Category Archives: Portland Sea Dogs

Eduardo Rodriguez and Christian Vazquez rehab in Portland

Eduardo Rodrriguez

Christian Vazquez

(Portland ME) The stars were out Monday night at Hadlock Field.

How often do you see a major leaguer at an Eastern League (AA) game?

Not often.  Well, on this night the Red Sox had TWO players rehabbing there……..catcher Christian Vazquez and pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez.

I was familiar close-up with both Boston players.  I had seen Christian a few years ago working his way up via Portland.  Eduardo had done a rehab at Portland earlier this season and I was on hand.

Bo Bichette looks back after striking out against ERod

You not only had the major leaguers, but you also had the first-place New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the house.  I had already been to Manchester (NH) a couple of times this season to see that talented team.

There was a very large Monday night crowd in the park.  You knew why the “extra’s” had come when loud ovations greeted announcements regarding Christian and Eduardo.  The normal reaction to players?  None.

The setting was coolish at 7PM after a hot day.

There were celebrations pregame for women in sports.  One of those honored was Kate Hall of Casco (ME).  There was a story about her in the Bridgton News several weeks ago.  She is a national track star hoping to make it to the next Olympics.  I heard the name, connected the dots and got a picture of her….I hope!.

Bobby Dalbec

The Fisher Cats have clinched the playoffs while the Sea Dogs have clinched the basement.  On this night it was as if the roles were reversed as Portland hit early and often on their way to a 12-6 win.

Christian drove in three runs while Eduardo pitched four scoreless innings.  Eduardo had hoped to go six innings but too many long counts prevented it.  (He said as much afterwards, according to the newspaper coverage.)  I probably could have been in that news conference if I had chased it.

Extra cameramen were at the park.  I knew that with lessening light I would forfeit action shots.  My goal was close-up shots and dugout shots.

I shifted to the New Hampshire side after several innings and found a good spot although I was sitting instead of standing.  A ground ball did come my way and was close.  You roll the dice when you put yourself (intentionally) in the line of fire.

I got more pictures of Bo Bichette.  Last year he excelled in A ball (top hitter in the minors) and this year, as a 20-year-old, has continued to star.  The New Hampshire shortstop leads the EL in hits, doubles, and several other categories.  He starts for Toronto next year or the year after, in my opinion.

Cavan Biggio

Harold Ramirez

Two other top talents at NH are Harold Ramirez (top EL batting average) and Cavan Biggio ( EL home run leader).  It interested me that Cavan (normally a 2nd baseman) was in right field for this one.

I also took more pictures of Bobby Dalbec.  He is one of Boston’s top prospects.  He has been at three levels this season and is tied for the lead in the minors in homers.

There always will be a Slugger section in my coverage of Sea Dogs’ games.  The big guy was out of uniform.  I can’t describe what he was wearing and why but at one point he was dancing with an umpire!  Needless to imagine, Slugger was outrun by yet another youngster.  Slugger got into a great starting stance, but it didn’t help.  His opponent was fast and knew what he was doing.  By the time second was crossed, Slugger was destined for second and that was where he finished.

Slugger in a solid starting stance

Another day for me at a great park.  Portland’s home season ends Thursday.  Where did the spring/summer go?

New Hampshire has qualified for the EL playoffs.  I might venture to New Hampshire for one of those games.

Thanks again to Chris Cameron for letting me into Hadlock and onto the field.  I greatly enjoy my time there.

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

Prospects Bobby Dalbec and Bo Bichette

Bo Bichette near second

Bo Bichette rounds third

Bo Bichette finishing DP

Christian and Eduardo arrive pre-game

Slugger comes in second

Christian scores

Christian eyes bat

Danny Mars

Eduardo sets to pitch

Pitcher Jon Harris

Kate Hall

Play at second

 

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Filed under New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

Bobby Dalbec: A big hit in Portland

Bobby Dalbec poses in front of the Portland Sea Dogs dugout

Bobby Dalbec ready to hit.

(Portland ME) Sometimes batters get your attention in batting practice.

Bobby Dalbec of the Portland Sea Dogs is one of those players.

Thirteen games into the 23-year-olds promotion to Double A, he bears watching even before the game.

I took in the pregame yesterday at Hadlock Stadium and saw him drill BP pitches all over the place.

During BP the Altoona Curve was warming up in the left-field corner awaiting their turn to take over the field.  I’d hear the whack of bat meeting ball and watch players at least 300 feet away take a quick look to see if the ball was coming their way.  And several times it did.

I watched one of the Sea Dogs coaches, standing near second base, hear a ball go whizzing by his head and not have time to react.

The young man has power.  Between Salem (VA) in the Carolina League and his brief time in Portland, Bobby is tied for the top spot in the minors with 31 home runs.

“I know about where I am with home runs but I’m not going to chase them,” Bobby told me in a post-BP interview.  “I want to hit the ball hard.”

Portland broadcaster Mike Antonellis

Sea Dogs announcer Mike Antonellis added that, “Bobby isn’t trying to hit the ball out like some players do.  He’s not upper cutting but he generates so much power that they do go out.”

Mike, who reached 3000 games broadcasted recently, has seen all thirteen of Bobby’s Portland games and recalled two memorable homers already. “The most impressive one I’ve seen here (Hadlock Stadium) was one that cleared the Thomas College sign in center.  That sign is 24’ high.  Our trackman service estimated that the ball traveled 451 feet!  On the road he had one in Erie to left center that landed on the roof of their arena.  Some of the Erie people told me that they thought it was one of the longest ones they had ever seen there.”

Bobby relaxes in the dugout pregame with a teammate

Bobbly was one of the Portland players without a number on his practice jersey.  “That gives you away as the new guy,” I kidded him.

“I may be new here, but I know most of these guys from the lower minors,” he said, “it has been an easy transition for me to be in Portland.”

Bobby told him that his parents were in Portland for the weekend to see him play here for the first time.  They had taken two trips to Salem to catch him in the Carolina League.

Bobby is a third baseman but so is Boston’s #1 prospect Michael Chavis.  In tonight’s game Michael was at 3B and Bobby was DH.

“Bobby is 6’4” so he’s easy to see at 3B,” said Mike.  “He’s a former pitcher (Arizona) and has a terrific arm.”

There is so much data available on players that with his reputation he faced shifts even in A ball.  “I was aware of the shifts, but I just refused to change my approach at the plate to try and defeat it,” said Bobby.

Bobby Dalbec in the dugout with pitcher Teddy Stankiewicz

Mike explained that Double A can be tough for newcomers.  “The good one’s face shifts and they see more secondary pitches thrown by better guys.”

Mike told me that he was surprised that the righthanded-hitting Bobby was seeing a lot more fastballs early in counts since teams were shifting a bit toward the left side.

There are some comparisons between Bobby and JD Martinez. “Both players seem to have a similar plan at the plate,” said Mike, “and that is to hit the ball hard.  Both insist that they’re not intentionally going for homers”

Regarding his future Bobby said: “I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see where it takes me.”  So far it has taken him this season from Boston’s #12 prospect to #6.

Bobby Dalbec

Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers may be younger (21) and entrenched a bit in Boston but Bobby’s power numbers and ability to play the position could move him up to Fenway sooner or later.

“I think he’s special,” added Mike. “There may be some adjustment periods, so we’ll have to see.”

One is left to wonder how the last-place Portland Sea Dogs (52-69) would have done in 2018 with Josh Ockimey, Michael Chavis, and Bobby Dalbec in action from the beginning of the season.

Mike Antonellis has been involved in broadcasting for twenty-two years.  “I started out doing sports updates at Dean Junior College,” he told me.  “I felt comfortable at it right away.  I have been with Portland since 2005 and have done 2000 games with them.”

My thanks to Mike for arranging my interview with Bobby Dalbec and adding to the information I had on the talented young man.

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

Feeling at home in Portland

Bobby was the DH against Altoona

Heading out to bat

With Coach Luke Montz

On the move on the bases against Altoona

Set to bat

 

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Josh Ockimey promoted after Portland sweep

Josh Ockimey runs to cover first.

Josh Ockimey was promoted to AAA Pawtucket today

(Portland MA) I didn’t plan for it, but I was at Hadlock Field and witnessed Portland’s Josh Ockimey’s last game with the Sea Dogs.

Josh was promoted to AAA Pawtucket after Portland took two from the Erie SeaWolves on this hot Thursday afternoon.

The power-hitting 1B finished his time in Maine with a homer, double and three RBI.

Erie is the Double A farm team of Detroit.  Six of their top eighteen prospects are at Erie.  I missed seeing the top two (Alex Faedo #4) and Beau Burrows (#5) because they’re starters.  Beau pitched the second game today but by then I was on my porch about an hour away.

Campers in the crowd

It was hot.  Today was campers’ day and many camps were represented, each with their own brightly colored shirts.  I wondered how many bad sunburns happened after hours in the rays. The concessions stands were very busy.

The four Tigers prospects that I did see came to them when they traded Justin Verlander to Houston, JD Martinez to Arizona, and Alex Avila to the Cubs.

Both 3B Isaac Paredes (#11) and 2B Sergio Alcantara (#18) made errors in Game One today.

I also saw CF Daz Cameron (#8) get picked off first.  Catcher Jake Rogers (#10) had several balls go through him.

Trouble at 3B for Isaac Paredea

Frankly, there wasn’t much to pin your hopes on if you were a Detroit fan wondering about the team’s future.

It was the last-place Portland team that had the excellent pitching (Matt Kent) and hitting on this warm afternoon in the 9-1 first-game win.

I started the game shooting from the Erie dugout.  I was hoping to eventually switch to the Portland side, but one of their players (How dare he!) was in a chair that he had set up in the photographer’s area.  I considered shooting from the stands, but it was way too hot.

I switched to a small lens to get some Erie dugout shots and Josh Ockimey chose that time to hit his home run.  Tough later editing action shots with tiny players in them!

Will Castro and Sergio Alcantara

One shot that I have gotten the last two times I’ve been at Hadlock is of the Portland player signing in the Concourse.  Give me someone stationary and cooperative and I can usually get a good picture of them.  It was relief pitcher Jordan Weems this time.

I did make connections with broadcaster Mike Antonellis before the game.  He is in charge of setting up interviews.  I would like to do an interview with a Sea Dogs player before the season ends in a month.  I would probably have to be at Hadlock three hours early.  We’ll see.

I came to Hadlock on Brighton and St. John’s.  Couldn’t resist the GPS way (via Deering) on the way back.  Bad idea!  Too many lights and traffic.  I’m thinking that I could use River Road to get straight onto Brighton.

I violated my nutritarian diet with the meal provided but not by much.  The turkey wrap was tasty.

The Sea Dogs blasted four homers in the first game.  Josh Ockimey, Michael Chavis, Chad De La Guerra, and Luke Tendler all went deep.

Isaac Paredes after a tough inning in the field

Two Erie dugout scenes of note.  In one, the manager (?) had a player translate what he wanted to say to another player.  Knowing Spanish would be absolute gold for anyone connected to teams at any level.  I have heard Spanish in every A ball and AA ball dugout that I’ve been in.  The other dugout scene involved 3B Isaac Paredes.  The 19-year-old had two errors in the first three innings!  He had his head down in the dugout afterwards for the entire half inning.  No one on staff to talk to him?

Boston’s #1 prospect Michael Chavis had his first multi-hit game since he finished his 80-game suspension.  His batting average is close to .200 and I can assure you that he doesn’t get cheated on his swings.  Bo Bichette (New Hampshire Fisher Cats) has the same approach to batting.

I wonder if Michael will be part of the next group that moves up?  Homer-hitting Bobby Dalbec could move up from A ball to join the Sea Dogs.  I would have to get a look at him.

In hardly surprising news; Slugger lost.  This time it was comical.  Slugger tried to psych his female opponent out by getting into a ridiculous starting stance.  The young lady was unimpressed.  The flip-flop-wearing speedster had him in trouble at second and reached home with the big guy nowhere in sight.  The idea of trying to intimidate an opponent with a weird stance needs to be closeted.

Thanks again to Chris Cameron for arranging the visit.  Everyone who goes to Portland games seems to have a good time at an affordable price.  And you get to see future Red Sox players such as Josh Ockimey.

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

Isaac Paredes

Jake Rogers

Matt Kent

Sergio Alcantara leads off first

Michael Chavis – How much longer in Portland?

Daz Cameron

Jeremy Rivera on base

Isaac Paredes

Josh Ockimey homered

Sergio Alcantara to the left

Michael Chavis takes a full cut

Michael Chavis nears third

Josh Ockimey

Luke Tendler after homer

Daz Cameron

 

 

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Michael Chavis homer gets Sea Dogs past New Hampshire 5-4

Michael Chavis is back with the Sea Dogs and tonight his 2-run homer was crucial in the Portland win over New Hampshire.

Michael Chavis has a determined look.

(Portland ME)  He’s baaack!

Michael Chavis, that is.

Boston’s #1 prospect stroked the big hit (2-run homer) leading the Portland Sea Dogs to a 5-4 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on a beautiful Thursday night of Eastern League baseball.

Michael has been away from the Red Sox for 80 games after testing positive to a banned substance.  But now he’s back where he left off with the Sea Dogs.

I took a few pictures of Michael tonight and, believe me, he had the look of someone with a chip on his shoulder.

What a segue!  The featured entertainment was the Axe Women.  They had me nervous when they started throwing axes at targets!  What could go wrong?  They also had some chain saws going which kept the Hadlock grounds crew busy clearing the wood chips off the playing surface.

Chips were flying

Good crowd watched this one.  Beautiful weather and the start of the second half of the Eastern League season.

I have been following tonight’s opponent (New Hampshire Fisher Cats) since I realized in early April that they had two of minor league’s best prospects (Vladi Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette) on their roster.

I saw Vladi’s last active game with the FC’s on June 6th.  He left that game with what looked like a minor leg injury.  Hasn’t played for them since.  Today I found out that he’s rehabbing in Florida and will play a few games in the Gulf Coast League.  His likely future destination is AAA Buffalo but maybe he’ll play for New Hampshire on the way there.

That still leaves Bo Bichette playing regularly for the Fisher Cats.  The NH shortstop reminds me of Mookie Betts because he has power, but he also can steal bases.

Bo also never gets cheated when he bats.  In that area, Bo has the Dustin Pedroia approach to swinging.

Dalton Pompey and Jantzen Witte

The Fisher Cats lost CF/leadoff batter Jonathan Davis recently via a promotion to Buffalo.  The Cats had Dalton Pompey in the leadoff spot tonight.  Dalton reached the majors and now is trying to get back there.

Another of the Toronto prospects (Harold Ramirez) is now batting cleanup for NH.  He has a very solid .310 batting average going for him.

Catcher Max Pentecost is yet another prospect playing in Manchester (NH).  Tonight, Max gave the Fisher Cats an early lead with a 3-run homer.

Cavan Biggio had an rbi

Another NH player, Cavan Biggio, who wasn’t even a Top Thirty Toronto prospect at the start of the season, is now in that category.  Cavan has recently switched from 2B to 3B.  He has turned into a power hitter.  Tonight, he drove in a run.

Boston’s #12 prospect (Josh Ockimey) pinch hit late in the game.

Surprised that there weren’t any other photographers at this one.

The 7PM start had part of the field in sun with the rest of it in shade.  Makes picture-taking a challenge.  The shade started on the NH side, so I started there.  When the field was all shade, I moved over to the Portland side.  I ended up with a pretty good look at some infield plays.

When possible, I will cheer on Slugger as he tries to end his lifelong losing streak racing youngsters.  Tonight was different.  I was stunned when Slugger took off while his very young opponent was getting instructions.  That’s just not fair and it troubled me.  And the opponent needed all the help he could get.  He was set to follow Slugger, when he was supposed to be going in the opposite direction!  But despite the big lead, Slugger got what he deserved for cheating.  The big guy was ten yards from that elusive first win when the belly whoppers kicked in.  I don’t know what Slugger dined on pre-race, but it certainly didn’t settle well.  He ended up bent over and I thought that the cleanup crew would be getting a call.  Fortunately, he didn’t leave any memories but he did keel over on his back to protect his upset stomach.  Meanwhile, the opponent trotted happily across home plate.  Yet another devastating setback for Slugger.  In previous losses I have questioned his training methods.  It may be time to check his eating habits too.

Sea Dogs President Charlie Eshbach was in the house.

Thanks to media connection Chris Cameron for arranging my visit.

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

Dan Mars

Cavan Biggio

Tossing an axe at a target

Sea Dogs dugout and crowd

Bo Bichette sets up for a big swing

Michael Chavis

Jeremy Rivera takes third

Bo Bichette

Max Pentecost had a 3-run homer

2B Nick Lovullo dives for a grounder

Harold Ramirez

Cavan Biggio signs

Pitcher Adam Lau was signing before the game

 

 

 

 

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Vladi Guerrero does more to encourage promotion

Vladi Guerrero heads for home after second home run

Vladi leads Eastern League in batting and RBI

(Manchester NH) When Ross Atkins calls, it’s probably for Vladi!

Ross Atkins in the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

To say that Vladimir Guerrero is tearing up the AA Eastern League is an understatement.  Why?  VG has already been twice named Player of the Week in this very young season.  He also leads the EL in hitting, close to .400 and RBI (33).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr is currently in Double A with the Toronto Blue Jays farm team in Manchester (NH).  The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, if you will.

I got a second look at the 19-year-old and my immediate gut feeling is for his future to soon be elsewhere did not diminish.  In fact, it increased.

Bo Bichette and Vladi celebrate homer

The Fisher Cats routed the Portland Sea Dogs, 10-2, on Monday night and young Vladi highlighted the awesome NH attack with two home runs.

The first one was a laser to left that could have blown out a number on the scoreboard in Fenway. In Boston, Vladi probably would have gotten a long single or a close-play double.  But this was Northeast Delta Dental Stadium with a low left field and earned a home-run trot from Vladi.

The second homer was high and deep to right center.  Probably would have left Yosemite National Park!

Granted, this was against the last-place Portland Sea Dogs.  The Red Sox farmhands are last in striking batters out and second in giving up homers.  Tonight NH added three more (Cavan Biggio also had one) to the twenty-six already surrendered in the young season.

Vladi after 3-run homer

The game began ominously for the visitors’ starter Kevin McAvoy: walk, walk, Vladi homer.

A current bright spot is a dismal 7-19 start for Portland has been outfielder Cole Sturgeon.  Cole is now batting .378 after getting two singles vs the Fisher Cats.

You would think at first look that Cole’s chances to get to Boston would be seriously blocked by Betts, Bradley, and Benintendi.  Lately, however, Jackie’s lack of hitting may move the Boston brass to the “other options” level.  You never know.

Saw more of Toronto’s #2 prospect Bo Bichette. (He was named after Bo Jackson) This was a game that showed he had patience; three walks.

Bo Bichette

One sequence impressed me.  Bo swings with all his might every time.  I have no doubt that opponents aren’t enamored by his approach.  Sure enough, one of the Portland pitchers buzzed Bo and back he lurched.  Bo finished the at-bat with a double!

Bo also made a nice stop at short to set up a final-out force out.

More hits for the Blue Jays non-prospect Cavan Biggio.  I will predict that Cavan’s status within the BJ’s system is going to change.  The young man can hit (two more vs Portland) and plays 2B comfortably.  He is now batting .310.

Sean Reid-Foley (#10 Toronto prospect) continues undefeated (5-0) with his win tonight.  He throws strikes and had been blessed with tons of run support.

Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio

I found room to take pictures in the Fisher Cats dugout as well as in the area behind the backstop.  I was skeptical about shooting through a net, but it works.  The lighting was better.  Last time it was misty.  The players were on the field in the daylight before the 6:35PM start.

Getting to and from Manchester was an adventure this time.  Heading up 93 there had been an accident backing up and slowing traffic north.  Heading home afterwards, there was construction on 93 heading south narrowing that busy road to one lane.  I may try coming over 101 from the Hampton Tolls next time just to compare it.

More thanks to Tyler Murray for arranging the visit.

Plenty of good players at New Hampshire for the time being.  See them while you can before GM Ross Atkins calls to tell various players to report to AAA Buffalo!

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

Vladi swings

Portland’s Conrad Gregor breaks a long hitless stretch

Pink clouds beyond Seas Reid-Foley

Play at third

Sean Reid-Foley

What dugout will these two be sitting in before this season is over?

Vladi checks out the crowd

Vladi at bat

Cole Sturgeon is 2nd in EL in hitting. Long overdue to move up in the Red Sox system.

Fooling around pregame

Jonathan Davis

Cavan Biggio

Bo Bichette

Some players have families

 

 

 

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Tim Tebow and Drew Pomeranz take part in Portland’s home opener

Tim Tebow

Drew Pomeranz

(Portland,ME) Lots going on as the Portland Sea Dogs opened their 25th home season with a 4-2 win over the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Friday night.

The home opener is always special all by itself but when you throw in celebrity Tim Tebow and rehabbing Drew Pomeranz you’ve got plenty more.

Tim has been a crowd magnet everywhere he plays.  He’s also a media magnet!  Tonight’s game was scheduled to start at 6PM but I arrived early for a chance to watch Binghamton’s batting practice.

My earliness turned into my being part of 10+ media outlets interviewing Tim before batting practice.

Tim Tebow’s press conference

I had heard Tim talk on TV before, so nothing surprised me about the way he handled ten minutes of media questions.  He doesn’t take himself too seriously and appears to enjoy the interaction.

I couldn’t get close enough to activate my digital recorder, but it didn’t matter because I was chasing pictures.  Interviewed players provide the best picture-taking opportunity.

After the Tebow media session ended, there were Portland players available to talk to.  I had not planned to talk with players but moved in on an interview with Cole Sturgeon (Sea Dogs outfielder) and later did a solo interview with Danny Mars (another Sea Dogs outfielder).

Cole referenced the weather: “I am happy to be back home (Hadlock Field), although the weather takes some getting used to since I’m from Florida.”

Cole also talked about Tim Tebow.  Cole was born and raised in Atlanta (“I was a Falcons fan.”) but moved to Florida when he was fifteen.  “I know so much about him.  He’s a legend and getting to play against him is an honor.  It is amazing what he’s doing after taking ten years off from baseball.”

Danny Mars

Danny Mars hit over .300 last season in Portland.  I asked him about what it would take to get to the next level: “My hitting was pretty consistent last year.  I need to work on the little things like defense and baserunning.”  One thing he wasn’t working on was power hitting: “I’m not much of a power hitter.  I did have six homers last year, but I usually try to stay within myself at the plate and not try to do too much.”

I left those two conversations wondering if I might be able to arrange more of them (pre-game) in the future.

I have taken pictures at Hadlock for a few years now, so I have learned where the home pitchers usually warm up.  I positioned myself in the food pavilion along the right field line to await Drew Pomeranz. He showed up and I had several clean shots of him.

Then I moved into the area near the Portland dugout for pictures of him coming there before the start of the game.  I ended up with my best picture of Drew during his walk to the dugout.

Meanwhile, Tim had come back out from the Binghamton locker room and bee-lined it across the field to their dugout.  Tim had interacted with a few fans after batting practice.  There were plenty of autograph seekers near the Binghamton dugout. Many of his fans have UFlorida (Gators) connections.

Tim Tebow swings and misses against Drew Pomeranz

The players from both teams were introduced.  Biggest cheer?  Tim Tebow.  No question that many in the house had come to see him.  You don’t have to have exhaustive brain power to figure out why the New York Mets organization promoted Tim to the next level after a mediocre season: He draws crowds.  Binghamton, which had the lowest attendance in the Eastern League last year, will probably do a lot better this year.  Any EL city the Rumble Ponies visit will have increased crowds.

One thing I wish I had done would have been to interview a Binghamton player and find out what it was like having Tim on the team.

The question of who should throw out the first pitch for the Portland home opener had been discussed within the Sea Dogs organization.  Club President Charlie Eshbach had even prepared a list, but his long-time connection to the team made it certain that on the 25th anniversary, he should be the ceremonial tosser, and he was.

Cole Sturgeon leads off with a home run in the first inning.

Cole Sturgeon greeted the RB’s starter Andrew Church with a home run in the first inning.

Drew gave up four hits in 5 1/3 innings and got the win.

On one of Binghamton’s hits, Peter Alonso connected for a 2-run homer.  Drew claimed afterwards that he didn’t want to walk anyone, so he threw something straight where he might have used a curve and it got hit.

First baseman Peter Alonzo is the #4 Mets prospect.  He was selected in the second round in 2016.

I also got a look at the #17 Mets prospect, Jhoan Urena.

I enjoyed, as always, my visit to Hadlock.  I got there early enough that I was able to park without being charged!

I was able to view the game from a nice spot, with a chair, just beyond the Sea Dogs dugout.

Thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging the visit.

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

Jhoan Urena

Jordan Betts

Tim Tebow press conference

Josh Tobias

Peter Alonzo – 4th Mets prospect

Sea Dogs President Charlie Eshbach

Sea Dogs bring equipment

Drew Pomeranz heads to the dugout before the game

Pre-game warmups

Drew warming up in the outfield

Tim in the dugout

Tim meets the press

Tim during batting practice

Tim shares a laugh with a Florida fan

Tim watching from the Binghamton dugout

 

 

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Mitch Keller (#2 Pirates prospect) and Michael Chavis (#3 Boston prospect) in action at Portland

Pittsburgh Pirates #2 prospect Mitch Keller

Michael Chavis (Boston Red Sox #3 prospect)

I love going to Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine for a Sea Dogs game.

Why?  The atmosphere is so unpretentious.  There are no airs put on.  The players hustle and their recognition by the fans is minimal.  Top draft pick?  Who cares?  Let’s see some baseball played.

Today’s noon game had perfect summer weather to boot.

A big attraction at Portland is the concession stands.  The smell of pizza and French fries is overwhelming.  And there I am on a nutritarian diet in which such things are totally avoided!

While others fail to take note of top draft picks, I don’t.  I can trace that “noticing” back to a game I covered in New Britain (CT) in 2012.

I somehow became aware that Gerrit Cole (#1 draft pick the year before) would be at the Twins former AA site representing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Altoona team.

Shortstop Cole Tucker was the Pirates #1 pick in 2014

So I went to New Britain with a specific goal of getting a good Gerrit Cole picture.  I managed that and also added shots of Brock Holt (leading Eastern League in hitting) and Aaron Hicks (New Britain outfielder).

Therefore, with that background, my latest visit to Hadlock included prospect chasing.  Getting Rafael Devers earlier this summer convinced me that chances may end quickly.

Portland currently has 2014 first-rounder Michael Chavis on their roster while visiting Altoona has 2014 first-rounder Cole Tucker on theirs.  Portland also has Josh Ockimey (5th round) and Mitch Keller (2nd round) from the same year.

Pitcher Mitch Keller was the important one.  He is now the Pirates #2 prospect.  He started in Bradenton this season moved to Altoona on August 4th.  He is a pitcher on the rise.

Michael Chavis is a 22-year-old third baseman for Portland.  He’s rated 3rd in the Red Sox prospect list.  Where Michael fits into the Boston team of the future is a bit of a mystery.

Cole Tucker is ranked fifth by the Pirates and is a shortstop.

Josh Ockimey is Boston’s #10 prospect.

I had my first look at Boston’s Josh Ockimey.  The tall first baseman has not been in AA very long.  He’s rated the 10th Red Sox prospect.

I have now seen Michael Chavis twice.  His ability put in quality at-bats reminds me of Rafael Devers.  Neither player seems to be over-matched by pitching and both can hit the ball hard.  I did not have the same vibes last summer with Yoan Moncada.  Way too many swings-and-misses and that still seems to be the case for Yoan.

Another player who has impressed me during my recent Hadlock visits is outfielder Danny Mars.  Again, trying to imagine an outfield future in Boston with the young B’s strongly entrenched is a stretch but you never know.  Danny plays the position well and is hitting over .300 in his full season in Portland.  I figure him for Pawtucket in 2018.

The star of the game I saw Thursday was Portland pitcher Trey Ball.  Trey was a RS first-rounder in 2013.  He looked exactly like he deserved to be that high pick with a 9-strikeout, 7-inning performance in Portland’s 2-0 win.  It was likely the lefty’s best effort of the year.

The Big Event for me is always Slugger’s race against the very young.  I continue to believe that a win is in his future and I want to be there when it happens.

As today’s race unfolded I couldn’t help but think that Slugger’s life-long losing streak was about to end.  The big guy blazed around second leading by five yards.  Around first he went on the final stretch still in good shape.  But suddenly the big fellah ran out of gas.  Too fast a start, I suspect.  He just wilted near the first-base box and hit the ground.  Meanwhile, the opponent, who was so young he had to be guided by a staff member, kept a race-long even pace and won easily.  What’s the problem? It was a bit warm but it is obvious that Slugger is spending too much time walking the aisles of Hadlock greeting fans.  His legs were shot by the time the race took place.  An earlier race start would improve Slugger’s chances.  Maybe my hero is being set up to lose every time?  That would be outrageous.

More thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging Thursday’s visit.

Play at the plate

3B Michael Chavis

Cole Tucker

Play at second

Danny Mars

Chad De La Guerra

Cole Tucker

Baserunner

Pitcher Trey Ball was impressive against Altoona. He is a former #1 Red Sox selection (2013)

Michael Chavis

Chad De La Guerra

 

 

 

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