It’s certainly the day for youngsters, what with the draft and David Pauley’s start tonight. Red Sox fans can immediately begin memorizing these names: Jason Place and Aaron Bates.
The skinny on Place, the Sox’ No. 1 overall pick, according to the Globe’s draft tracker:
"A career .478 hitter, the Anderson Independent-Mail player of the year hit .544 this season with four home runs and six doubles. He drew 31 walks, drove in 20 runs and stole 10 bases for the Region 1-AAAA champions [South Carolina]. ‘You could just tell the first time you ever saw him, the way he carried himself, the way he played, the way he enjoyed playing, that he was going to be a special player,’ Wren’s junior varsity team, coach Randy Thompson said. ‘Every time out there he did something to amaze me. It came pretty early in his career, but I wasn’t sure how far he’d take it.’ " (Source: Keith Farner, Anderson Independent-Mail, June 3, 2006)
And Bates, who looks like a good bet to fill the power void in the Sox’ system, in the third round:
Drafted by Florida in the eighth round in 2005…After going in the eighth round as a redshirt sophomore in last year’s draft, Bates should improve that status by at least five rounds with his decision to return to school. He is one of the best hitters among this year’s class, with the ability to use the entire field and to recognize pitches. Bates is patient and very strong, giving him good opposite-field power, and he hit nearly .340 with wood bats in the California Collegiate League during the summer of 2004. A former catcher at San Jose State, Bates is a solid defensive first baseman despite not having exceptional range.(Source: Sports Network)
The Sox did indeed go with the high-risk/high-reward strategy, picking a high-school hitter at No. 1. We’ll probably see Bates a little sooner, as he’s from North Carolina State. Both these guys look like good picks. The others appear even more high-risk/reward.