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Red Sox take UConn righty Barnes at No. 19

Red Sox take UConn righty Barnes at No. 19

Red Sox take UConn righty Barnes at No. 19
BOSTON -- The Red Sox stayed in New England with their first pick in Monday night's First-Year Player Draft, nabbing University of Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes.

A junior, Barnes was taken by Boston with the 19th overall pick, which the club received as compensation from the Tigers for losing Victor Martinez to free agency back in November.

With a lanky frame, Barnes is a classic power pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the lower 90s. He has the ability to crank it up to 96 or 97 mph when needed.

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Seven picks later, the Red Sox were on the clock again and made more of a risky pick, taking catcher Blake Swihart, a high school senior from Rio Rancho, N.M.

The Red Sox had two picks in the sandwich round, taking power lefty Henry Owens out of Edison High School (Huntington Beach, Calif.) at No. 36, and wrapping up a busy first day with outfielder Jackie Bradley (University of South Carolina) at No. 40.

"We're real happy with how today went," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "I think 30 clubs feel that way coming out of the Draft room. Certainly we felt like some things broke our way, and we were able to get four players we feel really good about. Two high school [players], two college [players], two pitchers, two hitters. The hitters are up-the-middle guys with strong defensive tools and bats that we really like. Both pitchers we feel project as starters in the big leagues. We're real happy with how it went."

A native of Bethel, Conn., Barnes also possesses a solid curve and changeup. He will turn 21 on June 17. Barnes played for Wareham in the Cape Cod League the last two summers, and he also played for Team USA's collegiate team in 2010.

"We obviously scouted him through the summer and this year, and see him as a guy with three pitches, a middle of the rotation guy," said Red Sox director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye. "Three plus pitches. We spent a lot of time scouting him in the Cape, with Team USA. We were excited to get him. Given the fact that he was at 19, we got really excited. I'll leave it at that."

In 16 starts this season, Barnes is 11-4 with a 1.62 ERA. Over 116 2/3 innings, he's given up 71 hits while walking 31 and striking out 111. Opponents are hitting .177 against him.

Barnes is known for being a fierce competitor, and he is said to have the mentality of a front-line starter.

In a pre-taped video shown by MLB Network shortly after the Red Sox selected Barnes, the righty said that his favorite player is the Yankees' Joba Chamberlain. Barnes grew up roughly 60 miles east of New York City.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Though the fastball is clearly the top weapon Barnes possesses, he is becoming more comfortable with his secondary stuff.

"I bring a curveball that's done pretty well for me," Barnes said an interview with ESPN earlier this season. "I've had a lot of confidence with that. I throw a slider, which has a little more velocity. This year, the pitch I've really come to like is my changeup. I worked on that a lot this summer and it's translated into this season pretty well for me."

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.

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