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LEEInks list: Best Red Sox first-round draft picks

06.04.10 at 7:51 am ET
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Clay Buchholz was drafted with a compensatory selection in the first round in 2005. (AP)

Clay Buchholz was drafted with a compensatory selection in the first round in 2005. (AP)

With the Major League Baseball draft Monday through Wednesday, the Red Sox will look to augment an already impressive farm system with a few more talented players. Baseball America currently has the Red Sox 11th overall in its annual farm system rankings, so the team undoubtedly will look to improve upon that in this year’s draft.

With the 20th overall pick, the Sox will have their highest selection since they took David Murphy 17th in 2003. And with two compensatory picks tagged on at the end of the first round, Boston has three of the top 39 selections.

The Sox have had great success in the draft under the watch of general manager Theo Epstein, and it will be interesting to see where they go this year. The Sox have had their share of success when picking players, so here is a look at the best first-round picks in team history.

10. Trot Nixon, 1993

Although never labeled as a great player, Nixon was a fan favorite during his 10-year stint with the Sox. The seventh overall pick in 1993, Nixon endeared himself to the Fenway faithful with his blue-collar approach and positive relationship with teammates. His best year came in 2003 when he batted .306 with 28 home runs. In Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS against the Athletics, Nixon hit a pinch-hit two-run shot to center to put the Sox up 3-1. Most notably, he hit a two-run double off the right field wall in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series against the Cardinals, putting the finishing touches on a historic championship run for the Sox. Considered the poster boy for the “Dirt Dogs,” Nixon’s play in right field set the tone for the new generation of Red Sox players.

9. Aaron Sele, 1991

Sele, chosen 23rd overall, saw his first action with the Sox in 1993 and went 6-0 in his first six starts. Sele pitched for the Sox for five years, leading the Sox in wins during the 1997 campaign with 13. He had much more success in his post-Red Sox days, with career years coming in 1998 and 1999 with the Texas Rangers, when he won 19 and 18 games, respectively. The two-time All-Star had an impressive 148-112 record when he retired after the 2007 season.

8. Clay Buchholz, 2005

Drafted 42nd overall with a compensatory selection, Buchholz has seen his share of success and failure in the majors. In only the second major league start of his career Buchholz threw a no-hitter against the Orioles, becoming the first Red Sox rookie to do so. During the 2008 season he ran into some trouble and was sent to the minors, but during the 2009 season he came back to the team and pitched fairly well. This year he headed into Memorial Day weekend third in the American League with six wins and looks to be one of the best young pitchers in the game.

7. Jacoby Ellsbury, 2005

The 2005 draft was a big one for the Sox, who had three of the top 47 selections. They took Ellsbury at No. 23 and followed with Craig Hansen at 26, Buchholz at 42, Jed Lowrie at 45 and Michael Bowden at 47. Ellsbury started 2007 in the minor leagues, but after Coco Crisp was injured in late June he got his first taste of the big leagues, and boy, did he run with it. During the 2007 postseason Ellsbury shined, batting .360 with two stolen bases in 11 games, while leading the Red Sox to their second World Series title this decade. In 2009 he led the American League in stolen bases with 70, and has solidified himself as one of the best outfielders in the game. Known for his other-worldly speed and quickness, he has become a staple in the Red Sox order and has played tremendous defense in center and left field.

6. Bruce Hurst, 1976

Hurst, picked 22nd overall, won 88 games for the Red Sox in his eight-year tenure, and he will forever be remembered for complementing Roger Clemens at the top of the rotation and pitching extremely well in the 1986 World Series. Hurst won Games 1 and 5 and might have been named series MVP had the Sox not collapsed in Game 6. Things turned out quite differently, though, and the team suffered one of the worst defeats in its storied history. Regardless, Hurst won an impressive 145 games during his 15 major league seasons, while being named to the All-Star team in 1987.

5. Mo Vaughn, 1989

Nicknamed “The Hit Dog,” Vaughn had a very successful career with the Red Sox after being picked 23rd overall, winning the American League MVP award in 1995. His career numbers (.293 BA, 328 HR) were not good enough to keep him on the Hall of Fame ballot, but the mark he left on this city is unmistakable. He currently owns and operates a company that renovates housing in New York, and he has donated countless amounts money and time to the city of Boston. Although his career took a significant downturn after he signed an $80 million contract with the Angels, he will be remembered as one of the best offensive players in Red Sox history.

4. Nomar Garciaparra, 1994

Garciappara was selected with the 12th pick out of Georgia Tech. His first major league hit was a home run back in 1996, and he never looked back as he compiled an impressive career with the Red Sox, followed by stints with the Cubs, Dodgers and Athletics. Although his departure from Boston was anything but cordial, his impact on the team was enormous. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1997 as well as the Silver Slugger award with an impressive 30 home runs, the most ever by a rookie shortstop. His quirky rituals before each at-bat and his all-around game made him a fan favorite for years. Before this season, the Red Sox signed Garciaparra to a one-day contract so he could retire with the organization.

3. Roger Clemens, 1983

Although his career was tainted by allegations of steroid use, Clemens will go down as one of the best pitchers to ever play the game. The 11-time All-Star won seven Cy Young Awards — good for most all-time — and is a two-time World Series champion with the Yankees. Clemens, selected 19th overall out of the University of Texas, was able to pitch even better as his career grew older, although many will attribute that to his alleged steroid use. He won an impressive 352 games in his career, which is ninth all-time, and recorded 4,672 strikeouts, which is third best. Although he left the Sox for greener pastures and found himself in murky waters, he was undoubtedly one of the best of all-time.

2. Jim Rice, 1971

Rice was chosen 15th in 1971 and played with the Red Sox his entire career. During the late 1970s Rice was part of one of the great outfields in baseball history with Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans, and he hit .298 with 382 home runs in his illustrious 15 years with the team. Rice was an eight-time All-Star, he won the MVP award in 1978, and he was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last year. Known for his ability to hit for power and average, he was a decent defensive player as well and earned his spot as one of the great Red Sox players of all-time.

1. Carlton Fisk, 1967

The year 1967 was not only memorable on the field for the Red Sox, but off the field as well. In the January draft, the team picked up the New Hampshire standout with the fourth overall selection. Fisk was regarded as one of the hardest working players in the league, earning the nickname “The Commander,” for his ability to control the field from his spot behind the plate. An 11-time All-Star, he won Rookie of the Year honors in 1972, as well as three Silver Slugger awards and a Gold Glove. Although he played more seasons with the White Sox, Fisk donned a Red Sox cap when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. The defining moment of his career came during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series when he famously jumped up and down waving for his game-winning home run to go fair. It did, and “Pudge” will forever be considered one of the best players in the history of the Red Sox.