The Red Sox made a surprise selection in last night’s amateur draft, taking LHP Trey Ball with the number seven pick. None of the major baseball writers who focus on amateurs (Jim Callis, Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo, Kiley McDaniel, etc) or the Red Sox media had linked the Sox to Ball before the draft. Two high schoolers who had been linked to the Sox in mock drafts, Kohl Stewart and Clint Frazier, were selected with the fourth and fith picks, which likely led the Sox to Ball.

Ball came into his senior year as a prospect on both sides of the ball, starring as both a pitcher and an outfielder for New Castle high school in Indiana. As the year progressed, his stuff as a pitcher improved to the point where he will join the Sox organization as a pitcher.

The 6’6” lefty already throws his fastball in the low 90’s, holding that velocity throughout the game. He still has physical projection left on his 180 pound frame. With present velocity and potential for physical growth, he’s a prospect with plenty of upside left.

How much of this upside he can reach hinges on whether he can develop his changeup and curveball, which both lag behind the fastball. At only eighteen years of age, he will have plenty of time in the Sox system to develop his entire arsenal.

The Sox seem to have a preference for two way players, as they took athletic pitcher/shortstop Casey Kelly in the first round in 2007. Ball’s athleticism could allow him to get the most out of his talent on the mound.

Ball does have some leverage in negotiations, as he already has a full scholarship to the University of Texas. The bonus for the seventh pick ($3.2 million), though, should be plenty to see him forego college and sign with the Red Sox. It remains to be seen whether the Sox will be able to sign him for an amount below the slot so that they can spend some money on other high upside picks later in the draft.

The Sox did have an opportunity to take a high upside position player with their pick at seven, as Georgia high schooler Austin Meadows was still available. The Sox apparently had Ball ranked higher, although most of the public draft rankings had Meadows ahead of Ball.

With their second round pick (#45), the Sox took RHP Teddy Stankiewicz out of Seminole State Junior College. Stankiewicz struck out 70 batters in 60 innings this season, and features a fastball that reaches the mid 90’s. He’s not a finished product with only one year in junior college, so like Ball he still has some potential for growth and improvement.

After a fairly safe 2012 draft, these first two picks are riskier, higher upside selections. The Sox will likely take some safer picks to balance the risk in the remainder of the draft.