Sox close to inking top two picks

Sox close to inking top two picks

SAN DIEGO -- Two weeks after being drafted by the Red Sox, shortstop Ryan Dent had a chance to put the uniform on for the first time. Dent, who lives in Long Beach, Calif., drove roughly 90 minutes to San Diego on Friday and took early batting practice off Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Dent, taken at pick No. 62 overall, hasn't signed yet, but he is expected to do so in a matter of days.

"I think we have positive momentum," said Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod. "I think things are kind of leaning that way. Hopefully we can get him down and started -- the Gulf Coast League started up three days ago -- because he's already missing some at-bats. We just want to get him down with some of his teammates."

McLeod also confirmed that the Red Sox are on the verge of signing their first overall pick from the First-Year Player Draft, left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone.

"With Nick, we're really close there," said McLeod. "I would expect something to be announced probably within the next few days. That's looking really good."

Dent, fresh out of Woodrow Wilson High School, had a fun day being around the likes of sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

"The guys are welcoming me with open arms," said Dent. "I'm having fun. I met the big guys, Papi, Manny, all those guys. Coco Crisp, he warmed up to me pretty quick. I had a good conversation with him. It's cool to find out that these guys are human."

Dent, who has tremendous speed, is open to making a position switch at some point.

"I think shortstop has been my home for a while," Dent said. "Maybe a move to second would suit me best according to my size and may arm strength. I hope to stay somewhere in the middle infield, short or second."

McLeod looks forward to seeing the exciting athlete in action.

"He's a really gifted athlete, one who has physical skills that you just can't teach, [foot] speed and bat speed," McLeod said. "He's a quality person with a lot of physical ability."

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