With no game on the schedule Monday, all of Sox Nation had their attention (maybe) on the midnight deadline to sign 2011 MLB draft picks. It turned out to be a very big night for the Red Sox, i.e., Theo tossed around a lot of money. In total, Boston paid more than $10.5 million in signing bonuses for the 2011 draft class, with most of that spent on last night's signings. Twelve of the first 13 picks agreed to deals, solidifying one of the deepest Red Sox drafts in history. Here's another look at Boston's top four picks, who all signed yesterday:
Pick #19, Matt Barnes- RHP, University of Connecticut Barnes projects as a solid power pitcher, with an improving fastball that has jumped up to the 95-98 range. He has a low-stress delivery, and has shown the ability to maintain velocity late in games. As a starter, the Sox hope he can develop similarly to 2010 draft pick Anthony Ranaudo, but wouldn't be surprised to see him contribute as a reliever (think Papelbon, Bard).
Pick #26, Blake Swihart (PICTURED)- C, Cleveland HS (New Mexico) One of the highest-touted catchers in the draft, Swihart is the biggest prize for Boston. Unlike Barnes, his willingness to sign was very much in doubt, as he held a scholarship offer from his dream-school, Texas. Had teams felt he was more signable, Swihart would have gone 10 slots higher. He's a switch-hitting catcher (are you surprised?), with a chance to be great offensively. His athleticism also allows for a future position change. It took $2.5 million to sign him, but the Red Sox are more than happy with the investment.
Pick #36, Henry Owens- LHP, Edison HS (California) Owens is a tall lefty, listed at 6' 6", 190. He's not as polished as some other pitchers in this draft, but he has a high long-term ceiling. His fastball tops out in the low-90's, but could certainly improve as he matures physically. He also has good command of his off-speed pitches, featuring a looping curve and a solid change.
Pick #40, Jackie Bradley Jr.- OF, University of South Carolina The Red Sox have been on Bradley since his sophomore season, after which he was projected to be drafted in picks 10-20. Electing to return to USC in 2011, Bradley suffered an early wrist injury, hurting his draft stock considerably. However, according to Boston.com, the Red Sox medical staff views the injury as a non-issue going forward, and the team was reportedly thrilled that Bradley fell to them. He has excellent baseball instincts, especially defensively, and the provides some pop at the plate.