The Rooster’s days in Boston could be numbered.
Selecting Ozzie Smith with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1976 draft means the Red Sox have likely identified their shortstop of the future.
The slick-fielding Smith will be sent to AA Bristol to begin his professional career while Rick Burleson will stick at shortstop in Boston for the immediate future. A 3-star talent at age 26, Burleson could be trade bait to find more help for a pitching staff that struggled in 1976.
Looking for more help in the rotation, the Red Sox signed their No. 1 offseason target, signing Jerry Reuss as a free agent from Pittsburgh. The 4-star lefty agreed to a deal that could keep him in Boston through the 1983 season. Reuss was considered the top starting pitcher available in the offseason.
Dave Righetti is another lefty who could have been a nice addition as a prospect. The Red Sox picked Righetti in the second round of the draft, but could not come to terms with the 18-year-old, who decided to pitch in the college ranks in 1977.
The expansion draft saw the Red Sox lose two players. Charlie Spikes was picked by the Seattle Mariners while Joel Youngblood was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox opened spring training with two more additions, signing 28-year-old Dave LaRoche to handle the closer duties and adding 28-year-old outfielder Richie Zisk, another refugee from Pittsburgh, as a designated hitter to platoon with Carl Yastrzemski, who saw his production decline considerably last season at age 37.
I’m looking forward to seeing how quickly Ozzie Smith can be ready for his Major League debut.
Pictured below: Jerry Reuss, Dave LaRoache, and Richie Zisk: