Red Sox GM Theo Epstein appeared on Cal Ripken’s XM Radio show, Ripken Baseball. Epstein was asked about the sudden surge of the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Obviously they’ve been picking at the top part of the draft for the better part of a decade now and they haven’t missed with those picks. When you draft number one overall, you have to get a franchise-type player and they have. They’ve got plenty of them and they’ve done a great job drafting lower down as well and developing their players…”
There is only one small problem with that assessment:
Number of “number one overall” players on the Rays’ roster: 0
Prior to David Price, last season and Tim Beckham this season, the Rays have only drafted #1 two times, one of which was Josh Hamilton in 1999, whom the Rays lost in the Rule 5 draft.
Certainly one can say that the other top pick (Delmon Young in 2003) helped shape this roster as Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett were acquired in an off-season trade for Young. But that is still only one “number one overall” player that has led to the Rays success this season and Andrew Friedman and Co. deserve a little more credit for that trade than just “they have sucked for 10 years.”
Also, the Rays are far from the only team that has consistently drafted near the top of the draft for the last 10 years (Pirates, Royals, etc.) and yet the Rays are the only team that consistently drafts and develops top-rate players.
And while the Red Sox may not draft near the top, they have become experts in the art form of hording compensation picks for lost free agents. In the last four drafts alone, the Red Sox have selected 13 players before the second round.
Let’s reword Epstein’s statement to reflect why the Red Sox have been so successful…
“Obviously they’ve been picking tons of players in the first round of the draft for the better part of a decade now and they haven’t missed with those picks. When you draft 13 first round players in four years, a team is bound to hit the bullseye a couple of times even if their eyes are shut. They’ve got plenty of them and they’ve done a great job hording compensation picks as well as copying the organizational philosophy of the Evil Empire by throwing $100 million at a pitcher that might win 16 games…”
Theo Epstein on the Rays [MLB ON XM]