Tag Archives: Danny Mars

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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Filed under Altoona Curve, Portland, Portland Sea Dogs

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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Filed under Portland, Portland Sea Dogs, Trenton Thunder