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.