Impact was the catchphrase used by Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod and general manager Theo Epstein in discussing the team’s selections in the first day of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. The Red Sox made 22 selections on the draft’s first day, picking nine pitchers and 13 position players.
“I’m very happy with the results of the draft and with the job Jason, the cross-checkers and the area scouts did in executing,” said Epstein. “I think we got a good mix of high upside high school talent and solid college performers. …We got power arms and power bats and some high school kids we’ll take a run at signing.
“We wanted to try to make an impact this year. We have players in the system that will play in the major leagues. We wanted to take a chance where it was appropriate and go after guys that were higher risk and higher reward. Our farm system got better today.”
With back-to-back selections in the first round the Sox took South Carolina high school outfielder Jason Place with their first pick (No. 27) and University of North Carolina righthander Daniel Bard with the 28th pick. Bard was a pleasant surprise for the Sox, as he was projected to go in the top 15 by most pundits.
“Why other teams passed on him I don’t know,” said McLeod. “I can’t speak for them, but we were just happy he was there when we selected.”
Bard, a 6-4, 200-pound righthander, is 8-3 with a 3.47 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings pitched for the Tar Heels this season. In three seasons at UNC he is 23-12 with a 3.86 ERA. He is one of the picks the Sox got as compensation for New York’s signing of Johnny Damon.
Bard, 21, has local roots — his father, Paul, is from Worcester and his mother, Kathy, hails from Reading. He said he grew up a Red Sox fan, which made sliding to Boston easier to take.
“I didn’t know that I’d fall this far to the Red Sox, but I did and I think it’s going to be a good fit,” said Bard, who led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts last summer, fanning 82 batters in 65 innings for the Wareham Gatemen.
Bard is part of a bevy of power arms the Sox picked up. McLeod said that Bard, Alabama high schooler Caleb Clay (sandwich round), San Diego State righty Justin Masterson (2d round), and Rice righthander Bryson Cox (3d round) have been clocked at 95 miles per hour or better. And a pair of college lefties the Sox selected, Dustin Richardson (5th round) of Texas Tech and Kristofer Johnson (sandwich round) of Wichita State, have registered 93 mph on the radar gun.