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Red Sox first-rounder Trey Ball: ‘I feel that Boston is right for me’

06.06.13 at 10:25 pm ET

Left-hander Trey Ball expected to be a first-rounder, perhaps even a top 10 pick. Still, even in a best-case scenario, he didn’t see himself going to the Red Sox with the No. 7 overall pick in the draft.

In retrospect, however, perhaps his selection should not have been as great as a surprise as it seemed. Ball fits a lot of check marks in terms of player profiles that the Red Sox tend to seek in the draft. They like big pitchers with projectable frames, and given his height and the ability to fill out, it takes little to imagine him adding even more to his fastball velocity. Moreover, because he is athletic, that suggests an ability to repeat a delivery and command. (And Ball is athletic — very, very athletic.) Moreover, the Sox love to take pitchers in the Midwest, feeling that their stuff is often underrated due to the fact that they are rarely seen in ideal weather conditions.

All of that being the case, it was, perhaps, unsurprising to hear that the Sox were the team with the highest pick in the draft to speak extensively with Ball. Still, the left-hander acknowledged being caught off guard when Boston picked him.

“We had a lot of contact with them in the spring. They sent in multiple guys to come visit and have meetings with me. They sent in their site guy. I had a lot of contacts with them,” said Ball. “Coming [into the draft], I’d heard [about being picked] mostly between eight and 14. Being picked seventh by Boston, it was great. I was speechless. It’s kind of surprising. I had no idea where it was coming from. I guess it was a last-minute decision, but I’m not sure. It’s a moment of greatness, and I’m very excited, very happy.”

“It was a great shock. I’m speechless still about it,” he said. “We were all surprised. Once they read the name, everyone erupted and everyone was yelling and screaming. I hugged my mom first and that was a moment I’€™ll never forget.”

Ball has a commitment to pitch for the University of Texas, but given his surprise at being drafted so high, it’s hard to imagine him fulfilling that commitment. Indeed, for the New Castle (Ind.) High School alum, Thursday night represented a moment of considerable celebration.

“Right now, it’s still open [whether he’ll go to college or turn pro]. We haven’t shut the door on anything. But it’s the best fit for me and my family. Anything can happen, but I feel that Boston is right for me,” said Ball.

Ball — who suggests that he would like to model his game on that of Cliff Lee, attacking the strike zone with a complete mix of pitches — is more or less at the very outset of his pitching career. His secondary arsenal is a work in progress, since his father wouldn’t let him throw a hook until his junior year in order to protect the 18-year-old’s arm.

“Right now, I feel like my fastball is my go-to pitch,” said Ball. “I need more development work with my changeup and my curveball. I’ve only been throwing a curveball for about a year and a half now. My father had restricted me on throwing a curveball to preserve my arm, so I didn’t have to risk that injury. I see myself working on the curveball a lot, improving that.”

The left-hander has an interesting pedigree that screams of a player who has considerable upside beyond the talent that he’s already shown on the mound. Not only did the 6-foot-6, 180-pound lefty have his senior season limited considerably by brutal weather patterns in the Midwest, but he also spent his high school career as a two-way player (outfielder and pitcher).

However, as his senior season unfolded and he lit up radar guns, his professional future on the mound began to crystallize.

“Growing up, I always did two-way, so I was open-minded to anything. But coming on the gun this year, this spring, my pitching came out strongest this year, and that’s what took off this year for me,” said Ball, who was 6-0 with 0.76 with 93 strikeouts and 13 walks in 46 innings (10 games) this year, while hitting .322 in 90 at-bats with 10 homers, 29 RBI, 21 steals and 31 walks.

Indeed. It is his work on the mound that vaulted him to the No. 7 overall selection, making him the first high school left-hander taken by the Red Sox with their first overall pick since Jon Lester in 2002.

To listen to the complete conference call with Ball, click here.

Read More: 2013 MLB Draft, Trey Ball,
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