When it comes to drafting (or signing) and developing everyday players, few organizations over the last 15 years have done a better job than the Red Sox.
In that time, they've seen Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez come into their system and establish themselves as stars at the major league level. Of that group, all but Benintendi, Devers and Vazquez have made at least one All-Star team while two (Pedroia and Betts) were MVPs.
There were times -- as recently as the championship season of 2018 -- the Sox could fill all eight positions in the field solely with homegrown players.
By any measurement, that's an enviable record for any organization.
However, the results have been far different when it comes to the pitching department. In fact, it's been night-and-day.
In that same time, the Red Sox can boast of developing just a single homegrown starting pitcher of note. The last starter developed by the organization of any consequence was Clay Buchholz, who made his debut (2007) at the beginning of that window.
Since then, the Sox have seen prospect after prospect (from Brian Johnson to Henry Owens to Michael Bowden to Felix Doubront) all fail to become rotation regulars. There were occasional flashes, but in the event, they were just that.
The drought continues. Shawn Haviland is out to change all of that.
Haviland, who briefly pitched in the Red Sox system (2015-2017), was recently promoted from pitching coordinator for performance to senior coordinator of pitching. It's his job to help the organization's pitching prospects navigate all the twists and turns along the way to reaching the big leagues.
"The question we're constantly asking ourselves,'' said Haviland, "is, 'How do we get better?' and, 'How do we give the guys that we have the best chance to become big leaguers and impactful big leaguers?' I think there are some (qualifiers) in the situation -- we were a contending team for the last decade or so and we wanted to supplement that homegrown core as much as possible, so we made trades and were drafting at the bottom of rounds.
"Those are realities. But those are also not excuses. We want to get better at everything and that's what we've focused on for the last few years — just building up these processes to really identify the guys that we have, what makes them special, what makes them a big leaguer down the road and then giving them the best chance to build around that and maximize their potential.''
A big part of that push is the utilization of every imaginable facet of development -- from old-school, hands-on coaching and instruction, to the use of data and analytics to mental skills to nutrition.
"The ability to have so much -- we have motion-capture, bio-mechanical data, TrackMan data, super high-speed cameras -- that's really helped us figure out what makes a pitcher unique and figure out what their strength is,'' offered Haviland. "From there, we need to be