By AMIN TOURI
With the 2019 MLB Draft set to begin on Monday, the Red Sox have a simple approach: talent, talent, talent.
Four days before the first round is set to begin, Red Sox Vice President of Amateur Scouting Mike Rikard spoke to the media Thursday about the June draft and made it clear that the team plans to make talent-based selections, not need-based.
"We try to do our best to stay away from selecting players based on organizational need," Rikard said. "There will occasionally be some situations where you're kind of maybe 50/50 and that can help split a tie so to speak ... but we do try to do our best to stay away from making any selections based on organizational need or the major league roster, or the current state of the organization or anything like that, we really focus on the talent."
Dropping down 10 spots in the draft as a penalty for exceeding the luxury tax by over $40 million last season, Boston will first pick 43rd next week, not getting a chance to make a selection until the second round. Rikard and his staff did some research with some historical data to figure out where the best chances to find the right player may lie, but they were pulled back to the same approach anyway.
"To be candid, we found that it’s kind of really difficult to determine," said Rikard. "The draft landscape has kind of changed so much over the years with the new CBA and the evolution of players that we really didn’t find anything substantial to note, that we’re going to try to find a player of this demographic or this area.
"We did look at it and determined based on some of the research and some of the findings that we're going to hopefully be better off just maintaining the approach of lining the board up by talent, and seeing how that goes."
The obvious difference this year is the lack of a first-round pick, which forced some changes in the way the scouting team spent its time throughout the spring. The draft gets progressively less predictive as it goes along, which meant a greater time investment in finding which players could be a potential fit as scouts navigate the country evaluating talent.
Despite, the late pick, Rikard said that he’s "very confident we’ll find some impactful players. I think in general the draft does appear to have some depth, I wouldn’t categorize it as abnormal depth, but I think that we, a credit to our staff, I do think we’ve done a good job of uncovering some more interesting players a little bit deeper down the line, maybe, so we’re excited. We’re in a good position to get in there Monday and have some success."
Looking down their draft board, Rikard’s staff still sees "good, interesting options" in the later selections, thus the confidence in good potential picks at 43 and 69, as the Red Sox pick twice in the second round.
The draft is the biggest day of the season for amateur scouts, and just a couple days out the staff got a bit of a boost as one of their own, right-hander Mike Shawaryn, a 2016 fifth-round pick, was called up to the major league roster on Thursday ahead of Boston’s three-game series with the New York Yankees.
"It’s always great," Rikard said. "This has been a good year already with so many of our own prospects getting off to really good starts, and some of the other kids that are with other clubs, Shaun Anderson and following the progress of Logan Allen, Travis Lakins being called up, and now Mike, it’s always great.
"The scouts put in so much hard work, and we love to kind of celebrate when guys do finally get that opportunity to be a part of the major league roster, and Mike is no exception. Chris Calciano, who is now a professional scout with the Cleveland Indians, is someone who I’ll be reaching out to here shortly with some congratulations, but it's always a nice thing, and I'm very happy for Mike and the people that were involved in his scouting process and his player development as well."
The 2019 MLB Draft will start on Monday, June 3 and run until June 5.