The coup de grace came about three minutes before midnight. That was when the final piece, arguably the big kahuna of the Red Sox' 2010 draft class, was reeled in.
Up until those final minutes, the Red Sox did not know whether Anthony Ranaudo, the right-handed pitcher whom they had prized for some time, would sign with them or go back to school. He did not come cheaply, but he did come, signing with the Sox for a $2.55 million bonus, the largest signing bonus ever given by the club to a college player, and indeed by one calculation the largest bonus ever given by the club to a draftee as calculated. (Though Casey Kelly received a $3 million bonus, it was spread over five years, meaning that its net present value was $2.4 million when he turned pro in 2008.)
Ranaudo was given a bonus in line with Major League Baseball's slot recommendation for a No. 5 overall pick, an amount roughly three times the recommended bonus for a No. 39 overall pick. But for the Red Sox, that steep asking price gave some cause for pause but even more for celebration.
In Ranaudo, the Sox acquired a college pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential. The 6-foot-7 20-year-old entered 2010 being viewed as the top college hurler in the draft, and may well have reclaimed that status after he put aside an injury-impaired 2010 season at Louisiana State University to deliver a dominant performance in the Cape League that suggested that he was, indeed, once again healthy.
But while the Ranaudo drama was perhaps the most drawn out of the day and indeed the draft season, his arrival was merely the final measure in what proved a wild day in which the Sox spent incredible sums in hopes of loading up their system with players whom the club hopes will impact them for years to come. Ranaudo brought the club's spending for the first 11 rounds to a shade over $10.4 million, an extraordinary amount but one that could ultimately be justified several times over if a couple of the high-ceiling players turn into superstars.
Of that $10.4 million, the Sox finalized $7.25 million worth of deals on Monday, as Major League Baseball finally removed the restrictor plate and allowed signings of players for above-slot deals to reach overdrive. Here is the breakdown of Monday's deals:
Ranaudo, 1st round (supplemental), $2.55 million
In the end, Ranaudo was recognized as one of the elite college pitchers in the draft, despite a season in which he struggled to a 5-3 record and 7.32 ERA in part due to a stress reaction in his right forearm. But he showed easy low- to mid-90s velocity in he Cape, coupled with a power curve and promising changeup, a three-pitch repertoire that, combined with his giant 6-foot-7 frame, made it easy for the Sox to dream big. So, too, did Ranaudo's performance, as he didn't allow an earned run in five starts, spanning nearly 30 innings.
Only one college pitcher (Drew Pomeranz) received more than Ranaudo, but for the Sox, the opportunity to acquire a pitcher with Ranaudo's potential and pedigree (he was the winning pitcher in the College World Series in 2009) justified the cost.
Now comes the big question: what does Ranaudo do with all of his Yankees gear?
Brandon Workman, 2nd round, $800,000
When Ranaudo claimed the victory in the 2009 World Series, it came at the expense of the University of Texas and Brandon Workman. Yet it wasn't until 2010, in his junior year, that Workman truly elevated his draft status with the addition of a terrific swing-and-miss cutter that gave him (in addition to a mid-90s fastball and solid curve) three average to plus pitches.
Still, whether the Sox would be able to get a deal done with the right-hander was very much an open question. Workman was believed to have slipped in the draft due to signability questions after he had been told, according to an industry source, that three teams were willing to sign him to a bonus of $1.25 million had they drafted him. The Sox, who took him in the second round (No. 57 overall) were not one of those clubs, however.
For much of the summer, there was little movement in demands. Workman wanted the money that he might have seen from other clubs, and the Sox did not budget from their initial offer a deal for the slot recommended money in the mid-$600,000 range. But, on Monday, the two sides touched base and Workman made clear that he wanted to get his professional career underway, rather than having to return to school or join an independent league while waiting another year to enter a farm system.
And so, the two sides worked out an agreement on a 2 p.m. call on Monday, and the Sox got their second giant college right-hander of the draft. (For more on Workman, click here.)
Sean Coyle, 3rd round, $1.3 million
Garin Cecchini, 4th round, $1.31 million
The first four picks of the draft for the Sox -- first-rounder Kolbrin Vitek, sandwich picks Bryce Brentz and Ranaudo, and second rounder Workman -- were all college products. But the Sox diversified the array of talents they acquired by signing prep stars Sean Coyle and Garin Cecchini out of high school, convincing the two infielders to walk away from strong commitments to the University of North Carolina and Louisiana State University, respectively.
Both players were elite performers on a 2009 Team USA 18-and-under team. Indeed, in the small sample size of the tournament, both turned in performances that rivaled that of teammate Bryce Harper. The small-framed Coyle projects as a potentially dynamic top-of-the-order hitter and second baseman, while Cecchini is viewed as a potential middle-of-the-order third baseman. In recognition of what the Sox considered the significant talents of the pair, both received bonuses in line with what a first rounder would receive, just a shade under the $1.359 million that the Sox gave to their first-rounder this year, Vitek.
Cecchini agreed to pay a portion of his bonus to the Jimmy Fund. For more on him, click here.
Chris Hernandez, 7th round, $375,000
Matt Price, 8th round, $415,000
The Sox signed two college pitchers who offer an interesting study in contrasts. Seventh-rounder Hernandez was the top starter for the University of Miami for all three of his seasons with the Hurricanes, despite the fact that he doesn't light up the radar gun. Though he typically works in the high-80s, however, Sox scouting director Amiel Sawdaye noted that "none of his pitches are straight."
Between the movement of his pitches, his competitiveness and his command, Hernandez was an outstanding performer in a challenging college conference. Hernandez went 10-3 with a 2.64 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 19 appearances (18 starts) as a junior for Miami in 2010. The 21-year-old left-hander led the Hurricanes and ranked among Atlantic Coast Conference leaders in ERA (1st), wins (2nd) and strikeouts (3rd).
Like Hernandez, Price received a bonus in line with the slot recommendation for a third rounder. The draft-eligible sophomore had a 7-4 record and 4.95 ERA for the Hokies in 2010 while striking out 8.4 batters per nine innings and walking just 2.6 hitters per nine in the ACC. He features a solid low- to mid-90s fastball, and secondary stuff that represents a work in progress. He made significant strides with his command as a sophomore.
Lucas LeBlanc, 11th round, $500,000
The Sox completed their efforts to plunder Baton Rouge by signing LeBlanc, a junior college All-American who had already arrived on campus and was preparing to begin a career at LSU. Between the signings of Ranaudo, Cecchini and LeBlanc, Sox scouts may end up with seats in the bathroom of Alex Box Stadium on future visits to the Tigers' home stadium.
That said, in addition to starter Ranaudo and infielder Cecchini, the Sox also signed well-rounded outfielder LeBlanc. That they did so was seemingly unexpected to both the club and to LeBlanc, who had said just a couple days earlier that the Sox had not come close to matching his asking price and that he was excited to start his career with the Tigers.
But the Sox made a late charge at him, upping their offer by nearly $200,000, and a deal came together quickly for a center fielder who doesn't have a standout tool, but who features a little bit of everything in his game: some power, speed, a good plate approach and the ability to play solid defense.