Epstein intrigued with softball player's skills

Epstein intrigued with softball player's skills

Epstein intrigued with softball player's skills
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox have once again provided tangible proof that they are willing to go well beyond the beaten path to look for players who might help them in the future.

Earlier this week, the club signed Te Wara "Beau" Bishop, a 17-year-old softball player from New Zealand to a professional contract.

Bishop is expected to arrive in Fort Myers during the first week of March.

"Jon Deeble, our Pacific Rim coordinator, lives out in New Zealand," said general manager Theo Epstein. "He sees New Zealand a lot, too, and he's kind of familiar with the softball community out there. There's not a lot of baseball played in New Zealand, but there's a lot of softball played by men of all ages.

"My understanding -- I've just seen some video -- is that he's the most exciting softball prospect to come around in the last 20 years out of New Zealand. He had a lot of people talking, and Deeble saw him play and saw his size, athleticism, swing, arm strength -- he's a pretty interesting prospect."

All those members of Red Sox Nation who play in softball leagues shouldn't get any ideas, however. This was a unique case.

"It's a little different. The New Zealand national team is a little different than the beer leagues," quipped Epstein. "It's fast pitch."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.