Sox's 13th-rounder trained on home turf ... literally

Boston nabs No. 100 Draft prospect with 399th overall pick

July 19th, 2022

Gavin Kilen’s family home underwent some unconventional renovations in recent years.

Kilen, who was selected by the Red Sox in the 13th round with the 399th pick of the 2022 Draft on Tuesday, has had a chance to train like a pro ball player in his own garage during his high school career.

A shortstop out of Milton (Wis.) High School, Kilen was the No. 100 ranked Draft prospect this year, per MLB Pipeline. The passion project that turned his home garage into a training room may have had something to do with his steady development.

“[I’m] just a baseball player, honestly,” Kilen told WKOW’s Pablo Iglesias. “That’s all I’ve wanted to be since I was a little kid. If I want to take this seriously and go somewhere with it, then I really have to work.”

He’s had some help getting here -- namely from his father, Chris Kilen, a 1993 Twins Draft pick, who made the garage project possible. Father and son worked together to lay down the turf, set up a batting cage and even put together a weightlifting station. The results were quick to follow.

Kilen led Milton High to its first-ever Division I state title this year, scoring the winning run in the championship game. The left-handed hitter has also seen some time with Team USA’s Under 18 squad, batting .231 with two RBIs over seven games.

“We’ve liked him for a long time now,” Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni said. “He’s obviously a premium position player, being a shortstop, but then he’s got a really advanced feel in the box. The game moves pretty slowly for him.”

Contact skills and hand-eye coordination are Kilen’s main characteristics at the plate, traits that could make up for a current lack of power. The 18-year-old is a ground-ball hitter with the ability to send line drives all over the field.

Kilen’s future at shortstop is debatable, as MLB Pipeline rates his speed and strength at “more average than plus,” which could trigger a future move to second base. Currently committed to Louisville, it’s unclear whether Kilen will sign with Boston as a 13th-round pick, but it still made sense for Boston to try to snag a Top-100 prospect that late in the Draft -- just like the team did on Day 2 with Brooks Brannon.

There will be several years of Minor League development ahead of Kilen if he chooses to begin his pro career right away. Either way, with an all-encompassing hitting facility just steps away from his bedroom, he should have no trouble continuing his training.