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SoxProspects News

June 23, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Q&A with Shannon Wilkerson

Outfielder Shannon Wilkerson was named the Division II Player of the Year by the NCBWA and ABCA this spring after his junior season at Augusta State. The speedy Wilkerson led the Peach Belt Conference with a .441 batting average, .891 slugging percentage, 82 runs scored, 101 hits, 24 home runs, and 7 triples this year, and he was also named to the Rawlings/ABCA National Gold Glove team after going errorless in 146 chances. SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield was able to chat with Wilkerson, the Red Sox’s eighth-round pick in this month’s First-Year Player Draft, at Lowell Spinners Media Day last week.

Chris Hatfield: At Augusta State, you were the Division II Player of the Year. When you decided to attend a Division II school, was playing at the professional level on your radar?

Shannon Wilkerson: Oh yeah. From day one my coaches would tell me, “you’ve got a real good chance to make it to the next level. Don’t look at it like because you’re a D-II guy, you can’t make it.” My coach told me at the end of this year I had a chance to be one of the highest-drafted guys out of that college, and I was – the top guy was a twelfth-rounder, and by going in the eighth I set the new standard.

CH: Was going that high [in the draft] a goal for you?

SW: Yeah, our range was around four[th] to eight[th round], and I got a call from the Red Sox about ten picks away from their eighth-round selection. It was exciting.

CH: Being from Georgia originally, how familiar are you with the Red Sox organization?

SW: It’s very, very new to me. We flew in last night (June 16), and the first thing I noticed is the fans. Being at Fenway and being at Turner Field are completely different. I mean, it was a packed house last night, and the fans, they’ve got your back 100 percent.

CH: So you grew up a Braves fan then?

SW: Oh yeah, I was a big Braves fan, and actually, that’s where I thought I’d be going. But since the Red Sox picked me up, all I’ve heard was that the fan base was just so behind the team in the Boston area.

CH: The Lowell team is always kind of a mish-mash of college players, high-school guys who’ve been in Extended Spring Training, some players from Latin America and even from Asia this year. Although it’s very early on, how has the assimilation process been?

SW: Well, like I said, I’ve only been here probably 12 hours, so I’ve met about five guys. But what’s unique about it is the many different cultures. Like I said, I really haven’t made my rounds going to meet people, so I only know a handful of guys right now, but it’ll be interesting adjusting to playing with that many different types of players.

CH: We ask this in all of our interviews – give us a self-scouting report on Shannon Wilkerson.

SW: I’d say give me the inside fastball at the plate. (Laughs). As far as my speed, that’d be my biggest aspect of the game. I play the game 100-percent everywhere I go – I try to turn singles into doubles. In the outfield, like I said, my biggest strength is with my speed.

CH: So you see yourself as a table-setter?

SW: Oh yeah, definitely. I’ll steal some bags.

CH: Getting back to the draft, you mentioned the Braves and you were picked by the Red Sox, were there any other teams you were talking to?

SW: Well I filled out forms for about every club, but the White Sox, Reds, Phillies, and Braves, those four were all on top of me pretty hard. And then towards the end of the season I got a few calls from the Red Sox. And then I got to know my area scout from the Red Sox very well – he actually lives 20 minutes from my hometown. We got talking more and more and he wanted to know what my projections were as far as going in the draft, and I let him know. The eighth round came around and he gave me a phone call.

CH: You were named the D-II Player of the Year by two different organizations, what was it like being named the best in the country at that level?

SW: I mean, it really didn’t soak in I guess. I still hadn’t been drafted at the time, but now I’ve gotten my dream. That was in its own category until I got drafted, but it really doesn’t mean that much to me anymore. Being a professional athlete is something I’ve always dreamed of. It’s always good to look back on, being the player of the year in Division II nationally, but this right here is the biggest thing.

CH: For this season, what goals do you have?

SW: My goal right now is to make the all-star team. I’d like to do that. I’ve had a bit of a setback – I probably won’t play the first week or two, because we’re waiting on some physical tests I took yesterday to come back. But I just want to get out there and play every day, get better as a ballplayer, and just adjust to the professional atmosphere. You’ve got to learn to accept failure – three-for-ten is hall-of-fame numbers.