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The latest Red Sox draft buzz: Noon

06.06.11 at 12:05 pm ET
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With the countdown to tonight’s draft now in full swing, here are the latest suggests about who the Red Sox might take with their early picks, as well as more reports about players whom the team has scouted and/or worked out:

– MLB draft expert Keith Law of ESPN.com has published his final mock draft. He has the Red Sox selecting right-hander Alex Meyer out of Kentucky with the No. 19 pick. He also notes that they could select Jed Bradley (LHP, Georgia Tech), Sonny Gray (RHP, Vanderbilt) or Mikie Mahtook (OF, LSU) if they were to be available when the Sox are on the clock. With the No. 26 he has them picking left-hander Chris Reed out of Stanford. A lot of experts have the Sox selecting high school outfielder Josh Bell from Texas but according to Law those rumors are “overheated.”

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus published his mock draft on Friday. With the No. 19 pick he has the Sox picking Alex Meyer (RHP, Kentucky). He, like Law, says the Sox are hoping a few players drop and are available when they pick. At No. 26 he has catcher Blake Swihart, a high school catcher out of New Mexico going to the Sox. He also notes that Meyer could fall and the Sox could get him with No. 26 instead of at No. 19.

– The Red Sox have interest in high school outfielder Williams Jerez from Brooklyn, NY. He would most likely be drafted within the first two rounds. The Mets, Yankees and Blue Jays have also shown interest. He worked out with the Mets before their game on Sunday and he belted two home runs into the second deck in right field. If he does not end up signing with a team he has plans to play Junior college in Texas.

Chaz Hebert (LHP, Breaux Bridge HS) is also reportedly on the Sox radar for day two of the draft. “I’ve seen projections between the third and fifth rounds, but the teams do what they want to do. It’s a big business. You never know what’s going to happen,” Hebert said. Hebert was the District 6-4A MVP and made the Class 4A all-state team (Louisiana), going 6-2 with a 1.36 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings. He has signed to play for Louisiana-Lafayette, but could turn professional.

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, alex meyer, blake swihart, chaz hebert

The strange story of Darnell McDonald and the challenges of drafting two-sport stars

06.06.11 at 8:22 am ET
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Judging whether or not a young man has enough potential for a future in Major League Baseball is hard enough. Judging whether or not he has the desire to pursue it and dealing with his family and agents takes it to a whole other level.

That’€™s what amateur scouts and big league executives get paid to judge this week as they deal with thousands of high school and college-age athletes and their representatives. The challenge of understanding a player’€™s makeup is viewed as almost as important ‘€” sometimes more important ‘€” than scrutinizing his tools on the field.

‘€œIt’€™s a huge factor. I remember when I first started in the draft room in San Diego in 1998, I was shocked how much of the conversation was about makeup and personality and a player’€™s background, talking about what his parents did for a living, if his parents were still together, what his guidance counselor thought, what this kid did off the field,’€ Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. ‘€œIt was at least 50 percent of the conversation and it still is.

‘€œYou have to think about, you’€™re drafting a high school kid and you’€™re making him a professional. He’€™s never been away from home before. So, you’€™re dealing with homesickness, and you’€™re dealing with how disciplined and independent an individual this person is, and whether he can survive off the field to put himself in a position to let his baseball ability manifest. You’€™re projecting a 17-year-old kid from a small town in the middle of nowhere and how he’€™s going to be 10 years later when he’€™s 27, pitching in a pennant race at Fenway Park with 40,000 people looking at him. You really have to figure out what makes a kid tick.’€

That challenge is significant enough in its own right. It becomes even greater when it comes to the question of multisport stars who have scholarship offers to pursue a path in other sports.

The Sox have made such multisport talents a staple of their recent drafts. In 2006, they signed Ryan Kalish away from a football commitment at the University of Virginia. In 2007, one of their top prospects, Will Middlebrooks, passed on a two-sport scholarship at Texas A&M to begin his career with the Sox. In 2008, Casey Kelly walked away from the opportunity to quarterback at the University of Tennessee to sign with Boston. The following year, powerful running back Brandon Jacobs passed on a chance to play football at Auburn to start his pro career. And in 2010, the team signed Kendrick Perkins away from a football scholarship at Texas A&M to begin the long process of honing his baseball skills as a minor leaguer.

There is a concern about giving a player money to pull him away from a second sport only to have him second-guess the decision when he finds life in the minor leagues challenging. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: amiel sawdaye, casey kelly, darnell mcdonald, J.D Drew

A look at who the Red Sox might be targeting in the Major League Baseball draft

06.06.11 at 5:20 am ET
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The Red Sox have been hard at work scouting and working out prospects in preparation for this weeks Major League Baseball draft. Here is a list of a few of the players the Sox have worked out and could possibly be drafted by the team this week:

Jordan Kutzer (RHP, Pasadena Poly, CA): Has a baseball scholarship to Stanford. His fastball tops out at 91 MPH. The 6-foot-6 right-hander is 5-1 with a  2.46 ERA this season and has 61 strikeouts. He has also worked out for the Rays, Blue Jays and Phillies. Kutzer is also a solid hitter. He batted .455, belted 5 home runs and had 26 RBIs during his senior season.

Matt Barnes (RHP, UConn): Theo Epstein attended a game in which Barnes pitched in May. Epstein actually held the radar gun himself when the right-hander was on the mound. J.P. Ricciardi of the Mets was also in attendance. On the year, Barnes is 11-4 with a 1.62 ERA. He has 111 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings. UConn is currently playing in the NCAA Regionals at Clemson.

Josh Bell (OF, Jesuit, TX): Epstein attended one of Bell’s games in May and was seen streaming the Red Sox-Tigers game on his iPad. Bell has become accustomed to having major league scouts watch him play as 20 or 30 scouts have generally been in attendance at his games.  Bell blasted a 400-foot home run to centerfield in his last at-bat of the game Epstein attended. Asked about the blast Epstein said, “If you like home runs to straight-away center field….”

– Tyler Beede (RHP, Lawrence Academy, MA): Three years ago Beede started working out with working with Eric Cressey, president and co-founder of Cressey Performance. During his time there Beede has worked out with former major league pitcher Curt Schilling and current Kansas City Royals reliever Tim Collins, who is from Worcester. Both are clients of Cressey. An Auburn, MA native, Beede’s fastball tops out at 93 MPH and he committed to Vanderbilt in 2009, but has not ruled out turning professional.

Charlie Tilson (OF, New Trier, IL): The Illinois Baseball Player of the Year has reportedly been in contact with the Red Sox. The outfielder has signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Illinois, but will have to weigh his options if he were to be selected.

Johnny Eierman (SS, Warsaw, MO): Eierman was featured on the cover of ESPN Rise magazine (Missouri edition) as one of the states best players. He is planning on playing at LSU next year, but has not ruled out turning professional. The Yankees, Rays, White Sox, Cubs and Royals are also said to have interest in Eierman.

Shon Carson (OF, Lake City, SC): The two-sport athlete has talked to nearly every major league team and has worked out with the Red Sox, Rangers, Royals and Dodgers. He has already signed  to play both baseball and football at the University of South Carolina. Turning pro would force Carson to give up football, but he would be willing to do it. ‘€œIt depends if they give me enough money to give up football, then I will do it,’€ Carson said.

Joe Serrano (INF, Tucson, AZ): Serrano hit .541 (59-of-106), belted 11 home runs and set state records with 69 RBIs and 26 doubles. He has signed to play for the University of Arkansas, but could opt to turn professional. He also has received interest from the Astros, Yankees, White Sox, and Reds.

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, Theo Epstein,

Who are the experts predicting the Sox will select?

06.06.11 at 5:18 am ET
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The Red Sox have four of the first 40 picks in Monday nights first round of the Major League Baseball draft. In the first round they pick at No. 19 and No. 26. In the sandwich round they have overall picks No. 36 and No. 40.

General manager Theo Epstein knows how hard it is to evaluate talent for the draft. “You are looking at 17-18 year old kids in high school who are off playing against very poor competition and trying to predict what they are going to look like, pitch like, and what they are going to be as people 10 years later when they are 27 years old,” he said.

“It’€™s just a fascinating process just getting to know the kids and getting a feel for projection of what you are looking for in high school and college kids and for what works and doesn’€™t work in the draft. Again, nine out of 10 of these kids don’€™t make it.”

Below is a look at who some of the top experts and websites are predicting the Red Sox will select on Monday night.

No. 19 (for Victor Martinez)– Baseball America: Josh Bell (OF, Dallas Jesuit HS, Texas), MLB.com: Blake Swihart ( C, Cleveland HS, New Mexico), Sox Prospects: Alex Meyer (RHP, Kentucky), Prospect Junkies: Alex Meyer (RHP, Kentucky), Mymlbdraft.com: Jed Bradley (LHP, Georgia Tech), Minorleagueball.com: Daniel Norris (LHP, Science Hill, Tennessee).

No. 26 (for Adrian Beltre)– Baseball America: Austin Hedges (C, JSerra HS), MLB.com: Andrew Susac (C, Oregon State), Sox Prospects: Josh Bell (OF, Dallas Jesuit HS, Texas), Prospect Junkies: Blake Swihart (C, Cleveland HS, New Mexico), Mymlbdraft.com: Tyler Beede (RHP, Lawrence Academy, Massachusetts), Minorleagueball.com: Tyler Beede (RHP, Lawrence Academy, Massachusetts).

No. 36 (for Martinez)– Sox Prospects: Dillon Maples (RHP, Pinecrest HS, North Carolina), Mymlbdraft.com: Blake Swihart (C, Cleveland HS, New Mexico), Minorleagueball.com: Austin Hedges (C, JSerra HS, California).

No 40 (for Beltre)– Sox Prospects: Blake Swihart (C, Cleveland HS, New Mexico), Mymlbdraft.com: Grayson Garvin (LHP, Vanderbilt), Minorleagueball.com: Anthony Meo (RHP, Coastal Carolina).

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, Adrian Beltre, Theo Epstein, victor martinez

Closing Time: Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez lead Red Sox to sweep of Athletics

06.05.11 at 4:27 pm ET
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The return of John Lackey proved promising, with the starter helping the Red Sox claim a 6-3 win over the A’s Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. The victory sealed a sweep for the Sox over Oakland, improving Terry Francona’s team to 33-26.

Lackey, who was making his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list, allowed three runs on three hits, striking out two and walking two. He was followed by relievers Matt Albers, Tommy Hottovy, Dan Wheeler, and Daniel Bard.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Sox’ win …

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– Lackey looked solid in his return, hitting 93 mph with his fastball while needing 93 pitches to get through his 5 2/3 innings.

– Carl Crawford continued to show signs of life against left-handed pitching, hitting his second homer of the season vs. a lefty, this one coming in the second inning against A’s starter Brett Anderson. The three-run shot reached the Red Sox’ bullpen. Crawford, who came into the game .127 against lefties, has now hit safely in his last three appearances against southpaws. It was just the left fielder’s second extra-base hit against a left-hander since May 1. Crawford’s next at-bat against Anderson wasn’t so pleasant for the outfielder, with the Oakland starter hitting Crawford in the right shoulder. The hit-by-pitch led to a few words, and glares, from the Sox’ hitter on his way to first.

– Another left-handed Red Sox hitter who made his mark against Anderson was Adrian Gonzalez, who came into the game hitting .286 with one homer vs. southpaws, launched his 12th homer of the season over the left field wall to give the Sox a 5-2 lead.

– Speaking of hitting against lefties, David Ortiz continued to master the art of succeeding against southpaws. In his first three trips to the plate against Anderson, the DH ripped a single, double and single, building on the .322 batting average he carried against lefties coming into the game. The one time Ortiz did get out came against righty Fautino De Los Santos when he launched a deep fly ball into the center field triangle, which Coco Crisp tracked down.

– After seeing his batting average drop to .239, Dustin Pedroia responded with a two-hit game to raise his average to .244. Also coming away with a multi-hit game was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose three hits pushed his batting average up to .240. Saltalamacchia finished his day with his third career triple.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– What could be construed as retaliation for Crawford being hit the inning before, Lackey plunked Oakland’s Kurt Suzuki with two outs in the fourth inning. The A’s catcher proceeded to steal second on Lackey’s next pitch, and then come home with his team’s second run via a Daric Barton single.

Jacoby Ellsbury came up just short on two bunt attempts, narrowly being beat to the bag with the throw each time. According to STATS Inc., the Red Sox only have one bunt hit this season, that coming from Gonzalez.

‘Anxious’ and ‘shocked’ Daisuke Matsuzaka doesn’t think he’s done in Boston

06.05.11 at 1:54 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka spoke Sunday morning for the first time since deciding to have “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow. The Red Sox pitcher ‘€” in the fifth year of a six-year contract ‘€” said he was stunned when Dr. Lewis Yocum told him that surgery was the most realistic way to fully heal his injury.

‘€œThe ligament is torn and I was told to fix it perfectly, I need to have the surgery,” Matsuzaka said. “That’€™s why I’€™m getting the surgery.”

Matsuzaka was 3-3 this season with a 5.30 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance. He signed a six-year, $52 million contract before the 2007 season and has a 49-30 mark with a 4.25 ERA in four-plus seasons in Boston.

‘€œIt’€™s actually my first time to get an operation and all I can say is I’m very shocked when it comes to these results,” Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. ‘€œI decided to have the surgery the same day the team officially announced [Friday].’€

Matsuzaka said the decision on when to have the surgery will be finalized Monday.

With full recovery expected to take between 12 and 14 months, Matsuzaka was asked if he felt his Red Sox career was over.

‘€œIt’s difficult to say at this point,” added Matsuzaka. “But, you know, what I can do is do my best and come back to the game as soon as I can. It’€™s difficult, but what I can do is do my best and come back to the game as soon as I can. All I have right now is anxiety, so all I can do is do what I have to do my best, and come back to the game.’€

Matsuzaka – who won Game 7 of the 2007 ALCS against the Indians and Game 3 of the ’07 World Series – believes he is not done with the Red Sox.

‘€œI don’€™t think of it that way,” Matsuzaka said. “For sure, I hope I come back to the game again with the Red Sox uniform. If I wouldn’€™t come back to the game, I will have to talk about that next time.’€

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, colorado rockies, Daisuke Matsuzaka

Live Blog: Red Sox, Lackey look for sweep against Athletics

06.05.11 at 1:37 pm ET
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Red Sox/A’s Live Blog

Clay Buchholz moved back, Tim Wakefield again steps into the fold

06.05.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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In a precautionary move to allow his back more time to let his back settle down, Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced Sunday morning that Clay Buchholz will be moved back two days and will next pitch on Friday against the Blue Jays. Tim Wakefield will take Buchholz’s spot in the rotation and will pitch Wednesday against the Yankees.

“Buch’s going to pitch Friday in Toronto,” Francona said. “Wake will pitch Wednesday. Just give Buch a chance to back up a couple of days, let him start his five-day cycle two days late. Think that will do him a little bit of good.”

Buchholz said following Friday’s start that he was concerned that his back was about to act up on him while he was pitching and didn’t want to injure himself. The righthander labored through 4 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, six runs – five earned – while walking two and striking out five. He never found his rhythm, throwing 99 pitches and not getting through the fifth, causing pitching coach Curt Young to visit him on the mound several times during the game.

“His back was sore, he had battled that for a little while,” Francona said. “His last outing, I don’t think it actually interfered with his pitching, besides the fact I think he was holding back at times. Even when he warmed up, Curt was like, ‘You know what, it looks likes he reaching.’ Buch owned up to that, saying, ‘You know, it didn’t hurt but I thought it was going to hurt.’ We’ve all been there. So, rather than keep going like that, because it’s hard to pitch successfully that way, give him a couple of extra days and I’ll betcha it’ll really help him.”

Buchholz said he was looking forward to making his next start on Wednesday in New York before Sunday’s announcement.

“I’m sure he did,” Francona said. “It’s fun to do that. It’s a great place to pitch, the atmosphere but I think he understands and he knows it’s in his best interest.”

Francona then sat down Saturday with with the Red Sox starter, pitching coach Curt Young and trainer Mike Reinold to determine the smartest course of action.

“Talked to him a bunch, tried to get a feel for where he was,” Francona added. “Then Curt and I talked to Mike Reinold a little bit and then went back and talked to Buch and I just think it makes sense.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, curt young, mike reinold

Jonathan Papelbon: ‘I wasn’t even talking to’ umpire Tony Randazzo

06.04.11 at 8:44 pm ET
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There are a lot of events that will get lost in the shuffle of a 14-inning game that features 16 different pitchers, 415 pitches and lasts five hours and 17 minutes. J.D. Drew‘€™s walk-off line drive in the final frame arguably should have been the one to remember. But the one inning that stood out both during the game and in the aftermath was the bottom of the ninth.

The Red Sox entered the top of the ninth up 7-3 with closer Jonathan Papelbon coming in for the non-save situation. What followed seemed like madness.

Papelbon allowed the first two runners to reach on a single and a walk, just his fourth free pass of the season, respectively before striking out Landon Powell for the first out. The eight-pitch base on balls given to Daric Barton had both Papelbon and catcher Jason Varitek shaking their heads as they tried to decipher umpire Tony Randazzo‘€™s strike zone. With one out and runners on first and second, Coco Crisp lined a God-given double play ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. But instead of ending the game right there, the ball dribbled through the sure-handed infielder’€™s legs allowing Mark Ellis to score from second.

Five pitches later, the ninth hitter in the A’€™s lineup, Cliff Pennington, lined a double to left to minimize the Boston lead to 7-5. At that point, Varitek ‘€œlost his cool,’€ as he put it, because of a perceived lack of consistency on Randazzo’€™s part, and the Sox captain was soon given the heave ho. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jarrod saltalamacchia, Jonathan Papelbon, Terry Francona, Tony Randazzo

Closing Time: Drew drives in winner of 14-inning marathon

06.04.11 at 6:30 pm ET
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J.D. Drew has struggled mightily in the early going, but in a 14-inning marathon, none of that matters. Following a Carl Crawford double and an intentional walk to Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox rightfielder stroked a single to right-center to give the Red Sox a 9-8 win over the Athletics.

But before those heroics, the wheels had come flying off.

The Red Sox entered the ninth inning in possession of what appeared to be an airtight 7-3 lead. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was called upon to shut the door in a non-save situation that seemed to offer little drama.

Yet Papelbon proved flat, and an uncharacteristic error by Dustin Pedroia coupled with a hotly disputed strike zone led to a wild five-run rally.

Papelbon permitted a flared single and then issued a walk to Daric Barton (possessor of a .215 average and .602 OPS), with a couple of the pitches seemingly just missing the strike zone. But Papelbon bounced back, punching out Landon Powell for the first out and then getting what appeared to be a tailor-made double play against Coco Crisp.

But a bounder to the Sox’ most sure-handed defender, Pedroia, uncharacteristically went under the glove and through the legs of the second baseman. Instead of a game-ending twin-killing, the A’s had plated their first run with chaos soon to follow. Cliff Pennington followed with an RBI double to left on a 1-2 fastball; catcher Jason Varitek, distressed that an 0-2 splitter just off the plate had been called a ball, got ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home plate ump Tony Randazzo; Papelbon was ejected as well soon after when he muttered something to Randazzo’s disliking while marching back to the mound. At that point, the damage had already been done. The Sox closer had allowed a two-run, game-tying single to Conor Jackson to tie it at 7-7. The four-run blown lead was the largest by Boston this season.

In the 11th, Alfredo Aceves gave up a go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to leftfield by Ryan Sweeney. Jacoby Ellsbury retied the game with a ground-rule double to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the frame.

The blown lead meant that Josh Beckett had another solid start wasted. Beckett gave up three runs in six-plus innings against the Athletics, sending his ERA “soaring” to 2.01 (from 1.80). Even so, he turned in his ninth quality start (in 12 outings), and has now allowed more than three runs in just one start this year.

The right-hander allowed four hits in his six innings, walking three and striking out four. He mixed his pitches thoroughly, and showed terrific movement all over and around the strike zone.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Beckett now has nine quality starts in his 12 outings this year, nearly matching his 10 quality starts in 21 turns in the rotation in 2010.

Kevin Youkilis may be emerging from a brief skid. Prior to Friday, he was hitting .143 with a .361 OPS, just one extra-base hit (a double) and no walks over a nine-game stretch. But in Friday’s victory over the Athletics, he went 2-for-3 with a double and walk, and on Saturday he was 2-for-5 with a pair of both doubles and walks. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, J.D Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury
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