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Red Sox go for pitching in rounds 16-20

06.08.11 at 7:34 am ET
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Pitching remained a major emphasis for the Red Sox in rounds 16-20 as four of the five picks were pitchers, three of them righties. They also drafted a first baseman. Two high schoolers, one junior college player and two college players were among the selections during these rounds.

16th round (No. 502): Daniel Gossett, RHP, James F Byrnes HS (South Carolina)

Gossett had an outstanding senior season as he led his team to the 4A State Championship series in South Carolina. It was there that he suffered his only losses on the season. Prior to that he was 5-0 with a 0.14 ERA and had 96 strikeouts in 49 innings. He has three solid pitches, a fastball that can reach 95 mph, a curveball and a changeup.

Gossett has signed with Clemson, but didn’t rule out turning professional. Being selected in the 16th round might affect his decision, though the right-hander simply sounded in awe of being drafted on Tuesday.

17th round (No. 532): Blake Forslund, RHP, Liberty University

Forslund went 1-2 with an 8.31 ERA over 21 1/3 innings in his first season with Liberty, a season in which he showed power stuff (a low- to mid-90s fastball) but struggled with consistency and a knee injury. He transferred from the University of Virginia and had to sit out the 2010 season. He struck out 22 and walked 15 in nine appearances. Four of his appearances were starts.

Forslund has played his summer ball with the Central Virginia Blue Sox of the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate Baseball League, for whom he was named pitcher of the year in 2009. He struck out more than two batters an inning in high school.

He’s the son of a former USFL player, Mike Forslund of the Washington Generals.

18th round (No. 562): Andrew Jones, RHP, Samford University

Jones was one of three Samford pitchers selected on Tuesday. Jones was Samford’s closer for during the 2011 season. He finished with 15 saves, which was a school record. He also had a 1.49 ERA and held opponents to a .184 batting average. He struck out 35 batters, and walked only six in 36 1/3 innings.

In his profile on the Samford website he lists his favorite athlete as former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

19th round (No. 592): Jeffrey Orvis, 1B, Freedom HS (Florida)

Orvis also goes by the name “Sikes.” Orvis is a left-handed hitter who shows pull power. His primary position is first base, but has seen some time at catcher. He is said to have very good hands. He is more known for his bat, however, than his defense. He is committed to attend Ole Miss.

20th round (No. 622): Zachary Good, LHP, Grayson County College

The tall (6-foot-3), lanky left-hander logged 64 1/3 innings for Grayson County College this past spring with a 5-4 record and 5.18 ERA. Good had 60 strikeouts and allowed 28 walks. Grayson made it to the JUNO World Series this season, and pitched in the final game of the year for Grayson. He pitched eight shutout innings and left with a 2-0 lead, but Grayson ended up by losing and being eliminated by a score of 3-2 to defending champion Iowa Western Community College.

Good had Tommy John surgery in high school, and has since returned to feature a low-90s fastball and curveball.

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, andrew jones, blake forslund, Curt Schilling

Rounds 11-15: Nursing can wait as Sox make run at college arms

06.08.11 at 7:13 am ET
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This is often a stretch of the draft where the Red Sox grab college pitchers, many of whom end up filling out the roster of Short-Season Lowell of the New York-Penn League. Yet the team added an intriguing wrinkle to the mix this year, adding one high-upside, raw talent from a place not known as a baseball hotbed.

11th round (No. 352): Kevin Brahney, LHP, Chico State

Brahney was better than his 2-5 record for Chico State indicated, as he had a 3.58 ERA, 74 strikeouts (against 26 walks) and a .236 opponents’ batting average in 65 1/3 innings for Chico State. The senior is listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, and features a left-handers requisite quirks. He was born on 8/8/88, can’t stand spiders and refuses to step on the foul line or to be given the ball on the way to the mound, according to a Chico State bio.

He reportedly features a low-90s fastball that can top out at 94 mph, along with a curveball that has good late break. As a senior, he is virtually certain to be one of the first Sox signees this year.

12th round (No. 382): Deshorn Lake, RHP, Menchville HS (Va.)

Lake is a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands who moved to the Newport News area in Virginia as a high school junior. The Sox recently saw Lake throw as part of a showcase for players from the Virgin Islands. (The Sox have never drafted a player out of the Virgin Islands.) He moved to the continental US to further his baseball career, and ended up pitching for Team USA’s Under-16 club in 2009 (compiling a 5.40 ERA while striking out seven in five innings).He features a low-90s fastball that has been clocked as high as the mid-90s, along with a curve.

Lake is, unsurprisingly, raw given how little time he’s been competing in a structured high school environment. An East Carolina recruit, Lake’s coach was suggesting in the spring that he expected the right-hander to be selected in the first two rounds of the draft. He’s 17, but with a very athletic frame that is advanced for his age. He went 15-4 with a 2.06 ERA, 131 strikeouts and 61 walks over 98 1/3 innings.

Lake told the Daily Press that he’s seeking a bonus in line with a pick from the first three rounds.

“I’m hoping it’s the top three rounds and I get top-three round money,” Lake said. “That would be nice, especially coming from the Virgin Islands. If that happens and things work out well, I’d probably be able to play pro ball. If not, then I’ll go to school and try again in three years.”

13th round (No. 412): Matty Ott, RHP, Louisiana State University

The 6-foot-2 right-hander looked like a coming star as a freshman in 2009, when he struck out 69 and walked six as a teammate of Sox prospect Anthony Ranaudo on LSU’s national champion squad. Ott was the closer, setting an LSU record with 16 saves, mostly on the strength of a wipeout slider. But his performance moved backwards from that point, as he had a 6.38 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 21 walks in 42 1/3 innings as a sophomore. He threw just 27 2/3 innings this year, with improved strikeout-to-walk numbers (27:7), a 2.60 ERA and six saves, but nothing akin to what he did as a freshman.

Still, he was a Cape League All-Star last summer while forging a 0.44 ERA, striking out 19 and walking four in 20 1/3 innings last summer, and he looked sharp at times this year, with a swing-and-miss secondary offering to complement his high-80s to low-90s fastball.

14th round (No. 442): Mike McCarthy, RHP, Cal State-Bakersfield

In 17 games (16 starts), McCarthy had a 1.62 ERA, 116 strikeouts and 28 walks in 127 2/3 innings. Most notably, he had a complete-game victory over No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and UCLA that helped to put him onto the map.

As a 23-year-old redshirt senior, it would be difficult to imagine a pitcher with less negotiating leverage. McCarthy, listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, will hold off on a graduate education as a nurse practitioner in order to pursue a baseball career.

15th round (No. 472): Braden Kapteyn, 1B/RHP, University of Kentucky

Kapetyn has spent the last three years as a two-way player at Kentucky. As a junior, he hit .300/.388/.438/.826 with six homers while starting all 55 games as either a first baseman or designated hitter. He also pitched in 14 games, with terrific strikeout numbers (27 in 17 innings) albeit while allowing a run an inning. He was a Cape League All-Star while pitching for Harwich last summer, giving up just nine hits in 28 1/3 innings while going 3-1 with a 0.64 ERA and striking out 29 batters. He also had three hits in 17 at-bats (.176 average) in the summer league.

A couple years ago, the Sox drafted outfielder Alex Hassan out of Duke with the intention of having him develop as a pitcher only to decide while watching him that summer in the Cape that he had more potential as an outfielder, and he’s borne out that assessment thus far; he’s hitting .340 with a .949 OPS this year in Double-A Portland, and has hit .300 or better at every level of pro ball. Certainly, Kapetyn would be more than happy to enjoy similar success.

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, braden kapteyn, deshorn lake, kevin brahney

Closing Time: Red Sox jump on ineffective Freddy Garcia early and often

06.07.11 at 10:36 pm ET
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The phrase ‘€œrunning into a pitcher’€ usually applies to facing a hot pitcher at the wrong time. Well on Tuesday night, the Red Sox offense was able to run through Yankees starter Freddy Garcia en route to a 6-4 win over their rivals at Yankee Stadium.

Jacoby Ellsbury golfed a low breaking pitch into the sea of Bleacher Creatures in right field to start the scoring in the game’€™s first at-bat. From there, a Dustin Pedroia walk, Adrian Gonzalez triple and Kevin Youkilis sacrifice fly gave the Sox a 3-0 lead in their first four appearances at the dish. By the time Pedroia added another run on an RBI double in the next frame, the Red Sox had all the runs they would need for the night.

Garcia, who struggled mightily with all of his pitches, tossed just 1 2/3 innings, allowing the four earned runs on four hits and three walks.

As for Red Sox starter Jon Lester, Tuesday’€™s outing only represented what is becoming a trend for him this season. While staff ace Josh Beckett continues to be mired in the Land of No Decisions, Lester continues to rack up the wins as he improved his record to 8-2 . The southpaw allowed three earned runs on eight hits, one walk and two hit batters while striking out five over six complete innings.

As good as those stats look on paper, Lester had to work to achieve them. His only perfect inning was his last, and he worked out of situations with runners in scoring position in the first, fourth and fifth innings.

Jonathan Papelbon, who announced earlier in the day that he was appealing a three-game suspension, earned the 200th save of his career in the ninth inning.

With the win, the Red Sox move into a tie with the Yankees for first place in the American League East. It’€™s the team’€™s first share of the top spot in the division since last Monday.

Here’€™s what else went what right and wrong in the opening game of a three-game set in the Bronx.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

–Although Ellsbury has seen an increase in his power numbers this season, the speedy centerfielder’€™s blast was his first leadoff homer of the season and his first since Sept. 26, 2008 against the Yankees. Four of his 27 career homers have now come in his team’€™s first at-bat.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, freddy garcia

John Lackey: Elbow going to be ‘something I have to stay on top of’

06.07.11 at 9:16 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Two days after making his first start since returning from the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain, John Lackey was mildly optimistic.

“It’s been a more normal soreness this time than actual pain,” he said prior to the Red Sox‘ series opener against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The starter finished his outing Sunday against the Athletics giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings. It was deemed a step in the right direction, especially after Lackey had allowed 17 runs in his previous 10 2/3 innings. Yet the pitcher admits that he still lives with some trepidation.

“I know I have damage in there already, so you never know for sure. But every pitcher will find something. Some of us just got a little more than others,” said Lackey, who had elbow issues early in the 2009 season. It is a condition that led to a clause in his current deal which makes his option year at the major league minimum if significant time is missed due to the elbow ailment.

Asked if there was concern that the problem was going to be something more serious, Lackey said, “A little bit because you don’t want it to get too much worse than it already is. But the MRI was pretty close to what it was when I got here.”

It should be understood that virtually all major league pitchers live with some sort of wear and tear, much of which will show up negatively on examinations. The trick is, as Lackey has discovered, to manage it in order to prevent setbacks that might derail a career.

“It’s going to get worse eventually, but the shot got the swelling down so things aren’t hitting against each other. That didn’t feel so good,” he explained. “It’s probably going to be something I have to stay on top of. The guys did a great job of helping me come back, so hopefully we can keep it where it is.”

Live Blog: Red Sox take on Garcia, Yankees in New York

06.07.11 at 6:40 pm ET
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Red Sox/Yankees Live blog

Red Sox look for upside, athleticism in Rounds 5-10

06.07.11 at 6:05 pm ET
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As the draft began to pick up steam, with picks flying, the Red Sox continued to acquire a diverse set of players in Rounds 5-10. The team nabbed a couple of position players from smaller schools in the Midwest, a pair of fast, toolsy high school position players and a pair of intriguing left-handed pitchers.

5th round (No. 172): Mookie Betts, SS, Overton HS

Betts has a commitment to the University of Tennessee, although that program is in a state of some chaos after their head coach (Todd Raleigh) was fired late in May.He was expected to play second base for the Volunteers, although his speed has created some suggestions that the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder could be an outfielder in the future. Betts is considered extremely athletic, and was a third-team All-State basketball player in Tennessee, as well as the state’s top bowler as a junior. His speed, plate approach and athleticism are all intriguing tools.

Betts told govolsxtra.com that he was undecided about whether to go to college or turn pro.

“I have no clue,” Betts said. “Even though (coach Todd Raleigh and athletic director Mike Hamilton) are gone, I wouldn’t mind one bit going to UT. I just have to find out what I actually want to do.

“I’ve always wanted to play pro ball, but it’s every kid’s dream to go to college and live the college life. I’m just living on a high right now, and when I come back down we can figure it all out and make a decision.”

6th round (No. 202): Miguel Pena, LHP, San Jacinto Junior College Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, cody koback, cody kukuk, miguel pena

Red Sox draftee Swihart: Going to college at Texas ‘Plan A right now’

06.07.11 at 2:40 pm ET
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The Red Sox tabbed catcher Blake Swihart with their second pick of the first round (No. 26 overall) on Monday, and were elated to be able to select a switch-hitting catcher whose bat suggests the possibility of an impact player in the majors, at a position (catcher) where offense is at a premium. Yet while Swihart suggested that he was “excited” to be taken by an organization like the Sox, whom he referred to as “awesome” and “great,” he made clear that there’s no guarantee that he will be starting his pro career this summer.

Swihart, the top prep player from New Mexico, has a scholarship commitment to the University of Texas. And for now, his first choice remains playing for the Longhorns.

“Texas has always been my dream school. I’€™ve always wanted to go there,” said Swihart. “That’€™s Plan A right now. But I’€™m going to keep an open mind and everything.”

In recent weeks, Swihart said, he became aware of the degree of the Sox’ interest when area scout Matt Mahoney was calling on a near-daily basis. That alerted him to Boston’s interest in selecting him, but he was unsure whether the Sox would proceed with the pick based on his commitment to playing in college.

“I expected the Red Sox to be one of the picks for me,” said Swihart. “I kind of saw it coming, but I wasn’€™t sure at the same time. Just because of my commitment to Texas I wasn’€™t sure it was going to happen.”

The 19-year-old has been told that Texas would have him catch 75 percent of the time, and move around the field for the rest of the time in order to keep his bat in the lineup. He is hoping that Texas will advance past the Super Regionals to the College World Series; if they do so, he plans to meet with the Longhorns during the tournament. Given his interest in being with the Longhorns, Swihart acknowledged that he wouldn’t sign before the end of the summer.

“I’€™m still dedicated to Texas. I’€™m probably going to head out to Omaha after they beat [Arizona State] hopefully this weekend, go hang out with the team. I love the atmosphere out there,” said Swihart. “If I do end up signing, it will probably be at the end, just because I’€™m really dedicated to Texas.”

While he has dreamed of playing for the Longhorns, Swihart also praised the Sox. He did describe being selected by them as a thrill.

“It’€™s amazing. It’€™s awesome. They have a great organization. I’€™m just excited. It’€™s pretty cool,” said Swihart. “I was pretty anxious sitting there watching the TV, but it’€™s a great organization. It’€™s an honor to be drafted by them.”

Whether his next career step is in college or as a professional (should he sign with the Sox), Swihart said that he had made the decision as a sophomore to become a catcher in hopes of advancing his career on the advice of an academy coach, Ryan Kellner.

“My sophomore year he came up to me and said, ‘€˜Hey, to get to that next step, that next career path, either college or professional baseball, you’€™ve got to become a catcher.’€™ He said I could get there at another position, but he thinks that would put me over the top if I started catching,” said Swihart. “A switch-hitting catcher sounded pretty good. It was his idea. Ever since then, I trusted his word, and it’€™s working out so far.”

Indeed, Swihart put up huge numbers for both Cleveland High School as well as for Team USA last summer (for whom he was the best hitter) while developing his defense. Swihart continued to play in the field as well, and suggests that he is comfortable at any position on the diamond, but that catching now feels like a vocation.

“Every position feels natural. But catcher I actually feel pretty good at right now,” said Swihart. “I worked a lot on my arm slot, a lot on the quickness of my feet. If I keep working, I think I can develop a lot more there.”

Both Texas and the Sox — who would have him start his pro career as a catcher — agree. Other clubs considered him for a position in the field.

“A lot of scouts talked about me playing a corner outfield position, or third base, second base position, but I’€™m happy to keep catching. I think Boston is looking at me as a catcher. And at Texas, I’€™ll definitely catch there 75 percent of the time they said,” said Swihart. “I can play any position. Wherever I need to play, I’€™ll play. If it’€™s at catcher, I’€™ll work my butt off and succeed there to get where I need to be.”

For more on Swihart and his prospect status, click here.

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, blake swihart, university of texas, victor martinez

Red Sox grab RHP Noe Ramirez in fourth round

06.07.11 at 1:58 pm ET
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With their fourth-round selection, the Red Sox grabbed right-hander Noe Ramirez from Cal State-Fullerton. Ramirez has enjoyed a very strong career at the prominent Division 1 program, going 29-5 in his three years. Most impressively, he was 8-4 with a 1.69 ERA, 103 strikeouts and 20 walks in 90 2/3 innings as a junior this year. The 21-year-old also pitched last summer for Team USA, forging a 2.70 ERA while striking out 17 and walking four in 13 1/3 innings.

Fellow Cal State-Fullerton product Ricky Romero taught him the grip on his changeup, which is viewed as an above-average pitch. He also features a fastball that is reportedly in the high-80s to low-90s and a slider. He is considered one of the higher probability pitchers in this year’s draft given his college success and feel for his craft.

A product of East Los Angeles, Ramirez is viewed as someone with tremendous makeup and the determination to maximize his potential. For more on his background and how he projects, check out this ESPN.com story.

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, noe ramirez,

With third-round pick, Red Sox grab another high school catcher

06.07.11 at 1:27 pm ET
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The Red Sox took Jordan Weems, a catcher out of Columbus (Ga.) High School, with their third-round selection. Weems’ father (Rick Weems, 15th round, 1980) and brother (Chase Weems, 6th round, 2007) were also drafted.

From Baseball America:

Weems is tall and lanky at a listed 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, and lacks present strength. Scouts have to project his hitting ability and power because of his lack of physicality. His arm gets easy above-average grades, and he posts sub-2.0-second pop times. He’s a decent receiver now who projects to be average with more strength.


Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, jordan weems,

Sox take controversial Williams Jerez in Round 2

06.07.11 at 12:55 pm ET
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The impact of the Major League draft is not limited to the first round. Two of the core members of the Red Sox (Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester) were second rounders; Jonathan Papelbon went in the fourth round; Kevin Youkilis remained on the board into the eighth round.

Certainly, the chances of finding an impact talent are highest at the earliest stages of the draft, but whether because of signability questions, the depth of a draft or simple luck, an organization can make or break its draft with what transpires after the first round. Whether the Sox are able to gain comparable impact this year remains to be seen. It is, after all, worth noting that the Sox have had plenty of second-round (and later) misses as well, as in 2005, when they ended their streak of five straight future big leaguers by taking catcher Jon Egan in the second round. He was out of baseball within three years.

With their second round selection (No. 72 overall) this year, the Sox selected outfielder Williams Jerez, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound, left-handed hitting outfielder, who had been projected as a pick in the first two rounds. The Brooklyn resident worked out recently for the Mets at CitiField, and he’d also been connected to the Yankees and Blue Jays in reports. Here’s what Baseball America had to say about him:

“He has a wiry strong build and should add bulk as he matures. He has average raw power, with loft and leverage in his swing, which has a tendency to get long. Some scouts worry how he will fare against premium velocity, but his bat speed has improved even since March. Jerez has a plus arm and plus speed, but it doesn’t play down the line because he’s slow out of the batter’s box. There’s no consensus on Jerez: Some scouts question his background and age and don’t like his bat, while others project on his raw tools and athleticism.”

Jerez has become something of a flashpoint in New York. He arrived in New York from the Dominican two years ago, and some suspected that he was lying about his age. His birth certificate says that he was born in May 1992, but some have questioned its authenticity. That, in turn, has made Jerez a somewhat fascinating subject, as documented by this terrific feature in the New York Daily News.

Jerez hit .692 with five homers in 52 at-bats, according to Baseball America. He attended Grand Street High School, the same school that talented Yankees left-hander Dellin Betances went to.

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, williams jerez,
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