(Portland ME) It had almost been two years.
August 19, 2019 was the last visit to Hadlock Field for me.
After that, Covid-19, and the reactions to it, took that pleasurable opportunity away from me.
But I was back yesterday.
My revisit was nicely arranged, as usual, by the Master Arranger, Chris Cameron.
I saw the first game of the Sea Dogs doubleheader with the Somerset Patriots.
Somerset is the AA representative of the New York Yankees.
I chase prospects and know that the good ones in AA will eventually be on the major league roster in time.
They’ll emerge on TV from Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park and I’ll recall seeing them earlier.
The last Yankee prospect who has now made the big team, that I saw at Portland’s Hadlock Field, was Glebys Torres.
Oswald Peraza (#4 NY prospect) and Luis Medina (#7 NY prospect) are both on the current Somerset roster.
When I realized that Luis Medina was pitching, I was eager to attend the game.
Both Oswald (shortstop) and Luis were promoted to Someset earlier this month. They are impressing the Yankees’ future planners
Both of them were signed as 16-year-old’s.
Oswald (21) is from Venezuela. Luis (22) is from the Dominican Republic.
Oswald is a smooth fielder who is hitting nearly .300.
Luis was the intriguing one to me. He was throwing 100MPH in the Dominican Republic when he was sixteen!
He’s rated to have the “best pure stuff” by Baseball America is the Yankees farm system.
He was coming off his first AA start (versus Richmond) in which he had ten strikeouts and two walks in five innings.
I saw a clip of the Richmond game. Luis had great control of his curve, changeup, and fastball.
Luis’ issue has been consistency. Can he throw strikes? I am no genius on these things but if I’m facing a pitcher with control issues, I am either going to be very patient (and make him throw strikes) or be teeing off on early pitches in the middle of the plate.
The “inconsistent” Luis pitched against Portland and took the loss.
He reached 99 on several pitches and may have reached 100 on some others that I didn’t check on. But there were six walks and two wild pitches. Only five strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Portland scored a run on each wild pitch.
So, the 22-year-old has a distance to go but the “best pure stuff” will get you plenty more chances to fix things.
Oswalt was good in the field, and he also drove in two runs with a double.
I had seen Portland earlier this month against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Manchester (NH).
Triston Casas (1B) is the #1 Boston Red Sox prospect. He’s young (21) and big (6’4” – 252).
Triston works relentlessly on pre-game conditioning. He seems determined to avoid injuries and to improve his foot speed. I saw him do a lot of stretching and sprinting.
In both parks, Triston took time to sign autographs.
If I’m Boston’s Bobby Dalbec, I’m well aware that Triston plays my position (1B), has similar power, and doesn’t strike out as much.
Newly arrived Devlin Granberg had two hits for the Sea Dogs. He played college baseball at Dallas Baptist University.
Josh Winckowski was the Portland starter. He came to Boston via the NY Mets in the Andrew Benintendi trade to Kansas City.
Josh seems more than able to hold his own at the AA level. Versus Somerset he went five innings for the win with nine strikeouts.
Other Sea Dogs I took pictures of: catcher Ronaldo Hernandez (#11 prospect), 3B Hudson Potts, and SS Ryan Fitzgerald.
Busy night behind the plate for the Patriots catcher Donny Sands. Luis Medina had two wild pitches and some others that were off the mark. Addison Russ followed in relief, and he had a wild pitch.
The Sea Dogs were giving free bobbleheads of Xander Bogaerts pregame to the first five hundred fans. An hour before the gates opened, the fans were in place.
It was nice to be back in the park, but things were different for the fans and for me.
The fans, at the minor league level, expect to be entertained. They don’t know the players and usually there are plenty of youngsters in the house. The continued reaction to Covid-19 prevents any on-field activities. Those activities are great at keeping the non-baseball types engaged. Various contests appear between innings and there’s never a dull moment because the Sea Dogs’ staff fills the time so well. And there was no Slugger! I have pulled for that guy for years. There’s always a race and he’s always in it. He’s been in a “bit” of a slump, but I also want to be there when the big guy gets that first elusive W. Watching him on the video screen during this game in long-away centerfield is far from the same. Can’t wait for the federal mandate insisting on Covid-19 restrictions to end!
Personally, I was kept from the field too. Pregame is a nice chance to get some closeups. Not being on the edge of the dugouts may keep me safer but I miss chances on good shots. However, I do own a 600mm lens, so I’m not totally out of range.
Nice weather, although the sun does set so that it’s right in my face in the only open spot I could shoot from.
I have figured out where to park to avoid the $10 charge to locate near to the stadium. I can use the walk!
Thanks again to Chris Cameron. On short notice, he made the needed arrangements. I did have to sign a Covid-19 waiver when I checked in.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)