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Former Red Sox first-rounder Kolbrin Vitek retires

03.28.14 at 12:46 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to industry sources, Kolbrin Vitek — taken by the Red Sox with their first-round pick in the 2010 draft — filed his retirement papers in mid-March, ending a playing career that never lived up to the lofty expectations that followed him into professional ball.

Vitek had a solid if unspectacular first full pro season in 2011, hitting .281 with a .350 OBP and .372 slugging mark. But he struggled with significant injuries in both 2012 (when he hit .242/.284/.339 in Double-A Portland while limited by an intercostal injury) and 2013 (.204/.260/.254 over 58 games back in Portland, with his season largely wiped out by neck issues and a concussion).

Vitek, who was drafted as a third baseman but moved to left field in Portland last year, reported to spring training this year hoping that his health woes were behind him. However, when he experienced a recurrence of the neck issues and lingering effects of the concussion while trying to play, he decided that it was time to move on from his baseball career.

When the Sox drafted Vitek in the first round (No. 20 overall) out of Ball State University, they believed that he represented a player with exceptional athleticism and the sort of tremendous bat speed that offered the potential to yield high averages and OBPs with the possibility of perhaps 15-20 homers and a comparable number of steals while playing third base — a diverse skill set that offered the potential for a well above-average big league regular. But even in his lone full healthy season of 2011, his passive approach at the plate led to a relative absence of impacting the ball (he hit just three homers).

Still, the Sox viewed that year as a potential foundation for future success, particularly given his promising work at third base. But in 2012, against Double-A competition, Vitek’s performance lagged behind his tools, a development that became pronounced as a result of his injuries. By last season, his organizational future seemed in question.

While Vitek did not pan out, the Red Sox‘ 2010 draft, at least from a distance of four years, currently looks like a successful one. Four of the team’s next five picks after Vitek — supplemental first-rounders Bryce Brentz and Anthony Ranaudo, second-rounder Brandon Workman and fourth-rounder Garin Cecchini — have advanced to Triple-A or higher with the possibility of making a big league impact this year. (Workman, of course, has already shown the ability to make an impact at the highest level of competition.)

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