Red Sox Prospect Preview: Chad De La Guerra

There are 12 baseball players from Grand Canyon University to have made their MLB debuts. The most famous and successful of them all is longtime Los Angeles Angels outfielder Tim Salmon. The next Lope to add his name to the list may just be Chad De La Guerra.

Chad De La GuerraThe infielder is the Boston Red Sox’s No. 25th ranked prospect by hitting a career-high slash line of .283/.361/.437. He was eligible for four straight MLB Drafts from 2011-14; first as a high school senior in California, as a Junior College freshman, then as a sophomore in College of the Canyons (also in Calif.) and finally as a junior in the Phoenix-based GCU, but went unselected each year.

At GCU, De La Guerra won the Western Athletic Conference batting title with a .373 average in 2014. He went on a 24-game hitting streak during his senior season in 2015. He finally got the respect he was looking for and was rewarded by the Red Sox with a $5,000 signing bonus and a 17th round selection.

De La Guerra struggled during his first two seasons in pro ball, hitting only .265 for the Lowell Spinners in 2015 and .250 for the Greenville Drive in 2016. Fracturing his lower leg that season didn’t help much either. After a career year between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland, there’s hope for more this season.

Is De La Guerra The Next Brock Holt?

De la Guerra spent most of last season at shortstop as a way to expand towards a utility role. He also saw action at third base in the Arizona Fall League. He has demonstrated to be a capable and steady defender with sure hands but an average arm.

De la Guerra is clearly working towards a niche as the next Eduardo Nunez, a utility infielder who can land a starting role if he can hit for high average. If he ever learned to play in the outfield, he could also become the next Brock Holt. Holt was an All-Star in 2015 and could hit for average no matter where he played on the diamond. So that would be a good place to strive for.

De la Guerra will be starting the season in Triple-A Pawtucket, along with Sam Travis and Tzu-Wei Lin.

Sea Dog’s Nick Lovullo And Tate Matheny Just Like Their Old Man-ager

Infielder Nick Lovullo and center fielder Tate Matheny moved up the ladder to the Portland Sea Dogs. They’re also the sons of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo. The Cardinals played the Diamondbacks during their home opener this season, which served as the one time the two teammates had opposing rooting interests.

Matheny played in the big leagues for 12 years. As a catcher for the Cardinals, he was on the other side of the Red Sox’s historic World Series victory in 2004. He took over the managerial position in 2012 after Tony La Russa led the Cardinals to a World Series title in 2011 just before retiring. Just a year later, Matheny and Lovullo were on opposing dugouts during the 2013 World Series. Lovullo was Boston’s bench coach for manager John Farrell’s staff. He followed Farrell to Fenway after two years in Toronto as the first base coach.

For Lovullo, the Blue Jays job followed a decade long coaching career in the minor leagues. Nick was a freshman on the Holy Cross baseball team the year his father celebrated winning the World Series at Fenway Park. In Lovullo’s last season as the Red Sox’s bench coach, Nick was starting his professional career with the Lowell Spinners 30 miles north of Boston.

2016: The Year of Two Lovullo Pros

2016 was a special year for the Lovullos, as Torey would go see Nick play short season Single-A ball in Lowell and Nick would then be in attendance for the Red Sox’s post season series against the Cleveland Indians. Torey got to see Nick get his first hit as a pro on Father’s Day.

“Lowell will always have a special place in my heart,” Nick said.

The Arizona managerial job was a dream come true for the senior Lovullo. Nick split his time last season as a Red Sox minor leaguer and Diamondback fanatic.

“It was pretty special, he said. “Knowing that when he got done playing, that was his goal. His dream was to become a Major League manager. I saw firsthand on how hard he worked.”

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.

Red Sox Top Prospect Michael Chavis Suspended 80 Games

MLB has announced that Boston Red Sox top prospect Michael Chavis has suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a prohibited performance-enhancing substance, dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.Michael Chavis

Chavis was coming off a career-high 31 home runs last season split between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. Before 2017, his career total for home runs was 25, which spanned over three seasons.

An oblique injury kept Chavis from showcasing his ability against Major League pitching in spring training. He is still on the disabled list. Once he returns from his suspension, he is expected to start in Portland and finish in Pawtucket.

Michael Chavis Was Expected To Become The Next Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers started last season in Portland and finished at the hot corner for the Red Sox in the ALDS. Since then, wondering eyes have shifted towards the Sea Dogs expecting another prospect to emerge as a rookie phenom. Chavis has positioned himself to be the Devers of this year after hitting more home runs than any other Red Sox minor leaguer.

Chavis can generate a lot of bat speed through his natural strength. What makes him special is he doesn’t have to use his full power to launch balls over the fence. He has also been able to hit for average once he stopped trying to pull everything out for a homer.

With third base blocked by Devers, Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland taking up first base and J.D. Martinez locking up the DH spot, the plan this season might be to move Chavis to second base.  At that position, he could develop into a Jedd Gyorko/Dan Uggla type.

It wouldn’t be a new experience for Chavis, who was a shortstop in high school before making the switch to third base at the beginning of his pro career. As a high school senior in Marietta, GA, Chavis paved his path to the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft with power. by winning the home run derby at the 2013 Perfect Game All-American Classic and by batting .580 with 13 homers in 28 games.

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.

 

Fisher Cats Outlast Sea Dogs in Slugfest

Manchester, NH – The New Hampshire Fisher Cats (35-55) scored six runs in the first inning and never looked back, defeating the Portland Sea Dogs (42-45), 15-8, Friday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The series is now tied at one game apiece.

Northeast Delta Dental Stadium

Lourdes Gurriel and Harold Ramirez, who each had 4 RBI, led New Hampshire’s 18-hit attack. LHP Shane Dawson (2-9) worked five innings on nine hits and six runs (four earned) to notch the win.
Mike Olt reached base five times for Portland, nailing a two-run double during a 3-run first inning for Portland. New Hampshire sent 10 to the plate in the first, scoring six times off Trey Ball (L, 3-8).  Ball lasted 1+ on nine hits and eight runs, suffering his second loss this month.
Ramirez extended New Hampshire’s lead to 8-3 with a two-run single off Jake Drehoff in the second.  The Fisher Cats added four runs on five hits in the fourth inning off Drehoff.
Portland scored five unanswered runs, and scored seven runs with two outs. In the fifth, Jeremy Barfield led off with a towering homer, his ninth of the season. The ‘Dogs added two runs on a shortstop’s error and a bunt-single from Danny Mars (3-for-6). Cole Sturgeon brought the ‘Dogs within four runs with a two-run double.
New Hampshire put the game away in the seventh, scoring three times off Luis Ysla.
Kender Villegas worked the final three innings on just one hit to earn his first save of the season.

Finishing Up in The Granite State

The Sea Dogs and New Hampshire Fisher Cats play a doubleheader on Saturday night beginning at 6:05 PM from Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. RHP Elih Villanueva and RHP Taylor Grover start for Portland. New Hampshire has RHP Francisco Rios in the opener and TBA for the second game. Radio coverage with Mike Antonellis begins at 5:50 PM.
 
Tickets for Portland’s next homestand on July 17-23 can be purchased at 207-879-9500 and seadogs.com. Press release courtesy of the Portland Sea Dogs.