Red Sox sign fourth-rounder Myles Smith; not expected to sign Ryan Boldt or Jordan Sheffield
|07.11.13 at 6:29 pm ET|
The Red Sox appear likely to sign right-hander Myles Smith, their fourth-round selection out of Lee University, prior to Friday’s signing deadline.
“He told me that they are close and he expects to sign,” said Smith’s coach at Lee University, Mark Brew, in a telephone interview on Thursday. Brew said that he talked to Smith over the weekend.
UPDATED (JULY 12): According to an industry source, Smith has signed officially with the Red Sox. He’ll receive a bonus of $400,000, slightly less than the $454,800 slot recommendation for his spot. The amount is the same that the Sox had been offering throughout the summer, and to which they’d thought Smith had agreed shortly after the draft, but after a more protracted-than-expected negotiating period, Smith is ready to enter the system, meaning the Sox have signed all of their picks from the first 10 rounds.
Smith had a dominant season for Lee, going 11-4 with a 2.67 ERA, 10.0 strikeouts per nine and 4.1 walks per nine innings in 16 starts. The skinny 6-foot-1 Smith is tremendously athletic but has only been pitching full-time for a relatively short period of time. He was initially recruited to the University of Missouri as a position player, but who ended up pitching for Miami Dade Junior College (2012) before transferring to Lee. There, his stuff played up even more, with an electric fastball/slider combination.
Brew said that Smith worked regularly at 93-97 mph with his fastball in 2013, showing more power as a 21-year-old junior than he’d demonstrated in his prior stop at Miami Dade.
“The thing that was attractive was he was maintaining that into the sixth and seventh inning of games,” said Brew. “Scouts would report to us and our gun would show that his hardest pitches were in the sixth and seventh innings. That’s where you saw a lot of his 95s, 96s, 97s. His athleticism and ability to maintain [velocity] is something that probably made him attractive.
“And I think there’s more in there,” added Brew. “I think he’s going to continue to improve. I think the thing that you’ll see take off when he gets in pro ball, we have a great pitching coach here, but he’ll get with somebody specialized and they’ll get his command better. Locating 97 is different than just throwing 97.”
While Smith’s relatively recent turn to pitching makes him a bit more raw than a lot of pitchers who are drafted out of college, he likewise features more untapped upside potential than a typical college junior.
“We have a long history with him,” said Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye last month. “We saw him last year as an 88-93 (mph) guy, and the stuff definitely ticked up this year. Towards the end of the year, I think we had him touching 97 or 98, but sitting 95-96. Very good athlete. He moves well on the mound. His arm works exceptionally well. He’s got a quick arm. He has a hard, late-breaking slider. I think he’s still learning to pitch. This guy doesn’t have a ton of innings under his belt. He’s 21 years old, but he doesn’t have the arm of a 21-year-old pitcher. He almost has the arm of a 17-year-old pitcher. He’s kind of just learning the craft, but with the athleticism and the way the arm works, we’re excited to have him in the fourth round.”
While the team had harbored hopes of signing either 13th-rounder Jordan Sheffield – a right-hander who entered the year as one of the top high school prospects in the draft, but who underwent Tommy John surgery in April — or outfielder Ryan Boldt, a high-ceiling 22nd-rounder who fell over signability concerns following his spring surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
But it appears that both players — who entered the year as first-round candidates — will honor their scholarship commitments. Sheffield has started attending classes at Vanderbilt, while Boldt (who flew to Fenway to visit with the Red Sox late last month) is expected to follow through on his plans to play at Nebraska.
There’s been virtually no recent contact between the Sox and 38th rounder Trever Morrison, an athletic shortstop who was always considered nearly impossible to sign away from his commitment to Oregon State.
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