(Portland ME) I got my first look at 21-year-old Andrew Benintendi (known as “Benny Baseball” at Arkansas) this afternoon at Portland’s Hadlock Field.
I was able to get plenty of shots of Boston’s first-round draft pick (2015) in an afternoon in which the last-place Sea Dogs defeated Hartford, 2-1.
The Yard Goats are in 2nd place in the Eastern League East. I heard in the press room before the game that there is a good possibility that Hartford’s stadium will not open at all this season. Should change their name to the “Road” Goats??
Veterans paved the way for the Portland win. Last-minute starter Mitch Atkins (30) pitched six scoreless innings while Nate Freiman (29) launched a 2-run homer in the first inning that spelled the difference on this sunny afternoon.
Aaron Wilkerson was scheduled to pitch for the Sea Dogs. He has been Portland’s best pitcher (2-1, 1.83 ERA) and was called up to Pawtucket today. Naturally, I was disappointed that a spot-starter would replace Aaron but Mitch was indeed a worthy replacement this afternoon.
Nate Freiman (drafted by San Diego in 2009) put a serious charge into a Kyle Freeland, first-inning offering and cleared the Maine Monster with ease.
My ultimate intent on the visit (arranged by Chris Cameron) was to catch Andrew Benintendi in action. There is no guarantee that the next time I visit he’ll still be there. I chased Xander and Mookie at Portland with the same thinking in mind. You just knew that they would advance to Pawtucket on their way to the big team. Andrew could well move on.
Andrew was taken by the Red Sox in June of last year and signed for $3.6 million dollars. He was the College Player-of-the-Year in 2015 at Arkansas.
Andrew was drafted by Cincinnati in 2013 but didn’t sign. He’s from Ohio.
Andrew started this season at A ball at Salem (VA) but had big numbers right from the start there. The turning point in promoting him may well have been the number of intentional walks he started getting.
The most impressive stat at Salem was NOT his 23-game hitting streak, in my opinion. I preferred the stat in which he went ten games and forty-eight swings without ever swinging and missing. Think about that! That remarkable stat was why I took special note today when Hartford starter Kyle Freeland got Andrew swinging.
Andrew played centerfield flawlessly. He has good speed and good range. He had his 4th steal today.
Those who read my Portland accounts know that I’m a big fan of Slugger the Portland mascot. Every game he risks humiliation as he gets into a footrace around the bases with a young fan.
Today Slugger had an excellent chance to win. The chosen competition had his hat out of place and an uncertainty about where to go after each base. Maybe it was the heat, but Slugger collapsed with a pretty good lead rounding first heading for home. Down he went in a heap.
Now this is important: A stunned Slugger was down-and-out as his young competitor crossed home. Did the kid gloat as some of them have after winning? Not this kid. Classy all the way. He went over to see if Slugger was okay and helped him up. Fine young man! You don’t mind losing to someone like that.
A pleasant surprise for me today was being asked to take a picture of Sea Dogs’ first baseman Ryan Court and his family. The parents are visiting from Illinois. Ryan was drafted by Arizona in 2011. He was in the Independent League (Sioux City) last year.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)