BOSTON — That 69-93 record in 2012 had at least one benefit.

The Boston Red Sox hold the No. 7 pick in this year’s major league baseball draft, which begins Thursday. It is the best draft pick Boston has had in 20 years.

Back in 1993, the Red Sox chose a high school outfielder from North Carolina named Trot Nixon.

Nixon never reached stardom. But he became a regular in 1999 and went on to play eight seasons for the Red Sox, with a .277 batting average and about 16.5 home runs a year.

Boston has done well with other high school picks, including pitcher Jon Lester (second round, 2002) and third baseman Will Middlebrooks (fifth, 2007) and catching prospect Christian Vazquez (ninth, 2008) and pitching prospect Drake Britton (23rd, 2007).

Pitcher Casey Kelly (first, 2008), first baseman Anthony Rizzo (sixth, 2007), and outfielder Brandon Moss (eighth, 2002) all came out of high school — though eventually traded by the Red Sox.

But other high picks or bonus babies never got beyond Double-A: outfielders Jason Place (first, 2006) and Mickey Hall (second, 2003), and pitcher Caleb Clay (sandwich round, 2006).

This year, Boston could go with another high school player — always a gamble. Or the Red Sox could go the college route, although the best players will be gone, even with the No. 7 pick.

The consensus two best picks in this draft are college pitchers Mark Appel (Stanford) and Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma). The Astros will pick one of them with the No. 1 pick, and the Cubs will take the other at No. 2.

The Rockies have the third pick and University of San Diego third baseman Clint Frazier (and his 31 home runs this year) looks inviting.

After that, opinions vary. The Twins, Indians and Marlins pick before Boston. Their picks may or may not influence the Red Sox.

Using various sources (including Baseball America and, here is a list of six players whom the Red Sox might be interested in:

* Pitcher Kohl Stewart, a high school player from Houston. He is also a quarterback with a scholarship to Texas A&M. Possibly the third best pitcher in the draft, behind Appel and Gray. Unlikely that Boston has a chance at him.

* Third baseman Colin Moran, from the University of North Carolina. Has that advanced approach at the plate which the Red Sox love.

* Pitcher Braden Shipley, from the University of Nevada. A 98 mph fastball with a change-up and curve.

* Outfielder Clint Frazier, from Loganville High School in Georgia (the same school as Brandon Moss). The Red Sox traditionally go after high school players in Georgia. Frazier is supposed to have some kind of power swing.

* Outfielder Austin Meadows, another high school player from Loganville (but a different high school).

* Pitcher Trey Ball, a high school lefty from Indiana. Plenty of upside, but always a risk in taking a high school arm.

Other top picks will be University of Arkansas pitcher Ryne Stanek, Indiana State lefty Sean Manae (who may fall because of shoulder problems) and high school catcher Reese McGuire of California.

For only the second time in the past nine years, the Red Sox do not have a second pick until the second round.

Boston could go after a college arm, like it did with Alex Wilson in the second round of the 2009 draft.

Among the college pitchers that might still be available in the second round: lefty Tom Windle of Minnesota, closer Corey Knebel from Texas, or Trey Masek from Texas Tech.

The first two rounds will be Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. The next eight rounds will be held Friday, with Rounds 11-40 on Saturday.


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