Red Sox minor league notebook: High school teammates drafted in Rounds 2 and 3

Ryan Hannable
June 16, 2016 - 7:55 am
1. After three years apart, CJ Chatham and Shaun Anderson will be teammates again. The Red Sox selected the former American Heritage (Plantation, Florida) stars in Rounds 2 and 3 of last week's MLB draft. Chatham went in Round 2 after playing his college ball at Florida Atlantic and Anderson went in Round 3, but his college career is still going as his Florida Gators are still playing in the College World Series. These two weren't the only two American Heritage players selected in this year's draft as catcher Zack Collins was selected No. 10 overall by the White Sox. It's no surprise the team was ranked No. 1 in the entire country by some polls in those players' senior year. Also, the Red Sox are no stranger to the school as 2012 first-round pick Deven Marrero starred there before going to Arizona State. Chatham isn't the typical shortstop as he stands 6-foot-4, but he's proven everyone he can play the position ever since high school. It's worth noting the Red Sox view him as a shortstop long-term. "I wasn't quite sure he was going to be a shortstop," American Heritage coach Bruce Aven said. "He came up to the mound in high school and pitched 12 innings and struck out 24 guys and was popping out at 94-95 mph. Everyone knew him as a pitcher, but I looked at him and I said, 'Man, you've got to be kidding me.' We've had some good shortstops go through our program and CJ matched everyone one of them. His range of motion, his arm strength." Aven noted Chatham is quite the athlete as besides pitching, he's played third base, as well as some outfield. The versatility could come in handy down the road if the Red Sox ever wanted him to change positions. Chatham is just a natural athlete. "If he played football, he would be my quarterback in a heartbeat," Aven said. "He is very athletic. He threw the football all the time. Every time I turned around he was throwing a football to someone running a route. He could have played quarterback and been very successful. Very, very athletic for that body and build, which is kind of rare." Chatham led his Florida Atlantic team to its first Conference USA regular-season championship. He led the team with a .357 average, .554 slugging percentage and a .422 on-base percentage, while tallying 89 hits, 50 RBI, 48 runs, 17 doubles, four triples and eight home runs. At No. 51 overall, he was the highest player drafted in Florida Atlantic history. According to a source, he signed a $1.1 million deal, just below the slotted amount of $1,232,800. He will report to short-season, Single-A Lowell. 2. Like Chatham, Anderson played for Aven, but Anderson hasn't joined Chatham in the Red Sox organization yet as his Gators are competing for a National Championship in the College World Series. Anderson, a right-hander, started in high school, but has been made into a closer with Florida. "I personally feel like that was just a bonus for him because I've seen him as a starter and he could hit his spots inside-outside, get movement, and he could stay strong throughout the game," Aven said. In 33 games with Florida this season, Anderson has 13 saves and in 43 innings he has a 1.05 ERA to go along with 56 strikeouts. The 21-year-old was the last pick in the entire 2013 draft by the Nationals, but opted to go to Florida. Money-aside, Aven believed Anderson was ready to turn professional after high school. "He was a leader and a mature player," he said. "He was one of those kids where when he left maturity-wise, strength-wise, work ethic-wise, he would have been able to survive coming out of high school." Aven noted Anderson isn't going to blow anyone away, but has impeccable command. He noted a game in high school Anderson started where he threw eight shutout innings on just 85 pitches. Nothing is certain, but it would seem Anderson would join Chatham in short-season, Single-A Lowell shortly after the College World Series wraps up. 3. Fourth-round pick Bobby Dalbec is also still playing his college ball with the University of Arizona in the College World Series. Some may have saw Dalbec on the mound last Friday night in the Super Regional, as he went 4-1 in 10 relief appearances with a 1.21 ERA this season, but the Red Sox will make him a full-time third baseman once he joins the organization. "We have an extensive track record of seeing him at times throughout his career," director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard said. "At times he's been exceptional and at other teams he's struggled. We do believe there's a lot of power there that we can develop and look forward to getting him in a Red Sox uniform and working with our hitting instructors. Hopefully he can find a more consistent approach that allows him to get use that power." For the year, Dalbec hit .258 with four home runs and 16 RBIs. The Red Sox believe those numbers will improve once he gets to the Red Sox and can concentrate on just fielding and hitting. "That is the hope and certainly I do think focusing solely on hitting and being with our valued hitting instructors on a daily basis, we're hoping that will be really helpful for him," Rikard said. 4. With the Red Sox having two of their top 10 draft picks playing in the College World Series, it is going to take at least a week or so for them to officially sign. This could play a role in the potential signing of first-round pick Jason Groome. Groome is believed to be seeking much more than what the No. 12 slotted value is -- $3,192,800 -- and the Red Sox will likely need to strike under slot deals with a few players to devote that money to Groome. Overall, the Red Sox have just over $7 million in their money pool for their top 10 picks. This isn't to say the Red Sox couldn't negotiate terms with Dalbec and Anderson's representatives while they are playing, they just cannot sign until their college seasons wrap up. But, there really is no rush as the deadline for drafted players to sign is July 15. 5. The Red Sox selected three catchers in the first 17 rounds, including Boston College catcher Nick Sciortino in the 17th round. The two previous selections both came from Puerto Rico -- Alan Marrero in the eighth round and Alberto Schmidt in the 16th round. Marrero is viewed as the best catcher in the draft out of Puerto Rico and Rikard noted the scout who scouted them, Edgar Perez, was also the scout who scouted Christian Vazquez. "There's a strong track record of Puerto Rican catchers doing very well in professional baseball," Rikard said. "One of the most important things that I like to be considerate of when putting a draft together is the conviction of our scouts. In this case Edgar Perez, the same scout who signed Christian Vazquez, had a lot of good conviction for both of the catchers we selected. That's always comforting when you scout believes those guys have a chance to be good players as well. We feel fortunate to be able to add both guys to our system." 6. Although Rikard noted the team didn't go into the draft with an emphasis on pitching, they did select a good amount of them. It's hard to ignore of the first 14 picks the team made, exactly half of them were pitchers and six of them were college pitchers. The only one who wasn't was Groome. Also, of the six college pitchers, five went to major colleges. "We do value pitchers that do well at good programs and in good leagues and have strong track records of performance at a high level," Rikard said. "To that extent we have a good amount of respect for the top-flight programs across the country, for sure." He noted the organization gets to see major college players more than smaller ones, which increases the comfortability scouts may have with certain players. 7. The Red Sox selected two of their own in the draft as well. They selected Holy Cross shortstop Nick Lovullo, son of bench coach Torey, in the 20th round. This comes after they picked him in the 34th round last year, but he didn't sign and returned to Holy Cross for his senior year. Also, Red Sox' senior vice president of baseball operations Frank Wren had his son Jordan selected in the 36th round out of Georgia Southern. Jordan is a junior so could opt to go back to school for his senior season. "It's awesome. It's super cool," Rikard said. "One of the greatest things about working here for the Red Sox is it's such a special tight-knit group. To be able to kind of add some of our own so to speak makes it all the better." 8. Just because the draft has wrapped up it doesn't mean the Red Sox' amateur scouting department can take some time off. The group is already starting on the 2017 class with summer showcases kicking off. Rikard noted this is especially important in scouting high school hitters as this summer could be the last time they can see them face quality pitching. "A lot of people don't quite understand just how daunting the task of putting together the draft can be," Rikard said. "It's a year-long process and we really value the looks in the summer because we deal with specifically the high school hitters that it could be the first and the last time you see high school hitters facing quality pitching and swinging the wood bat. Even though it is a quick turnaround, some of the most important we can do can come in the summer. It's very important." 9. One of the Red Sox' top 2014 draft picks -- fifth rounder Jagger Rusconi will make his organizational debut this week with Lowell. Out of West Ranch, California, he had committed to USC, but he opted to sign with the Red Sox for the slot value of $384,000. "There's a decision but I knew growing up that was what I wanted to do and get here and start my career," Rusconi said. "This is always want I wanted to do. This was Plan A. I never had a Plan B. It's always been baseball. When I was drafted it was an exciting feeling for me and my family and now I'm here and ready to get to work." There was some thought he would be a center fielder, as that is where he ended his high school career, but he's back in the infield. Last year in extended spring training games he played a mix of shortstop and second base and now he will be primarily a second baseman. "It's a little easier playing second base," he said. "Not as taxing on the arm. It's different, but I've transitioned pretty well." He did add he's comfortable playing anywhere, which is certainly beneficial for the organization, which really values versatility. Rusconi said not playing for an affiliate and just spending his time in extended spring training last summer helped him get adjusted to being a professional. "Last year was great," Rusconi said. "It was a good first year to experience pro baseball. It's a different feeling coming out and playing against this type of competition, but it's fun. You enjoy it. You get to come to the ballpark and play every day." 10. Cody Decker was signed to a minor league contract this week and his joined he Sea Dogs. He hit a home run in his first game Wednesday night. The 29-year-old played in eight games with the Padres last year, but didn't record a hit. He's a career .264 hitter in the minors. One note on Decker, his girlfriend is Jenn Sterger -- a comedian, actress and writer. She may most be known for what was alleged to have happened with Breet Favre. He reportedly sent Sterger several suggestive text messages, voicemails asking her to come to his hotel room and explicit photos of himself while he was with the Jets and she was a sideline reporter.