The assignment was straightforward enough. Come up with the five best homegrown Draft picks in Red Sox history. This eliminated all players who came to the club before 1965, which is why there is no Ted Williams or Carl Yastrzemski.
Because there were so many great players who fall into this category, we called an audible and turned this into a Top 10 rather than a Top 5. It actually could have been a Top 15, but we had to stop somewhere.
Without further ado, here is the list.
This was a transformative pick that turned the Red Sox from also-rans to perennial contenders in the mid-1980s to early '90s. The flame-throwing righty from the University of Texas pitched the first 13 seasons ('84-96) of his illustrious career for Boston, equaling Cy Young for the all-time club record in wins (192) and shutouts (38).
The Rocket also won the first three of his record-setting seven Cy Young Awards while with the Red Sox. He broke the Major League record by striking out 20 in a start in 1986 against the Mariners and tied his own record a decade later in his final victory for Boston. Clemens is the only pitcher in Red Sox history to win an MVP Award, doing so in '86.
2) Wade Boggs, seventh round, 1976 Draft
Key fact: Won five batting titles with Boston
Considering how late he was picked, this might be the best value the Red Sox ever got in the Draft. It’s just that Boggs had to toil away in the Minor Leagues for six years before finally getting called up. Once he got to The Show, he became one of the best pure hitters ever -- the American League’s version of Tony Gwynn. The five batting titles Boggs won came, remarkably, in a span of six seasons (1983, ’85-88). In each of those years, his average was .357 or higher, topping out at .368 in ’85.
Boggs had such great bat control he would flick two-strike pitches foul on purpose until he got the one he liked -- and he often belted that one off the Green Monster. While defense wasn’t a strength for Boggs when he came up, the third baseman worked tirelessly to the point where he became a plus defender and actually won two Gold Gloves when he was with the Yankees.
3) Jim Rice, first round (No. 15 overall), 1971 Draft
Key fact: Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009
Unlike Boggs, who waltzed into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, Rice waited patiently before at last getting in on his 15th and final year on the BBWAA ballot. Many Red Sox followers thought it was long overdue. During his peak, Rice was perhaps the most feared hitter in the AL. Never was Rice better than in that MVP season of 1978, when he lit up the stat sheet to the tune of a .315 average, 213 hits, 15 triples, 46 homers, 139 RBIs and 406 total bases. Rice had brute strength and hammered the ball to all fields.
Much like Boggs, he worked hard to improve his defense and eventually became very adept at fielding caroms off the Green Monster. Unlike Boggs or Clemens, Rice spent his entire career (1974-89) with the Red Sox. There are plenty who still wonder if Boston would have beaten the Big Red Machine Reds in the 1975 World Series had Rice -- who had a broken wrist -- played in that Fall Classic.
4) Dwight Evans, fifth round, 1969 Draft
Key fact: 605 extra-base hits in the 1980s topped MLB
The man known as Dewey in Red Sox Nation was ahead of his time in that he was an on-base machine who would have been valued more in today’s game. Evans drew 96 or more walks six times in his career and had an OBP higher than .400 three times. But he could also hit, especially once he hit his stride offensively about halfway through his career. The rare player who was a better hitter in his 30s than his 20s, Evans had a career-best OPS of .986 in 1987 and topped the .900 mark three other times in the decade.
He belted 385 homers in a 20-year career, all but one season of which was spent with the Red Sox. Oh, that’s without even mentioning he was one of the best defensive right fielders of all time, winning eight Gold Glove Awards. Evans positioned himself perfectly in an age before teams had detailed charts on defense, and he had a cannon arm.
5) Dustin Pedroia, second round, 2004 Draft
Key fact: Won the 2008 AL MVP Award
Some scouts thought Pedroia was too small and had too big a swing to be an impactful player in the Major Leagues. They were wrong. “Pedey” to some and “Laser Show” to others, Pedroia had a burning desire to be great, and he mostly was until a left knee injury sustained in 2017 essentially debilitated him for the rest of his career. Pedroia made an instant impact, winning the AL Rookie of the Year in 2007 for a World Series championship team.
The next year, he was even better, winning the MVP Award while scoring 118 runs, ripping 213 hits and smashing 54 doubles, all AL bests. As good as he was on offense, the case can be made that Pedroia was even more valuable defensively. He won four career Gold Gloves and probably should have won more. Pedroia just missed being a career .300 hitter -- finishing at .299 -- but had a sturdy OPS of .805. His 51.6 Baseball Reference WAR for the Red Sox is the third best for a position player who was drafted and developed by the club, trailing only Boggs and Evans.
6) Mookie Betts, fifth round, 2011 Draft
Key fact: Five three-homer games are most in team history
Not even the Red Sox realized Betts would become the superstar he did -- otherwise, they would have taken him earlier in the Draft. Coming up through the Minors as a wiry second baseman, Betts kept getting stronger and turned into an elite right fielder who did everything well. The only regret Red Sox fans have is that he didn’t stick around for longer. With a year left on his contract, Betts was traded to the Dodgers and promptly help them win their first World Series since 1988. While with the Red Sox, Betts was the best player on a team that won the 2018 World Series. He was the AL MVP that year, dominating with every one of his tools.
In 794 games in Boston, Betts slashed .301/.374/.519 with 139 homers, 470 RBIs and 136 stolen bases. He also won the Gold Glove Award for his excellence in right field in his final four seasons in Boston. Only Evans was on par with Betts when it came to mastering a difficult right field at Fenway Park.
7) Carlton Fisk, first round (No. 4 overall), 1967 Draft
Key fact: 2,226 games behind the plate second all time to Ivan Rodriguez
One of the most gifted and well-rounded catchers of all time, Fisk realized the dream of playing for the team he grew up rooting for in New Hampshire. Fisk was one of the best offensive catchers of all time while also standing out on defense. He was an All-Star seven times in 11 seasons in Boston. What Fisk will always be remembered most for is that homer off the left-field foul pole that ended the iconic Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Fisk waved the ball fair with the type of authentic body language that has made the moment live on ever since.
It was crushing when Fisk left the Red Sox after a sloppy contract dispute following the 1980 season when the club mailed his offer to him two days after the deadline. Even so, when Fisk went into the Hall of Fame in 2000, he went in with a Boston logo on his plaque, despite the fact that he played two more seasons with the White Sox.
8) Nomar Garciaparra, first round (No. 12 overall), 1994 Draft
Key fact: Finished in Top 10 of MVP voting in first four full MLB seasons
Garciaparra’s sheer athleticism and ability to consistently barrel up the baseball wowed Red Sox fans from the very start of his career. A leadoff man in his AL Rookie of the Year season in 1997, Garciaparra belted 30 homers to go with 209 hits, 44 doubles, 11 triples, 98 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. In his first four seasons, he was an elite offensive force who was mentioned frequently in the same sentence as two other stud shortstops during that time period -- Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. From 1997-2003, Garciaparra scored over 100 runs in all but one season (his injury-shortened 2001 campaign).
He was at the height of his powers in 1999 and 2000, hitting .357 and .372, respectively, to win back-to-back batting titles. Similar to Pedroia, injuries prevented Garciaparra from sustaining his greatness. That doesn’t change the fact that Garciaparra was a machine for the Red Sox, notching a .923 OPS in nine seasons with the club.
9) Jon Lester, second round, 2002 Draft
Key fact: No-hitter on May 19, 2008, is the most recent by a Boston pitcher
The selection of Lester started a renaissance for the Red Sox in which they would hit big on several Draft picks. The lefty from Tacoma, Wash., worked his way to Boston by 2006. Just 22 years old, his rookie season was shortened by cancer. That’s why it was such a feel-good story when it was Lester who won the clinching Game 4 of the ’07 World Series in Colorado.
Starting in 2008, Lester turned into a consistent force for the Red Sox, topping the 200-inning mark six times in seven seasons. He won 15 games or more five times in six seasons and was a stud in the 2013 postseason. In that World Series, in which the Sox defeated the Cardinals in six games, Lester was 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA. Only a superhuman Fall Classic by David Ortiz prevented Lester from winning the MVP.
10) Fred Lynn, second round, 1973 Draft
Key fact: Led AL in all three slash stats in 1979
Lynn, who teamed with Rice to form “The Gold Dust Twins,” had an epic rookie season for the 1975 Sox, earning him AL Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. In one of the most exciting seasons in Red Sox history, Lynn was a standout, scoring 103 runs to go with 47 doubles, 21 homers, 105 RBIs and a .967 OPS. That was pretty much the type of player Lynn was in his six full seasons for the Red Sox, making it all the more regrettable the club traded him to the Angels following a contract dispute prior to the ’81 season. With a beautiful left-handed swing built perfectly for Fenway Park, Lynn wasn’t quite the same player after he left the Red Sox, for whom he had a .902 OPS in 828 games. Lynn was also a spectacular defender, winning four career Gold Gloves, all for Boston.