Upon sauntering into the Red Sox clubhouse, Deven Marrero made a beeline toward the uniform, the only item of clothing in Aaron Cook's empty closet. The Red Sox first-round pick of the 2012 Draft grabbed the Red Sox jersey and slowly slipped it on.
Then, after years of dedication, the shortstop out of Arizona State finally savored his first moment as a professional baseball player.
"It hit me when I signed that dotted line," Marrero said. "In the locker room, seeing all the guys, and then walking out here and doing all the stuff, this is real now. I get to start my dream, and I can't wait."
The 21-year-old shined at Arizona State, earning honors as a two-time First-Team Pac-12 All-Conference selection. Now, he's looking to follow in his Arizona State predecessor's footsteps –– Dustin Pedroia.
After Marrero suited up, he played catch with Pedroia on the Fenway Park diamond. Like the Red Sox second baseman, Marrero wasn't afraid to deliver some brash talk of his own.
"I tried to tell him I'm the best shortstop that ever played at Arizona State," Marrero said. "I'm trying to one-up him a little bit in any way I can. He's a great player, and that's one guy I can definitely follow."
During past alumni games at Arizona State, the shortstop made quite the impression on Pedroia, who offered rave reviews of Marrero.
"He's a great player," Pedroia said. "He's young. He's an exciting player, so it was pretty cool to see him in uniform."
Marrero won't waste any time living up to the expectations of the uniform. By agreeing to a contract on Wednesday –– with a $2.05 million signing bonus –– he was immediately assigned to Single-A Lowell, where he will join the club on Thursday.
"I'm really excited," Marrero said. "I don't like sitting at home and just hitting batting practice and going home. I like to be out here and play. I'm glad we got the deal done, and now I can go out there and have fun and play ball."
At that point, the challenge begins.
Photo via Twitter/@RedSox