Category Archives: Hartford Yard Goats

Hartford edges Portland 3-2 despite strong pitching by Bryan Mata

Bryan Mata continues to pitch well at Portland

Luis Castro slides home as catcher Jhan Nunez waits for throw

(Portland ME) Another beautiful day of baseball at Hadlock.

The Sea Dogs didn’t win (They lost 3-2 to Hartford) but the setting was great with a throng of brightly-dressed campers filling the seats.

The noon start gave summer camps from all over Maine (I saw a bus from Bangor) the time-frame needed to see an entertaining baseball game in an equally entertaining setting.

The weather was spot on with a ton of sun.  I was near the Hartford dugout as one of the umpires came there early asking for sunscreen.

Portland has some attractive prospects (Bobby Dalbec, CJ Chatham, Bryan Mata, and Jarren Duran) and all were on the field today.

I am usually located at either the end of the Portland dugout or the visitor’s dugout. I consider myself an open target for a line drive, or a hot grounder, but if you want to get a good action shot, or an individual player shot, it’s where you must be.  I did have a Binghamton Met’s reserve tell me he’d protect me!

Bobby Dalbec

The current player at-the-bat who scares me plenty is righty Bobby Dalbec.  This kid is big and swings with authority.  He leads the Eastern League in home runs and hits long shots to all fields.  I always hope/pray, when he’s at bat, that the pitcher doesn’t throw a changeup for him to turn on.  I had the same feeling last season when hard-swinging Bo Bichette batted for the NH Fisher Cats.

It’s not news but I am quite certain that Bobby will be moved to Pawtucket in August.  He has power but he also leads the EL in walks.  He was the DH this afternoon but in previous visits I have seen him play a solid third base.

Bryan Mata continues to pitch well with little to show for it.  Today it was six innings and one earned run……….and the loss.  He pitches in the mid-90s and is only 20 years old.  You would think that with the current state of the Boston pitching staff, Bryan would be attracting plenty of interest from the Red Sox higher ups.

Jarren Duran takes a lead

It was nice to see the stands packed with kids.  Some of the camps were organized enough to chant and cheer.

CJ Chatham was at short in this game.  There have been reports that he would spend more time at second so that the way to the higher levels would be less difficult.  Xander, current Red Sox shortstop, isn’t going anywhere, any time soon!  CJ now leads the Eastern League in batting.  Maybe CJ will get to Pawtucket before the season ends too.

Outfielders Jarren Duran and Marcus Wilson have plenty of speed.  Today was my first look at Marcus.  Both are twenty-two and should be with Portland into next season.  They also could be trade bait in the coming days to fetch some relief help for the big team.

I also did my homework on the Sea Dogs’ opponent and their prospects.  Hartford is in the Colorado Rockies system.  I suspect that distance has a lot to do with the fact that only three of their top thirty prospects are in Connecticut.

Tyler Nevin is their 5th best prospect.  He was the Rockies first-round pick in 2015.  The 22-year-old was in left today, although he does play first and third.  Yes, he is Phil’s son.  If you’re old enough to remember Phil, you’ll notice the facial resemblance. Phil, by the way, is now the third-base coach with the Yankees.

Colton Welker

I thought that I might see outfielder Colton Welker. He was in the dugout but on the 7-day DL.

They did have the usual race between a youngster and the Sea Dog mascot.  Only problem was that Slugger wasn’t that mascot. First time I’ve seen that happen in all the years I’ve been coming to Hadlock.  Slugger has never won this race and I can assure you that his replacement today, some sort of fish, was no better.  He indeed was a fish out of water, and he was out of water as he reversed his way over first base.  He was no competition for the speedy kid.  I’d like to know what happened to Slugger.  Maybe he needs some fresh legs.

I certainly appreciate the opportunity to be in the good spots at Hadlock to see the action.  Much thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging my visits.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Tyler Nevin takes a practice swing

Tyler Nevin in left

Tyler Nevin

Play at second

Play at second base….CJ Chatham slides

Pickoff attempt

Hartford starter, and winning pitcher, Matt Dennis

Marcus Wilson

Manny Melendez leads off first base

Manny Melendez

Kid rounds third base

Manager Joe Oliver had a birthday today

Fish sets to swim

CJ Chatham

Catching lobsters

Carlos Herrera (shortstop)

Carlos Herrera (shortstop) starts a double play

Bryan Mata sets to throw to first

Catcher Brian Serven was impressive

Brett Netzer tags out Manny Melendez

Bobby Dalbec reports for work

Bobby Dalbec in the Portland dugout……..but for how long?

Arvincent Perez practice swinging

Alexander Guillen

 

 

 

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Prospect Andrew Benintendi (Benny Baseball) sighted in Portland’s 2-1 win over Hartford

Andrew Benintendi (1st round draft pick in 2015)

Andrew Benintendi (1st round draft pick in 2015)

Andrew Benintendi prepping for an at-bat

Andrew Benintendi prepping for an at-bat

(Portland ME) I got my first look at 21-year-old Andrew Benintendi (known as “Benny Baseball” at Arkansas) this afternoon at Portland’s Hadlock Field.

I was able to get plenty of shots of Boston’s first-round draft pick (2015) in an afternoon in which the last-place Sea Dogs defeated Hartford, 2-1.

The Yard Goats are in 2nd place in the Eastern League East.  I heard in the press room before the game that there is a good possibility that Hartford’s stadium will not open at all this season.  Should change their name to the “Road” Goats??

Mitch Atkins (six scoreless innings, no walks, 8 K's)

Mitch Atkins (six scoreless innings, no walks, 8 K’s)

Veterans paved the way for the Portland win.  Last-minute starter Mitch Atkins (30) pitched six scoreless innings while Nate Freiman (29) launched a 2-run homer in the first inning that spelled the difference on this sunny afternoon.

Aaron Wilkerson was scheduled to pitch for the Sea Dogs.  He has been Portland’s best pitcher (2-1, 1.83 ERA) and was called up to Pawtucket today.  Naturally, I was disappointed that a spot-starter would replace Aaron but Mitch was indeed a worthy replacement this afternoon.

Nate Freiman (drafted by San Diego in 2009) put a serious charge into a Kyle Freeland, first-inning offering and cleared the Maine Monster with ease.

Andrew Benintendi dives back into first.

Andrew Benintendi dives back into first.

My ultimate intent on the visit (arranged by Chris Cameron) was to catch Andrew Benintendi in action.  There is no guarantee that the next time I visit he’ll still be there.  I chased Xander and Mookie at Portland with the same thinking in mind.  You just knew that they would advance to Pawtucket on their way to the big team.  Andrew could well move on.

Andrew was taken by the Red Sox in June of last year and signed for $3.6 million dollars.  He was the College Player-of-the-Year in 2015 at Arkansas.

Andrew was drafted by Cincinnati in 2013 but didn’t sign.  He’s from Ohio.

Andrew Benintendi asks for time after stealing second.

Andrew Benintendi asks for time after stealing second.

Andrew started this season at A ball at Salem (VA) but had big numbers right from the start there.  The turning point in promoting him may well have been the number of intentional walks he started getting.

The most impressive stat at Salem was NOT his 23-game hitting streak, in my opinion.  I preferred the stat in which he went ten games and forty-eight swings without ever swinging and missing.  Think about that!  That remarkable stat was why I took special note today when Hartford starter Kyle Freeland got Andrew swinging.

Andrew played centerfield flawlessly.  He has good speed and good range.  He had his 4th steal today.

Slugger down-and-out as kid crosses home

Slugger down-and-out as kid crosses home

Kid consoles Slugger after the race

Kid consoles Slugger after the race

Those who read my Portland accounts know that I’m a big fan of Slugger the Portland mascot.  Every game he risks humiliation as he gets into a footrace around the bases with a young fan.

Today Slugger had an excellent chance to win.  The chosen competition had his hat out of place and an uncertainty about where to go after each base.  Maybe it was the heat, but Slugger collapsed with a pretty good lead rounding first heading for home.  Down he went in a heap.

Now this is important: A stunned Slugger was down-and-out as his young competitor crossed home.  Did the kid gloat as some of them have after winning?  Not this kid.  Classy all the way.  He went over to see if Slugger was okay and helped him up.  Fine young man!  You don’t mind losing to someone like that.

A pleasant surprise for me today was being asked to take a picture of Sea Dogs’ first baseman Ryan Court and his family.  The parents are visiting from Illinois.  Ryan was drafted by Arizona in 2011.  He was in the Independent League (Sioux City) last year.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Sean Coyle

Sean Coyle

Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin tags out Rosell Herrera

Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin tags out Rosell Herrera

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Dave Dahl (1st round - 2012) and manager Darin Everson

Dave Dahl (1st round – 2012) and manager Darin Everson

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Ryan Court with his parents from Illinois

Ryan Court with his parents from Illinois

Nate Freiman and Andrew Benintendi after first-inning homer

Nate Freiman and Andrew Benintendi after first-inning homer

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi scores first run

Kyle Freeland (1st round - 2014)

Kyle Freeland (1st round – 2014)

Wendell Rijo

Wendell Rijo

Ty Buttrey (4th round - 2012)

Ty Buttrey (4th round – 2012)

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Ryan Court

Ryan Court

Nate Freiman in Portland dugout after home run

Nate Freiman in Portland dugout after home run

Andrew Benintendi scores first run

Andrew Benintendi after striking out

Pat Valaika watches

Pat Valaika watches

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

Diving back into first

Diving back into first

Teddy Stankiewicz (2nd round - 2013) and Andrew Benintendi

Teddy Stankiewicz (2nd round – 2013) and Andrew Benintendi

 

 

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Top Colorado Rockies prospects found on Hartford Yard Goats roster

Hartford's Kyle Freeland (top Colorado pick in 2014) picked up a win versus Portland pitching seven solid innings

Hartford’s Kyle Freeland (top Colorado pick in 2014) picked up a win versus Portland pitching seven solid innings

Portland starter Aaron Wilkerson pitched a 2-hit shutout in his six innings of work

Portland starter Aaron Wilkerson pitched a 2-hit shutout in his six innings of work

(Portland ME) Nice matchup between Portland’s best pitcher (Aaron Wilkerson) and Hartford’s top pitching prospect (Kyle Freeland) on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

The Sea Dogs (4-7) ended up losing this one, 8-1, because the Portland bullpen (Simon Mercedes & Mitch Atkins) gave up eight runs on eight hits in the final three innings.  That’s ugly!

Speaking of ugly, the defense on both teams was very weak with a total of nine errors.  It was a surprise to see throws to first, from the left side, be such an adventure.

I was a bit disappointed when the Portland roster was released a couple of weeks ago because none of the top prospects were there.  Almost all of them seem to be in Salem (A).  The top Red Sox prospect at Portland (second baseman Wendell Rijo) is rated 11th.

Meanwhile Hartford, which is the AA farm team of the Colorado Rockies, has #3 (David Dahl), #5 (Ryan McMahon), #8 Raimel Tapia, and #9 Kyle Freeland on their roster.

And as it turned out, all four of those top prospects were involved in today’s game.  Suspecting this I chose to spend this gorgeous April afternoon taking pictures of the prospects.

Derek Miller recorded his first AA hit today

Derek Miller recorded his first AA hit today

This is the Hartford Yard Goats first season after moving from New Britain.  I visited New Britain for a game a few years ago and got several good shots of Altoona’s young pitcher Gerrit Cole.  Boston’s Brock Holt was also on that Altoona team.

Hartford could easily be called the “Road” Goats.  Their stadium won’t be ready until the end of May so every game before then is a road game.  Nice planning!

The Goats (8-3) have plenty of highly regarded pitching and don’t appear to be intimidated by the non-stop road games.  It helps that AA crowds are very different from major league fans.  The players are a mystery to most minor-league attendees so they don’t react strongly to miscues and/or hits.  In other words, there is a lot less pressure.

One evidence of unknowing fans was a time I was at Portland in August for a Sea Dogs game versus Harrisburg.  The Senators had the #1 prospect in all of baseball on their roster………Bryce Harper.  He came across the field just before game time in a warmup jacket and hardly caused a stir in the crowd.  I had seen pictures of him so I knew what I was looking for and ended up with quite a few good shots of him in the Harrisburg dugout.

Jacquelyn Davis with David Dahl before the game

Jacquelyn Davis with David Dahl before the game

I had seen David Dahl (first round CR pick – #10 –  in 2012) last year in the New Britain dugout at Portland.  I knew what he looked like.  This time around he was in uniform and on the field early.  It wasn’t actually any baseball activity that got David on the field early.  It was Jacquelyn Davis.

Hartford’s Matt Carasiti, from Berlin CT and St. John’s, had family on hand.

Another reason why I drive up to Hadlock Field is to cheer Slugger on.  I know he’ll race a little kid and every time I’ve been there he has come in second.  That didn’t change today.  He always has a costly breakdown in the races I’ve seen.  This time he had the lead early but chose to engage his young opponent in a conversation as they both went over second base.  By the time the Big Guy got himself facing the right direction the young speedster had put him away.  Slugger was devastated and rolled in the first base coaching box sobbing.  It brought tears to my eyes too.  Maybe next time!

Aaron Wilkerson stays warm.

Aaron Wilkerson stays warm.

Aaron Wilkerson was one of those undrafted pitchers that had to make a name for himself in independent leagues to get the attention of major league teams.  I like his chances of getting to AAA Pawtucket this season.

Kyle Freeland pitched seven strong innings for Hartford giving up only five hits.  The Rockies selected Kyle in the first round (8th pick) of the 2014 draft.

This was a special day for the Sea Dogs’ Derek Miller because he got his first AA hit.

I liked the idea that the vehicle that transported Slugger around the field had a snowplow on the front of it.  It wasn’t that long ago that the white stuff was on Hadlock.  Today’s weather (60’s and sunny) was about as good as it gets this time of year.

Thanks to media relations director Chris Cameron for arranging my visit on short notice.  I flew back from Turks and Caicos on Saturday.  Now there’s a nice place!

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Raimel Tapia (#8 prospect of CR)

Raimel Tapia (#8 prospect of CR)

Tzu-Wei Lin

Tzu-Wei Lin

Jason Witte

Jason Witte

Jose Vinicio dives back into first

Jose Vinicio dives back into first

Derek Miller slides in on Pat Valaika

Derek Miller slides in on Pat Valaika

Wendell Rijo

Wendell Rijo

David Dahl in Hartford dugout

David Dahl in Hartford dugout

Slugger devastated after yet another loss

Slugger devastated after yet another loss

Kyle Freeland between innings

Kyle Freeland between innings

Kyle Freeland and Ryan McMahon

Kyle Freeland and Ryan McMahon

Rosell Herrera and Hartford manager Darin Everson

Rosell Herrera and Hartford manager Darin Everson

Ryan McMahon

Ryan McMahon

Jacquelyn Davis

Jacquelyn Davis

Aaron Wilkerson

Aaron Wilkerson

Slugger plows past the fans

Slugger plows past the fans

David Dahl (first round CR pick in 2012)

David Dahl (first round CR pick in 2012)

Matt Carasiti

Matt Carasiti

Colorado's #5 prospect third baseman Ryan McMahon

Colorado’s #5 prospect third baseman Ryan McMahon

 

 

 

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