Category Archives: Trenton Thunder

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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Yoan Moncada, Mauricio Dubon, and Aneury Tavarez shine in Portland win over Trenton

Yoan Moncada (left) and Aneury Tavaraz (right) in the Portland dugout

Yoan Moncada (left) and Aneury Tavaraz (right) in the Portland dugout

Yoan Moncada playing third

Yoan Moncada playing third

(Portland ME) Any win over the Yankees is a good win.  And Portland got one, 4-3, over Trenton on a nice Thursday evening at Hadlock Field.

I was surprised that Yoan Moncada was still with the Sea Dogs so I opted for one last look at Boston’s #1 prospect in action.

Yoan is playing third these days so I chose the edge of the Trenton dugout as the spot where I would take pictures from.  I saw him make a real nice fielding play from that location.

Ronald Herrara (21) started for The Thunder

Ronald Herrara (21) started for The Thunder

I had good feelings about the pitching matchup between Portland’s Mitch Atkins and Trenton’s Ronald Herrera.  Both pitchers are in the top four of the Eastern League in strikeouts so there were plenty of missed bats in this one.

Mitch ended up with ten K’s and the win.

I came to see Yoan Moncada, and I did, but the more I see of shortstop Mauricio Dubon the better I like him as a prospect.

Kevin Thomas (Portland Press Herald) had an interesting comparison between Mauricio and Mookie over a similar sampling of games at Portland.  The numbers put up by both players are very, very similar.

But we’re talking about a shortstop.  What are Mauricio’s chances of moving up with Xander and Marco Hernandez ahead of him?  Maybe Mauricio will start to work out at 3B??

Back to Yoan.  Having seen Andrew Benintendi at Portland I can tell you that their hitting styles are very different.  Andrew was patient.  Yoan is aggressive.  There are lots of strikeouts in his future unless he gets more selective.

Mauricio Dubon has dazzled at Portland

Mauricio Dubon has dazzled at Portland

The win was a sweet one for Portland because it sets Trenton’s playoff hopes back a bit.  The Thunder still have a very nice 81-50 record.

I noticed that Trenton has really gone with young players.  The four top prospects on their roster are 22-years-old and younger.

Portland has a few young players but many of the other starters are 25+.

I mentioned Mauricio Dubon and I also must mention Aneury Tavarez.  The Portland rightfielder is leading the Eastern League in batting average and looks to have a bright future.  Expect him at Pawtucket to start 2017.

The most fortunate person at Hadlock tonight was Mike Davis of Falmouth.  Mike bought a ticket and came through the gate as fan #9 million.  That got Mike a Sea Dogs’ jersey with a “9” on it plus nine years of season tickets.  His daughter, Wagner, threw out the first pitch of the game.

Slugger?  Of course he lost.  That’s what he always does.  Sometimes the big guy gets up against a little kid who isn’t sure what bases to run to.  Not tonight.  This kid was a dart and he knew exactly what was going on.  By the time Slugger reached second this kid was close to third.  It was no contest.  Slugger even tried some aerodynamics but it was futile.

horseback trouble

horseback trouble

The inflatable horse race was interesting.  One of the contestants was too short and her feet didn’t touch the ground.  There was no way she was going to be able to get that horse to go anywhere.  So one of the Sea Dogs’ staff members pulled her toward the finish line.

Thanks again to Chris Cameron for arranging tonight’s visit.  Hadlock continues to be a great spot to visit to seeing rising baseball stars as well as to get entertained.  Tickets are a bargain.

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

Mark Payton touches them all after a 2-run homer

Mark Payton touches them all after a 2-run homer

Yoan Moncada heads for third

Yoan Moncada heads for third

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Billy McKinney

Billy McKinney

Pitcher Kevin Couch

Pitcher Kevin Couch

Wagner and Mike Davis

Wagner and Mike Davis

Slugger futilely tries to fly

Slugger futilely tries to fly

Miguel Andujar is the Yankees' #8 prospect

Miguel Andujar is the Yankees’ #8 prospect

Tyler Wade

Tyler Wade

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Ryan Court

Ryan Court

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Aneury Tavarez leads the EL in batting average

Aneury Tavarez leads the EL in batting average

 

Mauricio Dubon caught in a rundown after driving in a run

Mauricio Dubon caught in a rundown after driving in a run

 

 

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Henry Owens and Gary Sanchez spotted at Field of Dreams game in Portland

The 1926 Portland Eskimos move out onto Hadlock Field

The 1926 Portland Eskimos move out onto Hadlock Field

Portland Eskimos applaud Hadlock fans

Portland Eskimos applaud Hadlock fans

(Portland ME) Quite the pregame show!

Set up close to the wall in centerfield was a cornfield arranged in the, “Field of Dreams,” mode.

The sellout crowd was addressed and thanked for twenty years of baseball following at Hadlock Field.

Then suddenly players appeared on our side of the cornfield.  They came out wearing 1926 Portland Eskimos uniforms and looked around in wonder at Hadlock Field.

The players then strolled in toward the foul lines getting a thunderous, standing ovation from the delighted crowd.

The players then applauded the fans and went up into the stands to greet as many in the crowd as they could get to.

Media boss Chris Cameron in the middle

Media boss Chris Cameron in the middle

It was terrific stuff.  Media boss Chris Cameron had told me, on a previous visit, that it was his favorite promotion of the summer.  Now I knew why.  Fan involvement in most minor league games is quite subdued but this show had everyone stirred up.

Then there was the game that you thought this write-up was about!

Portland lost the game, 9-4, on a cloudy/rainy/sunny Sunday afternoon.  The rain hit just at game time but fortunately was soon gone.  It turned out to be a delightful day for a game.

Going into Friday, the Portland Sea Dogs had a chance to get to second and make the Eastern League (AA) playoffs.  “All” they had to do was finish the regular season with five straight wins over second-place Trenton.

They got past Friday but not Saturday.  The home team dropped both ends of last night’s double-header and the first loss sealed the doom of the Sea Dogs.  That result made this game irrelevant in the overall scheme of things.

But there were prospects to be seen.  My main reason for doing this game was to get Sea Dog pitcher Henry Owens.  The 20-year-old was the starter today.  I was also hoping to get a look at shortstop Deven Marrero in the field.  Missions accomplished!

Henry Owens

Henry Owens

Deven Marrero

Deven Marrero

The Trenton Yankees have their top three prospects (Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and Tyler Austin) on their roster.  Mason, however, was injured Saturday night so he was unavailable.  I flat out messed up on Tyler.  I think that the Trenton online roster had him with a different number.  But I did really well with Gary Sanchez.  He cooperated for a nice shot in the Trenton dugout.

Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez

Gary is a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic who signed a $3 million contract with the Yankees as a 16-year-old.  He has the size (6-2/220 pounds) to catch and plenty of power.  The eerie thing about Gary is that on first glance he looks like Alex Rodriguez!

Speaking of catchers, Portland’s Christian Vazquez was called up to AAA Pawtucket today.  Christian had been cited for his defense in the past.  This year his hitting improved tremendously.

Many of us were on hand to see Henry Owens.  What most of us didn’t expect was for him to get taken deep twice (Ramon Flores and Gary Sanchez) in the first inning.  The tall lefty ended up going 5 2/3 innings giving up six hits, 3 runs, and had eight strikeouts.  He should be a good one.  I suspect that he’ll at least start at Portland next season.  I doubt that he’ll stay there too long.

Nik Turley takes care of his arm

Nik Turley takes care of his arm

Lefty Nik Turley started for Trenton and got the win.  He went five innings and left leading 3-2.  Nik is not related to former Yankee ace Bob Turley although Bob did call Nik’s father after the 2008 draft to welcome Nik to the Yankees.

A 3-2 game got away from the Sea Dogs in the 8th inning when the Thunder put up a five-spot on reliever Miguel Celestino.

Trenton, which hosts Binghamton in the EL playoffs on Wednesday, had thirteen hits against Portland.  Ben Gamel led the way with three hits including a home run.  Ramon Flores (Yankees #16 prospect) had two hits including a homer.  Reegie Corono had a home run as well.

Portland had eleven hits.  Garin Cecchini, Travis Shaw, and Deven Marrero each had two of them.

Slugger falls losing yet again

Slugger falls losing yet again

Another embarrassing effort by Slugger.  He raced against a 4-year-old (?) from Oxford today.  The youngster headed for rightfield after first but it didn’t matter.  Slugger should have built up a big lead with the confusion but instead fell flat near second.  Slugger recovered but just when he had a great chance for the win went down again just short of home.  I’m beginning to wonder if he’s really trying.

Again thanks to media relations director Chris Cameron for setting up my visit.

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

Christian Vazquez was called up to AAA Pawtucket

Christian Vazquez was called up to AAA Pawtucket

Matt Spring and Henry Owens

Matt Spring and Henry Owens

Gary Sanchez signs

Gary Sanchez signs

catching a pop

catching a pop

Henry Owens

Henry Owens

Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez

Garin Cecchini gets third as Casey Stevenson awaits throw

Garin Cecchini gets third as Casey Stevenson awaits throw

Ramon Flores

Ramon Flores

Gary Sanchez in home run trot

Gary Sanchez in home run trot

Ramon Flores congratulated after homer

Ramon Flores congratulated after homer

Henry Owens

Henry Owens

Reegie Corona and Gary Sanchez both hit homers

Reegie Corona and Gary Sanchez both hit homers

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