Kelly Falls to Red Sox

Falling to the last pick of the first round was far below most projections for Casey Kelly, but being taken by the World Champion Boston Red Sox is far better than a consolation prize.

It's also even more likely he will sign a Major League Baseball contract instead of enrolling at UT where the Sarasota, Fla., native signed as a quarterback and was also planning to play baseball for the Vols. That makes his likely loss a double whammy to UT, but could be a blessing in disguise if Josh Nunes — No. 20 rated QB from Upland, Calif., who is the only four-star prospect at his position still uncommitted in the Class of 2009 — sees it as an opportunity for him to gain a step up the depth ladder.

Normally a drop from No. 19 to No. 30 in the draft and slipping from the second or third projected shortstop taken to the fifth would indicate teams feel Kelly will be difficult to sign. However a Boston team that spent $50 million just for the right to negotiate a contract with Daisuke Matsuzaka isn't about to let their first draft pick get away over an amount money it keeps in petty cash. Boston is a team that will pay more than slot money for a draft choice and has the means to do so.

The Red Sox aren't under a lot of pressure to rush prospects through the system and are willing to invest in development because it's a more practical use of finances than chasing free agents. Kelly is particularly attractive to Boston because he has the potential to play shortstop or become a pitcher. And the Sox can afford to be patient to determine his best value.

It's a win-win situation for Kelly and the Sox and a lose-lose dilemma for Fulmer and the Vols, but signing the No. 20 ranked signal caller did boost Tennessee's recruiting standing for 2008. The biggest losers? That would have to be the Vol fans who love the New York Yankees.

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