Category Archives: Portland

Field of Dreams 2019

Dylan Hardy and Brett Netzer

Out of the corn they came

Brock Lundquist had a homer and a triple

(Portland ME) The Portland Sea Dogs emerged in costume out of the cornfield set up in centerfield at Hadlock Field.

The 15th sellout crowd of the season then witnessed the Portland version of a segment of the baseball classic, “Field of Dreams.”

The reenactment was well done on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Radio announcer Mike Antonellis narrated the show dressed in appropriate attire.

I always like the show, but to me the best part is after the Portland Eskimos reach the infield.  They then go up into the crowd and thank folks for their support.  That’ll win you a lot of repeat customers!

There was also a baseball game played afterwards and it did not go well for the Sea Dogs.  The visiting New Hampshire Fisher Cats won easily, 7-1.  NH starter Yennsy Diaz held the home hitless into the seventh inning. The Dogs would only get one hit (Brett Netzer).

Josh Palacios had a homer for New Hampshire

Josh Palacios and Brock Lundquist homered for the team from Manchester (NH).

The teams will meet against tomorrow (Labor Day) to conclude their seasons.

I went to the game hoping to catch another look at Portland pitcher Daniel McGrath.  He was scheduled to start but got the call (yesterday?) to move up to Pawtucket to fill in there.  Daniel should start 2020 in Pawtucket with a chance to move to Fenway.  He’s that good, in my opinion.

This game was short on action because of the barrage of strikeouts.  Ten Sea Dogs K’d, and sixteen Fisher Cats were retired without contact.  For a team scoring seven runs (NH) it was hard to imagine how they could do it with that many strikeouts.  Josh Palacios was the only Fisher Cat who didn’t strike out.

Josh’s solo homer was pulled down the right field line.  Portland pitcher Matthew Gorst applied some body English to keep it foul, but it didn’t work.  I overheard Josh in the dugout say that “it started out foul and then came back fair.”

I continue to wish that minor league teams would wear uniforms with numbers on the front.  I am trying to set myself up with an excuse if I misidentify the pictures I took today.

Bag missed

Slugger did himself no favors in his baserunning competition with a youngster when he tried to compete out of uniform.  He was all gussied up with a top hat.  He didn’t even get into his starting stance, so I knew he was done for.  The most troubling part of today’s loss was that the opponent was in enemy (Fisher Cats) garb and never came close to touching third.  Slugger didn’t catch the baserunning shortcut and took yet another defeat in his usual classy way.  Maybe a video review will give the big guy today’s win?

Chris Cameron

Thanks (again) to Chris Cameron for enabling me to be in the best photography locations for yet another season.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.  Please let me know (85peterjulie17@gmail.com) if I have inaccurately identified players, so that I can make the needed changes.)

Yennsy Diaz pitched superbly for New Hampshire

Nick Lovullo

Portland’s Marcus Wilson takes a lead

Shortstop Kevin Smith

Jarren Duran eyes a pitch

Fisher Cats dugout

Cullen Large 3B

Cullen Large with Coach Donnie Murphy

Bag stolen and a bubble blown

Adam Lau

Brock Lundquist

Dustin Feltman signed autographs before the game

Marcus Wilson

Nash Knight

Vinny Capra

 

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

Plenty of excitement as well as baseball at Hadlock as Reading wins 8-7 over Portland

The Philadelphia Phillies top prospect (Alec Bohm) played for the AA Reading Fighin Phils in Portland tonight.

(Portland ME) Ever watch a group of young kids attempt to play musical chairs with no idea what the object of the game is?

Musical chairs winner exits the winning seat

That, and plenty more, was part of the fun at Hadlock Field tonight.

Reading shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa strikes a pre-game post

And there was a ballgame too!

The Reading Fightin Phils won 8-7 in ten innings.

There were lengthy line hours before the gates opened thanks to a promotion that gifted the first one thousand customers with an Andrew Benintendi bobble head.

And to add to the excitement, the ten millionth fan also was noted on this night and that brought out the local TV networks.

I drove through thunder and lightning to get to the game. My intention was to check out the Phillies top prospect (Alec Bohm) and the other prospects of the National League team.

Alec is a tall (6-5) third baseman with a home run swing.  That swing produced a 4-base blast (his 13th) to centerfield off Konner Wade.

Alec was picked first by the Phillies (3rd overall) in 2018, out of Wichita State.  He is 23 and on the fast track to the big team.

Mickey Moniak

Mickey Moniak was a first-round pick in 2016 out of high school.  Only 21, the young outfielder is leading the Eastern League in triples.  He notched his 13th tonight.  Very aggressive at the plate.

Jarren Duran is the top Boston prospect still with Portland.  Bobby Dalbec and CJ Chatham have moved on to Pawtucket.  Jarren has the speed to turn a routine grounder to short into a close play.  I suspect that Jarren starts at Portland in 2020 but will reach Pawtucket during the season.

Outfielder Marcus Wilson is the other ranked prospect with Portland.  He had a homer tonight to send the game into extra innings.

Slugger comes close tonight

Slugger ran a solid race tonight.  He didn’t trip.  He didn’t engage someone/anyone in conversation and get side-tracked. On this night the competition was serious (the kid had a great shirt) but the big guy hung in there.  If the young man had faltered, Slugger was close enough near home plate to get there first…….but the kid didn’t falter and the losing streak continues.

Musical chairs, on this night, was the highlight of the between-innings activities in my opinion.  The young ladies involved were excited.  I’m guessing 5-year-olds.  It was quickly obvious that none of them had ever played musical chairs.  They saw chairs and they jumped on them!  Of course, you jump on an inflatable and it’s likely to fall over…and they did.  The music played and the girls were already all over the chairs.  Next they learned that they had to wait until the music stopped before taking a seat.  One girl waited beside an empty seat instead of getting into it.  That didn’t go so well for her. It was also interesting to watch the girls enlarge the circle by running around the Hadlock staff members as well as the chairs.  A winner was finally determined but because of the size discrepancy between the chair and the participant nearly vanished from sight.  The crowd loved it.

Happy musical chairs participants

Hadlock continues to be friendly for all ages and all levels of baseball IQ.  I highly recommend a visit there before the season ends in very early September.

Thanks again to Chris Cameron for enabling me to witness the activities at Hadlock.

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

Alec Bohm after striking out to end an inning

Alec Bohm congratulated after homer

Alec Bohm leads off first as Konner Wade pitches

Alec Bohm on first with 1B Joey Curletta

Alec Bohm takes a cut

Austin Rei

Brett Netzer

Charlie Madden

Cornelius Randolph

Daniel McGrath

David Parkinson

Grant Dyer, Jakob Hernandez, and Jeff Singer

Jarren Duran bats

Jarren Duran hustles to first

Jarren Duran

Jeremy Rivera

Jhon Nunez

1B Joey Curletta

Luke Williams

Marcus Wilson homered in the 9th

Mauricio Llovera

3B Mike Osinski

Nick Maton

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Filed under Portland, Portland Sea Dogs, Reading, Reading Fightin Phils

Daniel McGrath: How good is this bloke?

Daniel McGrath has been exceptional for Portland lately

One run in the last 59 innings

(Portland ME) The question needs to be asked after the Australian continued on a roll that has had him allow only ONE run in his last fifty-nine innings of pitching for the Portland Sea Dogs.

Daniel was connected to the Doncaster Dragon in Melbourne (Australia) seven years ago as a 17-year-old.  His pitching promise, while with the Dragons, attracted the interest of fifteen major league teams.  The Red Sox signed him for $400,000.

Since then?  He’s had his moments but has hardly turned a whole lot of heads……….until recently.

Daniel was the Player-of-the-Month in the Eastern League for July.

After tonight’s 1-0 win over the Erie SeaWolves, his ERA is a remarkable 1.34.  Daniel toiled seven innings versus Erie and allowed only three hits.  He’s struck out a season-high nine SeaWolves.

Daniel Pinero caught off base in the second inning

Erie had a great chance in the second to put a dent into Daniel’s ERA.  The visitors had runners on first and third with no outs.  But the lefty can not only pitch, he also has a nifty pickoff move.  Daniel Pinero was victimized straying from first and then the next two batters were retired with no runs scoring.

I’ll admit that I didn’t go to Hadlock Field last night to see Daniel McGrath.

It was Casey Mize I wanted to get a look at.  Casey is the Eastern League’s top prospect.  He was the first pick in the major league draft in 2018.  He dazzled at Auburn University averaging nearly thirteen strikeouts per game.

He was promoted to Erie this season after a few starts in the lower minors.  Result?  No-Hitter against Altoona in his first EL start!

Casey Mize gave up only five hits in six innings

Casey scuffled in his last start (Binghamton) allowing seven hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings. He was much better tonight at Portland.

The native of Alabama allowed only five hits in six innings.  Now 6-2, he is very good but on this night, it was Daniel McGrath that had the buzz-worthy performance.

To watch Daniel pitch as masterfully as he did, couldn’t have come at a better time for Red Sox fans.  The last week has been a pitching nightmare for the Boston team.  Those expensive arms on the Big Club have been a tough watch night after night.

Daniel pitched once at Pawtucket (AAA) this season.  He certainly has earned some more time there.  I hope it happens.

Nice crowd with nice weather.

Casey Mize was the first pick in the 2018 major league draft

I have always had the sense that most attendees to minor league games know little about the players.  Tonight was a bit different.  As I waited to get pictures of Casey Mize warming up, there was a good collection of fans nearby doing the same thing.  They had heard about Casey Mize.

Casey, by the way, will reach the majors by this time next year.  He’s just too good to hold back.  Plus they invested $7,500,000 on him when they signed him.

Slugger was in camouflage gear carrying a branch.  It is fair to say that the Big Guy can not be carrying things and expect to compete.  The competition tonight was short in size as well as short in experience.  The young opponent had to be guided onto the field, around the bases, and off the field………..and still he wasted Slugger.  Embarrassing.

Thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging the pleasant visit for me.

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

Brett Netzer – had the Sea Dogs RBI

Casey Mize

Casey Mize

CJ Chatham

CJ Chatham – leads EL in hitting

Daniel McGrath between innings

Derek Hill – 28th on Tigers prospect list

Luke Tendler (10) slides back into 3rd

Marcus Wilson – 18th on Red Sox prospect list

Matthew Gorst was signing before the game

Slugger’s opponent

Isaac Paredes 5th best prospect in the Detroit farm system

Jhon Nunez (catcher)

Joey Curletta

Josh Lester at 3B

Diving back to first

 

 

 

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Filed under Erie Seawolves, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

Barrett Barnes homer and Tommy Wilson pitching get Binghamton past Portland 3-1

Brett Netzer slides as Jason Krizan takes throw

Barrett Barnes had the big hit for Binghamton (2-run homer)

(Portland ME) Barrett Barnes took Bryan Mata deep (2-run homer) in the first inning and those runs held up as Binghamton defeated Portland, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs have Eastern League leaders in hitting (CJ Chatham) and homers (Bobby Dalbec) but it didn’t matter as the Rumble Ponies still won four-of-five from Portland.

Plenty of entertainment at Hadlock today with princesses and pirates getting special attention.

I like to try to get pictures of Red Sox players who are likely to move on to Pawtucket before the season is over.  CJ and Bobby are in that category.

CJ Chatham at shortstop this afternoon

When they started using CJ at second recently, instead of short, I suspected that Pawtucket/Boston could be in his future this season.

Both Bobby and CJ were drafted in 2016 by Boston.

I got my first look at Boston’s #22 prospect, Jarren Duran.  Noted for his speed, I hoped he would try to steal. Didn’t happen.

Binghamton has ten of the New York Mets top thirty prospects on their roster.  That is a lot!

#1 prospect Andres Gimenez (shortstop) was not in the lineup but was in the dugout. That was all I needed.

Plenty of sunshine with a brief interlude of rain late in the game.

Slugger continued his losing streak.  He got himself matched up with a young, gifted speedster and was in trouble from the get-go.  Slugger does not have a manager to tell him that wearing a sword while running has danger written all over it.  He tried it anyhow and was lucky that he didn’t impale himself.

Slugger decides to run in costume wearing a sword

Winner eyes the competition as he heads for third.

Winner floats into third base

Winner hits the plate

Tommy Wilson notched first Double A win today

Very impressed with Binghamton starter Tommy Wilson.  He held the Sea Dogs to just two hits during his six innings of pitching and ended up with his first Double A victory.

Thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging my visit.

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

Relaxing in the dugout

Brett Netzer

Andres Gimenez

Jarren Duran bats

Andres Gimenez and Luis Carpio

Baserunner Brett Netzer

Umpire Taka Matsuda and Portland manager Joe Oliver appear to be singing a duet

CJ Chatham in the air as Sam Haggerty slides in

Jarren Duran leaves Sea Dogs dugout

Brett Netzer checks positioning notes

Bryan Mata started for Portland

CJ Chatham leaves the Portland dugout

Konner Wade signs

Bobby Dalbec at 3B

CJ Chatham and Brett Netzer tangle at second base

David Thompson

Miss Maine was in the house

Bobby Dalbec leaves the dugout

Andres Gimenez looks out from the Binghamton dugout

CJ Chatham heads in from the clubhouse

Quinn Brodey bats

 

 

 

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Filed under Binghamton Mets, Portland, 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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Filed under Bobby Dalbec, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

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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Filed under Erie Seawolves, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

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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Rafael Devers (#1 Red Sox prospect) and Gleyber Torres (#1 Yankees prospect) at Portland

Gleyber Torres

Rafael Devers

I had my first visit of the season to Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine on Saturday.  I hope it won’t be the last.

The intended plan was to get a look at the #1 prospects of both the Red Sox and the Yankees.

I had checked the Portland schedule and discovered that April 21-23 would have the Trenton Thunder in Maine.

You always wonder about what April weather will bring.  It was supposed to rain early in the day but then clear off.  What I ended being in was 40’s and occasionally misty.

The good news?  The players weren’t wearing sunglasses.  The bad news?  The players covered parts of their faces to protect from the cold.

When Mookie Betts briefly came through Portland two years ago my pictures had him wearing what looks like a red ski mask.  It can be that cold in Maine in April.

Jalen Beeks was the winning pitcher

I overheard one of the Trenton players say that he hated to come to Hadlock except in August because it is always too cold.  I would agree with that assessment if he had left it to April. May into September can be very pleasant in Maine.

I wanted pictures of Rafael Devers (Red Sox) and Gleyber Torres (Yankees).  These 20-year-olds are considered the best in each system.

Gleyber was a problem because I learned on Thursday night that he was on the 7-day DL.  I wondered if he would be traveling with the team.  I also did not know what he looked like even if he was with the team.

Rafael was a different story: He was active and in the starting lineup.  The Sea Dogs also have their names on the back of their uniforms.  Trenton had no names on the back and no number on the front.

I decided to concentrate my efforts on discerning Gleyber’s whereabouts.  I thought I had him spotted in front of the Trenton dugout.  Finally realized that I was shooting Dante Bichette.  He looked familiar because he looks just like his father the former major leaguer!

I was helped in my Gleyber search by Yankee autograph seekers.  Several of them were nearby and they started yelling into the Trenton dugout for Gleyber.  I heard one of the “yellers” say that Gleyber was sitting in the dugout.  Sure enough, it was him.  He was out of uniform trying to keep warm.  I got several shots of him.  Trenton is back in Portland the end of May.  Hopefully, Gleyber will not have been promoted to AAA or to the Yankees.

Rafael signed autographs so he was out in the Portland dugout area early.  I was impressed by the size of him.  He is broad and looks strong.  I had the chance to get shots of him before game time.

Game time changed from 1 to 1:30. The infield was covered and it was misty.  Off came the tarp.  I think that I could have helped them roll it up if I had moved in quickly enough.

Proposal accepted

It is a routine at Hadlock to have a collection of folks throw first balls.  Within that collection today was a college student (Husson?) and his girlfriend.  Unbeknownst to the girl, the guy had written, “Will you marry me?” on the ball that was going to be tossed.  When his turn came to throw the ball, he presented it to his girlfriend as he got down on his knee.  He asked the Big Question and got a positive response.  Whatever works!

In a 7-inning game (first half of a double-header) the Sea Dogs won 3-0.  Jalen Beeks, Portland starter, was in serious bases-loaded trouble in first inning but escaped it.  The lefty was impressive in his six innings.

Aneury Tavarez, who is way too good for AA, had two hits and scored the first Portland run.  He wouldn’t have scored if the Trenton leftfielder (Billy McKinney) hadn’t bobbled a single that came his way.

Nick Longhi in dugout after homer

Boston’s #11 prospect (Nick Longhi) is also with Portland.  Nick is a first basemen.  He homered over the Hadlock monster to get Portland’s second run.  His full face is still a rumor to me but I did get him heavily covered in the Sea Dog’s dugout after the long one.

Rafael was very good at 3B.  He made a terrific stop on a ball to his left.  His arm is strong.  He was not cheated at the plate.  His swing looked long to me but he did make contact.  How well the left-handed batter does against lefties may well determine how fast he moves to Pawtucket.

I also got my first look at outfielder Danny Mars.  It is extremely hard to imagine a bright future for an outfielder in the Red Sox farm system with youngsters Bradley, Betts, and Benintendi already at Fenway.  Danny looks like a pretty good hitter.  Injuries happen.  Trades happen.  We’ll see how Danny’s future plays out.

Miguel Andujar

I did not see Prospect 7 (Justin Sheffield) or Prospect 8 (Chance Adams) as both are Yankee pitchers.  With numbers on the front of their uniforms, I would have a chance when they came from the clubhouse.  Minus the numbers, I’m in trouble, unless they’re starters.  Maybe in May?

I did see Miguel Andujar (#10 Yankee prospect) again.  He was playing shortstop last year but with Gleyber Torres on the team he has switched to third.  The 22-year-old will make the majors in time.

I may be the only one who looks forward to it but the Slugger race is big to me.  I want the big guy to win.  I want that losing streak ended and I want to see it when it happens.  I wish I could coach Slugger.  Today he rounded second, his opponent was going in the opposite direction, with a nice lead.  Stay the course and grab the W would have been my coaching encouragement.  But not today.  Slugger felt a breeze (It was a windy day) and raised his arms and got blown off course.  While he’s trying to re-navigate his course, his chance for a victory dissolves.  His opponent had another gear from third to home and won handily.  Slugger, even in defeat, tried to be friendly afterwards but the young winner did not appear to reciprocate.

I enjoyed the visit and thank Chris Cameron for arranging it.  There is good baseball at affordable prices at Hadlock Field in Portland.

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

Aneury Tavarez scores first Portland run

Dante Bichette jr

Rafael Devers

Danny Mars

Rafael Devers

Rafael swings

Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers

Slugger has the early lead

Slugger caught in a draft

Post-race confrontation

 

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#1 Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada has three errors in Portland loss to Akron

Five errors, including this one by Nate Frieman, doomed the Sea Dogs. (The ball is on the ground.)

Five errors, including this one by Nate Frieman, doomed the Sea Dogs. (The ball is on the ground.)

Kevin McAvoy was let down by the Portland defense.

Kevin McAvoy was let down by the Portland defense.

(Portland ME) The Sea Dogs’ Kevin McAvoy picked a bad night to be pitching.

Why?  The Portland infield defense fell apart five different times worth five unearned runs and the home Dogs lost, 8-2, to the Akron RubberDucks on a sunny/windy Friday night.

The last-place Sea Dogs (42-69) have struggled to put up the W’s all season.  Some losses have been over a combination of deficiencies.  Not tonight.

The biggest culprit?  #1 Boston prospect 2B Yoan Moncada.  Three times the 21-year-old fumbled grounders.

Yoan Moncada emerges from the Portland dugout

Yoan Moncada emerges from the Portland dugout

My primary reason for getting to Hadlock Field was for a last look at Yoan before he was promoted to Pawtucket or even to the Red Sox.  After tonight, I have a feeling he’ll be staying in Maine for a while.

Interesting that there is talk of Yoan learning a new position because 2B in Boston belongs to Dustin Pedroia for the next five years.  One game is a small sample but there is fielding improvement needed before any transitions by Yoan are made.

Also with Yoan there continues to be hitting struggles from the right side.  He is often linked to Andrew Benintendi but Andrew was hitting well and fielding well when he was called up.  I am not certain at this point that Yoan has the handle necessary on either of those.

2B Yoan Moncada finishes a DP throw to first

2B Yoan Moncada finishes a DP throw to first

BUT as Manager Carlos Febles suggested afterwards,
“Teams have games like this.  We’ll put it behind us and prepare for the next game.”  We are talking about the minors where scores and championships are minimized.  The RubberDucks “lost” their top two prospects in the past two weeks via promotion.  Tied for the top of the Eastern League West before the promotions, they are now six games back in the standings.

Also memorable in this game was that Yoan was injured during a caught-stealing at third base.  It appeared to be quite serious because he hit the bag hard but there was a collective sigh of relief in the Red Sox organization as Yoan was able to walk off with only a sore left ankle to deal with.

Rob Kaminsky - pitched well for Akron

Rob Kaminsky – pitched well for Akron

Akron’s top remaining prospect, Rob Kaminsky, was their pitcher in this game.  He was a #1 pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014.  The lefty limited Portland to three hits.

I was impressed with Akron first baseman Nellie Rodriguez.  Only 22, he has a history of good numbers.  Led the Midwest League in hits and homers in 2014.  Led the Carolina League in homers and RBI in 2015.  Nellie is currently 4th in the Eastern League in homers and extra-base hits.  What will slow his rise to the majors?  150 strikeouts.

Portland’s Aneury Tavarez must be getting the eye of higher up’s in the Boston front office. The Sea Dogs’ right fielder is near the top of the EL batting leaders at .323.  He had three hits this evening against Akron.

Slugger loses his opponent

Slugger loses his opponent

Disappointed in Slugger tonight.  I always root for him at the start of each race.  He is always the underdog because he runs against kids.  For some reason on this night the big guy chose to impede the progress of the speedy girl he was up against.  He squared himself to block her path near second base but the clever opponent darted through his legs.  The move dazzled Slugger.  In fact, for a second or two he had no idea where she had gone!  That momentary confusion, plus the girl’s significant running skills, doomed Slugger.  I just never thought he would even consider cheating to win but I saw it with my own eyes.  Shame on him!

Thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging the visit.  Not too many home games left and they are all in August.  Good take.

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

Rainel Rosario, Mauricio Dubon, Yoan Moncada

Rainel Rosario, Mauricio Dubon, Yoan Moncada

Ryan Court

Ryan Court

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Nellie Rodriguez breaks a bubble

Nellie Rodriguez breaks a bubble

Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith

Nellie Rodriguez and Nate Frieman

Nellie Rodriguez and Nate Frieman

Force at home

Force at home

Trouble riding a horse

Trouble riding a horse

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Nellie Rodriguez

Nellie Rodriguez

Aneury Tavarez is hitting .323 for Portland.

Aneury Tavarez is hitting .323 for Portland.

Look at the strings hanging off Yoan's glove

Look at the strings hanging off Yoan’s glove

Play at the plate

Play at the plate

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Portland catcher Jake Romanski

Portland catcher Jake Romanski

 

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Filed under Akron, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs