(Portland ME) The Portland Sea Dogs have pitching.
But on this afternoon, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats had better pitching and won the game 6-2 at Hadlock Field.
Hayden Juenger and Paxton Schultz combined to shut out the Sea Dogs for seven innings and struck out twelve of them.
Kole Cottam drove in the Portland runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
This was Portland’s third game of the season and the first one for me.
There are always comings-and-goings at the minor league level. The guessing game over at what level players will be placed gets some answers in the early days of the season.
My search at minor league games is usually about prospects. I do my homework and intentionally attempt to photograph prospects on the rise. It started for me when 19-year-old Bryce Harper came to Hadlock with the Harrisburg Senators.
Today the prime target was Orelvis Martinez of New Hampshire. Orelvis is a 19-year-old shortstop who is highly regarded by the Toronto Blue Jays. Orelvis stranded five runners today but his future is bright especially being where he is at his young age.
Portland started Brandon Walter who is #9 in the Red Sox system. Brandon was voted the top minor league pitcher for Boston last year. He is already twenty-five so I would suspect that he won’t last too long in AA.
Brandon was very effective this afternoon. The lefty went five innings allowing just one hit and struck out seven.
Another impressive newcomer (so far) for Portland is David Hamilton. The Sea Dogs’ shortstop is very fast and a valid threat to steal every time he gets on base. David had two steals today. He came into the Red Sox system as part of the Hunter Renfro trade with Milwaukee.
Another ranked prospect (#27) that I saw was Portland’s third baseman Christian Koss.
Good crowd today at Hadlock enjoying the sun with temperatures in the mid-50s. April in Portland is not always that nice!
My day was made at Hadlock with the return of the Slugger/kid race. Missed that all last year. I’m a fan of Slugger’s and always pulling for him in the race. I have faith that he’ll get that first W and I’ll be there to picture it.
Today was not Slugger’s day. He seemed sluggish and I’m sure for good reason. The inning before they had him out there dancing, black-flipping, and doing a split. That is NOT how you get ready for a race around the bases. His legs were shot as a result. He appeared worn out.
I didn’t think his challenger was that fast. He was steady, though, and that was all it took to win this afternoon.
The Big Guy also has course-direction issues. Today he rounded second, heading for first, but instead of cutting the corner at second he went by way of Falmouth! No wonder he wasn’t in sight when the challenger crossed home.
But hope springs eternal. There will be other opportunities and with a few minor adjustments, things could have a happy ending.
I saw one of the New Hampshire players come onto the field carrying a glittering backpack. I was told that it is a tradition of sorts for the youngest player to carry such a thing. Now you know.
Plenty of kids at Hadlock today. It is a terrific place to bring them. The price is right and there’s plenty going on to catch their attention.
Thanks to media director Chris Cameron for arranging my visit.
(The pictures will enlarge.)