He’s the phenom!
Grand Street Campus centerfielder Williams Jerez, a 19-year-old, 6-foot-4 prospect who loves the Yankees and hit close to .700 this season, joined the enemy on Monday as the Boston Red Sox made Jerez the highest draft pick to come out of New York City since 1996.
The Sox took Jerez in the second round (81st overall) of this year’s draft — seven picks before the Yankees’ next selection — making him the city’s highest selection since Tottenville pitcher Jason Marquis was chosen in the first round (35th overall) by the Atlanta Braves 15 years ago.
“I feel proud,” said Jerez through a translator. “A lot of kids dream about this opportunity and my dream has come true.”
Jerez migrated from the Dominican Republic two years ago for a better opportunity as a baseball player and student. He had an historic season at the Bushwick campus this year, helping the Wolves reach the PSAL semifinals by hitting .692 with five home runs, 32 RBIs and 26 stolen bases during the regular season.
Jerez impressed Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and scouting director Amiel Sawday during a workout at Fenway Park last Thursday. He also worked out with the Mets and Yankees, who were thought to have the inside track on Jerez. But the Bombers didn’t get a second chance to nab him, thanks to the Sox.
Ray Negron, Jerez’s one-time coach and a senior adviser with the Yankees, hopes the Red Sox gain isn’t a Yankee loss.
“I’ll be rooting for him to make it to the majors,” Negron said. “But I’m a Yankee fan. So if [he does make it and faces the Yankees] I’ll have to root for whoever is pitching that day to strike him out.”
Many top prospects play their first seasons in Class A ball, so there’s a chance that Jerez will battle the Brooklyn Cyclones as a member of the Lowell Spinners, the Red Sox low-level farm team.
Brooklyn fans will like what they see.
“He’s a gentle giant,” said Jerez’s coach, Melvin Martinez. “You don’t even know that he’s there until you hear him taking batting practice. It couldn’t happen to a nicer kid.”