Born: June 11, 1984 in Lakewood, CA
Drafted: 9th round, 2005; 29th round, 2002 by Atlanta
High School: Mayfair HS (CA)
Red Sox Prospects Page
Scouting Report: Sturdy catcher's frame. Excellent at throwing runners out. Good gap power and contact at the plate. Leader, good game caller. No particularly dominant tools, but all are average or above average.
Listed as the 20th prospect on Sox Prospects.
Mark Wagner was the Red Sox selection in the 9th round of the 2005 draft. A right-handed hitting catcher out of UC-Irvine, Wagner made his professional debut with the Lowell Spinners last year, hitting .203-0-6 in 24 games. A 21-year-old resident of Lakewood, California, Wagner is starting the 2006 season with the Greenville Drive.
On his first spring training: "It went well. It was a good first step to get ready for my first full season. In a way, I was kind of in awe, especially getting to dress for some big league games. It was a great learning experience talking to Tek (Jason Varitek). I asked him about a lot -- the whole nine yards. One thing I wanted to know was how he did it in the minor leagues -- how he worked to get where he is now. He didn't tell me I'd have to figure that out myself, but he did say finding out what works for you, and what doesn't, is important. He talked a lot about preparation. As a catcher, you're in constant communication with the pitchers and coaches, and you need to understand your game."
On the start of the season: "I missed the first two games with food poisoning. It was upsetting not playing in the opener, but I was pretty sick. It was great to finally be on the field yesterday (Saturday), but even though I played well defensively I didn't have quality at bats. I was fired up to get the season going, and was maybe a little jittery. I almost felt like a fish out water at the plate, which is funny when you've been doing it for almost 20 years. I was rushing too much, but it was only four at-bats and I hope to get 400 more this year."
On catching Ismael Casillas's four hitless innings on Saturday: "He threw great. We were on the same page, and he was throwing everything for strikes. It's not fair to the hitters when a pitcher is pounding the strike zone with all of his pitches, and that's what he was doing."
On his first impressions of the South Atlantic League: "To be honest, it doesn't seem that different from last year in Lowell. I know it's only been four games, but there doesn't seem to be a big difference in the jump in talent. I asked a few people about that, and they told me there isn't a big difference between the A levels. There's probably a little more consistency as you go up, but not in the talent itself."
On one of the things he learned in the offseason: "I started doing yoga to work on my flexibility. Lear (Rob Leary, the Red Sox minor league field coordinator and catching instructor) recommended it, and so did a few other guys. At first I wasn't too keen on it, because I've always kind of looked at it as a
girl's thing. But I decided to give it a try, and it was like, 'Wow.' A lot of the pitchers do it, and it's really been helpful. I'm in great shape right now, and that's one of the reasons."
Most Valuable Network - A look at Mark Wagner
Going back to the 2005 Draft class, as we look 9th Round Pick, Catcher Mark Wagner.
Mark was originally drafted in the 29th round of the 2002 Draft (by Atlanta), but [/B]decided to go to UC-Irvine instead. He had three progressively better years there, culminating in his Jr. Season where he went .355/.398/.495 with 11 doubles, 4 triples and 4 HRs. He did only walk 9 times and struck out 26 times. He was one of 10 catchers the Sox drafted last season.
After signing, Mark was placed with the Lowell Spinners, where he had a tough time offensively, going .203/.309/.261. However, there are some good things behind the numbers. Specifically, in 24 games he walked 9 times and struck out only 7 times. More importantly, I am of the opinion that the hardest position to come into professional baseball is as a catcher. First, he has to deal with the defensive portion of the program… working with a bunch of pitchers he has never seen before. And, then, he has to hit with a wood bat as opposed to the aluminum of college.
This year, he was bumped up to Greenville to start the year. And his start has been a revelation. Through 32 games, Mark has hit .336/.374/.525 with 9 doubles and 4 HRs. He has walked 8 times and struck out 19. He seems to be catching the bigger prospects at Greenville, and appears to have a good defensive reputation. Almost by default, he is the best catching prospect in the system at this moment.
I don’t expect him to be moved out of Greenville until late this year, if at all. The first 122 at bats have been great, but we still have no guarantee of this is a true jump (which is possible for the 21 year old), or a small sample fluke. But… I am extremely happy with this start.