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June 30, 2020 at 12:30 PM

2003 Draft Retrospective: The picks

We welcome you to the first of our SoxProspects.com Draft retrospective series. Over the next several weeks, we will revisit each draft going back to the start of the SoxProspects.com era (and, conveniently enough, the start of the Theo Epstein era). Each retrospective will come in two parts: The first will be a pick-by-pick recap of each selection with very brief comments, including their peak rank on the SoxProspects.com Top 60, as well as some of the notable players the team passed on to make those picks. Players who signed are in bold, those who did not are in italics. Bonus numbers are included where available.

The 2003 draft is a particularly useful starting point in the context of the 2020 draft, as the Red Sox had the 17th overall selection that year as well. For all drafts prior to 2012, it is worth keeping in mind that apples-to-apples comparisons before and after that date are difficult given the presence, or lack thereof, of a cap on draft spending. In this year, Epstein's first as GM and David Chadd's second as amateur scouting director, there was a clear focus on college players, as only one of Boston's first 18 picks was used on a high school player. 

For a quick list and links to player pages, check out our Draft History page.

1 (17). David Murphy, OF, Baylor
Bonus: $1,525,000
The first pick of the Theo Epstein era was also the team’s first chance to take a first-rounder since 2000, having surrendered top picks the previous two years to sign Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. A .413/.487/.614 slash line at Baylor and ability to stick in center attracted the team to Murphy. That strategy quickly became the archetype – the up-the-middle college bat with a plus hit tool. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 5
Notable players passed on: Chad Billingsley (24), Carlos Quentin (29)

1 (32). Matt Murton, OF, Georgia Tech
Bonus: $1,010,000
For the supplemental pick received for the loss of free agent Cliff Floyd, the Red Sox turned to Georgia Tech, alma mater of then-starters Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek. With Murphy and Murton, Boston drafted as many first-round college bats as they had in the previous eight years combined. Murton joined Garciaparra on the move to the Cubs just 13 months later.
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 10
Notable players passed on: Adam Jones (37), Tom Gorzelanny (45)  

2 (49). Abe Alvarez, LHP, Long Beach State
With its other comp pick for Floyd’s departure, Boston continued its run of college players by drafting a pitchability lefty who had excelled at Long Beach State. Pairing a plus curveball with a fastball that topped out near 90, Alvarez turned in a 2.52 ERA and struck out 210 in college innings. The approach helped him surge through the low minors, becoming the first member of the Red Sox 2003 class to reach the majors.
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 1
Notable players passed on: Ryan Sweeney (52)

2 (54). Mickey Hall, OF, Walton HS (GA)
Bonus: $800,000
The Red Sox and Yellow Jackets remained on the same wavelength, as the first prep player Boston took was signed out of a commitment to replace Murton at Georgia Tech. Hall had good physical tools and flashed his power potential as a pro but was held up by a high strikeout rate. He peaked at Double-A in the Sox organization and reached Triple-A with the Indians after he was traded in 2009 for Paul Byrd. Hall was the only high school player the team selected in the first 16 rounds. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 12
Notable players passed on: Scott Baker (58), Andre Ethier (62)  

3 (84). Beau Vaughan, RHP, Arizona State
Bonus: $250,000
Vaughan was the first of many college relievers that the Red Sox nabbed in the mid-aughts. Vaughan possessed a good sinking fastball which the Red Sox believed could translate to the rotation, but he struggled before a return to a relief role in 2006. Vaughan reached Triple-A with the Red Sox as well as with the Rangers (after being traded for Wes Littleton in the leadup to the 2008 Rule 5 Draft) and Athletics organizations, but he did not get the call to the majors. He is probably better known among long-time SoxProspects readers for his trademark weird headshots on MiLB.com.
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 7
Notable players passed: Sean Rodriguez (90), Matt Harrison (97)  

4. Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Mississippi State 
Bonus: $264,00
Like Vaughan, Papelbon was a college reliever who the Red Sox believed could start but ultimately had to return to the bullpen... as you probably recall. Papelbon will be discussed in greater detail in tomorrow’s analysis, but by the time he left as a free agent following the 2011 season, he was the clear gem of the 2003 class and arguably the greatest reliever in team history. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 1
Baseball America Pre-Season Top 100: 91 in 200; 37 in 2006

5. Brian Marshall, LHP, Virginia Commonwealth 
Another college reliever, Marshall was selected one round before twin brother Sean, who went on to have a nine-year career with the Cubs and Reds. Brian Marshall put up solid ERAs in the low minors but did not progress past Low A with Sarasota and Greenville
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 38

6. Jessie Corn, RHP, Jacksonville State
A swingman at Jacksonville State, Corn pitched in four games out of the Lowell bullpen in 2003 before getting hurt. He was released in 2005 after missing the entire 2004 season, finishing his professional career with a 0.00 ERA. 

7. Jeremy West, C, Arizona State
The second ASU Sun Devil taken by Boston, a precursor for the team returning to Tempe for its top pick in 2004. West spent several years as a solid performer in the system, being named 2003 Lowell Player of the Year as well as receiving All-Star recognition in the Florida State League in 2004 and Eastern League in 2006. He retired from baseball after a year in the White Sox system and became a firefighter following his playing career. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 6

8. Lee Curtis, 2B, College of Charleston
Curtis was picked up after a strong senior campaign at Charleston in which he hit .399/.467/.747. He appeared at three levels before getting released following the 2004 season. 

9. Jon Wilson, RHP, Northeastern (Colo.) JC
A JuCo righty, Wilson mostly worked as a starter for the GCL Sox during his two years in the system. He made one appearance outside of Fort Myers, starting one game for Augusta in 2004. 

10. Chris Durbin, OF, Baylor
Nine rounds after picking Murphy, the Red Sox returned to Waco to nab his outfield-mate. Durbin’s best season came for Portland in 2005, batting .282/.344/.457 on his way to Eastern League All-Star recognition. Frustrated by his lack of progress in the system, Durbin retired at the end of Spring Training in 2007.
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 15

11. Barry Hertzler, RHP, Central Connecticut State
The Red Sox went for a local product in the 11th round, picking the East Providence (RI) High School and Central Connecticut State star. Using a sinker that sat in the low 90s, Hertzler was a fixture in the Boston system, appearing in 186 games over five seasons and posting a 2.29 ERA in 58 games during parts of three seasons at Portland. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 35

12. Justin Sturge, LHP, Coastal Carolina
A senior draftee, the Red Sox largely used Sturge out of the bullpen during his time in the system. The big left-hander’s career got off to a fast start with a dominant debut in Lowell, allowing four runs in 25 2/3 innings, striking out 28 against just one walk. Sturge continued to have success in Class A but struggled in 2005 and 2006 stints with Portland. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 20

13. Zak Basch, RHP, Nevada
Basch had a short stint in the Red Sox organization, but a swap of minor leaguers in 2004 proved important for the righty. Sent to Oakland in the summer of 2004 for outfielder Mike Lockwood, Basch appeared in just 18 games in the A’s system. However, he would return to Oakland after a five-year stint in the Alaskan Baseball League. After working several jobs as both a scout and in the communications department, Basch was named Director of Minor League Operations in December 2017.
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 19

14. Zach Borowiak, SS, Southeast Missouri State 
Borowiak continued the run on college players as well as on Zacharys. Borowiak proved to be an excellent defensive player, parlaying that into a six-year stint in the organization. He appeared in 604 games, reaching Triple-A in 2007. 

15. Chris Turner, OF, Texarkana (Texas) JC
A JuCo pick with decent power, Turner turned in a strong .289/.361/.515 line with Greenville in 2005 on his way to SoxProspects.com All-Star recognition. Despite that performance, Turner struggled in a repeat engagement at the level in 2006. He was released in May 2007 after reaching High A Lancaster. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 23

16. Kevin Ool, LHP, Marist College
An undersized lefty out of the Northeast, Ool appeared in 54 games in 2003 and 2004 before getting dealt to the Cardinals for reliever Mike Myers. Ool reached Double-A Springfield in 2005 and remained there for three years, appearing in 80 games. 

17. William Newton, LHP, Mountain View HS (UT)
The stretch of 14 consecutive college picks came to an end with Newton, a prep lefty out of Utah. He appeared in just five games for the GCL Red Sox in 2004. 

18. Tom Cochran, LHP, Middle Georgia JC
Cochran had an interesting career arc, spending two mediocre seasons in the system before getting released in Spring Training 2005. After a four-year run in independent ball, Cochran hooked on with the Cincinnati Reds in 2009. He climbed through the system and had his contract purchased in 2011. However, he never appeared in a game before getting designated for assignment. 

19. Jarrett Gardner, RHP, Arkansas
The former Razorback was a South Atlantic League All-Star for Augusta in 2004, using excellent control to post a 2.51 ERA in 136 innings, striking out 92 against only 11 walks. He remained in the Red Sox system until 2006 and pitched one year in the Padres system before retiring from baseball. 
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 11

20. Josh Morris, OF, Cartersville HS (GA)
After signing each of their first 21 selections, the Red Sox were unable to wrangle Morris out of a commitment to the University of Georgia. He would be redrafted in 2012 by his hometown Braves, for whom he played for a couple of nondescript seasons.

21. Mike Dennison, RHP, Wichita State 
Another college closer, Dennison had an impressive pro debut with a 1.71 ERA at Sarasota and Augusta in 2003. He could not repeat the success at the same levels in 2004 and was released in Spring Training 2005. 

22. Kala Ka’aihue, C, Iolani HS (HI)
Ka’aihue is the younger brother of Kila Ka’aihue, who would go on to appear in the major leagues with Kansas City and Oakland. The younger Ka’aihue did not sign, opting to play at South Mountain Community College in Arizona. He signed with the Braves in 2005 and played in over 500 minor league games over seven seasons.

23. David Coffey, OF, Georgia
Though the Red Sox were unable to sign Josh Morris, they did select the player he replaced with the Bulldogs. Coffey had a short stint in the Red Sox organization, appearing in 63 games with Augusta in 2003. 

24. Iggy Suarez, SS, Southwest Texas State
A slick-fielding middle infielder, Suarez was a favorite of manager Terry Francona, who would frequently bring Suarez to the major league field for spring training during his seven-year stint as a player. Drawing plaudits as an excellent teammate and communicator, Suarez rejoined the organization when his playing days ended. He spent two years as a coach for Lowell and another two as the Spinners’ manager. He has been manager of the Greenville Drive since 2018. 

25. Drew Moffitt, OF, Wichita State
Moffitt chose to return to Wichita for his senior season with the Shockers. He would be drafted the following year by Baltimore

26. Jason Ramos, SS, St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC
It was the second time being selected by Boston for Ramos, who went the junior college route after Boston took him in the 21st round in 2001. The switch-hitter played two years in the system and reached Double-A for a single game with the Angels in 2005. 

27. Andrew Sharpe, SS, Los Angeles Pierce JC
Sharpe chose not to sign and instead transferred to the University of Southern California. He was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2006, playing in their system for two years. 

28. Davey Penny, RHP, East Carolina 
Penny was drafted after being dismissed from the ECU baseball team for conduct detrimental to the team, possibly stemming from an incident in which he expressed frustration for being removed from a game following a rain delay. He impressed with Lowell that summer by posting a 2.68 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. He struggled the following year before suffering an injury and was released in 2005. However, he came back to haunt the Red Sox years later: Penny is credited for teaching longtime Boston nemesis Chris Archer his slider.
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 18

29. Doug Fink, RHP, Manatee (Fla.) JC
Another local product, Fink was the product of Southington (CT) High School. He appeared in just one game with the GCL Red Sox, giving up a run on two hits. He missed the 2004 season with injury and was released in 2005. 

30. David Sanders, LHP, Wichita State 
The third selection the Red Sox made from a Wichita State team that had reached the Super Regionals that spring, Sanders joined Mike Dennison with an assignment to Lowell, and was also a key contributor in the Spinners buillpen that summer. 

31. Greg Schilling, LHP, Taravella HS (FL)
Schilling, no relation to the then-Diamondbacks pitcher, chose not to sign and attended Broward Community College. He was picked in the 42nd round by the Twins in 2004. 

32. Matt Pike, RHP, Centennial HS (CO)
Pike did not sign, choosing to fulfill his commitment to the University of Nebraska. He left the team after the 2004 season without appearing in a game. 

33. Scooter Jordan, OF, Texas Tech
Another college outfielder joining the system, Jordan was a speedster with little pop. He hit .263/.404/.309 with 24 steals for Lowell in 2003. 

34. Arthur Santos, RHP, Florida International 
Another college arm with good control who impressed with Lowell after signing, Santos tallied a 2.18 ERA in 53 2/3 innings, striking out 32 and walking five. He struggled in 2004 and was released. He had a strong season with the Braves organization in 2006 with a 1.49 ERA between High A and Double-A. He would also pitch in the Royals and Mets systems.  
SoxProspects.com peak rank: 14

35. Erich Cloninger, C, Liberty
The grandson of former Red Sox pitching coach and major league hurler Tony Cloninger, Erich appeared in 51 games over two seasons for Lowell and Augusta.

36. Ben Sosebee, RHP, Truett McConnell (Ga.) JC
Sosebee did not sign, marking a divide: the Red Sox signed 31 of their first 37 picks but inked only two of their final 15 picks from this selection on. Sosebee pitched for Kennesaw State after finishing at Truett McConnell.

37. Chris Johnson, SS, Bishop Verot HS (FL)
The second legacy the team picked in 2003, the son of then-Portland manager Ron Johnson would enroll at Stetson University. Houston picked him in 2006 and he went on appear in over 800 games across eight major league seasons.  

38. Mike McBryde, OF, Palm Beach HS (FL)
McBryde chose to honor his commitment to Florida Atlantic, where he starred and was redrafted in the fifth round in 2006 by San Francisco. He reached Triple-A Fresno in 2009 and appeared in 38 games at that level over two years. 

39. Jeff Culpepper, OF, Gonzaga
Culpepper returned for his senior year at Gonzaga and was picked by the Cubs in the 24th round in 2004. He played for three years in the Chicago system, spending most of his time with High A Daytona. 

40. Michael Rutledge, SS, Cullman HS (AL)
The older brother of future Red Sox infielder Josh Rutledge, Michael attended Mississippi State and then used his final year of eligibility as a grad student at Samford. He did not play professional baseball. 

41. Lance Schartz, C, Garden City (Kan.) CC
The first player since 35th-rounder Erich Cloninger to sign, Schartz had a brief run in the Red Sox system. He appeared in 28 games over two seasons across two levels. 

42. Dallas Williams, OF, Pike HS (IN)
Williams did not sign, instead choosing to attend Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. He was signed as a free agent by the White Sox in 2009, appearing in 10 games for their Appalachian League affiliate. 

43. Scott Thomas, C, Chaminade College Prep
Thomas is the son of Lee Thomas, who played for the Red Sox in the mid-1960s and later became general manager of the Phillies. The younger Thomas did not sign, instead attending Missouri Baptist. He was drafted in 2006 by the Cardinals and also played in the Phillies and Orioles systems, reaching Triple-A Norfolk in 2012. 

44. Tom Caple, OF, San Diego
Caple did not sign, opting instead to return to San Diego for his senior year. (Editorial note: “Opting instead to return to San Diego” is a defensible choice in almost all circumstances.) Caple would be drafted again by Boston the following year. 

45. Terrence Cramer, RHP, Palm Beach (Fla.) JC
Cramer returned to school rather than ink a deal with the Red Sox. He signed with the Pirates as an undrafted free agent in 2004 and pitched in 19 games over two seasons. 

46.Victor Rodriguez, C, Cape Coral HS (FL)
The son of longtime Red Sox coach Vic Rodriguez did not sign. He did not go on to play professionally, but is a scouting supervisor for the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez’s brother Miguel was drafted by Boston nine years later. 

47. A.J. Loyd, OF, Bishop Carroll HS (KS)
Loyd played college ball at Pittsburg State in Kansas. 

48. Adam Davis, RHP, Middle Georgia JC
The Red Sox drafted Davis in the 26th round of the 2002 draft and were unable to sign him. Their luck did not improve the following year. It does not appear that he played college ball the following year or went on to play professional baseball. 

49. Jay Smith, RHP, Bourne HS (MA)
Smith starred at both basketball and baseball for Bourne High School, showcasing a 94-mph fastball. The call from his hometown team got him to forgo his commitment to South Florida, but the righty pitched in just one game before injuries derailed his career. Smith tragically passed away in 2018 at 33.

50. Mitch Stachowsky, C, JC of Southern Idaho
Stachowsky, a light-hitting backstop with a good defensive reputation, did not sign with the team in 2003, but came on board the following summer as a free agent. He played for four years in the Red Sox system, appearing in 158 games. Sadly, Stachowsky also tragically passed away at age 33.


Raw totals:
Players drafted: 52
Players signed: 33
Baseball America Top 100 prospects: 1
Signed players who reached majors: 5

Photo Credit: David Murphy, Iggy Suarez by Kelly O'Connor

James Dunne is Managing Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDunneSP.