Red Sox Notebook

Shortstop Marrero top pick

Arizona State star taken at No. 24

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 5, 2012
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The last time the Red Sox drafted a shortstop from Arizona State it worked out pretty well. That was Dustin Pedroia in 2004. Perhaps Deven Marrero will follow that same path.

The Sox made Marrero their first selection in the draft Monday night, taking him with the 24th overall pick.

“There were a couple of teams that were a spot where he might go and he didn’t. We were happy that he got there,’’ general manager Ben Cherington said. “He’s a talented shortstop and a good player at a major program . . . a guy we liked a lot coming into the spring.’’

A Florida native, Marrero was projected as a top-10 pick before his junior season. A .397 hitter as a freshman, he hit .315 as a sophomore and .284 this season, in part because of a sprained ankle. Marrero had a .340 OBP and a .436 slugging percentage this season.

“I wanted to play. I had to deal with it, and I did. I’m sure I’m going to play hurt many times throughout my career. This was a great learning lesson for me,’’ Marrero told the Arizona Republic.

Red Sox scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said the statistics didn’t concern him.

“I didn’t really think the offensive decline was much of a worry for us,’’ he said. “He showed us some things in the box that we still really liked, some things that we look for.’’

Marrero was a two-time all-conference player and the 2011 Pac-10 defensive player of the year. The Red Sox, who place a lot of value on summer play, were certainly impressed that Marrero led Team USA in hits and RBIs last year and was an all-star in the Cape Cod League for Cotuit. He hit .326/.360/.413 on the Cape.

Marrero, 21, has a strong arm, good speed and projects to remain at shortstop as a professional.

With their second pick of the first round, No. 31, the Sox selected Brian Johnson, a lefthander from the University of Florida. That pick was compensation from the Phillies for signing Jonathan Papelbon.

Johnson, who also plays first base, is one of the best two-way players in college baseball. The 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pounder from Cocoa Beach, Fla., was 8-4 with a 3.56 ERA in 16 starts for the Gators. Over 86 innings, he allowed 79 hits, walked 15, and struck out 68.

As a hitter, Johnson had a .310/.350/.455 season with five homers and 40 RBIs in 187 at-bats.

“He’s a pitcher first for us,’’ Sawdaye said.

Johnson was with Team USA the last two summers, more as a hitter than a pitcher. He also played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League. Johnson was 2-0 with a 4.30 ERA in three starts and 14 2/3 innings. He struck out 19.

With the 37th pick, also a compensatory pick for Papelbon, the Sox selected Monmouth righthander Pat Light.

Light is 6-6, and was 8-3, 2.40 in 14 starts. Over 101 1/3 innings he struck out 102 and walked 16, allowing 84 hits. Light has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s.

Monmouth is a Division 1 school but at the lowest levels of that classification and Light did not face top-notch competition over the bulk of the season.

He did pitch for Chatham in the Cape Cod League last summer, starting four of 12 games and posting a 3.77 ERA.

Sawdaye said the Red Sox liked the size of both Johnson and Light.

“Both are physical presences,’’ he said. “[Light] has one of the best fastballs in the draft.’’

Woes of the O’s

The Orioles were 17-14 and two games out in front of the American League East May 19.

They are 3-10 since and arrive at Fenway Park Tuesday night in second place, a game behind the Rays. The Red Sox have played a role in Baltimore’s skid, taking two of three at Camden Yards from May 21-23.

The Orioles have dropped seven of their last eight games, scoring 20 runs.

Jon Lester starts the series opener. He has not pitched well of late, giving up 15 earned runs on 24 hits over 16 2/3 innings. But Lester is 14-0 with a 2.47 ERA on 19 career starts against Baltimore.

McDonald’s day off

Darnell McDonald has played six minor league rehabilitation games for Triple A Pawtucket. He is 4 for 21 with three doubles and two RBIs. McDonald has struck out six times without a walk. Pawtucket was rained out Monday night in Lehigh Valley but McDonald was not scheduled to play . . . Righthander Ross Ohlendorf, who was 4-3 with a 4.61 ERA in 10 starts for Pawtucket, signed a major league contract with the Padres. He opted out of his minor league contract with the Red Sox last week when he was not added to the 40-man roster.

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

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