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September 6, 2007 at 8:28 PM

Q&A with Ken Ryan, Red Sox Pitcher 1992-95

Seekonk (MA) native Ken Ryan joined the Red Sox organization as an undrafted free agent out of Seekonk High School in 1986 and worked his way up to pitching and often closing for big league club between 1992 and 1995. Over the course of his career, Ryan went 14-16 with 30 saves. Ken now manages the Ken Ryan Baseball Academy in Pawtucket and broadcasts for the PawSox on occasion. Ken generously agreed to answer a few questions from SoxProspects.com. Special thanks for Ken for taking the time for the interview!
SP: You were signed by the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent out of Seekonk (MA) High School in 1986. Can you describe what the draft process was like for you and what it was like being signed by the home town team?

KR: In 1986, I was a senior at Seekonk High. It was a very exciting time with both college and pro scouts attending my games. My grades were fair but I had an opportunity to attend the University of Maine on a partial scholarship. The draft came and went and I wasn’t drafted, partly because many pro scouts figured I was going to Maine, but I think the main reason was because I was very raw. For the most part, I had poor mechanics and no real breaking ball. However, I did have a good fastball in high school that sat around 85-88 mph. Still , I was not a top prospect. After the draft, I was approached by Bill Enos, who was a scout for Boston at the time. He was a scout with a lot of experience, and had signed Rich Gedman and a lot of other local talent. He was a great salesman. He talked to both my father and I for about an hour one day. The thrill to play for Boston suddenly seemed realistic. My family and I had a huge round-table discussion and came to the decision to give it a shot. I always could go back to school when my career was over - which at that time I was thinking probably would be in a few years. I was confident in my ability, but also realistic knowing that the chances were so slim to make it to the bigs. In June of that year, I finally signed with Boston. That year, the Sox also drafted and signed Curt Schilling and Scott Cooper. I went to Elmira NY to start my career. I was so darn nervous and excited. The first day I put on my uniform, it gave me chills. I was only 17 at the time and the youngest player on the team. Everyone there was either out of college or a stud athlete out of high school, and I was 8-5 in my senior year at Seekonk High. It was just a great thrill to be playing at that level, and I walked on egg shells for my first few weeks. Then, when I finally got into a game I felt a little more comfortable. All the draftees were so confident, and everyone had the same dream. Unfortunately, out of the 30+ players that signed that year only three of us made it. Schill, Cooper, and myself.

SP: During your time in the Red Sox system, you spent time in Elmira, Greensboro, Lynchburg, Winter Haven, Sarasota, New Britain, and Pawtucket before sticking with the big club. Any favorite spots on your way up the ladder? What were your favorite and least favorite aspects about your time in the minors?
KR: I really enjoyed playing in all cities. One of my favorites was Greensboro, North Carolina. It was a great city where the fans just loved minor league baseball. An old ballpark in the center of town was our home. In 1987, it was my first full season and I enjoyed a 3-12 season. Of course, nothing compares to Pawtucket. Growing up in Seekonk, which was only a stones throw away, made for great fun. The PawSox experience was just a dream come true, since I had watched games there so many times growing up. They run the organization like a big league team. Great front office and the fans know their baseball. The minor leagues were so influential to me - not only because they helped me learn the game of baseball, but also the experience helped me to become an adult as well.

SP: Spending some time in the broadcast booth for Pawtucket in 2007, you got an first hand look at a lot of the talent coming down the pipe for the Red Sox. What players have impressed you the most?
KR: I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jacoby Ellsbury play. He is so much fun to watch. Speed, speed, speed. We haven’t had someone like that in a very long time. I was also very impressed with Adam Mills in Lowell. I think he is a very smart pitcher. He should move through the system rather quickly. Obviously now we know what Clay Buchholz can do as well. He is a very polished and relaxed young man. I thought he would well when he got promoted, but a no-hitter!! Brandon Moss is another guy who has some good pop. He struggled a little down the stretch but I believe he is one who will be playing for someone in the majors for some time.

SP: Between coming up through the organization yourself in the late 80s and early 90s, and now broadcasting for the PawSox, you’re in the unique position of being able to understand the differences between the Red Sox minor league system under the the previous and current ownership groups. What do you see are the major differences between the Red Sox system now and the Red Sox system then?
KR: Well, everything now is based on protecting the young talent. We didn’t really go by pitch counts too much when I played. If a guy got tired or in a rut, they took him out. Now, everything is pitch count, pitch count, pitch count. Some of the minor league clubs I was on didn’t even have a pitching coach. Now, every team at every level has a pitching and hitting instructor. Times have changed and so has the amount of money invested in these players. These young men are the team’s investments. Long term hopefully. I have a large amount of respect for the scouting and minor league operations for Boston. Everyone involved works so close together and they're all on the same page. It has been a long time since the Red Sox have stockpiled such great young talent. So many players over the last few years have made immediate impacts. Pedrioa, Papelbon, Youk, Lester, Buchholz. There are many still to come.

SP: In addition to broadcasting for the PawSox, you also run the KR Baseball Academy. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at the Academy?
KR: We opened the KR Baseball Academy in January 2005. It has been the best thing I have ever done since playing ball. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy instructing. The School is in Pawtucket, about one mile from McCoy Stadium. We have programs for young players starting in October and ending in May. We do everything from pitching to hitting to catching. If you visit my website at krbaseball.com, you can find so much about our classes and facility.