Ball projects as 'top of the rotation starter'

Red Sox scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said Friday he projects the club’s first-round draft pick -- 18-year-old Indiana high school lefty Trey Ball -- as a “top of the rotation starter” and that the team had been eyeing the player since last summer.

General manager Ben Cherington said the Red Sox were looking at a “slightly different pool of players” than they normally would because their first-round pick (No. 7) was the highest it’s been in two decades.

“This is a guy whose athleticism and upside would not make him available deeper into the first round in any draft, we don’t believe,” Cherington said Friday.

Along with that athleticism, the Red Sox were attracted to Ball’s size (he is 6-foot-6), which makes him more projectable as a major league starter.

“Some of the checkpoints we look for obviously, when you look at a high school pitcher, especially big and projectble, very athletic, arm work, makeup, getting to know the kid from area scout’s perspective ... he checked a lot of the boxes,” Sawdaye said. “Size wasn’t the only one, but size is definitely a big factor for us. We do like to take the guys we feel like have a chance to have durability and start in the major leagues.”

The Red Sox like that he projects to have three plus pitches: a fastball that has been clocked in the 92-94 mph range, a changeup and a curveball that he just started throwing nine months ago but has already impressed Sawdaye. Bell reportedly also has thrown a knuckleball, but the Red Sox never saw it.

Ball was a two-way high school player -- also a standout center fielder -- but the Red Sox are planning to develop him solely as a pitcher.

“Coming into the year, we liked him equally as a pitcher and a hitter. He’s a really good hitter,” Sawdaye said. “As we spent more time with him this spring, we realized that as a pitcher he was probably more advanced. ... When he’s on the mound, we saw the upside as a starting pitcher: left-handed, size, athleticism.”