Can Rusney Castillo Make It Back To Boston?

Judging by the look on his face in the locker room down in Pawtucket, it’s easy to assume that Rusney Castillo isn’t really happy there. While a seven-year, $72.5 million contract would likely make most people not care about where they work, staying at the AAA level indefinitely isn’t ideal for any professional ballplayer. Despite hitting above .300 in Pawtucket this season, some still wonder if fans will see Castillo make it back to Boston.

Castillo’s high salary is one of many the Red Sox have given players who haven’t pannedcastillo make out in recent years. In addition to Castillo, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez have cost the Red Sox tens of millions of dollars. The latter two’s value plummeted from a low point when they came to Boston. One would think the Red Sox would want to bring Castillo back ASAP to see if there’s anything else he can contribute.

Part of the problem is that Castillo plays center field. The Boston Red Sox already have an outstanding outfield made up of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Gold Glove Winner Mookie Betts. They also have J.D. Martinez and Blake Swihart that could replace any of those three if they needed to. So there’s no room for Castillo in Boston as an outfielder.

Can Castillo Make It As A DH?

Castillo has filled in as a designated hitter in the past, but again, the Boston Red Sox have this covered. J.D. Martinez is the team’s primary DH this season, and they have Mitch Moreland as a backup if needed.

The Future Looks Bleak For Castillo

Castillo is already in his thirties. This age makes it much more difficult for Castillo to not only come back to Boston but stay there. According to sonsofsamhorn.com, since 1950 only 1,267 players played their first game in the majors at age 27 or older. While Castillo has already made his debut in the majors, the fact that it’s so hard for players 27 and older to break into the majors shows how the odds are stacked against Castillo.

Castillo has no reason to give up, especially given the amount of money he’s being paid. But if he’s feeling isolated in Pawtucket it’s difficult to blame him.

Leadershipof Fenster Extends Beyond the Baseball Field

PORTLAND, ME – This season, the Boston Red Sox promoted Darren Fenster to manage their Double-A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs. Fenster had been the manager of the Low-A Greenville Drive since 2014. Before that, he was a hitting instructor throughout the organization. In 2017, with Fenster at the helm, the Drive finished with the best overall record in the South Atlantic League (79–60) and as winnerFensters of the first-half championship qualified for the playoffs. The team then won its first overall SAL championship in franchise history, defeating Kannapolis in the finals, three games to one. Later, he managed the Peoria franchise of the Arizona Fall League to their championship.

At 39 years-old, he is still younger than a lot of his counterparts across the game. However, the former Rutgers All-American has a plethora of coaching experience that extends beyond the pro ranks and into college and summer ball. These various positions have given him a chance to mentor hundreds of young players.

Likewise, many of Portland’s current players already know Fenster from their previous seasons in the Red Sox system. During his introduction back in the winter, he displayed excitement about reconnecting with some of them and coaching them in a different part of their careers.

And while the season isn’t going as well as hoped on the field, Fenster is still finding additional ways to mentor baseball youth. This time, through his growing social media following and through his own organization, Coaching Your Kids, LLC.

Social Media Influence

The Sea Dogs skipper can be read giving knowledgeable advice to past, current, and future players. These tweets include facets like reliability, coachability, team-building, and skill enhancement. Recently, a tweet about certain team rules nearly went viral.

Similarly, on the day of the MLB Draft, Fenster opined on the importance of hard work and dedication. Saying:

“Today marks day one of the @MLBDraft. To all those who will hear their name called, congratulations. Now it’s up to you to prove your club right. To all those who won’t hear their name called, you now have the opportunity to prove all 30 clubs wrong. Take advantage of it.”

Beyond social media, Fenster also founded a coaching and baseball education organization for young players called Coaching Your Kids. Their mission is to not only to coach, but in a bigger picture, to spread their passion for and knowledge of the game to the next generations of players, coaches, and fans. In his words, “Today’s players are tomorrow’s coaches.”

So despite the Dogs’ tough sledding on the diamond thus far, there is no question that both Portland and the Red Sox organization have found a true leader in their minor league system, a baseball lifer who truly cares about motivating and mentoring the future of the game. And for Fenster, it is clear that he has a found a cause to which he is passionate about and one that can surely make a difference in players’ lives.

Steve Selsky Rejoins Reds After Released By Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have released outfielder Steve Selsky before the start of the season. Now the outfielder has returned to the Cincinnati Reds organization on a minor league contract.

Selsky made the Red Sox’s Opening Day roster last season, mainly to fill a space left open due to injuries. He went 1-for-9 with a double and five strikeouts in eight games during the first month of the season.

He was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on April 28, 2017, where he spent the rest of the season. The 28-year-old hit .215/.270/.360 with 11 home runs in 322 plate appearances.

A Look Back At Steve Selsky’s Career

The Colorado Rockies were the first team to draft him in 2010. He chose to remain in college. The Cincinnati Reds drafted him out of the University of Arizona in the 33rd round in 2011 after an injury-plagued season with the Wildcats.

Selsky moved up the ladder of the Reds organization and reached Triple-A Louisville in his fourth pro season. 2015 was looking to be the year he was supposed to make his MLB debut, but an injury ended his season early.

Selsky got the big league call-up to Cincinnati on May 20, 2016, in a season where he batted .284 with nine home runs and 37 RBI in 85 games for the Louisville Bats. He batted .314 over 24 games (16-for-51) with the Reds.

The Reds designated Selsky for assignment after the 2016 season to make room on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox claimed him on waivers soon after.

Selsky was known as someone who can hit for average. His highest minor league batting average was .348 over 69 games with the Bakersfield Blaze in 2014. We can all agree that was a nice season.

Unfortunately for Selsky, he wasn’t able to hit for average in Pawtucket. He elected for free agency after the 2017 season but opted to return. There’s a good chance another organization will bring him in. He can certainly help out a Triple-A team.

 

Darren Fenster Enters First Season As Sea Dogs Manager

The Portland Sea Dogs are entering their 25th season in the Eastern League with a new skipper. Darren Fenster is taking over as Portland’s 13th manager and is riding a hot streak.Fenster SeaDogs

Fenster lead the Class A Greenville Drive to the South Atlantic League championship in 2017, his fourth season at the helm. He immediately followed that title run by taking the Peoria Javelinas to the Arizona Fall League championship.

Greenville went 79-60 and overwhelmed the Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox) 3-1. Fenster left with a record of 316-301 (.512). During his four years, Fenster coached current Red Sox stars Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers.

A Look At The Sea Dogs’ Coaching Staff

Fenster reunites with Paul Abbott, who was the pitching coach during his first year at Greenville in 2014. Abbott spent the last three seasons in Single-A Salem Red Sox. He started his coaching career at the short-season Single-A ranks with the Lowell Spinners in 2011.

Abbott spent 11 years in the Major Leagues. His best season was in 2001, where he went 17-4 with an ERA of 4.25 on a Seattle Mariners team that set the American League record with 116 wins. His final year came in 2004, split between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies during Citizens Bank Park’ inaugural season.

Lee May Jr. is the only returning member of the Sea Dogs coaching staff. His first season saw Devers and fellow infielder Tzu-Wei Lin shoot up the big leagues. With top prospect Michael Chavis returning to Portland this season, the third baseman may be the next to go from May to Fenway.

Outfielder Danny Mars has said during Sea Dogs media day that he can do a great impression of May Jr.

Luke Montz joins the Sea Dogs in his first year as a minor league coach. The Montreal Expos drafted Montz in the 17th round of the 2003 MLB Draft and he made his big league debut with the Nationals in 2008. He played a few more games for the Oakland Athletics in the early part of the 2013 season.

Montz was previously the head coach for the Acadiana Cane Cutters of the Texas Collegiate League in 2017.

Sea Dogs Celebrate 25 Years In Portland

The Portland Sea Dogs began in 1994 as the Double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. For the first nine years of their existence, the Sea Dogs housed and groom future members of the Marlins two World Series title teams.

Charles Johnson, Edgar Renteria, Livan Hernandez, Antonio Alfonseca and Luis Castillo went from Portland to helping the Marlins win their first championship in 1997. Josh Becket, Brad Penny, A.J. Burnett, Alex Gonzalez and Mike Redmond followed through with a banner of their own.

While Kevin Millar played for the Sea Dogs during the Marlin era, he joined the Boston Red Sox in 2003. That was also the same year the Red Sox made the Sea Dogs their Double-A affiliate. Miller helped Boston break their title curse in 2004.

While commemorating a quarter century of baseball is certainly a milestone worth celebrating, it took the players by surprise. It wasn’t until he saw the anniversary patch on his brand spanking new cap that outfielder Danny Mars realized this season was going to be special.

“I love Portland,” Mars said. “I’m sure (the Sea Dogs) are going to be around for way more than 25 years.

“Once it warms up,” he said, “the atmosphere gets a little bit nicer. the fans sell out every game and they get loud. It gets rocking. My favorites are the Sunday day games, Sells out every time. It’s always beautiful weather. I don’t think we ever had a Sunday rain out. It’s a great baseball vibe.”

Prospect To Keep An Eye On: Mike Shawaryn

Mike Shawaryn finished his collegiate career as Maryland’s record-holder for single-season and career wins (13 and 30) and strikeouts (138 and 307). He fell out of first round consideration after a down season during his junior year.

Shawaryn got Boston’s attention with a 16-strikeout complete game in the Big Ten Conference tournament. It was his final college start and it was rewarded with a signing bonus worth $637,500. The former fifth round selection ranked ninth among the Red Sox’s top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. 

Shawaryn ranked ninth in the Minors in strikeouts (169) and 11th in strikeout rate (11.3 per nine innings) in his first professional season.

 

Portland Beats Hartford, Slugs Five Home Runs

Portland, Maine – The Sea Dogs (44-50) were propelled by a season-high five home runs, as Portland beats Hartford (44-51) 12-6 in the series opener on Thursday night at Hadlock Field. 

portland beats hartford
The win ended the Sea Dogs’ five-game losing streak and also ended the Yard Goats’ six-game win streak.
 
Hartford got off two a hot start on a solo homer by Max White on the second pitch of the game by Elih Villanueva. Two batters later Drew Weeks homered to make it 2-0 ‘Goats.
 
Portland quickly responded in the bottom of the first on a two-run home run by Chad De La Guerra off of Parker French.
 
Jordan Procyshen hit an opposite-field three-run homer in the second to extend the ‘Dogs lead to 5-2, then Portland brought all nine to the plate in a six-run third.  Mike Olt hit a three-run homer, Procyshen pulled a RBI double down the right field line, then Danny Mars hit a two-run blast to make it 11-2.
 
Parker French (7-8) went 2.2 innings and allowed 11 runs on nine hits.  In two starts against Portland this year, French has allowed eight home runs.
 
Hartford started to climb back, adding a run in the fourth and three more on a home run by Stephen Cardullo in the fifth to cut the deficit to 11-6.
 
Villanueva (4-3) allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings while walking one and striking out five in the victory.  Josh Smith (three innings) and Jake Cosart (one inning) combined to pitch the final four innings and did not allow a hit.
 
Jeremy Barfield hit a solo homer in the sixth off of Troy Nieman to make it a 12-6 ballgame.
 
All nine Sea Dogs had at least one hit.  Olt finished a triple shy of the cycle while De La Guerra, Barfield, and Procyshen each had two hits apiece.

The Road Ahead

 Portland and Hartford play a doubleheader Friday at Hadlock Field, first pitch in game one is scheduled for 5:00 PM.
Radio coverage on the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network begins at 4:45 PM. MiLB.TV starts at 4:55 PM.