Red Sox happy with first three picks in MLB Draft

Red Sox happy with first three picks in MLB Draft
June 5, 2012, 4:32 am
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The financial structure and signing bonuses may be different, but when it comes to the baseball end of the first-year draft, the Red Sox stayed with a traditional approach, focusing on the middle of the diamond and the pitcher's mound.

The Sox had three of the first 37 picks in the first round and sandwich round and used them to select shortstop Deven Marrero No. 24 from Arizona State, lefthander Brian Johnson from the University of Florida at No. 31 and righty Pat Light from Monmouth University at No. 37.

Marrero profiles as a superb defender, but there are questions about his bat after his average plummeted from .397 as a freshman to .315 as a sophomore and .284 this season.

Still, the Red Sox, who scouted him in high school and extensively in the Cape Cod League, aren't worried about his offense.

"We've gotten a chance to know him," said Amiel Sawdaye, the Red Sox' scouting director. "He's got a flat swing and he sprays the ball around the field. I don't think the offensive decline was much of a worry for us. I'm sure he expected to have a better year statistically, but it's not something that's a concern for us."

Marrero was the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year in the PAC-10 and made the conference's first-team All-Star team this year.

Johnson isn't overpowering, though he can hit 92 mph with his fastball. He has exceptional command and might be able to move up the minor league ladder quickly because of his secondary pitches.

"He has a repeatable delivery and throws strikes," said Sawdaye. "He's super competitive and (playing for a national power), someone who has pitched on the big stage."

Johnson also played first base and showed plus power at times which Sawdaye termed "intriguing. But he's definitely a pitcher for us."

Light, who was 20-0 in high school, is more of a classic power pitcher, with a big, lanky frame (6-foot-6, 210 pounds). He was 7-3 with a 2.81 ERA and struck out 87 in 86 innings while walking just 12 this season.

His fastball reached 97-98 in his junior year.

Sawdaye said the Red Sox, as a rule, like to select big pitches and both Johnson and Light fit that mold. Johnson is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds.

Both pitchers were selected with compensation picks awarded to the Red Sox for losing free agent reliever Jonathan Papelbon to the Philadelphia Phillies last November.