Picking players was the easy part of the 2014 draft. The Red Sox moved to the next stage successfully, signing 31 of their 41 drafted players, including all those in the first 20 rounds.
Boston didn’t have a high pick, like in 2013 when it drafted Trey Ball seventh overall and signed him for $2.75 million.
The top picks last month were 26th and 33rd overall.
The Red Sox spent just over $6.5 million in signing bonuses, or what the Houston Astros originally agreed to pay Brady Aiken, a high school left-hander and the No. 1 overall pick.
But then the Astros changed their mind over an alleged issue during the physical and failed to sign Aiken.
Boston’s top two picks were high school kids. Infielder Michael Chavis received $1.87 million. He’s playing in the Gulf Coast League, getting acclimated to the pros with a .074 average (two doubles in 27 at-bats).
Pitcher Michael Kopech ($1.5 million) is faring a little better, in a sample size of two games (three innings): one hit, one walk, four strikeouts.
The second-round draft pick, first baseman Sam Travis from the University of Indiana, is one level higher at Lowell, batting .297 with three home runs.
For the Red Sox, the 10 unsigned players all had options for college – eight out of high school, two from community college. Boston could not, nor wanted, to offer a signing bonus to sway those players.
A YASTRZEMSKI did not sign with the Red Sox when they drafted him in 2009. Boston wishes he had.
Mike Yastrzemski, 23, grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, was a 36th-round draft pick out of high school. Yastrzemski said no to Boston and attended Vanderbilt. He also said no to the Mariners, who drafted him in the 30th round in 2012, after his junior year.
Baltimore drafted Yastrzemski in the 14th round last year and he’s zipping through the system, jumping to Double-A Bowie this past weekend after starting the season in low Class A. In two games with Bowie, Yastrzemski is 5 for 9 with a double and triple.
Bowie has played at Hadlock Field this year. Portland will play in Bowie on Aug. 5-7.
HOUSTON’S FAILURE to sign Aiken will affect the Red Sox in terms of next year’s draft. Boston looks like it will get a high pick in 2015, the way this season is going. But the Red Sox will now move back one place because Houston will automatically get an extra pick in next year’s draft (and the No. 2 pick at that) because it couldn’t sign Aiken.
After agreeing to pay Aiken, Houston backed off after Aiken’s physical, claiming a potential problem with the ligament in his left elbow, a claim disputed by Aiken’s doctors. Houston then offered just over $3 million and later close to $5 million. Aiken said no.
Maybe the Astros will try again for Aiken, who reportedly is going to junior college so he’ll be eligible again next year.
THE SEA Dogs return to Hadlock Field on Monday and the ballpark should be near capacity, if not sold out. After a record low for attendance last year, Portland is almost 1,000 fans per game ahead of 2013.
After 42 home games, Portland is averaging 5,036 fans, fourth-best in the Eastern League and up from a 4,113 average at this time last year.
Portland had six sellouts last year. The Sea Dogs had their sixth sellout of 2014 in their last homestand, with seven July games and all of August to go.
One reason for the increase is more games later in the season, when it’s warmer. Last year Portland had 33 home games through June 2, compared to 28 this season.
Plus the staff made a concentrated effort to better market the team this past offseason.
And face it, a winning team helps.
THE BINGHAMTON Mets come to Hadlock on Monday to start a three-game series. The Mets have gained on the first-place Sea Dogs so we have a legitimate race for the Eastern League East Division title. Besides the baseball, there are Xander Bogaerts bobbleheads Monday (for the first 1,000 fans) and fireworks Wednesday.
RELIEVER MIKE Olmsted was released, ending his second stint in the Red Sox organization. Olmsted broke out in 2012, ending the season with a 0.00 ERA in Portland (12 games). A free agent, he signed with Milwaukee and was added to the Brewers’ 40-man roster.
Milwaukee released him in spring training and Boston invited him back. Olmsted, 27, had a 0.93 ERA with the Sea Dogs in April, but it climbed to 4.45 by July and the Red Sox decided to move on, releasing Olmsted and promoting Dayan Dyaz, 25, another minor league free agent, from Class A Salem.