs and 1,451 RBIs in 16 seasons with Boston was enough to earn him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra: One of the most popular players in team history, the right-handed hitter came to the team with the 12th pick of the 1994 draft out of Georgia Tech. He went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year and placed in the top 10 of MVP voting five times in nine seasons with Boston, accumulating a .323 batting average. His departure was a mid-season trade to the Chicago Cubs in 2004 that as a piece of sad irony helped secure the team’s first World Series title in 86 years because of the pieces the deal brought back. Nevertheless, his success and ability to be identified by one word (Nomah!) makes him an all-time great.
First Baseman Mo Vaughn: The college teammate of Garciaparra, the Hit Dog was the 23rd overall pick in 1991. Built like a linebacker, his emergence with the Red Sox gave the team a power hitter it had lacked since the decline and retirement of Rice. The left-handed slugger hit .304 with 230 home runs in eight years in a Boston uniform (winning the 1995 MVP) before moving on in free agency. He never matched the success he had in Boston and was retired by the age of 35.
First Baseman/Catcher, Thomas Maggard: The 6’6” right-handed hitter was the 20th overall selection in 1968, signing out of high school. In five years in the organization, he made it as high as Triple-A, but his combined batting average of .233 with 424 strikeouts in 1,255 at bats did little to earn him a big league look. He was out of professional baseball following the 1973 season, just 23 years of age.
Outfielder, Noel Jenke: The Red Sox did little to redeem their selection of Maggard, choosing Jenke with the 13th overall pick in 1969. Appearing in 120 games over three minor league seasons, he hit a punchless .241 with five home runs and four stolen bases.
Third Baseman, Jimmie Hacker: Proving themselves to be in a real dry spell, the Red Sox couldn’t even sign their 1970 first rounder when they took him with the 16th overall pick. He decided instead to go to college at Texas A&M and four years later was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round. It probably wouldn’t have mattered if Boston had convinced him to sign, as he lasted just two minor league season, batting a combined .251 with two home runs in 140 games.
Pitcher, Andrew Madden: The big right-hander looked like a future ace coming out of high school, so Boston grabbed him at 13 in 1977.Unfortunately, he never got his career off the ground, as he was a combined 2-11 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 minor league starts over two years. His undoing was his lack of control, evidenced by the 87 walks he issued in 117 innings. If he had been able to harness his stuff he could have been something. Despite all his troubles, he allowed just 96 hits and no home runs.
Third Baseman/Outfielder Kolbrin Vitek: The Red Sox believed the former Ball State star was a big piece of their future when they made him the 20th overall pick in 2010. Unfortunately, he hit just .258 with eight home runs over four professional seasons, never rising above Double-A. His lackluster results, combined with the lingering impact from neck and concussion injuries led to him retiring from baseball following the 2013 season.
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