Red Sox pick dynamic outfielder at 28
Cousin of Mets slugger Beltran, Fuentes possesses speed
BOSTON -- Reymond Fuentes says he is comparable to his cousin, an All-Star outfielder by the name of Carlos Beltran. He'll get his chance to prove just how similar as a member of the Red Sox.
Boston selected Fuentes, a center fielder out of Fernando Callejo High School in Puerto Rico, with the 28th overall pick of Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft.
Born in Florida before moving to Puerto Rico at the age of 9, the 18-year-old Fuentes follows in the Major League footsteps of Beltran, who also played for Fernando Callejo High School and is now on the Mets.
"I consider myself very similar to Carlos," Fuentes said in a conference call on Tuesday night. "When he's playing, he just plays the game and nothing else. When I play, I am very focused. I do what I have to do. I don't pay any attention to anything outside the game. I just play ball."
Fuentes, who said he followed the Draft results from his computer in Puerto Rico, received a congratulatory phone call from Beltran, whose Mets were playing the Phillies at Citi Field on Tuesday.
"I was very surprised," Fuentes said. "I didn't know that I was going to get picked by Boston, but I'm very excited."
According to Baseball America, the left-handed-hitting and lefty-throwing Fuentes is "an electric, game-changing player" whose contact-oriented approach and superior speed make him an ideal leadoff hitter. Like current Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston's first-round selection in the 2005 Draft, Fuentes has drawn comparisons to former Sox star Johnny Damon.
"He's really athletic," Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod said of the six-foot, 160-pound Fuentes. "He's an athletic center fielder. I think that's the first thing you notice when you see him. He's kind of a lean, wiry-bodied kid right now. But first and foremost, speed is going to be part of his game. He's a plus-plus runner.
"We really think he has an opportunity to be that leadoff-type player that can give us very good defense in center field and hopefully disrupt on the bases as well."
McLeod said that Red Sox scout Edgar Perez identified Fuentes two years ago, affording the organization ample time to evaluate the prospect.
"He had been on the radar for quite some time," McLeod said. "We had plenty of looks from our staff. He was one of the kids we were really hoping would be there at our pick."
Fuentes represents the third high school player taken by the Sox with their first pick since general manager Theo Epstein was hired in November 2002, joining pitcher/shortstop Casey Kelly (2008) and outfielder Jason Place ('06). Fuentes is the first Puerto Rican selected in the first round since Miguel Negron, who was taken 18th overall by Toronto in the 2000 Draft.
"Being a first-rounder from Puerto Rico is amazing," Fuentes said. "I'm very excited. I thank God every day for giving me the tools that I need to be a first-rounder."
An organization that has stockpiled top-notch big league talent in recent Drafts, the Red Sox are confident they've added yet another gem to their farm system.
"As we got to know Reymond more and more, we felt he had the makeup and capability of someone who could be our first-round pick and everything that comes with it," McLeod said. "We feel like he's a kid that could really impact the organization. He was the guy we really wanted."
Round 2, Alex Wilson, RHP, Texas A&M: After missing the 2008 season recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, Wilson racked up a team-high 120 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings for the Aggies this season. Taken 77th overall by Boston, he features an array of above-average pitches, including a heavy fastball and plus slider. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Wilson has no fear of pitching inside and is considered a tough competitor.
Round 3, David Renfroe, RHP/SS, South Panola HS (Miss.): A gifted all-around athlete, Renfroe quarterbacked one of the top high school football programs in the country in addition to playing baseball. Selected No. 107 overall, he offers versatility on the diamond, boasting a 93-mph fastball and a balanced hitting approach. An athletic infielder who has been compared to Mets third baseman David Wright, he is the son of Laddie Renfroe, who played professional baseball for nine years.
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.