The Importance of the First Round Pick

jason placeIn Major League Baseball, the most coveted pick in any draft is the first round pick. The performance of the first round pick is enough to make-or-break a successful draft.

In 2009 when the Boston Red Sox took Reymond Fuentes in the first round, they did not have a good draft. Sure Fuentes made it to the big leagues last year for the Padres, but he is not the superstar Boston was banking on him becoming — neither is anyone Boston took in that draft as a matter of fact.
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Only two players Boston drafted in those 50 rounds have played for the Red Sox, which makes it clear it was a bad draft. Both the 2nd rounder and 20th rounder have recorded time in the big leagues as well as an undrafted free agent — Alex Wilson, Alex Hassan, and Dan Butler.

In 2005, Boston had five first round picks, making it a great draft. Picking Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, and Michael Bowden; it was certainly a draft to remember.
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Although Ellsbury and Buchholz emerged as star players, Lowrie is an above-average big league shortstop, and both Hansen and Bowden have contributed at the big league level (Hansen pitched for the Red Sox the year he was drafted), not a single player Boston drafted after that first round ever played a game for the Red Sox. While a few guys who did not sign made it, Pedro Alvarez being one of them, it was still a highly successful draft for Boston. Luis Exposito did sign with Boston in the 31st round, but was claimed off waivers by Baltimore where he made his big league debut.

The only other player to play a game for the Red Sox signed in 2005 was undrafted free agent Hunter Jones who surrendered 13 runs on 12.2 innings for Boston back in 2009. Still, it was considered a great draft by Boston despite virtually nothing after the first round.
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Not to say that all late round picks will not make it, because that is completely untrue, but scoring big in the first round is definitely the most important aspect of the MLB draft. Right now, it is too early to tell whether or not the past few years have been good drafts for the Red Sox — mostly because players have not received enough time to develop yet.

The reason why first round picks are so important is because they are where most of the star power yields from. Players there are drafted for their raw talent but must prove they have the work ethic to succeed. Work ethic is by far the most important aspect of the draft — if a player does not work hard they will not make it to the show.

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