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Sox’ First-Round Pick Fuentes Checks In

06.09.09 at 10:16 pm ET
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Outfielder Reymond Fuentes, taken by the Red Sox in the first round (28th overall) of the draft, just concluded a conference call. He admitted surprise at being selected by the Sox, a team about whom he admittedly knew little. Case in point: he thought that G.M. Theo Epstein was the team’s scouting director. Fuentes said that he had not met with either Epstein or amateur scouting director Jason McLeod. (He had met with officials from the Rangers, Tigers and Diamondbacks.)

“I didn’t know that I was going to get picked by Boston, but I’m very excited,” said Fuentes.

Fuentes said that he heard from his cousin, Carlos Beltran, who called him in the middle of a Mets game. He said that he is very close to Beltran, a player whose game Fuentes patterns himself on. The outfielder, described as having elite speed, insists that his foremost tool is his blazing ability to track balls.

“My strength is my legs. I’m very fast, and the only thing that is a problem is my throwing mechanics. That’s the only thing I think I have to work on,” said Fuentes, who moved from his native Florida to Puerto Rico when he was nine years old. “When I had at-bats and I had to sacrifice bunt, I just put down the bunt and started running. I realized that it was not too often that they could get me out. On defense, I have good range, and cover a lot of space and ground in the outfield.”

Fuentes is listed at six feet tall, and he weighs 165 pounds. He said that he wants to add weight to build out his frame a bit. He says that despite his slight frame, he does carry some pop.

“If I find a ball inside and I (have) a good swing, I know it’s going to be over the fence. I’m thin but I’m strong,” said Fuentes. “I can hit for power. But my game is slap the ball and start running.”

Fuentes took great pride in having been the first Puerto Rican first-rounder in several years.

“Being in the first round from Puerto Rico is amazing. I’m very excited,” said Fuentes. “I thank God everyday for giving me the tools to be a first rounder.”

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Red Sox select pitcher Alex Wilson

06.09.09 at 10:04 pm ET
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The Red Sox took right-hander Alex Wilson, a pitcher out of Texas A&M, with their second-round selection. Wilson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, transferred from Winthrop University to Texas A&M for the 2008 season. The 22-year-old, who was born in Saudi Arabia, was converted by the Aggies from the rotation to the bullpen this year. He is considered a power pitcher whom the Sox thought about drafting in 2007, after he underwent surgery.

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Manny visits Dodgers teammates

06.09.09 at 9:37 pm ET
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Manny Ramirez visited his Dodgers teammates today, a move that surprised some on his team, including LA manager Joe Torre. Here is Manny Ramirez with your quote of the day:

“I don’t want to be a distraction for this team,” Ramirez said. “What happened, happened. I spoke to (owner) Frank McCourt, I apologized, I spoke to Joe, my teammates and I’m ready to move on.

“I didn’t kill nobody, I didn’t rape nobody, so that’s it, I’m just going to come and play the game.”

Ramirez, who is in the midst of a 50-game suspension, is eligible to return to the Dodgers for their July 3 game at San Diego, barring any rainouts.

Beckett brings it (again)

06.09.09 at 9:28 pm ET
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Josh Beckett’s night is done, having given up just one hit and no runs over six innings. He struck out eight, walked two, and threw 93 pitches. The Yankees‘ lone hit came on a Robinson Cano fourth-inning single. Manny Delcarmen is on for the seventh, with the Red Sox carrying a 6-0 lead.

Rounding Out the First Round: Picks 29-32

06.09.09 at 8:51 pm ET
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The first round closed with a run on position players, as the final six picks of the round were all position guys. Following the selection of Reymond Fuentes by the Sox at No. 28, the Yankees took high school centerfielder Zach Heathcott, the Rays selected second baseman LeVon Washington, the Cubs took a dazzling athlete in Brett Jackson out of Berkeley, and the round was closed by the Rockies taking outfielder Tim Wheeler.

Even though the draft started with a big run on pitching, with nine of the first 12 selections being mound prospects, the first round finished with a far more balanced outcome. Overall, nine college pitchers (28 percent), seven high-school pitchers (22 percent), six college position players (19 percent) and 10 high-school position players (31 percent) were taken.

The Red Sox do not pick again until the 77th overall pick of the draft, so the team has quite a while to wait. Trying to predict who will be available at that point is an exercise in futility…

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Beckett besting Burnett

06.09.09 at 8:41 pm ET
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A.J. Burnett is already out of the game, having given up five runs on five hits with three walks in just 2 2/3 innings. He threw 84 pitches, only 40 for strikes. Prior to the outing, Burnett hadn’t had a start that lasted fewer than five inning this season. He has now allowed 13 runs in 7 2/3 innings in two Fenway Park starts this year.

Josh Beckett, on the other hand, is supplying a performance 180 degrees opposite of his former Marlins teammate. It wasn’t until there was two outs in the fourth inning that the Sox starter allowed a hit — giving up a single to Robinson Cano, which Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia dove for, gathered in, but lost the handle on when trying to make the throw.

Through four innings Beckett hasn’t allowed a run, striking out five and walking two. The only drawback for the hurler is that his pitch count (71) might not allow him to go as deep as he might like/warrant.

Beckett’s curveball has been pivotal for him, especially against the heart of the Yankees order. having thrown the pitch 23 times already.

UPDATED: Red Sox select outfielder Reymond Fuentes

06.09.09 at 8:26 pm ET
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With their first-round pick, the Red Sox selected outfielder Reymond Fuentes, a high schooler from Puerto Rico. Fuentes is the cousin of Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran, meaning that the Sox have taken a player with big-league bloodlines with their top pick for the second straight year, following Casey Kelly‘s selection in the first round last year. Fuentes is considered a player whose natural abilities — with tremendous speed and raw power — make him a high-upside selection.

The 18-year-old Fuentes – listed at 6-foot-1, and weighing 165 pounds – is described as raw in his offensive approach, with a need to improve his plate discipline. The Sox have not shied from such players with their top overall picks, most notably when they took Clay Buchholz in the sandwich round of the 2005 draft and Jason Place with their first pick in the 2006 draft.

Fuentes is drawing comparisons in many corners to Johnny Damon. So that would make two top Red Sox picks in the last five drafts — Fuentes and Jacoby Ellsbury — who have drawn that comparison.

This marks the third straight year that the Sox have taken a player in the draft out of Puerto Rico, following shortstop Kenneth Roque (20th round, 2007) and Christian Vazquez (9th round, 2008). Prior to Roque’s selection, the Sox hadn’t taken a player out of Puerto Rico since 1997. Fuentes is the first first-rounder out of Puerto Rico since 2000, when the Jays took Miguel Negron with the 18th overall selection.

Here is what Baseball America had to say about Fuentes:

“A relative of Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran, Fuentes is an electric, game-changing player. The (5-foot-10), (165)-pound center fielder is slender, but has wiry strength and can put a change in a ball during batting practice. Like a ticking clock, he hits line drives from foul pole to foul pole with his lefthanded swing. He’s also an elite runner, clocking in at just under 6.3 seconds in the 60-yard dash at Puerto Rico’s annual Excellence Tournament in early May. In game situations, Fuentes stays within himself, goes with a contact-oriented approach and lets his plus speed play to his advantage. These tools make Fuentes an ideal leadoff hitter. Defensively, Fuentes’ range will allow him to stay in center field as a professional. Right down to his below-average arm, he’s a similar player to the Yankees‘ Johnny Damon.”

The Sox were true to their promised approach of selecting the best player available, rather than focusing on need. The Sox have a number of young athletic outfielders in the lower levels of the minors — including players such as Ryan Kalish, Ryan Westmoreland, Pete Hissey, Che-Hsuan Lin and Jason Place. Fuentes adds to that well-populated group.

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Red Sox Draft Pick Nears: Picks 21-27

06.09.09 at 8:05 pm ET
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With pick No. 21, the Astros go after Giovani Mier, while with the No. 22 overall pick, the Twins go after one of the more interesting picks of the first round, Kyle Gibson of the University of Missouri. Gibson was considered a top-of-the-first round pick, but suffered a forearm stress fracture late in his college season, and plummeted as a result. When healthy, his stuff was considered electric. Presumably, his injury may have delivered a hit not only to his draft number but also to his bonus demands – a likelihood, given that the Twins are typically tethered pretty much to slot bonuses.

It would have been interesting to see whether the Red Sox would have made a play for Gibson had he remained on the board. The team subjects its draft decisions to significant medical scrutiny (something that was believed by industry sources to have played into the decision not to pursue either Joba Chamberlain or Taylor Teagarden in the draft).

With Gibson off the board, the biggest signability drop now belongs to Tanner Scheppers, viewed as a top-10 talent, but also is surrounded by some health questions.

The White Sox took LSU centerfielder Jarrod Mitchell with the No. 23 pick. Sox scouting director Jason McLeod and area scout John Booher dropped on one of Mitchell’s games in February.

The Angels follow with a bit of a surprise, plucking high school outfielder Randal Grichuk with the No. 24 pick. In an unsurprising development for an Angels draftee, Grichuk has been described as a “gamer.”

Award for Most Awkward Interview on MLB Network goes to Mike Trout, a kid who was nice enough to head to the MLB draft broadcast but who is now sitting nervously, wondering when in the heck someone, anyone will take him.

“I’m nervous,” Trout — ranked the No. 25 talent in the draft — conceded.

Apparently, the Angels took pity on the kid, selecting the New Jersey native with the next pick at No. 25.

Right-hander Eric Arnett out of Indiana University goes No. 26 to the Brewers. We now know that the two best high school catchers in the draft will still be on the board for the Sox at No. 28, but there are interesting players who are still sitting on the board, including Tanner Scheppers and first baseman Rich Poythress out of the University of Georgia.

The Mariners just grabbed high school shortstop Nick Franklin at No. 27. The Sox are on the board, with options aplenty.

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Guess What? Papi went deep

06.09.09 at 8:01 pm ET
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David Ortiz has his third home run of the season in the books, hitting an A.J. Burnett 2-2, 95 mph fastball over the center field wall for a two-run homer. The blast scored Mike Lowell, who had led off the inning with a walk. 

J.D. Drew capped the inning’s scoring by launching an 0-2, 95 mph fastball off the top of the left field wall, scoring both Mark Kotsay and Nick Green.

Drew is typically a terrible 0-2 hitter, having struck out 12 times in 17 chances on the count, while hitting just .167 after going to 0-2.

Burnett finished the second having thrown 43 pitches in the frame, and has 61 after two. The Red Sox head to the third leading, 4-0.

Beckett’s strategy unveiled

06.09.09 at 7:28 pm ET
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Josh Beckett threw 18 pitches in the first inning. Would you believe nine of them were curveballs. Of course, six of the benders came during Mark Teixeira’s eight-pitch at-bat (which ultimately ended up in a walk). 

In case you missed it, our man Gary from Chapel Hill came out firing today with a report as to who is the most prevalent fastball throwers on the team and how effective they are with the heater.

As far as the Red Sox‘ offense goes, Dustin Pedroia hit a ball to the center field warning track that might have had more legs if not for the drizzly weather conditions, but died into Brett Gardner’s glove. Pedroia has two career homers off NY starter A.J. Burnett, including his second career long ball, which was the impetus for the classic line upon re-entering the dugout, “96 coming in, 196 going out”.

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