Red Sox Believe Top Pick Marrero Offers Batting Potential





BOSTON—As soon as the Red Sox made Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero their top pick in the 2012 draft, ASU coach Tom Esmay received a barrage of text messages.

"My phone's blowing up about Devils up the middle, Devils up the middle," Esmay said.

If Marrero, the 24th overall selection, performs anything like former ASU shortstop Dustin Pedroia—the all-star second baseman who was Boston's top pick in 2004—then that vision could come to fruition.

Like Pedroia, Marrero is viewed as a heady middle infielder with great instincts. He also is viewed as an above-average defender who will stay at short as a professional.

Many scouts began to question Marrero's offense potential during a junior year in which he batted .284/.340/.436 with four homers. Still, the Red Sox have seen Marrero for years, both during a high school career in which he was teammates with Eric Hosmer, in college at ASU and during the summers with Team USA and in the Cape Cod League. As such, the team remains convinced of his upside.

"Certainly, I think he expected to have a better year statistically but it's not something that is a concern for us either from injury or physical play," scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said. "He showed us some things in the box that we really liked and some things that we really look for.

"He has a very quiet swing—functional. He's a guy who sprays the ball around the field. He has what we call sneaky power (as) a guy who obviously doesn't look like the biggest player on the field but can definitely juice the ball out of the stadium."

Esmay suggested that Marrero is a player whose skills, makeup and experience against advanced competition could put him on something of a fast track to the big leagues. It doesn't hurt that Deven has two cousins in the minor leagues, brothers Chris Marrero of the Nationals and Christian Marrero of the Braves.

"(Deven's) just into the game. He's a worker in that. He's not going to be denied," Esmay said. "Deven is definitely, definitely in a position where I feel like he's not that far off from having success at the major league level."

SOX YARNS

• With their second first-round pick, No. 31 overall, the Red Sox selected two-way player Brian Johnson from Florida. They will develop him as a pitcher, seeing him as a physical lefthander who throws strikes with a 90-94 mph fastball, two breaking balls and a changeup.

• Boston selected righthander Pat Light with the 37th overall pick after seeing him feature an electric fastball that topped out at 98 mph along with a slider and changeup at Monmouth, where he went 8-3, 2.40 with 102 strikeouts and 16 walks in 101 1/3 innings as a junior.