Boston signs top 14 Draft picks

Boston signs top 14 Draft picks

BOSTON -- The 2008 First-Year Player Draft player-signing deadline has passed, and the Sox have inked all of their top 16 picks, with their final three coming on Friday night before the deadline: fourth-round selection Peter Hissey, and Portsmouth, R.I., native Ryan Westmoreland, taken in the fifth round, and 13th-rounder Tyler Wilson.

In total, the Red Sox signed 29 of their 52 selections, which was on par with the 27 the team signed from the 2007 Draft.

Leading the way was the team's first overall pick, Casey Kelly. Kelly, selected 30th overall out of Sarasota (Fla.) High School, signed on July 17 after mulling an option to play quarterback for the University of Tennessee.

Kelly chose baseball, and he's been playing shortstop for the Gulf Coast League Sox, batting .197 with a homer and eight RBIs.

"Defensively, he's been very good, but he's taken some lumps at the plate," McLeod said. "We're excited to see what he can do, possibly, on the field."

Kelly was drafted with high marks as both a shortstop and as a pitcher. Though it initially appeared as though the Sox would develop him on the mound, Kelly is working exclusively at short.

"There was division in the room how we'd like him more, as a pitcher or as a hitter," McLeod said. "He's a special talent on the mound."

So far, Kelly has spent much of his playing time next to another infielder the Sox drafted this summer, Derrik Gibson. Drafted in the second round, Gibson is predominately playing third base for the GCL Sox and is hitting .304.

At this point, Gibson is making a rather smooth transition and is more of an advanced hitter, McLeod said.

Meanwhile, the Sox are reaping the benefits of a rather deep selection of pitchers in their farm system from this year's Draft. Boston used 29 selections on pitchers, taking a wide variety of players from both the high school and college ranks.

But it is their college selections who are taking large strides in the Minors. Bryan Price -- taken 45th overall as a compensation pick out of Rice University -- sports a 1.40 ERA in eight games -- five starts -- this season for the Class A Lowell Spinners.

Stephen Fife, taken in the third round out of the University of Utah, is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA for Lowell this season. He threw three scoreless innings during the Spinners' 4-3, 12-inning win over Hudson Valley in the Futures at Fenway game on Saturday.

"Being a college guy, [Fife] had a lot of innings under his belt," McLeod said. "He's throwing the ball very well, powering the ball down in the zone. [Kyle] Weiland [third round, 108th overall] and Price didn't start in college, so it's more of a getting-to-learn process with those two guys."

The fact that the Sox have signed their top 16 Draftees and the general breadth of talent selected and signed are what make scouts encouraged by this class.

"I think we had a good blend of high school talent mixed with college pitching able to strike guys out," McLeod said. "That's what excites us most today, is the amount of athletic kids we have and what they can do."

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.