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April 15, 2010 at 6:00 AM

Q&A with David Renfroe

Last year marked the third consecutive year that the Red Sox drafted a two-way multi-sport high school athlete on the first day of the amateur draft. In 2007, the Sox took Texas native Will Middlebrooks in the fifth round. In 2008, Casey Kelly from Sarasota, Florida was the team’s first-round pick. Last season, David Renfroe, a shortstop/pitcher/quarterback from Mississippi, became Boston's third-round pick. Renfroe had a decision to make once the Red Sox drafted him between signing with Boston or accepting a full scholarship to the University of Mississippi. Renfroe decided to forgo his scholarship offer to sign for $1.4 million, deferred over five years. Because he signed late, Renfroe has yet to see any live game action outside of the Fall Instructional League and minor league spring training, making him arguably the most exciting player in the system yet to make his professional debut. He begins the 2010 season in extended spring training in Fort Myers, after which he likely will be assigned to the Lowell Spinners. Jonathan Singer sat down with Renfroe during spring training after a long day of practice and an exhibition game. Special thanks to David for taking the time out of his busy day to sit down and chat about baseball.

Jonathan Singer: You were regarded as one of the top high school pitchers in Mississippi. Was there any discussion with the organization to play two positions to start your career like Casey Kelly did? What ultimately led to the decision to go the position player route?
David Renfroe: There wasn’t really any decision about pitching with the Red Sox. About mid-season of my senior year of high school, I had an injury which forced me to miss a couple starts on the mound, so after that I just decided I wanted to be an everyday player. I didn’t like sitting on the bench in between starts while watching other players play.

JS: Tell us about your draft day experience. Did you have a lot of contact with the Red Sox, and did you expect to be selected by the team?
DR: Draft day was a fun day for me. I can’t lie about that. It was definitely overwhelming along with a lot of nervousness for me. During the draft, I didn’t really talk with the Red Sox, but I did come up to Boston two weeks prior for a private pre-draft workout that went well. I thought that I would get drafted in the first or second round, but I ended up being the last pick on day one for the Red Sox, so you can’t complain about that. I am just happy to have been drafted by an organization such as Boston.

JS: You had a scholarship to attend the University of Mississippi. What ultimately led to your decision to turn pro?
DR: I just wanted to play every day. I didn’t want to have to worry about school, where I would have to manage my schoolwork and play ball at the same time. Mentally and physically, I felt ready to make the jump to professional baseball, and I am satisfied with the decision I made.

JS: You attended the Fall Instructional League in Fort Myers. What was that experience like, and what were some of the things the organization wanted you to focus on during your time there?
DR: I thought the Instructional League was a good experience, as it gave me a chance to play with older guys such as Will Middlebrooks. It gave me the opportunity to play under him while he coached me a bit through it, as I was making the change from shortstop to third base. It was a difficult change, and I am still getting used to playing over there. My goal has been to become a fundamentally sound third baseman throughout spring training. Hopefully, it will translate to an assignment to Greenville, but if not then I will use the time in extended spring training to make myself a better player at third.

JS: When was the decision made to move you to third base, and did you know if you were going to play shortstop at any time during spring training?
DR: I figured I would play a little bit my first full spring training, but I came down to Fort Myers and they moved me to third pretty quick, so I really didn’t get a shot to play short. It’s definitely something that I am fine with. I just want to play wherever gets me to the big leagues the quickest, and the Red Sox feel that is at third base, so I will work hard every day in order to become the player people expect me to become.

JS: Tell us about your offseason. What type of workout program did the organization stress for you? How did you prepare for your first spring training as a professional?
DR: One of the main things was for me just to be in shape. My father was in the Cubs organization, and the thing he stressed to me was that you have to be in shape, because you can get passed easily by other players if you aren’t. I came down to Fort Myers and worked out about three to four times a week, sometimes five. I pounded on the weights, as I wanted to get stronger because I felt a little overmatched in the Fall Instructional League. I probably put on fifteen to twenty pounds in the offseason.

JS: What are some of the developmental goals the organization has outlined for you heading into this season? How have you begun to work on these goals?
DR: They just want me to be a complete player mentally and physically while taking in everything I can while I am at spring training. Coming here and having a specific routine every day is something the organization really stresses. I just want to make sure I have a routine that works for me in order to someday reach the majors.

JS: As a hitter coming out of high school and now facing top-flight pitching day in and day out, what has been the main adjustment you have had to make and how do you go about implementing this adjustment?
DR: It’s much different than high school. I’m not used to someone throwing 91-92 mph with good sink on it day in and day out. I’m still learning as a hitter since I don’t have many at-bats yet, but the organization has not put pressure on me to go out and hit right away. It’s taking some time getting adjusted to it, but come game time I know I will be ready to go out there and hit.

JS: We’ve seen a number of pre-draft reports on David Renfroe. Can you give us some insight into your key strengths? Where are the areas you feel you have to improve upon?
DR: One of my strengths is my baseball mentality. I believe that my instincts are good along with my knowledge of the game. I also feel like I know where I need to be in certain situations on the field. Other strengths that I have are my strong arm as well as being a pretty good hitter. One of my underrated assets I think is my baserunning. I’m not blessed with great speed, but I feel that I run the bases well. I feel like I am a good player but I know I can become a better player. One of the things I really want to work on is hitting the ball to the opposite field, but I know that I can improve in every place in order to get where I want to be down the road.

JS: You have only been in the organization a short period of time, but what teammate has impressed you the most, and why?
DR: I’d have to say Brandon Jacobs. His power is impressive and he is just very talented as an overall player. But it’s not just one guy that’s impressed me – all of these guys out here impress me. They are playing professional baseball for a reason. You can definitely learn something from every one of these guys out here in order to help yourself get better.

JS: We’ve talked about David Renfroe the baseball player. Give our readers a look at the off-the-field David Renfroe.
DR: I’m basically just a laid-back guy who enjoys playing PlayStation 3 every now and then. Madison Younginer, who’s my roommate, and I will usually play one another. I enjoy hanging out with my friends, along with my girlfriend who is back home in Mississippi. My family is very important to me and just be able to be around them is something I enjoy. I basically want to enjoy my time while playing professional baseball, as you only get one chance to do it, and you might as well make the best of it.