Photo by Brian Paglia
Former Luella High standout Julius Gaines will travel to Boston today where he will get to play two games at historic Fenway Park. Gaines, a late round draft choice of the Red Sox, will play against other 2011 draftees.
By Derrick Mahone
Former Luella High standout Julius Gaines will get his "first taste" of the big leagues when he travels to Boston to play a pair of games.
Gaines, who was taken with the 982nd pick by the Red Sox in this month's draft, will play against other Red Sox draftees today and Thursday in two nine-inning games at historic Fenway Park.
"I've never been to Boston and I've never been to Fenway, so I'm killing two birds," Gaines said. "I'm real excited about the opportunity to play up there in that atmosphere."
This evening's game will follow the Red Sox's 1:30 p.m. contest against the San Diego Padres in an interleague game.
"It will be amazing as I get a little taste of life in the big leagues," said Gaines, a shortstop. "It has been my dream to play professional baseball."
Ironically, Gaines grew up a fan of the Red Sox's most hated rivals, the New York Yankees. He said that Yankees all-star shortstop Derek Jeter is the player he admired the most growing up.
"I'm still a Jeter fan," Gaines grinned.
Typically, late-round draftees that have signed with a college usually go on to college to improve their status. Gaines, who signed last November with Florida International University, said he is confident that a good showing this summer could net him what he is looking for in contract negotiations.
He has played three games with the Home Plate Chukars of the metro Atlanta-based Sunbelt League, which is a wooden bat league for current college players.
Through Tuesday's game against the South Atlanta Bearcats at Strong Rock Christian School, Gaines was batting .250 in 12 at-bats with two RBIs and a stolen base.
Gaines said once he returns from Boston, the Red Sox will start scouting his games to track his progress.
"This summer has gone pretty good," Gaines said. "It is some good competition against some older guys in this league."
This isn't Gaines first time playing in a wooden bat league. The last few summers he has played in a wooden bat league for an elite travel team.
"With the wooden bat, your mistakes are magnified," Gaines said. "I'm getting to make a lot of plays at shortstop. I'm actually looking forward to when they come scout my games. This is what I've been working towards."