Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Newly signed Ball meets Pedroia & Co.
By Kyle Brasseur
BOSTON -- The Red Sox brought their newly signed first-round draft pick, left-handed pitcher Trey Ball, to Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon. Let the chirping begin.
Ball, the seventh overall pick in the draft and highest Sox pick since Trot Nixon in 1993, signed for a bonus of $2.75 million. That was nearly $500,000 less than the $3.246 bonus recommendation assigned to his slot.
Red Sox first-round pick Trey Ball speaks with reporters Wednesday.
"It's been amazing. It's been a blast out there with all the guys," Ball explained. "Growing up all I wanted to do was be a baseball player. Being able to potentially fulfill that? It's a great honor."
A great honor, yes, but not without a little bit of fun had at his expense. After manager John Farrell hinted that Ball "got a taste" of the clubhouse, the 18-year-old admitted that he heard it as soon as he walked in.
"[They were all saying] hurry up and get here," Ball said. "Dustin Pedroia was like, 'Hurry up so I can retire!' and all that. He was giving me a hard time, but it was a good time."
The Sox weren't as creative in their teasing as the Cleveland Indians, who greeted their No. 1 pick, red-haired outfielder Clint Frazier, by wearing bright red clown wigs last week. And Ball said in the midst of the hilarity, some advice was dispensed as well.
Right-hander Clay Buchholz, for example, gave him some tips on how to throw a curveball, a pitch Ball has been working on for only two years.
"I think he will soon realize he's in a very special place and there's a lot of history that goes behind the uniform he will put on," Farrell said. "With that comes some increased expectations, but it's also the reason he was selected by us."
General manager Ben Cherington cited the many reasons why the Sox picked Ball.
"Makeup, athleticism, stuff, projectability," Cherington said. "We sort of go through the checklist of things that we need to see in a high school pitcher to invest a first-round pick, and he just checks all the boxes. He's got the chance to be really good one day."
For now, that day is well in the future. The 6-foot-6 Ball will be flying to Fort Myers on Thursday in order to get into the routine and throwing schedule that professional baseball will require of him. Although the Gulf Coast League Red Sox's season is slated to begin on Friday, Ball is expected to pitch in his first game for the team at some point in July.
The signing of Ball was the quickest the Sox have signed a first-round high school pick since outfielder Jason Place in 2006. That works to the team's advantage, Cherington said.
"It's helpful to establish routines and sort of get through all the things that a young player has to learn about an organization," Cherington said. "When we get that stuff ingrained the year before it helps give a guy a better chance to break into a full-season club next year."
Much like another tall left-handed Red Sox prospect, Henry Owens, Ball will have the chance to skip Lowell and start next year with the Greenville Drive. However, Ball understands that he is about to embark on what Cherington described as a long path to the big leagues.
"I haven't been pitching [recently] so I'm probably going to take it slow," Ball said.
Right now, the prized prospect is focusing on enjoying his first time in Boston with his family, a trip that has included a duck tour. The Sox gave him a vision, complete with a healthy dose of Pedroia, of what might lie ahead when he returns as something more than a visitor.
"To his credit, he handled it great," Farrell said. "An 18-year-old who walks in, in a jacket and tie, who obviously comes from a good family, you could see that. He did his family proud, given what he heard.
"I'm sure he's starting to realize a dream come true. His responses to questions, his ability to interact with a lot of people that one, he doesn't know all that well or may know only by name, he handled himself well. This is a beginning of what hopefully is a long and successful journey for him."