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Minors report: Picks make impressions

Minors report: Picks make impressions

Hot topic: They are off in the distance, yet possible cornerstones for the Red Sox one day. In last June's First-Year Player Draft, the two players the Red Sox selected in the first round were outfielder Jason Place and right-handed starter Daniel Bard.

Both players are getting into their routines this spring at the Minor League complex.

Place, taken with the 27th overall pick out of Wren (S.C.) High School, hit .292 with four homers and 21 RBIs during 113 at-bats of Gulf Coast League action last summer.

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"Place is doing well," said Mike Hazen, director of player development for the Red Sox. "He is taking a lot of things from instructional league into this Spring Training. He is in great physical shape and is very focused on this season."

As for Bard, the hard thrower out of University of North Carolina, he didn't get a chance to pitch in the Minor League system last summer because of his late signing date. But early impressions have been positive.

"Bard has been impressive as well," said Hazen. "At this point in the spring, they are just getting through their bullpen and batting practice progressions, but his stuff has been very good, especially the finish on his fastball."

On the move: When last season ended, Red Sox manager Terry Francona discussed the possibility of winter ball with outfielder David Murphy. The outfield prospect, however, told Francona how much he wanted to use the winter to get stronger, and that he felt he could have a better chance at that by staying in his offseason home in Texas.

Mission accomplished. Murphy came to camp looking like a new person.

"He's bigger, he's stronger, he's more confident, he can turn on the ball [and] he's starting to feel like he belongs," said Francona. "For me, he's the type of guy [who] needs to play to see how good he can be. We don't know how good he can be yet. Can he be an everyday player in the Major Leagues? The talent is there. It will be interesting to see how good he gets."

Name in the game: Captain Carl Yastrzemski made his official arrival in camp this week, spending time at both City of Palms Park and the Minor League complex. Arguably the greatest living Red Sox player, Yaz enjoys working with the young prospects, something he's been doing virtually every year since his retirement in 1983.

Ellsbury back to Minors: After making a favorable impression during his stay in Major League camp, top prospect Jacoby Ellsbury was part of the first batch of cuts by the Red Sox on Friday.

Ellsbury hit .250 with a triple and three RBIs in 12 at-bats of Grapefruit League action.

Stat machine: Catching prospect George Kottaras went hitless in his first seven at-bats. ... Lefty Abe Alvarez, who took a brief leave from camp to tend to a family illness, pitched a perfect inning for a save in his first outing on Saturday. ... Outfielder Brandon Moss got off to a solid start, hitting .313 in his first 16 at-bats.

What they're saying: "[Chad] Spann is starting to play a little bit better. He was the guy in camp, the young guy who looked like the game was going a little quick, trying too hard. He's such a conscientious kid. But he settled down, got a couple of hits [and] he's feeling a little better about himself." -- Francona, on the third-base prospect

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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