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Red Sox Draft Report Card

By Jim Callis

Best Pro Debut: The Red Sox had a pair of late-rounders post sub-2.00 ERAs in the short-season New York-Penn League: LHP Chris Elmore (17), who went 3-3, 1.89, and RHP Brian Bentley (20), who went 4-1, 1.88 with 48 strikeouts in 38 innings. RHP Tony Fontana (7) had the best debut among top prospects, going 5-4, 2.49 on the same club. He throws 89-94 mph with a hard slider.

Best Athlete: LHP Brandon Mims (4) was a solid two-way player in high school. RHP Josh Thigpen (16) was all-state in three sports (baseball, basketball and football) in Alabama. None of the position players stands out as a top-drawer athlete.

Best Hitter: 1B/3B Matt Cooper (3), whom scouts had a difficult time getting a read on because he faced the lowest-level high school competition in Oklahoma. He hit .270 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he moved to first to accommodate top prospect Tony Blanco.

Best Raw Power: Cooper.

Fastest Runner: Boston never has championed speed. OF Freddie Money (24) is an above-average runner, but he’s not a blazer.

Best Defensive Player: Kenny Perez (6) shows a good arm, actions and hands at shortstop. He may outgrow the position, but the Sox will keep him there for now.

Best Fastball: LHP Phil Dumatrait (1) threw in the low 80s as a high school senior, then shot up to a consistent 92-93 mph at Bakersfield (Calif.) JC last spring after growing and getting on a throwing program. RHP Manny Delcarmen (2) is a year younger and can touch 93.

Most Intriguing Background: Delcarmen is a Dominican raised in inner-city Boston. Though the Red Sox have mined New England for prospects, they haven’t signed one this good in quite a while. Besides his fastball, he also has polish and a nice slider.

Closest To The Majors: The Red Sox went young, signing just six players out of Division I colleges. They won’t get any immediate help, with Fontana and Elmore projected to arrive the earliest.

Best Late-Round Pick: Thigpen. He has a loose, free arm to go with a sound delivery. He can throw his fastball up to 92 mph and his curveball has potential. He reminds Boston of a bigger version of Matt Kinney, whom they drafted in the sixth round in 1995 and traded to the Twins three years later.

The One Who Got Away: Mississippi State RHP Ryan Carroll (21), who has looked impressive in fall practice.

Assessment: The Red Sox could have scored big had they opted to meet the bonus demands of Texas high school slugger Jason Stokes. Instead they chose Dumatrait, which saved them $750,000. Boston might be better off putting more money into the draft than into the Asian market, where it has spent extravagantly with little to show for it.

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