Minor League notebook

Draft picks planning for summer vocation

A. RANAUDO Headed to Cape A. RANAUDO
Headed to Cape
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 11, 2010

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The Red Sox drafted 52 players this week. But they’re not finished scouting some of them.

Two of their prominent selections — righthander Anthony Ranaudo and infielder Garin Cecchini — plan to play this summer in the hopes of showing the Sox that they’re worth better contracts than their draft status would indicate.

Ranaudo was considered one of the two or three best college pitchers when the season started. But after an elbow injury knocked him out for five weeks, he fell to the Sox at No. 39.

He could return to Louisiana State for his senior season. But the 6-foot-7-inch, 230-pound New Jersey native plans to play in the Cape Cod League.

“I talked to him briefly and he seems like a great kid and he wants to prove he’s still one of the best pitchers coming into the draft,’’ said Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye. “It would benefit us to get to see him some more.’’

The Sox also will follow Cecchini, a fourth-round pick who missed much of his senior season at Barbe High in Lake Charles, La., because of knee surgery. He is close to taking batting practice and could start playing next month. The 6-3 lefthanded hitter led the United States 18-and-under national team in hitting last summer, outperforming Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick.

Teams have until Aug. 16 to sign their selections. Otherwise they go back into the pool for future drafts.

The Sox plan to keep an eye on several other high school players, including pitchers Adam Duke (Salem, Utah) and Eric Jaffe (Oakland, Calif.) to determine how aggressively to chase them. Duke has committed to Oregon State and Jaffe to California. Duke went in the 16th round and Jaffe in the 19th because of their college commitments.

In previous years, the Sox have hosted a game at Fenway Park for their unsigned draft picks to get a better sense of their skills. They plan to do that again this summer.

One bit of leverage the Sox have is the possibility that Major League Baseball could soon institute a strict slotting system for paying signing bonuses to draft picks. The current system is informal. For some players, not signing now could cost them money.

“You try and educate the players and hopefully they make a good decision,’’ Sawdaye said.

The day after the draft, Sawdaye said, is the happiest of the year for a scouting staff, as every team is convinced it did well. The Sox received praise throughout the industry for their picks.

“We need to get these signed and playing and then I’ll know more about what to feel,’’ Sawdaye said. “But we feel our process is pretty strong and we followed it.’’

Bronx cheers
Ranaudo and Cecchini grew up as Yankees fans, and 36th-round pick Shane Rowland is the son of Yankees international scouting director Donnie Rowland . . . The best nickname among the Sox draft picks is clearly Roderick “Rock’’ Shoulders, a 220-pound catcher from Brandon (Fla.) High taken in the 20th round. “He’s a very good athlete for his size,’’ Sawdaye said . . . The Sox are excited about their seventh-round pick, lefthander Chris Hernandez from Miami. “He is one of the better lefthanders in college,’’ Sawdaye said. “We didn’t expect him there.’’

Sorry, old Chap
Pawtucket was lined up to face Stephen Strasburg last month before the Nationals changed his schedule a day before the game. But the PawSox did face the second most-heralded pitching prospect in the International League Monday in Louisville’s Aroldis Chapman, who was finished before he could get an out in the third inning.

Chapman allowed 7 runs on 6 hits, 6 walks, and 2 wild pitches in a game Pawtucket went on to win, 7-2. Tug Hulett had a two-run homer.

The Reds signed Chapman to a $30.25 million contract after he defected from Cuba last summer. Chapman visited Fenway Park in October but the Sox ultimately passed on signing him.

The best pitcher in that game was Pawtucket’s Felix Doubront, who allowed 1 run on 5 hits over 5 innings. The 22-year-old lefthander has a 1.08 ERA in four starts since his promotion from Double A Portland. Doubront had allowed 15 hits over 16 2/3 innings and struck out 16.

“He’s legit,’’ said Boof Bonser, who saw Doubront pitch three times. “His changeup is nasty and he’s got every other pitch he needs. Everybody was pretty impressed.’’

Star cluster
Catcher Dan Butler, outfielder Ronald Bermudez, and righthander Dennis Neuman were named to the South Atlantic League Southern Division All-Star team. The All-Star Game will be at Greenville’s Fluor Field June 22. Drive manager Billy McMillon and trainer David Herrera were named to the staff of the Southern Division team. Lefthanded reliever Cesar Cabral was selected as well but has since been promoted to High Single A Salem. The 21-year-old Cabral dominated the SAL, allowing one earned run over 31 1/3 innings while striking out 35. He made his debut with Salem Tuesday, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out four.

Hissey feat
Salem center fielder Peter Hissey, a sixth-round pick in 2008, hit his first professional home run Sunday. It came on his 639th at-bat. The 20-year-old is never going to be considered a power threat. But he does have 16 doubles through 54 games this season — three more than he had in 106 games last season. Salem is in a first-half pennant race to secure a playoff berth in the Carolina League. Through Wednesday, it was three games back with 10 to play . . . Jose Iglesias was placed on the disabled list for Double A Portland with a sore right hand, the result of being hit by a pitch May 29 . . . Portland second baseman Ray Chang bumped his average to .324 with a 10-for-17 stretch that included three extra-base hits and eight RBIs. The 26-year-old was signed as a minor league free agent in January . . . Single A Lowell starts its season a week from today at Vermont. The home opener at LeLacheur Park will be June 21.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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