Sunday, July 24, 2005

RedSox SIgn Craig Hansen

The Sox selected Craig Hansen a reliever out of St. Johns with the 26 pick of the first round in this years draft. Hansen was considered by most to be the best pitcher in the draft, but slipped substantially due to expected signing bonus demands and Scott Boras related issues. Baseball America said this about Hansen:

Hansen stamped himself as a potential premium pick last summer as an all-star closer in the Cape Cod League, where he went 1-1, 0.00 with 10 saves, striking out 41 and walking two in 22 innings. He has continued his domination this spring at St. John’s, where he was 2-2, 1.41 with a school-record 14 saves to go with 77 strikeouts and 17 walks in 57 innings. He has electric stuff to match his numbers. He pounds the strike zone with a fastball that has been clocked consistently in the mid-90s and tops out at 97 mph. The velocity on his slider has been even more impressive, sitting at 85-86 mph with a high of 90. Though his fastball command wavers, he has an excellent approach to pitching and isn’t afraid to go right at hitters. He should be even more effective against wood bats. He’s suited to be a closer because of his temperament, short arm stroke and full-effort delivery. He prefers pitching in pressure situations and has an inclination to dial up his velocity with a game on the line. In recent draft history, college closers have tended to be the fastest players to the big leagues and Hansen may as ready as any player in the Class of 2005. There’s talk that he could be in the big leagues by September if he signs quickly, but as Scott Boras client he's not sure to do that. Some teams have also talked about trying him as a starter because they see a pitcher with No. 1 stuff. He was used in that role in high school—when he wasn’t drafted despite going 8-0, 0.00 with 119 strikeouts in 69 innings—and as a freshman at St. John’s. But he would have to develop his changeup, which he showed this spring in brief glimpses. It has the potential to be a third plus pitch. But the sentiment is clearly for him to be a closer, and he was on a short list of four candidates by the Diamondbacks to be the No. 1 pick overall.

The Sox signed Hansen to a 4 year $4 million dollar major league deal today. Which is roughly two and half times slot, and the most any player has signed for in this years draft. Though I do expect Justin Upton, the first overall pick to ink a deal for more.

Each of the last two years, the Sox have given a player far more than slot to sign them. Last year it was Mike Rozier in the 12th round who signed for record $1,575, 000 for a player drafted after the 10th round. The Sox look like they are trying to use their inherent market advantages to try and build a "player development machine." In fact during one of General Manager Theo Epsteins's initial press conferences he referenced trying to create a 100 million dollar player development Machine. For the first few years it looked like that was just lip service, but now things look to be shaping up for the Sox as they have some very nice prospects. Roto-World just rated 6 Sox prospects in the top 150. Not earth shattering, but only 7 teams had more than 6.