By: Alec Smith
The Boston Red Sox had four of the first 60 picks in the first day of the 2011 MLB Draft. With their first pick (19) they chose Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes. Their next selection (26) they went with a high school switch-hitting catcher Blake Swihart. Their two sandwich round picks consisted of University of Miami commit – Henry Owens (36) and South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Matt Barnes is a RHP who many believed would be a top 10 pick. He came off a great summer pitching in the Cape League as well as pitching for Team USA. Red Sox scouting director Amiel Sawdaye views him as a “middle of the rotation guy” with “three plus pitches” (a fastball (93-95), curve and change).He should have excellent command in the future and his frame might allow him to add some bulk along the way. He looks and acts like a frontline starter, and that’s exactly what he might be coming for him down the line.
Blake Swihart represents what many in “Red Sox Nation” dream. A switch-hitting athletic catcher that the Red Sox have been lacking in recent years. He should hit for average with above-average power. Swihart has a proven ability to perform against advanced competition as a young amateur, hitting .448 with a .492 OBP and .845 slugging mark for Team USA in 2010. Swihart is expected to have a high asking price, which might come in conflict because he has a strong interest in his college commitment, University of Texas.
Henry Owens, a 6’6 lefty, has appeared to be on the Red Sox radar for a while now. The Sox, said GM Theo Epstein, saw him throw with a good feel for three pitches (fastball, curve, change). His fastball currently sits at 89-94 with a big, slow,curveball that sits in the upper-60s. Owens competed against advanced competition in Southern California, for Team USA’s 18-and-under group. He is currently committed to the University of Miami.
Jackie Bradley, an outfielder from the University of South Carolina, seemed destined to be a no-doubt first-round pick before this season started. But struggles with the bat (hitting 259 over 37 games) and a wrist injury that required surgery, put his draft status in question. When healthy, Bradley was a dynamic player for South Carolina, capable of impacting a game offensively and defensively. He hit .349 his freshman year, and .368 his sophomore year at South Carolina. He has proven that when healthy he can play, so hopefully for the Red Sox, he can get back to that level and contribute to what has become known as one of the best minor league systems in the league.
The Red Sox have put themselves in a great position for the future, especially if they can get these high school kids to sign. They have all shown signs at some point in their careers, that they are capable of making it to the next level with the proper coaching and teaching. If the effort is put in by these players, I am quite sure that they can make that happen.
Quote via WEEI’s Alex Speier