Pennington's selection by Red Sox 'a dream come true'

Lower Cape May pitcher Josh Pennington. (Tom Gralish/Staff Photographer)

The Boston Red Sox scout told Josh Pennington to "be patient."

That's not the Lower Cape May senior pitcher's strong suit.

"I was going crazy," Pennington said of his anxious moments as round after round of the major-league baseball draft unfolded on Saturday afternoon.

As it turned out, Pennington said he will regard Saturday as one of the best days of his life.

"It's a dream come true," Pennington said after he was selected by the Red Sox in the 29th round. "That's just what it is, a total dream come true."

Pennington, who has a scholarship offer from St. John's, said he "100 percent" plans to sign with the Red Sox.

Pennington knew before the draft that he was a special case.

The righthander was one of South Jersey's top prospects at the beginning of the season, and looked every bit the part when his fastball was touching 94 m.p.h. in an April 8 game against eventual Group 2 state champion Buena.

But a little more than a week later, Pennington tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was shut down for the season.

Pennington said he will undergo Tommy John surgery under the direction of famed surgeon James Andrews at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Fla., later this month. He likely will not pitch in game situations for a year after the operation.

Pennington said he was enthused that his rehabilitation will be done under the Red Sox' watch with the defending world champions' resources and facilities at his disposal.

"That was the biggest thing - to get in a professional environment," Pennington said.

LCM coach Mike Kuemmerle believes Pennington will flourish in the Red Sox organization.

"I expect him to come back even stronger," Kuemmerle said.

Pennington said the Red Sox expressed a lot of interest in him before the draft.

But when round after round passed on Saturday, Pennington said he was so frustrated that he took action.

"I was getting so nervous," Pennington said. "I [went for it]. I texted their area scout [Ray Fagnant] and said, 'I know you are busy but I would love to be a Red Sock.'

"He texted me back to be patient. I was thinking, 'OK, he told me to be patient, no way I'm getting picked in this round.'

"I was not even paying that much attention to my computer and then I saw my name on the screen. I jumped out of the bed so high. I couldn't believe it."