06/06/2006 7:34 PM ET
Red Sox select outfielder Jason Place, right-hander Daniel Bard, left-hander Kris Johnson and right-hander Caleb Clay with first four picks of 2006 First-Year Player Draft
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox today selected Wren (SC) High School outfielder Jason Place with the 27th overall pick and University of North Carolina righthander Daniel Bard with the 28th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. The club also selected Wichita State lefthander Kris Johnson with the 40th overall pick and Cullman (AL) High School righthander Caleb Clay with the 44th overall pick as compensatory sandwich selections between the first and second rounds. Director of Amateur Scouting Jason McLeod made the announcement.
"Jason Place is an athletic, power-hitting outfielder," said McLeod. "We're really excited to bring his type of potential impact into the organization. He was the main guy we wanted to get with that pick."
"Daniel Bard has arguably one of the best arms in the draft. He's a college guy who has had good performance on the Cape. We're looking forward to having him in the system."
Place, who was recommended by Red Sox scout Rob English, was rated by Baseball America as the No. 47 overall prospect in the draft. The 18-year-old tomorrow will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the All-American Baseball Game, which features 35 of the top high school players in the country.
The right-handed batter and thrower hit .463 (165-for-356) with 36 home runs, 124 RBI, 174 runs scored and 90 stolen bases in 136 career games over five seasons for Piedmont, South Carolina's Wren High School, spending the majority of his time as a centerfielder. Prior to the draft, the Easley, S.C. native signed a letter of intent to attend the University of South Carolina.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was honored as the 2006 Gatorade High School Player of the Year and South Carolina Region 1-4A Player of the Year after batting .544 with six doubles, four home runs, 20 RBI and 32 runs scored. He posted a .895 slugging percentage and .711 on-base percentage, while stealing 10 bases for the Golden Hurricanes.
Place also earned Region 1-4A Player of the Year and South Carolina All-State honors in 2005 after batting .541 with 14 homers, 25 RBI, 50 runs and 22 steals in 28 games.
Bard, who was recommended by Red Sox scout Jeff Zona, was ranked the No. 15 overall prospect and the No. 13 pitching prospect in the draft by Baseball America. In three seasons for the University of North Carolina, the 6-foot-4, 202-pounder has gone 23-12 with a 3.86 ERA (116 ER/270.1 IP) in 47 games (all but two as a starter). His 23 wins rank seventh on the Tar Heels' all-time list. The Charlotte, N.C resident, who owns four career complete games and three shutouts, has made at least 14 starts and logged 85.2 innings or more in each of his three campaigns. The 21-year-old righthander has 235 strikeouts in 270.1 innings, an average of 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Bard earned the win in UNC's regional title victory over Winthrop on Sunday, helping the Tar Heels advance to this weekend's Super Regional matchup against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL. The winner of the best-of-three series will advance to the 2006 College World Series.
A Preseason All-America selection, Bard has established career bests as a junior this season with eight wins (8-3 record), a 3.47 ERA and 90 strikeouts. With only 33 walks in 85.2 innings, he has averaged 9.5 strikeouts and 3.5 walks per nine innings. He has been at his best down the stretch, posting a 5-1 record and 1.56 ERA over his last seven appearances (six starts). A two-time ACC Pitcher of the Week in 2006, Bard has limited the opposition to a .225 batting average.
Bard last summer pitched for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League, going 3-3 with a 1.25 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 65.0 innings of work. He led the league in strikeouts and ranked third in ERA. Named to Baseball America's College Summer All-America Second Team and rated the league's No. 2 prospect, Bard started the 2005 Cape League All-Star Game for the West Division and earned MVP honors.
A graduate of Charlotte Christian High School, Bard was originally drafted in the 20th round in 2003 by the New York Yankees.
Johnson, who was recommended by Red Sox scout Ernie Jacobs, went 16-2 with a 2.94 ERA (47 ER/143.2 IP) in 32 career games (all but two as a starter) over two-plus seasons for Wichita State University. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder made a career-high 15 starts for the Shockers in 2006, going 6-2 with a 4.86 ERA (29 ER/53.2 IP). The 21-year-old had 45 strikeouts in 53.2 innings for an average of 7.5 punchouts per 9 innings. He went 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA in 2005 before suffering an elbow injury that ended his season.
The Blue Springs, Missouri resident enjoyed his finest campaign as a freshman in 2004, going 7-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) en route to being named a First Team Freshman All-American. He led the Missouri Valley Conference in ERA and ranked 12th nationally.
Johnson attended Blue Springs High School, where he tossed five no-hitters over his four years. Three of the no-hitters came in his senior campaign in 2003, when he went 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA.
Clay, who was recommended by Red Sox scout Danny Watkins, went 10-1 with five saves and a 1.29 ERA in 2006 for Cullman High School. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder had 112 strikeouts and only 21 walks in 86.0 innings, an average of 11.7 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per 9 innings. The 18-year-old helped lead his team to the 5A Alabama State Finals. The righthander also batted .475 at the plate for the Bearcats.