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UPDATED: Red Sox select outfielder Reymond Fuentes

06.09.09 at 8:26 pm ET

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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