Outfield prospect Leon Paulino describes his baseball journey after getting drafted by the Boston Red Sox, the team he grew up rooting for.
Leon Paulino was at home surrounded by family when he got the call that would change his life. The Boston Red Sox were selecting him in the 23rd round of the 2019 amateur draft.
There were a few teams that he expected would have interest in drafting him but getting that call from the Red Sox was as surreal moment for the Lawrence native. While he spent his final three years of high school down in Florida, Paulino was born and raised in Red Sox Nation.
After getting drafted in June, Paulino spent a brief stint in the Gulf Coast League. The learning curve was steep in his first taste of pro ball and he struggled to the tune of a .153 average and .482 OBP in 25 games.
The experience he gained as an 18-year-old outweighs the results and his time in the GCL taught him some valuable lessons. Confidence is a trait that Paulino emphasized as a key to success. A player needs to be confident in their abilities and Paulino knows he’s capable of much more than what he showed in that small 25-game sample.
He’s still searching for his first home run as a professional but the four doubles that he tallied hint at the power that Paulino describes as his best skill. The switch-hitter possesses solid bat speed with quick wrists and a lofty swing path. As his raw power develops, the home runs will start to come in bunches.
Paulino feels comfortable swinging from either side of the plate and maintains the same approach regardless of which side he stands on. As he puts it, hitting is hard enough as it is. He doesn’t want to complicate his swing by adjusting his approach whenever he switches sides.
While he primarily patrolled center field in high school, the Red Sox plan to use him on the corners. He spent most of his time in right field but gained some experience in left. Paulino has a plus throwing arm with good accuracy and the athleticism to cover his position, giving him the potential to develop into a good defensive outfielder.
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The coronavirus pandemic has put an unexpected hurdle in Paulino’s path. He spent some time in Fort Myers early in camp but players have since scattered as Major League Baseball and their minor league affiliates have gone on an indefinite hiatus.
It’s unclear when we’ll get baseball back but Paulino will be ready when it returns. He believes it’s important to have a routine so he continues to wake up and complete his workouts on the same schedule he would follow if the season was about to get underway.
When the threat of the virus is contained and we can all get back to some semblance of normalcy, Paulino expects to make his way to Lowell, the city he was born in. The Spinners are the Class A short season affiliate of the Red Sox and a team Paulino watched as a child growing up in the area.
Playing so close to home would be a dream come true for Paulino but those dreams aren’t limited to playing for the Spinners. His goal this year is to climb higher on the minor league ladder. If he thrives in Lowell it could lead to Paulino joining the Greenville Drive or perhaps even High-A Salem. How far he can advance this year may depend on if a season with an uncertain start date is trimmed short.
Even if he has to wait until next year, those opportunities will come. Lowell could be the next step on his path but Paulino’s journey has just begun.