Tuesday June 07, 2011 | 08:52 AM

Draft day is like National Letter of Intent day when college programs sign up student-athletes. There is not a negative word to be said. Everyone is a future star.

The Red Sox had four picks in the Rounds 1 and 1A (10th, 26th, 36th, 40th overall) and chose a right-handed college pitcher (Matt Barnes, UConn), a switching-hitting high school catcher (Blake Swihart from New Mexico), a left-handed high school pitcher (Henry Owens from southern California) and a college outfielder (Jack Bradley, South Carolina).

Barnes, 6-4, 203 pounds, has a mid-90's fastball, curve and change-up. Starred in Cape Cod League (always a good sign). Maybe makes it to Portland at the end of next year. Listed as Baseball America's 13th top draft prospect. The safest of the first four picks.

Swihart, 6-1, 175, has the typical gaudy high school stats (.602 batting average). But he also performed well for USA Baseball's 18-under team, batting .448 against good competition. Just learning the catching position, but still listed as BA's top catching prospect (17th prospect overall).

Owens, 6-6, 190, also played for national 18-under team. Command with a decent fastball, but not much else is overly impressive. Still, a tall lefty with promise is worth an early pick. BA listed Owens as the 36th overall draft prospect.

Bradley, 5-10, 175, is another small gamble. He his only .259 his senior year but was limited because of a left wrist injury. If healthier, he may have gone higher in the draft and maybe Boston does not get him. Could be a break for the Red Sox. BA's 34th-rated prospect.

While Day 1 gets all the publicity, today is a big one for the draft. Boston has grabbed some of its best players in the second round - Justin Masterson (2006), Dustin Pedroia ('04) and Jon Lester ('02). And there are those other later round picks, like Jonathan Papelbon (fourth, 2003) and Kevin Youkilis (eighth, 2001).

Youkilis, one of the original Sea Dogs (as a Red Sox affiliate) is pictured at left, when he arrived in Portland in 2003.

Speaking of the Sea Dogs, they are on a five-game winning streak. The team returns to Hadlock Field tonight at 7, the start of a six-game home stand.

In other minor league games, Pawtucket catcher Luis Exposito (.232) is showing signs of rebounding from his slow start. He went 2-for-3 Monday with his third home run.

Kevin Millwood in Pawtucket trying to make a comeback, had his best game this year: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

In Salem, Junichi Tazawa made this third rehab start in his return from last year's Tommy John surgery: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.

Greenville first baseman/DH Mile Head (.34) continues to mash with two doubles on Monday. His OPS is 1.031.

I'll check back later from Hadlock.

 

About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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