Peter Hissey has been his jovial, smiling self during spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., despite the challenges in front of him.

Hissey, 24, is still trying to fulfill his potential, which the Red Sox saw when Hissey was a big-bonus draft pick in 2008.

But that’s only baseball.

Hissey also has is mind on other things, especially a women he met in Ecuador during the offseason. Her name is Grace.

And Hissey’s in love.

“We’ll see what the future holds,” Hissey said.

That statement could cover a few areas of Hissey’s life.

This is his final year under Red Sox control as a minor leaguer. If Hissey is going to continue playing baseball, he needs to prove himself to the Red Sox, or some other organization that might be interested.

The good news for Hissey is his health. He has been playing baseball all spring instead of spending extra time with the trainer.

In five full pro seasons, Hissey has never played more than 112 games – and that was back in 2010. In the past two years with the Portland Sea Dogs, Hissey has played a total of 138 games.

“This year my only goal is to stay on the field,” Hissey said. “I feel if I stay on the field I’ll give myself the best opportunity to be the best player I can be – whether that’s a big-league player or a Double-A player. I want to know for sure.”

Scouts thought they knew when they saw Hissey play for Unionville High in southern Pennsylvania. Baseball America projected Hissey to go in the first three rounds of the draft. He was fast, athletic and a pure hitter, smacking line drives and batting over .500 for three varsity seasons.

But Hissey also had a scholarship to the University of Virginia. Teams stayed away until Boston chose him in the fourth round and gave him a $1 million signing bonus.

Boston likes to challenge its top prospects and, in his first full pro season, Hissey was sent to Class A Greenville. He held his own, batting .279 with 22 stolen bases in 106 games. That’s his highest average as a pro.

After two seasons with advanced Class A Salem, Hissey was sent to Portland in 2012.

Two weeks into the season, Hissey was hit by a pitch, breaking his hand and landing him on the disabled list for two months. He played 70 games, batting .250 with 15 stolen bases.

Hissey put on more muscle in 2013 but still got hurt off and on, playing 68 games (.260 average, 17 steals). He ended the season on the disabled list because of a strained groin muscle.

Hissey had little time to think about it. He was on a plane four days after the season, bound for the jungles and mountains of central Ecuador. He filled in as an English teacher at a school run by missionaries.

“Unbelievable experience,” Hissey said. “The peace and the calmness of that place was pretty special.”

And it became more special.

“Toward the end of my stay, I was set up on a blind date,” Hissey said. “I thought I might as well go.

“We got along really well.”

So well that they saw each other more. And when it came time for Hissey to leave in November, he could not stop thinking about Grace.

“I flew out of Ecuador and thought, ‘man, I really love this girl.’ I had to go back,” he said.

Hissey returned to Ecuador in January, spent time with Grace, and then came back for the start of baseball training.

And in Florida, Hissey has been beaming. A joyful guy to begin with, Hissey showed an extra bounce in his step.

And those steps are without pain.

“This is my first spring training I’ve been healthy in about four years,” Hissey said. “To get through the grind of spring training, it feels good.

“I’m just happy. My goal is to stay healthy on the field and let the numbers fall where they may.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases