As much as the Red Sox have tried to distance themselves from the disaster of 2012, they came away with one reward from it -- the one they get to use on Thursday night.
Boston will be in completely foreign territory in the early stages of this year's First-Year Player Draft when it gets to pick seventh.
The last time the Red Sox picked that high was 1993, when they also had the seventh pick and took a guy by the name of Trot Nixon. In fact, the last time the Sox even picked in the teens was 2003, when they got David Murphy at No. 17.
Amiel Sawdaye, the director of amateur scouting for the Red Sox, will try to take advantage of the prime drafting position this time around. But he has no interest in getting that high a pick gain any time soon.
"I always say, 'If we're picking seventh again, we're probably not going to be here,'" Sawdaye said. "You have to be honest with yourself. If the Red Sox are picking seventh, there's going to be a lot of scrutiny on what we've done as an organization.
"Unless there were extenuating circumstances like your two top pitchers went out with injuries, or there was a freak injury to [Dustin] Pedroia, if you're putting together a team that's picking seventh in Boston more than once every 10 years, or three times in five years, you're probably in a bad position."
In this Draft at least, the Red Sox are in a good position and they'll try to capitalize on the opportunity, much like they did with Nixon in '93 and Nomar Garciaparra the following year (11th overall pick).
"Preparation hasn't been that different in that we are spending more time on the pool of players most likely to be available to us, just like any year," said general manager Ben Cherington. "We have looked at previous Drafts to see if there are any particular trends evident at the top of the Draft, but the process for scouting the players remains the same. Our scouts have worked tirelessly since January to get as many looks as possible at the candidates and to answer any questions that need to be asked."
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
As always with the Red Sox, the process leading up to the Draft has been a collaborative effort. Though Sawdaye is the one running the board, he always seeks input from his tireless scouting staff.
And Cherington, much like predecessor Theo Epstein, plays no small role.
"I've seen a handful [of potential draftees]," Cherington said. "I started in scouting so I'll probably always enjoy that aspect of the job as much as any other. But when I go out to see a player, it's not my opinion of the player that matters as much as spending time with our scouts and asking questions. Making good choices in the Draft and international scouting is very important and a great challenge, but lots of fun at the same time. We've got a great group that works very hard to get these choices right."
In about 50 words
Picking seventh for the first time in 20 years is something the Red Sox will try to capitalize on by bringing a high-impact player into the organization. Boston's second pick will be at No. 45.
"The most important thing is to be prepared to make the best choice with each of our picks," said Cherington.
"There are big leaguers in this Draft and it's our job to find them. If in five years from now, 10 years from now, we don't produce any Major Leaguers out of this Draft, I don't think we can use the excuse that the talent level was down." -- Sawdaye
"I think it's always hard to determine the strength of the Draft until it's in the rear-view mirror. Baseball is such a challenging sport and there are always impact players available that may not have looked like impact players at the time of the Draft. There are a lot of good players out there, and we are excited to bring some of them into the Red Sox organization." -- Cherington
MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo had the Sox taking outfielder Clint Frazier in his second mock draft. The Logansville (Ga.) High School product has a well-regarded power bat and has plus speed.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Red Sox have a total of $6,830,200 to spend, which averages out to $683,020, ranking them 12th among other Major League teams for the amount of available money they can spend.
The recommended slot value limits assigned to the Red Sox's first (seventh) overall) and second (45th overall) picks are $3,246,000 and $1,229,600, respectively.
"I don't think it's really changed things to the degree of how we scout players," said Sawdaye. "I think you have to be a little more strategic to some degree when you get into the draft room because you kind of have to work on the fly with a pretty high signability number or someone who has a really strong commitment to a school. There has to be some strategy and I think you have to be prepared. There's so many different ways you can attack the Draft.
"You can just go straight across the board and take the recommendations. You can play around, like we did last year a little bit, with a couple of high upside guys and take a gamble. To answer the question, it hasn't changed the way we scout it, but it changes the way we planned ahead of time."
One area the Red Sox might want to upgrade is corner bats, particularly at third base. Boston is always of the mind that there's no such thing as too much pitching.
"I'd like to think our system is pretty balanced," said Sawdaye. "These players, many of them, are still pretty far away. When you think you're really deep in one position, like catcher or shortstop or whatever, all of a sudden, a year and a half later, you're searching for one. I think, at times, you can try to over-think the Draft and try to say, 'Well, we're going to draft a catcher and he's not the best player on the board.' I think you're doing your club a disservice."
Unlike when Epstein's regime first started in 2003, and the Sox were open about preferring college players, they are more open-minded these days.
And this year's Draft supports that line of thinking.
"I think it's pretty balanced," Sawdaye said. "There are a few high-end high school bats and a few high-end college bats. I think probably the best area of depth might be college pitching. There seems to be a strong group of college pitchers that have a chance to be high-end guys, but also guys that can get stretched out a little bit in the Draft. I don't think it's heavy one way or the other."
• Recent Draft History •
Jackie Bradley Jr., less than two years removed from being taken 40th overall by the Red Sox, has already served two stints on the Major League roster this season and could be the club's starting center fielder in 2014, should Jacoby Ellsbury leave as a free agent.
Red Sox lefty Craig Breslow, a highly dependable reliever, was a non-prospect when he was taken in the 26th round by the Brewers in 2002. Jonny Gomes, who has gone on to have a nice career as a platoon outfielder, was an 18th-round pick by the Rays in '01. Of course, the ultimate underdog story on the Red Sox is Daniel Nava, who went undrafted before being plucked out of an independent league.
In The Show
Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Pedroia, Ellsbury and Bradley were all players drafted and developed by the Red Sox.
Red Sox's recent top picks
2012: Deven Marrero, SS, Class A Salem
2011: Matt Barnes, RHP, Double-A Portland
2010: Kolbrin Vitek, 3B, Double-A Portland
2009: Reymond Fuentes, OF, Double-A San Antonio (Padres)
2008: Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego Padres