The Boston Red Sox will have the 26th pick when the major league draft begins Monday.

Does Boston grab a college player who can move quickly through the farm system – a system that has been weakened by trades, promotions and injuries – or a high school phenom that projects to stardom but will take longer to develop?

“You’re always trying to weigh the risk of certain players,” said Red Sox head of amateur scouting Mike Rikard, who has been with Boston since 2004, and the head guy for the past four years.

“High school players offer a bit more risk than the college player. … But we certainly would not want to pass on a more talented (high school) player to fill a void in the farm system. … If we feel the high school player is more talented than the college guy, we would not shy away from going that route.”

The guesses are that Boston will grab a college pitcher (Mississippi left-hander Ryan Rolison?) or outfielder (Oklahoma’s Steele Walker), unless a prized high schooler (shortstop Brice Turang of Santiago, California?) is available.

Picking in the bottom third of the first round hasn’t yielded much for Boston.

Since 2000 the Red Sox have drafted 11 players between the 20th and 30th picks.

One of those players is on the Boston roster – catcher/utility player Blake Swihart (2011, 26th overall), although he was nearly let go last week.

Two others are in the Red Sox minor league system – last year’s first-rounder, pitcher Tanner Houck (24th overall), currently in advanced Class A Salem; and infielder Michael Chavis (26th in 2014), currently suspended for 80 games for steroid use after finishing last season in Portland.

There has been one All-Star chosen (Jacoby Ellsbury) and others quickly forgotten.

Ellsbury, the 25th pick in 2005, reached Portland in 2006 and the majors in 2007, helping the Red Sox to a pair of World Series titles before leaving for the Yankees as a free agent.

Here’s a look at the other seven players taken in the bottom third:

Deven Marrero (24th, 2012) was a college shortstop who became a utility infielder for the Red Sox, but with no minor league options remaining was traded this spring to Arizona (and is batting .190).

Kolbrin Vitek (20th, 2010) was a college infielder who was often injured and retired after the 2013 season in Portland.

Reymond Fuentes (28th, 2009), a high school outfielder, was traded to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez deal in 2010. He has played in parts of three major league seasons and is in Triple-A with the Diamondbacks.

Casey Kelly (30th, 2008), a high school shortstop and pitcher, was signed for $3 million to sway him from playing football. He became a pitcher and was also traded in the Gonzalez deal. Slowed by injuries, Kelly has appeared in 19 major league games with the Padres and Braves. He’s now in Triple-A with the Giants.

Jason Place (27th, 2006) was a high school slugger who struggled and was released in 2011.

Daniel Bard (28th, 2006) came in as a college pitcher who became a premier reliever for three seasons, with a 1.93 ERA in 2010. Moving back to a starting role in 2012, along with a loss of command, was disastrous. He faded, making two appearances with Boston in 2013, his last in the majors.

Craig Hansen (26th, 2005) was a college reliever taken right after Ellsbury. Hansen was supposed to be major league ready and the Red Sox rushed him to Boston. But he never settled in and Boston traded him in 2008 in a three-team deal that netted the Red Sox Jason Bay from Pittsburgh and sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. Hansen appeared in 21 games with the Pirates and was eventually released.

The bottom line is that the bottom third of the first round has not been a bonanza for Boston. Only Ellsbury produced for a substantial length of time.

Bard was the next most productive. The rest of those not with Boston anymore were traded or faded away – or both.

And, while you’re asking, Boston has drafted 19th or higher five times since 1998 – college outfielder David Murphy (17th, 2003), who was traded to Texas in 2007 in the Eric Gagne deal and enjoyed a 10-year big-league career; college pitcher Matt Barnes (19th, 2011), now a Red Sox reliever; high school pitcher Trey Ball (seventh, 2013), a Portland Sea Dogs reliever; college outfielder Andrew Benintendi (seventh, 2015), a starting outfielder in Boston; and high school pitcher Jay Groome (12th, 2016), who recently underwent Tommy John surgery.

So who does Boston pick in the first round in 2018?

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski has gone with pitching in his first two drafts with Boston, and he went with pitchers in two of his last three years with Detroit.

But the guess here is that Dombrowski is going to want a big bat. Steele Walker of Oklahoma is batting .352 with 13 home runs.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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