Today’s featured guest on the New England Baseball Journal Podcast is Boston Red Sox Northeast Regional Scouting Supervisor Ray Fagnant.
The former Holyoke Catholic High (Mass.) baseball legend has helped the Red Sox front office staff build four World Series champion rosters. The first player he signed was Lou Merloni, who played nine seasons in the big leagues. He also signed pitchers Manny Delcarmen and Carl Pavano, the latter of whom was traded to Montreal in 1997 in a deal that brought future Hall of Fame ace Pedro Martinez to Boston.
Fagnant and his Red Sox scouting colleagues have helped bolster the Red Sox farm system under Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom.
“If you look at the publications evaluating it, they seem to indicate we’re certainly on the uptick,” Fagnant said. “But a lot of times, you’ll deem a farm system as not having a lot of prospects because those prospects make the big leagues really quickly. That’s part of it … Sometimes we’ll draft and develop a prospect, and we’ll trade him and get some more in return. Ultimately, you’re a long way away from the finished product.”
Fagnant also looked ahead to the 2022 MLB Draft on the heels of a historic 2021 Draft when a total of 31 players either from New England or attending New England schools were selected in the 20-round draft. Of those 31, 15 were selected in the first 10 rounds, eclipsing the previous record of 12 for the first 10 rounds, set in 1965.
The 2022 MLB Draft is not expected to be as top-heavy, particularly after an injury to UConn left-hander Reggie Crawford, who was considered a first-round talent after clocking a 101-mph fastball last summer. Crawford felt a pop in his pitching arm during a fall appearance and will miss the entire 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
“Obviously, it doesn’t help, but all anyone talks about is how great of a prospect Reggie Crawford is,” Fagnant said. “He’s one of my all-time favorite kids that I’ve scouted in the last couple of decades. He’s just an exceptional human being … I assured Reggie that it’s going to be alright. You wish it didn’t happen, but there’s still going to be a high demand for Reggie in the spring.”
As Fagnant maps out his travel plans for the spring season, he expects UConn, Northeastern and Boston College to be three of the D1 programs he’ll scout most frequently.
“From a baseball fan perspective, I think Northeastern will be really good this year, as will UConn,” Fagnant said. “(Northeastern coach) Mike Glavine and (UConn coach) Jimmy Penders are two of the elite coaches around. (Boston College coach) Mike Gambino always does a good job. BC has a couple of holes to fill, but I’m sure they’ll do a great job of doing it.
“College baseball throughout the Northeast has really taken several steps up,” Fagnant said. “The facilities are getting so much better, and there’s a lot of really good coaches in play. I really hope that players are starting to see it. There are really good programs up here with really good coaches. The reality is that if they stay around here, they’ll be scouted even more because it’s a smaller, defined area.”
Listen to the entire podcast with Ray Fagnant.
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