March 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Former top draft choice Kolbrin Vitek has filed retirement papers, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Vitek, the Red Sox first pick (20th overall) in the 2010 draft, saw his promising career derailed by a series of injuries. Over his last two seasons, he missed significant time due to an intercostal strain, a neck injury, and a concussion. He had yet to report to spring training while considering his decision, per SoxProspects sources. Per Speier, a recurrence of the neck injury and problems stemming from the concussing led to Vitek's decision to retire.
Drafted out of Ball State University and touted as one of the top bats in his class, Vitek signed for bonus of $1.4 million. Though he played center field in college, the Red Sox immediately ticketed him for third base. Vitek's professional career got off to a promising start. Assigned to Lowell after signing, he hit .270/.360/.422 with 13 doubles and 30 RBI in only 204 at-bats. He received a late-season promotion to Low A Greenville, where he finished the season by going 11 for 40 with three doubles in 12 games. The performance put him in the top ten in the SoxProspects.com rankings heading into 2011.
Coming off that solid debut and with expectations high, Vitek was challenged with a placement in High A Salem. He got off to a hot start, hitting .341/.396/.500 in an April that included a six-game steak of multi-hit games, but his production slowed and his expected power did not come. He struggled to a .260 /.328/.321 line over the next three months before a bit of a resurgence in August.
Vitek was assigned to Portland in 2012, but it was then when the injuries started to take their toll, keeping him off the field for long stretches and limiting his production when he did get on the field. He was on the disabled list from May until July of that year after suffering a strain of the intercostal muscle. In 2013, Vitek's neck problems prevented him from playing the field in consecutive days until June 12 and 13. He suffered a concussion in a July 18 game against Reading, and would not return to Portland for the rest of the season.
Vitek, who will be 25 on Tuesday, reported to spring training in 2014, but the neck injury and concussion symptoms lingered. He is one of only two top picks of the Theo Epstein era to retire without appearing in the major leagues, joining 2006 draftee Jason Place.
Photo Credit: Kolbrin Vitek by Kelly O'Connor