On Tuesday, the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 6-4, at the new Yankee Stadium. That much is not up for debate. What is still to be determined is whether the Sox also beat the Yankees in acquiring a top prospect from under the Bronx Bombers' very nose.
In the second round of the 2011 MLB draft, Boston selected Williams Jerez Jr., a Dominican-born outfielder whose prodigious skills with a bat on the field are matched only by the controversy his questionable age has stoked off it. Prep Rally and others have reported how other New York City coaches have questioned whether Jerez should have been eligible to compete for New York (N.Y.) Grand Street Campus -- a school located in Brooklyn -- in the 2011 high school season.
Jerez was picked higher than any New York City player has been since Jason Marquis was selected by the Braves in 1996's first round. If he eventually plays for the Red Sox, he would follow in the footsteps of another Bronx schoolyard legend: Manny Ramirez, who was the first-round pick (13th overall) of the Cleveland Indians in 1991.
"During the draft all teams are equal," Jerez told the New York Daily News, through an interpreter. "This is a dream come true for me. Nobody could have imagined this."
Regardless of contentious age, there is little question that Jerez is a genuine talent. The 19-year-old batted .629 in New York's PSAL, knocking out five homers and driving in 32 runs to boot. Jerez also has plenty of speed, as you can see in this clip, where he legs out a deep double in a PSAL game. In recent days he impressed multiple scouts, hitting in front of Theo Epstein and the Red Sox' brass on Thursday before drawing oohs and ahhs in a batting practice session at Citi Field for the Mets on Sunday.
"That kid can hit," Mets pitcher Dillon Gee told the Wall Street Journal after watching Jerez drill a home run into Citi Field's second deck.
While the concerns over Jerez's age may die down a bit now that he's been drafted, the sting at the Yankees missing out on him likely won't. Not only did Jerez play for a school in the Bronx, the Daily News reported that he first got attention while competing for Hanks Yanks, "an 18-and-under summer-league team funded by Yankees part-owner Hank Steinbrenner."
That's right, the Red Sox drafted a player who was developed with the Yankees -- no, Hank Steinbrenner's -- own money. And Boston pulled the trigger on Jerez just seven picks before the Yankees planned to, making the near miss by Jerez's home team even more painful.
"We were just waiting to select him with the 88th pick, and then Boston snapped him up," a Yankee source told the Daily News. "But there's no question that we would have taken him."
In Jerez's case, the teen is just happy to be an MLB Draftee. If he doesn't eventually sign, Jerez would head to San Jacinto Junior College in Texas, a school famed for cranking out future MLB prospects. For now, however, there seems little chance of the athletic prospect getting that far, certainly if the Red Sox have anything to say about it.
"It wasn't so much that the Yankees liked him," Boston's Northeast scout Ray Fagnant told the Daily News. "You always know who else is interested in a player, but we did a lot of work on him. He seemed to get better in every game we saw him in.
"We're the Red Sox. We'll be fair."