Stephen Strasburg, the top selection in the 2009 MLB First Year Player Draft, is introduced as the newest member of the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington on August 21, 2009. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn Photo via Newscom

Heading into draft day tomorrow, the Sox are sitting pretty with four picks in the first two rounds. Their first selection at 20, the Sox have been tied to relatively few names — making their intentions a mystery to many even on the eve of the draft.

Still, the most important name to remember when things kick off tomorrow is Anthony Raunado – the LSU right-hander being the player most frequently quoted as the Sox top target.


1-20 (from Atlanta for Type A Billy Wagner)

1s-36 (compensation for New York Mets signing Type A Jason Bay)

1s-39 (compensation for Atlanta signing Type A Billy Wagner)

2-7 (from New York Mets for Type A Jason Bay)

3-28 (110)

4-28 (143)

5-28 (Repeating at 28 for remainder of draft)

Anthony Ranaudo, SP, LSU

Taking a look around the mock draft boards, this is the guy most mocks have tied to the Red Sox. The pivot point for the Sox draft, their strategy is likely to hinge on his availability in the first round.

A big (6-7, 225) right out of Louisiana State University, Ranaudo was considered by many to be the top college righty entering this season. Some elbow trouble and a shaky regular season later, it looked as if Big Tony might fall out of the first round altogether.

Picking it back up in the SEC tournament, Ranaudo reaffirmed his top prospect status — though there are still some significant questions about his health and bonus demands that are dropping him down draft boards.

Scouting reports have Ranaudo’s heater in the low 90s (90-93, touching 95) with a curve and changeup. The curve could be a plus pitch but needs polish while the change is about average with potential to be more.

Ranaudo is a bit of a wild card, as many have him slipping to the Red Sox, but 19 teams ahead of Boston could have something to say about that. Notably, Keith Law, among others, have him going at 20 to the Sox, though some, including Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, have him going earlier.

Brett Eibner, OF/RHP, Arkansas

One of the more talented two-way players in the college ranks, many have Eibner as a backup plan in the case Raunado is snatched up. The Sox already having an affinity for athletic two-way players, Eibner has the upside that would intrigue the Boston brass — though others think he’s a reach at #20, being better suited for the Sox supplemental picks at 36 or 39.

If anything, Eibner is in need of polish on both the mound and at the plate. Struggling with offspeed stuff in the batter’s box, he’s also noted to have an inconsistent breaking ball and changeup on the hill. His mid-90s fastball excites the scouts, but he’ll need some work once in the minors.

If he doesn’t go to the Sox at 20, he could go later in the first round or as a sandwich pick.

Asher Wojciechowski, Citadel

Another favorite of the pundits as the Sox’ backup plan to Raunado, Wojciechowski fits the power pitchers mold, possessing a hard fastball (low-mid 90s) and the big-bodied frame (6-4, 235) that scouts love.

His secondary offerings need work, however. Though he has a slurve, the changeup is almost non-existent – and its exceedingly difficult to survive as a starter without one.

Another right-hander who needs a bit of polish, Wojciechowski is a fringe first-rounder that would be a better fit as a sandwich pick than at #20.

Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State

A soft-tossing college righty, Wimmers sits in the high 80s while featuring a good curve and good changeup. Though not directly linked to the Sox, he’s generally been placed in the low-20s on mock boards, so he has to be considered an option for the club.

Though his fastball velocity may limit his upside somewhat, his secondary pitches are said to be quite good, so he could develop into a solid starter at the Major League level.

Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas

Another power righty (6-5, 220) that may fall into the Sox’ lap, Workman mixes a low 90s fastball with a good curve that many think could put him at the top of a big league rotation in no time.

Workman has been slated to go anywhere in the early teens to around 30, so he could very easily be available when the Sox pick at 20. A very exciting arm, he could be the type that racks up the strikeouts at the big league level, though his command is an issue for some.

Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)

A big wildcard, Castellanos has been seen on draftboards anywhere from 9 to 30, so he’s tough to pin down. Though he is a shortstop now, he is not expected to stick there as he fills out.

Expected to hit for above average power and a good batting average, Castellanos would be a nice addition for a Sox farm system that is a bit short on quality third basemen.

Yasmani Grandal, C, U. Miami

A true dark horse for the Red Sox, Grandal is a switch-hitting catcher with a good arm, a good bat, and huge bonus demands. He actually has ties to Boston, having been drafted by the team three years ago out of high school.

Scouts note that Grandal has a far better swing from the left side than the right, making the “switch-hitter” label a bit of a misnomer. His lefty swing being more power oriented, his right side has more of a flat plane that is built for contact.

Sources have had Grandal demanding anywhere from $3-$6 million, so the price alone could be enough to drop him into the Red Sox’ lap. Still, don’t get your hopes up, as most have Grandal going far earlier than 20 — though the aforementioned Goldstein put him with the Sox as recently as Friday.

Having been tied to teams as early as Kansas City at #4, it will take a lot for him to fall, but it’s not out of the question.

In the end, for a team like the Red Sox, it’s all going to come down to who is the best player on the board. For a team with such deep pockets, slot values and bonus demands are a consideration that is secondary to the overall ability of the player at hand. With this advantage over other teams, pick #20 is a great position for Boston, ahead of competing clubs such as the Dodgers, Phillies, and Yankees.

Still, the MLB draft is a crap shoot like none other. Beyond the difficulty and uncertainty of developing players, even the order of draftees is a complete mystery. Every year, plenty of player surprise by falling further than expected due to bonus demands, health flags, or college commitments — just to be gobbled up by teams like the Red Sox with the wherewithal to meet their price tag.

In 2006, Andrew Miller fell to No. 6 after being in consideration for the top spot. In ’07, Rick Porcello fell all the way to 27 despite being ranked the top prep pitcher in the draft.

If the Sox are able to get Ranaudo with the top pick, they’ve done well. If somehow Grandal slips to them (don’t hold your breath), they’ve found their catcher of the future. So, get ready for any of the aforementioned names, but prepare for anyone — short of Bryce Harper and James Taillon, that is.

Law Mock Draft and Prospect Profiles (ESPN Insider)

Goldstein Mock Draft (Baseball Prospectus)