|Sox to sign first-round pick Fuentes||07.01.09 at 2:06 pm ET|
Reymond Fuentes, the high school outfielder from Puerto Rico whom the Red Sox selected in the first round of this year’s draft, has agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a signing bonus of approximately $1.13 million. Fuentes has already passed a physical and drug test, and his signing will become official on Wednesday.
The outfielder, whose speed and defense have earned him comparisons to Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury, is expected to be assigned to Fort Myers of the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League. This is what we wrote about Fuentes following his selection in the draft:
Fuentes, the first player taken in the first round out of Puerto Rico since 2000, was one of the fastest players in the draft. The 18-year-old confirmed the relevance of speed to his game.
“My strength is my legs,” Fuentes said shortly after the Sox selected him with the 28th pick of the first round of the 2009 draft. “My game is slap the ball and start running… On defense, I have good range, and cover a lot of space and ground in the outfield.”
Amateur scouting director Jason McLeod said that he has plus-plus speed, and was a sprinting champion in Puerto Rico. Fuentes received comparisons to a pair of Sox (current and past) centerfielders: Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Damon.
Former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora – now teammates with Carlos Beltran, Fuentes’ cousin – offered the following assessment via text message:
“Beltran’s cousin, Jacoby’s clone,” wrote Cora. “Saw him. He flies. Good level swing. Hard worker.”
As they followed the 18-year-old, particularly this spring, the Sox began to see something more. Physically, the outfielder – who is a cousin of Carlos Beltran – began to develop this year. McLeod and G.M. Theo Epstein went to scout Fuentes in Puerto Rico in May, and at that time, his bat had advanced in noteworthy fashion.
“I thought his bat speed had improved from where he was at the beginning of the spring,” said Epstein. “The ball was coming off his bat much better. He started to really interest us as a guy who was not just going to disrupt on the bases, who was not just going to flash a plus-plus run tool in centerfield, but who could really hit as well. For us, that pushed him up into the first round.”
In addition to Fuentes, the Sox also announced the signings of fourth-round pick Jeremy Hazelbaker, eighth-rounder Shannon Wilkerson, 12th rounder Michael Thomas and 13th-round pick Chris McGuinness.
For more on Fuentes, including a look at the Sox’ wait inside the draft room to see whether the outfielder would be available when they made their first-round selection, read “Holiday in June: A Day in the Life of the Red Sox Draft.”
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