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Third time’s a charm: Red Sox draftee Miguel Pena’s journey to professional ball

06.30.11 at 10:27 am ET
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When left-handed pitcher Miguel Pena was drafted by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, it was not the first time Pena had been drafted by a major league team. In fact, it marked the third straight year that a team had selected the hurler.

He was drafted out of high school by the Nationals in the fifth round of the 2009 draft and then in 2010 by the Padres in the 13th round following his first year at San Jacinto Junior College. He did not sign with either team because of money issues with his contract.

‘€œI initiated what I wanted for money [with every team] way before the draft and I am a man to my word and for me to have that under-slot [bonus offer] thrown at me [by the Nationals and Padres], it really hurt my family and I,’€ Pena said. ‘€œI am not going to let it affect me on or off the field though.’€

The drafts each of the past three years have been somewhat unpredictable and surprising for Pena.

‘€œI was surprised coming out of high school, you know, fifth round, that’€™s pretty high,’€ Pena said. ‘€œBut, I was more shocked when I went down to the 13th round [in 2010], but I knew there were some off the field issues. This year I kind of knew the Red Sox were going to take me. I was really close with the area scout back in Texas and it was somewhat surprising but I was very pleased with the round I went in. It really meant a lot to me.’€

After not signing with the Nationals in 2009 he enrolled at San Jucinto Junior College (where Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte both played) and pitched there in 2009. Pena posted a 14-2 record with a 2.51 ERA in his freshman year and then was drafted by the Padres in the 2010 draft, and went on to play in the Cape Cod League that summer.

Pena played for the Falmouth Commodores and only appeared in three games, all of which he started. He did tally 21 strikeouts in only 16 2/3 innings.

There were some off-field issues for Pena that summer on the Cape, reportedly with his host family, which played a role in him not getting the amount of money he desired from the Padres, and therefore not signing.

He returned to San Jacinto for his sophomore season and finished the year with a 10-3 record, a 1.91 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 24 walks in 85 innings. Then in June Pena was selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the draft. He was pleased with his selection.

‘€œI was very excited for me and my family as I have been a Red Sox fan since 2004,’€ Pena said.

The southpaw signed quickly with the Red Sox with an $85,000 signing bonus and was sent to Lowell, the short season single-A affiliate with the Red Sox. The $85,000 was considerably less than what he was offered the previous two years.

‘€œI signed so quick just to get out here and start playing pro ball and start working my way up,’€ he said. ‘€œI’€™ve felt that I’€™ve been ready since I got out of high school. I think my senior year and then my freshman year in college has been a major setback for me. I don’€™t know where I could have been by now. It was definitely one of the reasons why I came out early.’€

Pena is not regretting anything though.

‘€œNot at all,’€ Pena said. ‘€œEverything happens for a reason. Everything is going pretty well for me so far here.’€

He also feels that he has grown as a player since being drafted by the Nationals in 2009 with the coaching he received at San Jacinto.

‘€œYeah, definitely,’€ he said. ‘€œEspecially coming out of high school and going into junior college. San Jacinto is a high profile school and my pitching coach really helped me with pretty much everything from mechanics to increasing velocity and just improving as a pitcher.’€

The 20-year-old stands at six-foot-two, 175 pounds, which is relatively small for a professional pitcher. He does not let that affect him and his approach to the game.

‘€œIt doesn’€™t really affect me,’€ Pena said. ‘€œI see all these big guys out there and they see me. It isn’€™t that intimidating at all. I go out there like a bull. I won’t back down for no one. I am going to go [all] out every game. It’€™s a big part of my character being a small person but as long as I play the game I will be fine.’€

He throws four pitches, a fastball (88-91 MPH according to Baseball America), a curveball, changeup and a slider. His strength is reportedly his command and ability to throw strikes.

When arriving in Lowell, Pena was reunited with one of his teammates from a summer league team back in high school, infielder Garin Cecchini. The two played on the South Texas Sun Devils, a team that traveled all around the country and played against some of the best competition in the country.

Cecchini, an infielder was drafted by the Sox out of high school in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, but sat out last season because of a torn ACL he suffered during high school. The highly regarded third base prospect had spoken highly of the Sox to Pena.

‘€œI played with him two summers ago, we were roommates the whole summer,’€ Pena said. ‘€œI consider him one of my best friends, he’€™s a great guy all around. I have nothing but good things to say about him and it’€™s awesome that I ended up here in Lowell with him.’€

Now that Pena — who made his debut for the Spinners on Monday, tossing two innings and allowing one run on two hits and a walk while striking out three — has settled into life as a professional in the Red Sox organization he just wants to keep things simple.

‘€œI want to go out there and grind everyday and give it my all,’€ he said. ‘€œMost importantly throw strikes.’€

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