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Round 4 Notes: Forget Max, Here Comes the Hazelbaker

06.10.09 at 12:20 pm ET
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The fourth round of the MLB draft has a fond place in the hearts of the Red Sox. It was, after all, in the fourth round of the 2003 process that the team plucked a Mississippi State closer with an explosive fastball named Jonathan Papelbon.

Though catcher Max Stassi had been connected to the Red Sox — indeed, Stassi’s father, Jim, suggested that he anticipated that the Sox would ignore slot bonus recommendations to sign his son — it was the Oakland A’s who pounced on the prep catching star from Yuba City, Fla., with the 12th pick of the fourth round. Stassi, considered a first- or sandwich-round talent, fell due to concerns about signability, as his father said that the catcher wanted Top 20 money to forego his commitment to UCLA.

Clemson’s Chris Dwyer, from Swampscott, Mass., was taken by the Royals in the fourth round, followed quickly by Dan Mahoney, a right-handed pitcher from Brighton, Mass., by way of UConn, was taken by the Marlins in the fourth round.

The Sox took the awesomely-named Jeremy Hazelbaker with their fourth-round pick, an outfielder from Ball State University who enjoyed a breakout campaign as a college junior. The leadoff hitter hit .429 with a .550 OBP, .724 slugging mark and 29 steals. Here is Hazelbaker’s profile from Ball State University.

Hazelbaker represents something of a departure from recent draft strategy for the Sox. In recent years, the Sox had concentrated most of their position player picks on high-school players with big upside. Hazelbaker is the first college position player drafted in the first five rounds since 2006, when the Sox grabbed Aaron Bates (3rd round) and Jon Still (4th round) in the early going.

Read More: jeremy hazelbaker, Jonathan Papelbon, max stassi, mlb draft

Red Sox take David Renfroe in third round

06.10.09 at 2:32 am ET
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The storyline might sound familiar: talented, multi-sport player who is a gifted pitcher and shortstop with pro baseball bloodlines gets selected by the Red Sox.

In 2008, it was first-rounder Casey Kelly, a pitcher/shortstop/quarterback whom the Sox gave $3 million to convince him to begin his professional career rather than go to college at Tennessee.

In 2009, it is Red Sox third-round pick David Renfroe, a quarterback, pitcher and shortstop at South Panola High School in Mississippi (just south of Memphis) with a scholarship offer to Ole Miss.

Like Kelly, the Sox will probably have to pay a hefty premium to convince Renfroe to forego college. Unlike Kelly, the Sox would like to see Renfroe develop as a shortstop and third baseman, rather than a pitcher.

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Damon: They just took it to us

06.10.09 at 12:43 am ET
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Johnny Damon sounded more hopeful than optimistic. Funny to hear from a veteran on a Yankee team that was in sole possession of first place in the A.L. East, heading into Fenway Park before Tuesday night’s game against the Red Sox.

Then the Yankees, behind their $82.5 million dollar pitcher A.J. Burnett, went out and lost for a sixth straight time this season to Boston. They are a stunning 0-6 this season against the Red Sox. Even the most optimistic of Red Sox fans could not have imagined this. What gives?

“We’re definitely not happy about that,” Damon said. “We understand it’s baseball. They’ve taken it to us so far this year. We have 13 more against them this season. Hopefully, we’ll mix in a win sometime soon and a lot more as the season progresses.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Joe Girardi, Johnny Damon, Red Sox, Yankees

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.”

Read More: mlb draft, reymond fuentes,

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…

Read More: mlb draft,

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.

Read More: mlb draft, reymond fuentes,
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