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Red Sox look beyond age in Draft mix

MLB.com

BOSTON -- For the second straight year, the Red Sox ended the MLB Draft with plenty of pitching draftees.

Draft Tracker: See every Red Sox Draft pick

BOSTON -- For the second straight year, the Red Sox ended the MLB Draft with plenty of pitching draftees.

Draft Tracker: See every Red Sox Draft pick

Vice president of amateur scouting Mike Rikard said Thursday before the Draft that the Red Sox would focus on finding talent before filling holes in the roster. He also said that if the talent was there, drafting a high school player was a risk the organization was prepared to take.

His words proved prophetic on Day 1, when the Red Sox selected third baseman Triston Casas in the first round and outfielder Nick Decker in the second -- both out of high school. Casas is considered one of the most powerful high school hitters in this year's Draft. Similarly, Decker drew the Red Sox's eye for his powerful swing and his speed.

Video: Draft 2018: Red Sox draft 1B/3B Triston Casas No. 26

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"[Casas] is a very good hitter, and he has a lot of power," Rikard said. "We're going to start him at third base and see how that goes."

The Day 3 decisions showed a similar willingness to develop young potential, as the Red Sox took 12 high school players.

But the Red Sox focused primarily on college players on Day 2 of the Draft, opting for experienced arms with the potential to contribute earlier. They took only collegiate players -- all upperclassmen -- and started off Day 3 with a similarly college-heavy trend through the 19th round, except for the 11th-round pick of high school pitcher Nicholas Northcut.

As the day went on, the Red Sox's emphasis on experience waned. In rounds 20 through 40, they drafted 11 high school players and three from junior college. College players took up 22 of the Red Sox's picks -- players who are more likely to contribute in the Major Leagues earlier.

"We're very excited about all of them," Rikard said. "We think we got some good impactful players on both sides ... and a mix of young and old."

The pitching trend started in the third round, when TCU right-handed pitcher Durbin Feltman was drafted with the No. 100 pick. Feltman flashes a fiery fastball with a strong slider, and MLB.com analysts said Feltman could reach the Majors as early as this season.

"We did not draft him with those intentions," Rikard said. "We essentially selected him knowing he's a very good pitcher and we're going to get him in our system and see how things go."

Video: Draft 2018: Red Sox draft RHP Durbin Feltman No. 100

Day 2 also saw the Red Sox draft pitchers Thad Ward and Brian Brown, who were both commended by their college coaches for their command under pressure. Ward has most of his experience as a reliever, but made five starts in 22 appearances this season, boasting a 3.27 ERA. Brown, North Carolina State's go-to pitcher this season, ended the year with a 2.74 ERA through 16 starts.

The Red Sox hammered home the pitching trend in Day 3, taking 16 pitchers in rounds 11 through 40. They also took plenty of position players, adding four catchers, three late-round shortstops, nine outfielders and eight second or third basemen over the course of the Draft.

The emphasis on pitching follows a similar pattern to 2017, when the Red Sox drafted 18 pitchers through 40 rounds. But unlike last year, when the Red Sox took 26 college players, age was not as influential a factor.

"We certainly feel we had a nice blend of high school players to old players," Rikard said.

Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox