06/07/2004 3:11 PM ET
Red Sox take SS Pedroia
Stellar defensive player also solid at the plate
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
|Dustin Pedroia finished second in Pac-10 Player of the Year voting after winning the award a year ago. (courtesy Arizona St. U)
BOSTON -- With their first pick in Monday's First Year Player Draft, the Red Sox drafted a slick-fielding shortstop with a potent bat and swift legs.
In Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox selected one of the finest all-around players in the rich history of Arizona State's baseball program. The Sox, who didn't have a first-round pick because of the signing of All-Star closer Keith Foulke, got Pedroia with the 65th overall pick.
The right-handed hitter is excited about the prospect of joining one of the most prestigious franchises in professional sports.
"I am pretty excited about being picked by Boston and it is a dream come true to hear my name in the draft," Pedroia said. "It is kind of an unreal feeling. I was pretty nervous last night and this morning, but I am pretty pumped now after hearing my name called."
The junior recently became the fourth player in Arizona State history to earn three consecutive All-Pac 10 First Team awards.
Pedroia finished second in Pac-10 Player of the Year voting after winning the award a year ago. He is a career .383 hitter for Arizona State, ranking seventh in school history. Obviously durable, Pedroia started all 185 games he played at ASU.
The 20-year-old Pedroia is a native of Woodland, Calif. He instantly becomes the organization's second highly-touted shortstop prospect behind Hanley Ramirez, who some regard as Boston's most talented minor leaguer.
"Dustin is a tough, smart ballplayer who will fit nicely into the Red Sox organization," said David Chadd, director of amateur scouting for the Sox. "He is an accomplished middle infielder with an equally solid approach at the plate. We all admire his work ethic and ability to be a leader."
As Pedroia gears for the next step in his baseball life, he couldn't help but reflect on the culmination of one of his biggest goals.
"It has been a goal of mine since I was a little kid to play professional baseball," said Pedroia. "My parents have always been there at all my games and supported me throughout my baseball career and I couldn't have done any of this without them. My friends and family are all a big part of this as they all believed in a small shortstop from Woodland."
The 5-foot-9 Pedroia is one of five finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which will be announced on June 13.
Pedroia was rated as the 16th-best position player and 53rd overall by Baseball America, which means the Sox appeared to have done well to get him where they did.
Pedroia had a solid junior year, hitting .393 (second in Pac-10) in 59 starts, smashing 24 doubles, one triple and nine homers while driving in 48 runs and stealing eight bases in 13 attempts. His on-base percentage was .502.
His glove is as valuable as his bat, evidenced by the fact Pedroia was selected as the national defensive player of the year by Collegiate Baseball in 2003.
Now he will take his game to the next level, not forgetting those who helped him along the way.
"I really want to thank my coaches and teammates at Arizona State as they made most of this possible," said Pedroia. "It's been an unbelievable three years here as a Sun Devil and I can't thank them enough. Coach [Pat] Murphy has been unbelievable and gave me the chance to come to a big-time college baseball program."
Ian Browne is a
reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.