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Red Sox use first-round pick on Kolbrin Vitek

06.07.10 at 8:54 pm ET

With their first-round draft pick, the Red Sox selected second baseman/outfielder Kolbrin Vitek out of Ball State University. Vitek hit .361 with 17 homers and 16 steals en route to winning Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honors. The Sox had the 20th overall selection as compensation for the Braves‘ signing of Billy Wagner this offseason.

Vitek said that he and the Sox have already reached a verbal agreement for a signing bonus that represents “a fair number to them and a fair number to me.” A baseball source indicated that the agreement was for the Major League Baseball slot recommendation for the 20th pitch of the draft. A year ago, the Blue Jays signed college pitcher Chad Jenkins for the slot recommendation of $1.359 million at the No. 20 pick.

Vitek had great workouts for the Red Sox and Padres, and he was also scouted heavily by the Blue Jays, Rangers and Cubs. He is viewed as an advanced college hitter, with good bat speed and power potential. The Padres were close to taking him with the No. 9 pick of the draft, and would have selected Vitek had high school pitcher Karsten Whitson not been on the board at the pick.

One talent evaluator evaluated the 21-year-old as most likely to end up as an outfielder or third baseman in the majors. Vitek worked out for the Sox at Fenway Park over the weekend, where he took grounders at both third and short. He suggested that the Sox plan for him to play third, a position he last played as a sophomore in college.

The team has not yet talked with the player about where he will start his professional career, but with 2009 third-rounder David Renfroe preparing for a short-season assignment, there would seem a decent chance that he will debut in Single-A Greenville. Ball State teammate Jeremy Hazelbaker, a fourth-round pick of the Sox in 2009, spent almost all of his first pro season in Greenville.

For his part, Vitek was less concerned with where he will start his career than with the fact that he will start his professional career.

“It’s very exciting to join such a successful organization,” he said.

He suggested that his strengths are as a hitter, where he stays inside the ball and drives pitches into the gaps. He described his biggest challenge as re-learning how to play third base after having not played the position in his junior season.

While Vitek was announced as a second baseman, he was also Ball State’s top pitcher this year. He led the MAC with a 3.28 ERA this year, and had 60 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings of work.

Vitek is the second straight toolsy Ball State second baseman/outfielder selected by the Sox, following Jeremy Hazelbaker, a Sox fourth rounder in 2009. Hazelbaker was named the top position player for the Sox in the Fall Instructional League, and while his offensive numbers this year at Greenville are modest (.240/.339/.413), he has swiped 26 bases at this young stage of the season.

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