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Red Sox make their best pitch in Draft

Red Sox make their best pitch in Draft

BOSTON -- Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, but when you look at the Red Sox's Draft board, enthusiasts might get excited about the prospects to come for the team's upcoming seasons.

After all, Boston concentrated on the one position that has made the past six Major League Baseball First-Year Player Drafts so valuable to the Sox's success in recent years: pitching. Boston used 29 of its 52 selections in the past two days trying to expand on the success it has shown taking top prospects on the mound.

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That number includes the team's first selection, a two-sport athlete in Casey Kelly. Kelly, an 18-year-old Sarasota (Fla.) High School standout in both baseball and football, was rated high on Draft boards as both a shortstop and pitcher.

"Honestly, what gives me comfort is that the scouts on our staff really like these guys when they look at them," said Jason McLeod, Boston's amateur scouting director. "We've got some very talented evaluators here. With the size of our staff, we get the looks at these guys. With these pitchers today, we've been able to get multiple looks from our staff."

McLeod said the Red Sox like the way Kelly -- whose father, Pat, played three Major League games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1980 -- performs on the mound and would like to make the young pick more of a pitcher, though he said Boston also likes his skills at short.

"Ultimately, we'd like to see Casey on the mound," McLeod said.

Boston has reaped the benefits of strong pitching due to good scouting that McLeod mentioned in the past six years.

The Sox selected Jon Lester in the second round in 2002, Jonathan Papelbon in '03, Clay Buchholz -- a first rounder -- in '05 and Justin Masterson in '06. Of the four, two have thrown no-hitters in the past two seasons (Lester and Buchholz), Masterson is proving his ability to step into the rotation by going 2-0 in his first three career starts this season, and Papelbon is revered as one of the most reliable closers in the game.

McLeod said the mentality of this year's scouting didn't change.

Red Sox's top five selections
Pick
POS
Name
School
30.SSCasey KellySarasota HS
45.RHPBryan PriceRice U
77.SSDerrik GibsonSeaford HS (Del.)
85.RHPStephen FifeU of Utah
108.RHPKyle WeilandU of Notre Dame
Complete Red Sox Draft results >

"Our objective going into this Draft was the same as the past couple years," McLeod said. "We wanted impact players, and the field wasn't extremely deep on college starting pitching. The pitchers we got were big, physical kids with big stuff."

While the Red Sox didn't specifically feel the college ranks were as deep as in past years, the team did select three collegiate pitchers within the first three rounds. Leading the pack was Rice University's Bryan Price, a supplemental first-round pick from the Brewers as part of the Eric Gagne signing.

The Sox also snagged University of Utah pitcher Stephen Fife and University of Notre Dame hurler Kyle Weiland.

But Boston's prowess during the Draft didn't exclusively focus on pitching. Though the Sox selected 29 pitchers in 52 picks, the team's biggest success of the two-day event was being able to snatch up players it initially coveted.

Local connection: The Red Sox drafted two players from the New England area. Outfielder Ryan Westmoreland is from Portsmouth (R.I.) High School, and shortstop Thomas Di Benedetto went to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

Westmoreland, taken in the fifth round and the Sox's seventh overall selection, batted .486 with four home runs, 31 RBIs and 17 steals this season, while Di Benedetto batted .342 with 10 doubles, two homers and 31 RBIs in 46 games for the 2008 NCAA Division III champions.

Final breakdown: Here's how the Red Sox's 52 Draft picks break down: 29 pitchers (19 right-handers and 10 left-handers), 10 infielders, eight outfielders and five catchers.

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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