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Red Sox nab pair of intriguing infielders 

June 4, 2019

BOSTON -- When Cameron Cannon took his first swings at Fenway Park last summer during a workout with the Cape Cod League, he felt a rush of adrenaline with Fenway’s inviting Green Monster and gaps so perfectly-tailored to his doubles-happy stroke. The shortstop from Arizona can now have realistic thoughts

BOSTON -- When Cameron Cannon took his first swings at Fenway Park last summer during a workout with the Cape Cod League, he felt a rush of adrenaline with Fenway’s inviting Green Monster and gaps so perfectly-tailored to his doubles-happy stroke.

The shortstop from Arizona can now have realistic thoughts about calling Fenway Park his home office in the future. The Red Sox selected the right-handed-hitting Cannon with their first pick (No. 43 overall) in the 2019 MLB Draft on Monday night.

“I think it’s going to translate great,” Cannon said on Tuesday, when asked how his swing could play at Fenway. “I’m excited to get out there. I actually did a workout there last summer playing in the Cape Cod League. I got a good feel for playing on the field. I’m excited to get out there, work those gaps, and pepper the Green Monster out in left.”

Draft Tracker: Complete pick-by-pick coverage

Cannon is known for his ability to smash line drives on a consistent basis, and also controls the strike zone.

The Sox got Cannon with the 43rd overall selection.

“I’m super excited about it,” Cannon said. “I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about the organization and the guys in the front office and the coaching staff and the players.”

Boston was moved 10 spots down in the Draft this year, after going $40 million over the luxury tax threshold in the World Series championship season of 2018.

“We like a lot about him,” Red Sox vice president of amateur scouting Mike Rikard said of Cannon. “He’s a very good hitter. We like his swing path. He does things as far as controlling the strike zone and limiting his strikeouts that we value. He’s got good power now and we think there may be more evolving power he has a chance to grow into as he continues to mature as a hitter.”

The last two times the Red Sox didn’t have a first-rounder, it worked out rather well. In 2004, Dustin Pedroia was taken by the Sox with the 65th pick. And two years before that, lefty Jon Lester was the pick at No. 57.

At the end of the second round, and at pick No. 69 overall, Boston selected another shortstop in Matthew Lugo, a high school senior from Puerto Rico who went to the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy. Lugo is the nephew of Beltran, who had a tremendous career in the Major Leagues and retired following the 2017 season.

The hope is that Lugo turns into the latest stud shortstop from Puerto Rico. Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Javy Baez have set the bar high.

“The predictability on the high school kids in the Draft is always tough,” said Rikard. “It’s never easy to know who’s going to be there at your pick. He’s a very talented young player. He’s got really good tools. He as well has a chance to stay in the middle of the field, for sure. He’s got power potential. And he’s got speed to kind of push the game a little bit.”

Many scouts look at Cannon as a classic grinder, which is always an endearing trait for Red Sox fans. He was an All-Star in the Cape Cod League last summer, where he played third base. In college, the 5-foot-10, 196-pound Cannon had experience at short and second base.

“One of the real pluses for him in that regard is he’s very versatile,” Rikard said. “He’s played quite a bit of shortstop at the University of Arizona but he’s also played some second base as well as playing some third base last summer at the Cape. Not exactly sure what’s going to be the best fit for him, but we do like the fact that he’s been able to move around throughout his career. We’ll give him an opportunity to kind of prove himself at shortstop. But we do know that he’s got a chance to fit at some other spots as well.”

Cannon had a big junior season for Arizona, hitting .397 with 29 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 56 RBIs and a 1.129 OPS in 56 games.

“He had a very good year at Arizona last year so we certainly had him on the radar as far as recognizing his performance,” Rikard said. “We were able to see him play on the Cape last summer and then we had some scouts that saw him earlier in the spring. Vaughn Williams was our area scout who really did a good job with him and really for the most part, all of our staff was just very impressed with him throughout the whole process.”

The selection of Cannon comes three years after the Sox took Arizona slugger Bobby Dalbec in the fourth round. Dalbec is currently ranked No. 2 in the Red Sox’s farm system by MLB Pipeline.

In fact, Cannon and Dalbec have formed a good relationship in recent years.

“He comes [to campus] almost every offseason,” Cannon said. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with him a little bit and pick his brain. I talked with him a little last night. He kind of took me under his wing a little bit, said, ‘Hey, if you need anything, need to know any information about the organization, just let me know.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to give you a call in the next couple days, try to get a rundown, get a better feel for the organization.’

“So now I feel like I’m a step ahead with having a buddy in the organization who’s been through it a couple years already. I’m excited.”

Lugo is probably more of a pure shortstop than Cannon. With Xander Bogaerts under contract through 2025, the Sox can be patient with the 18-year-old Lugo.

“Edgar Perez is the scout and he’s been someone that Edgar’s been very close to for quite a while now,” Rikard said. “I don’t know exactly how far they go back but Edgar’s been commenting and talking about him really for the last few years and when you go and scout Puerto Rico, you typically kind of go down early, middle and late and we had a good evaluation of him each time that we went down there to see him.”

And the fact that Lugo has an uncle he idolizes in Beltran certainly can’t hurt.

“That’s always a good thing, to know that they have backgrounds and people in their lives who have a chance to be such a positive influence,” Rikard said.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.