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Sox nab several on wish list

Red Sox nab several on wish list

ST. LOUIS -- There weren't many darts of disgust thrown at the draft board on Yawkey Way. In fact, Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod and his staff finished up a long two days of work feeling fortunate about the way things went.

"We got guys that we liked and we really wanted, which is rare," said McLeod. "Usually you're taking players that have good ability up top anyway. It's kind of rare when going into the draft, you target certain guys that you want and you end up getting them."

Perhaps the Sox should have sensed a positive omen when they snatched up Oregon State center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (a speedster with Johnny Damon tools) with their first overall pick, and three selections later, snagged one of the most dominant pitchers in the draft in right-hander Craig Hansen of St. John's.

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That momentum of good fortune seemed to keep rolling as the picks went by.

Over the two days, the Sox made 53 picks. Thirty of them were from the college ranks, while 23 of them were high schoolers.

The Sox grabbed 25 pitchers, 10 catchers, two first basemen, three second basemen, two shortstops, one third baseman and 10 outfielders.

Now comes the next challenge.

"You get through the draft, and now the really hard part starts, getting these kids signed and getting them out playing," said McLeod. "But it's just part of the process, we hope we'll be able to get all these kids out in Red Sox uniforms soon, over the next month or so."

The Red Sox know full well that one of the main reasons Hansen was still around is because his agent is Scott Boras. But both the player and the team sounded confident that a deal would be struck in a timely manner. And from there, the Sox will sit down with Hansen and decide whether he'll continue to be a closer or become a starter.

"We haven't had an opportunity to sit down with him yet, it's so early in the process," McLeod said. "But once that time comes when we do get him signed, I'm sure that's something that our player development staff will talk to him about. Having seen him so much on the Cape, we know that he definitely has the repertoire of a starter. Obviously he's been so good at what he's doing now, so on the flip side, you say why change a good thing? I'm sure that's something that will be explored when he comes into the system. He's definitely one of the power arms in the draft."

There were some other less-heralded picks that McLeod was enthused about.

"Jay Johnson, the outfielder out of Xavier, we got in the 13th round," said McLeod. "He's an athletic outfielder that one of our area scouts really wanted."

Though the Sox didn't pursue the local angle with right-hander Matt Torra of UMass (he went to the Diamondbacks), they did snag Kyle Fernandes out of Massasoit Community College (Brockton, Mass.). They consider Fernandes to be a gritty pitcher with untapped potential.

"He's a kid that our area scout Ray Fagnant did a very good job with," McLeod said. "We were able to catch a couple of starts and he had a workout for us at the ballpark last week. He's a left-handed pitcher who can sink it and really control the strike zone, and he's a tough kid. We were very happy to get him."

Some of the draftees will wind up going to college. But the Sox think it is beneficial just to make contact with them.

"Pedro Alvarez (14th round), he was a high profile bat out of New York City, he's going to Vanderbilt, but we're going to try to make a run at him later in the summer," said McLeod.

What pleased McLeod most was that the Sox were truly able to reach the benefits of their extensive preparation.

"James Zink (eighth round) was a kid I saw pitch a couple of weeks ago in Washington," McLeod said. "[Mark] Wagner (ninth round) is one of the better college catchers out there. Just as it went on, all these guys were guys we were able to see quite a bit from our cross checkers. Not just from the area scouts. We were able to get guys that our amateur guys felt really strongly about after that 10th round. All in all, I thought it was a good draft."

In the 34th round, the Sox drafted a name that most baseball fans are familiar with. However, McLeod said that first baseman Allan Dykstra has no relation to Lenny.

"Being from San Diego, I've actually seen this kid play over the last three or four years," said McLeod. "He's actually signed to go to Wake Forest, there's a chance he might stay out west and go to a junior college."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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