Boston Red Sox
There is a reason the Red Sox consistently rank among best farm systems in baseball, and the rich got richer in this draft. In terms of who acquired the most talent in this draft, the answer is clearly the Red Sox. Boston began by drafting four college players in the early rounds: Kolbrin Vitrek, Bryce Brentz, Brandon Workman, and Anthony Ranaudo. Each of these players was a unanimous first-round talent. In the later rounds, the team grabbed many high upside players, my two favorites are Garin Checcini and Kendrick Perkins—two upside players from the same area (Lake Charles, LA and Beaumont, TX) who both possess tremendous upside. The question now becomes who will Boston sign? I think they will fair much better than expected. The 2011 draft class will be significantly stronger than 2010, giving Boston a significant advantage over the college players, whose draft stock will drop if they don’t sign (see James Paxton). Ranaudo is a possible exception considering a clean bill of health and impressive performance could bolster his stock significantly.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals realized their farm system was getting thin, and they made three selections which show a real effort to fix the problem: Zach Cox, Tyrell Jenkins, and Austin Wilson. Each player has tremendous talent but dropped because of concerns regarding whether they will sign. Cox was the best 4-year collegiate hitter in the draft, but as a draft-eligible sophomore, many teams passed on him. Austin Wilson is an outfielder who has the tools to develop into an extremely special player, arguably having more upside than any player besides Harper, Taillon, or Machado. If he can be signed away from Stanford for a somewhat reasonable price (about mid-first round money), he is an absolute steal.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa made this list by select several players who I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about coming into the draft. Nevertheless, when you look at where the Rays selected these players, they did a terrific job. My favorite pick was easily Josh Sale, a potentially elite power hitter the Rays selected 17th. Realistically, he should have gone 5-10 picks higher. I disagreed with people discussing Justin O’Connor as Top 10 pick—but at #31—it’s a very solid selection. Drew Vettleson is a really intriguing player who was a great addition to their outfield. It is amazing Jesse Hahn was available in the 6th round, as he could develop into an excellent pitcher within a few years. My favorite sleeper pick is DeShun Dixon, who the Rays selected in the 10th round. The brother of Anthony (Mississippi State football star) and Rashun (Oakland A’s mid-level prospect), DeShun is a pitcher who has shown solid upside and athleticism. I don’t know whether he has a football scholarship like Rashun (making him a tough sign), but I really like him in Round #10.