Sox feel good about first 3 picks

Updated: June 8, 2010, 9:51 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and Co. came away feeling good about the club's three picks on the first day of the 2010 Major League Baseball first-year player draft.

Boston selected second baseman Kolbrin Vitek (first round, 20th overall), outfielder Bryce Brentz (sandwich round, 36th overall) and righthanded pitcher Anthony Ranaudo (sandwich round, 39th overall). Epstein believes the Red Sox will be able to sign Vitek and Brentz soon. Ranaudo, a Scott Boras client, may take until the mid-August signing deadline.

"We're really happy that we were able to get the certainty of college players with the potential impact of high-ceiling guys as well and all in the shape of good athletes," Epstein said.

"It couldn't have worked out any better as far as we're concerned," added Epstein. "I know 30 teams come out of the draft room high-fiving and excited their guys got to their picks, but that means only so much. Time will only tell, but we're as happy in the draft room as we've been in any year that I've been here. We feel it broke our way and we couldn't be more excited with all three guys."

Athleticism and impact were the common denominators among the three picks for the Red Sox.

Here is a quick thumbnail on each selection, according to Epstein and director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye:

Vitek: A second baseman by trade from Ball State, the Red Sox do plan to move him to third base. He has a "loose swing" with above-average bat speed and plus power. He can drive the ball to both gaps consistently and has average defensive abilities at third. He's a middle-of-the-order type hitter.

Brentz: The 6-foot, 190-pound corner outfielder from Middle Tennessee State possesses an impact power bat. Has "lights out" raw power and was "wearing out Landsdowne Street" when the Sox brought him to Fenway Park for a workout. Dealt with a high-ankle sprain this season.

Ranaudo: Of the three picks, the 6-foot-7, 231-pound righthanded power pitcher out of LSU is the highest profile player and was considered one of the top college pitchers prior to this season. Has a plus-fastball and plus-breaking ball with an average changeup.

Vitek already has a verbal agreement and expects to sign a contract fairly quickly so he can begin his pro career with Boston. The 21-year-old Vitek said he has already discussed numbers and has agreed to terms with the Red Sox.

"There were some numbers thrown around tonight and we decided on number that was definitely a fair contract for me and a fair contract for them," Vitek said. "We're excited to get it started and sign up pretty quickly here and get going and get into this thing as soon as possible."

Epstein said there are no official deals with any of the Sox's picks, but said he feels that the sides are "very close" and might have something official in the next couple of days pending physicals.

Vitek, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-handed-hitting infielder, doesn't know at what level he'll begin his Red Sox career, but he's ready to get it going.

Epstein Time will only tell, but we're as happy in the draft room as we've been in any year that I've been here. We feel it broke our way and we couldn't be more excited with all three guys.

-- Red Sox GM Theo Epstein

He worked out for the Red Sox last Friday and Saturday at Fenway Park and met with general manager Theo Epstein during his visit to Boston.

"The workout went very well," said Vitek. "I worked out at two infield positions [second and third] and then took some BP on the field. It went very well."

When he received the call from the club after he was selected, he was told that his projectable position with the Red Sox will be at third base. Vitek, who has a strong arm, played his entire sophomore season at third base and is comfortable at the corner position.

"It's a pretty comfortable position for me to play. I've always been an infielder my whole life, so I don't have any problems taking ground balls at any position," Vitek said.

Known as one of the best pure hitters in the college ranks, one American League scout has a simple description of Vitek's abilities at the plate, saying: "Great bat."

"It's very exciting to join such a successful organization and I'm excited to see how they run it and I'm excited to get it all started," Vitek said.

Ranaudo, 20, was considered the top pitcher in the entire draft class and the second-best overall draft prospect heading into the 2010 season, this after going 12-3 with a 3.04 ERA and striking out 159 batters in 124.1 innings in 2009 on the way to leading LSU to a national championship. He flashed plus stuff in 2009, including a 91-94 mph fastball, a curveball with plus potential, and a developing changeup, all of which he threw with excellent control.

But the 6-foot-7 righthander missed time early in 2010 with elbow soreness, and that injury led to major mechanical issues throughout the season. He struggled to regain form throughout the 2010 campaign in many ways. His fastball never returned to form, losing its tail and its velocity; he never got his feel back for the strike zone, and he often tipped his pitches due to mechanical flaws. All of this resulted in inconsistent and often poor performances, ultimately going 5-3 with a 7.32 ERA over the course of the season. He's presently still pitching with LSU in the NCAA regionals.

Tuesday features Rounds 2-30 of the MLB draft with the 31st-50th rounds coming Wednesday.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Material from SoxProspects.com's Mike Andrews was used in this report.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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