The Red Sox selected Trey Ball No. 7 overall in the 2013 MLB draft. (Gail Oskin/Getty Images)

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: A look at scouting process for No. 7 pick; Rafael Devers like Robinson Cano?

Ryan Hannable
June 04, 2015 - 6:51 am
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For the second time in three years, the Red Sox have the No. 7 overall pick in the MLB draft, which kicks off Monday. While it's nearly impossible to project who the team will select, there's no doubt they will have done extensive research and a lot of background work on that particular player. In 2013 the Red Sox selected tall, lanky left-hander pitcher Trey Ball out of New Castle High School in New Castle, Indiana. Ball was a two-way player in high school, but became exclusively a pitcher once drafted by the organization. "Very thorough," Ball said of the Red Sox' scouting process. "They knew what they wanted and when they asked me if I wanted to be a hitter or a pitcher and I always said I would do either or -- whatever would make the team happy. They chose pitcher and I was on board 100 percent with that. They knew what they wanted." Ball had a number of scouts at every one of his games from the beginning of his senior season, but the Red Sox seemed to be the team that consistently was there the most and did more than any other team. "It was just amazing because it didn't matter if we were at home or on the road, there were always 20-25 scouts there and not all of those guys approached me," Ball's high school coach Brad King said. "The Red Sox actually talked to my assistant coaches, they talked to administration. They did their research. Postgame they talked to talked to me about what his demeanor was like after the game or during the game. I thought they did their homework." He added: "They did their work. They did everything that was needed and I can't say that about every other team. Some guys just approached me and asked about him as an outfielder, they didn't even look at him as a pitcher, but the Red Sox did both aspects. They did strictly as a pitcher, strictly as an outfielder, they did everything. Talking to assistant coaches was important as well and I can't say that about other teams. They left no stone unturned." Ball recalled the Red Sox standing out just by the amount of time they spent focused on him, which included numerous cross-checkers. "They did just by how many people they sent out to meet with me and watch my games," he said. "That really stood out." The Red Sox met twice with Ball's family for extensive meetings, once in December before his senior year and again right before the season started. Although he never personally met with general manager Ben Cherington before he signed his professional contract, Cherington did check out one of his starts late in his senior year. "Questions of what did I prefer -- pitcher or hitter," Ball said of what was asked. "They asked about how I was as a person, as a teammate and just stuff like that. Trying to get to know me for what type of person I am." The questions weren't just about on field stuff, as the organization seemed to care a great deal about things off the field and what type of person Ball was. "They asked me a lot about his work ethic, his character, what type of kid he is, how he is in the classroom, how he is around his peers -- that had a lot to do with his high draft choice because he does have high character," King said. "He's not one of those kids who sees himself as better than everyone else of he doesn't work as hard in practice. He took that leadership roll and did what needed to be done. Obviously they asked me about his game, but it was more about his character and his integrity and he type of kid that he is." With all 30 teams visiting Ball at one point or another, seemingly it would hard to standout, but with five or six members of the Red Sox having consistent contact with King and being there as much as they were, it was very clear the organization had a great deal of interest, so it didn't come as a complete shock when the took him. With whomever the Red Sox select at No. 7 there's obviously some pressure, but Ball said the best advice he can give is to just enjoy the experience, as not many people can say they play professional baseball for a living. "It's an overwhelming experience and they need to have fun with it," he said. "You're playing a game for a living. Not everyone gets to play baseball for a living, you just have to have fun with it." DEVERS LIKE CANO, MARGOT? Left-handed hitting third baseman Rafael Devers has opened the season on a tear with Single-A Greenville, hitting .331 with an OPS of .839. At only 18 years old, he's getting comparisons to some one of the best hitters in the majors and also one of the top prospects in the Red Sox' organization. "In terms of the swing it's self, I've heard people comp him to Robinson Cano," Greenville manager Darren Fenster said. "Just with the whip that he has from the left side and the path that he has. Much different type of player obviously. But, in terms of the work ethic, the approach and the love of the game he's actually very similar in that respect to Manuel Margot, who we had here last year. Manny was a pleasure to have and this kid absolutely loves to play. He loves to play and loves to work and had a very similar projection where his approach everyday was consistent. His approach every day was consistent and he just got better and better. By the end of the year he was one of the best players in the league. "Rafael has very identical traits in that respect and has just got off to a little bit of a better start than Margot did last year. But, in terms of the aptitude and just the way he's embraced the work, those two are very, very similar." When it comes to Devers' success, Fenster pointed to his ability to hit the ball back up the middle, something that goes back to his pregame regimen. "He's got a very good middle of the field approach where for me all hitting is is timing and the middle of the field represents being on time and he spent so much of his work day before the game just trying to hammer the ball right back through the box -- back at the pitcher," he said. "Using the length of the cage when he's in there and that puts him in a very good position to be on time. He's got a very fundamentally sound swing where the barrel of the bat stays in the zone for a very, very long time. You combine those two things with some increased plate discipline, increased pitch recognition, and this guy is enjoying a pretty nice run here and progressing very well." A PLAYER-COACH IN GREENVILLE Outfielder Carlos Mesa is 27 years old, the oldest player in the South Atlantic League, and hitting .282 in 27 games with Single-A Greenville, but what he's doing off the field may be more important than what he's doing on the field. With the Red Sox having so many young prospects with Greenville this season, particularly International signings Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Mauricio Dubon, getting a veteran leader in the clubhouse may have been a priority going into the season. While Fenster couldn't confirm or deny that being the case, he did say it's like having another coach in both the clubhouse and dugout. "I can't say one way or the other because I wasn't involved in the signing of him," Fenster said. "I think with the way our front office has a thought process behind our rosters, I think they understood we were going to have a very, very young team here and they knew there would be a benefit in having a couple older players who could show the way, rather than have 25 guys who were very, very young." Mesa, a Cuban native, played three seasons of pro ball with the Pirates from 2011-13, not making it any higher than High-A and then playing Independent ball last year before the Red Sox signed him this past offseason. "Carlos has been outstanding," Fenster said. "Here's a guy who obviously is an older guy. He's been around the game for quite sometime and with such a younger group when you have an experience professional like that, he knows how to go about his business. Throw into the fact, here's a guy who is playing twice a week right now and he brings by far the most positive attitude to the ballpark very single day. "He's always encouraging and he takes a lot off our plate in terms of getting these guys in the dugout or in the clubhouse with regard to little things that he learned over the course of his career that a lot of times our point as a staff gets across better when it comes from another player. He's been a pleasure to have and it is like having another coach who is in the clubhouse and not in our offense." 3 STARS OF THE WEEK 1. Aaron Wilkerson, RHP, Salem -- Wilkerson went six innings in his last start, allowing just one earned run and striking out a season-high nine batters to earn the win. Opponents hit just .133 against him in May and he struck out 34 batters against just six walks. 2. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Pawtucket -- Bradley is in the midst of an eight-game hit streak, including two, three-hit games while hitting .359 in this stretch. For those thinking a call up is near, Red Sox manager John Farrell said nothing is imminent. 3. Jalen Beeks, LHP, Greenville -- Beeks, a 12th-round pick in last year's draft has gone under the radar, picking up wins in each of his last three starts, including going seven innings allowing just one run in his last outing.