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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Red Sox have two of top 33 picks in draft

By HOWARD ULMAN

BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Red Sox go into the amateur draft with one of the worst picks in the first round.

They’re not complaining. ...

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BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Red Sox go into the amateur draft with one of the worst picks in the first round.

They’re not complaining.

They got there because they won the World Series and will choose 26th of the 30 teams when the three-day draft starts Thursday.

“I always say we like to make sure our pick begins with a two or a three because it means our major league team’s winning,” Red Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said in a conference call Tuesday. “It’s not something we haven’t had experience with. We’ve picked in the 20s before.”

Boston had the second best record last season, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals, but will pick 26th rather than 29th because other teams lost their first-round picks when they signed veteran free agents.

The Red Sox chose seventh last year after going 69-93 in 2012 and had a better idea than they do this year of which players might be available with their top pick.

This year, Sawdaye said, “you have to line the (draft) board up exactly how you see it and then hope that you get a guy a little bit higher than you anticipate.”

Boston also has the 33rd pick as compensation for losing center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to the New York Yankees in free agency.

“This draft is pretty deep,” Sawdaye said. “There’s not necessarily one area that sticks out. ... It’s hard to say that there’s one clear strength.”

The Red Sox have four of the first 103 picks and, Sawdaye said, they’re not focusing on any position.

Boston would do well if it could come close to the success of its 2011 draft when it had four of the top 40 picks and chose right-hander Matt Barnes with the 19th, catcher Blake Swihart with the 26th, left-hander Henry Owens with the 36th and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. with the 40th. Bradley is Boston’s starting center fielder while the other three all are top prospects.

“Everybody always says that the day after the draft is like Christmas morning,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “Everybody’s high-fiving and you have all these new presents and three or four years down the road you take a look at your draft and it allows you to be a little bit more critical.”

In 2011, they also chose Mookie Betts, one of their most promising youngsters, in the fifth round. On Tuesday, Boston promoted him to Triple-A Pawtucket from Double-A Portland where he hit .355 with six homers, 34 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 54 games. Primarily a second baseman, he’s been used in the outfield recently.

“He’s really excelled in every area of the game,” Cherington said. “At some point, we have an obligation to challenge our young players when they are performing at a level where it’s not certain that they’re being challenged.”