|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|The Red Sox didn't have a true first-rounder, but both of their sandwich-rounders were interesting. Washington's Nick Hagadone is a lefty with power stuff, and California high school infielder Ryan Dent is one of the draft's better athletes. Alabama high school first baseman Hunter Morris (second round) is one of the best hitters in the high school class, and Texas high school third baseman Will Middlebrooks (fifth round) is a multitooled player who would have been a sandwich rounder on pure ability.|
BOSTON--Washington lefthander Nick Hagadone was just another guy with potential when the 2006 season ended.
He threw a mid-80s fastball, a slurvy slider, and had a decent idea of how to pitch. Then he altered his workout routine, traded a 300-pound bench press for flexibility--and the results were almost immediate.
Hagadone's fastball sped into the low-to-mid 90s, his slider tightened into a potential plus pitch, and now Hagadone finds himself property of the Red Sox, selected with their first pick (55th overall).
"At the beginning of the year I wasn't even on anyone's radar," Hagadone said. "I'm just happy to get the opportunity, and I'm really happy that I was picked as high as I was. Boston's one of the best organization's in major league baseball and it's a privilege to be selected by them."
Hagadone enters the farm system from a section of the draft where the Sox have struck gold in recent years, be it rookie of the year candidate Dustin Pedroia (65th, 2004), or top pitching prospects Clay Buchholz (42nd, 2005) and Michael Bowden (47th, 2005).
He started the season as Washington's Friday starter, a job he had spent the previous year building toward, only to shift to the bullpen when the Huskies had trouble closing out games.
He thrived in the role, saving 11 games with a 2.77 ERA and hitting 95 mph with his fastball. By his estimation, he cracked 90, "maybe once all of last year."
"The coaches felt it would help the team more if I was closer and could just shut the door when we were ahead," Hagadone said. "There was no hesitation, but I was definitely disappointed, because I had worked so hard to be a starter. Once I made it, though, it worked out really well. It was a fun job, pitching in all of the bigger situations. I wouldn't change anything."
Hagadone will likely begin his minor league career as a starter. The Red Sox made a similar decision with Mississippi State closer Jonathan Papelbon in 2003 and after tearing through the minors, he became an all-star closer in the majors.
"He's the best in the game as far as I'm concerned," Hagadone said.
If there's a question about Hagadone it's his delivery. Washington coaches eschew the traditional teachings of balance point and staying back in favor of a delivery that's quick to the plate. While Hagadone's arm action is fairly long and fluid, the rest of his delivery will likely need to be lengthened.
"Whatever they think will get me to Boston is what I'm willing to do," he said. "I have no preference. I just want an opportunity to make it to the big leagues."
• With their second sandwich pick (No. 62), the Sox selected California high schooler Ryan Dent, who's considered one of the fastest players in the draft. The middle infielder has been compared to Rafael Furcal.
• The Sox grabbed Alabama high school first baseman Hunter Morris with theirsecond-round pick (No. 84). Morris set a state record with 59 walks this season.