Sea Dogs Manage Four-Game Split With Trenton Thunder

Portland Sea Dogs

After two straight wins, the Portland Sea Dogs dropped the series finale to the Trenton Thunder by the score of 8-2 on Sunday, giving them a split in the four-game series at Hadlock Field.

Justin Haley was handed his third loss on the young season, as he failed to getSea Dogs through the fifth inning after allowing six earned runs on eight hits, including two home runs, and four walks, bringing his ERA on the season to 9.42.

Keury De La Cruz, who was playing in his first contest in over a week after suffering a leg injury, provided the lone offense for the Sea Dogs. After back-to-back singles by Jantzen Witte and Oscar Tejeda, De La Cruz drove them both in with a fly ball double to left field.

One bright spot in the series came on Friday, when the Sea Dogs were able to hand the New York Yankees number one prospect, Luis Severino, the worst loss of his Double-A career, after tagging him with six runs, three of them earned, on eight hits and three walks over five innings.

They were able to chase Severino in the bottom of the sixth inning, after he committed a throwing error on a Jonathan Roof bunt with two men on which allowed a runner to score, then gave up an RBI single to Sea Dogs’ right fielder Kevin Heller. The Sea Dogs added an RBI single by second basemen Carlos Asuaje in the inning, followed by a two-run double off the bat of left fielder Oscar Tejeda.

Portland added three more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and won by a final score of 10-2.

The Sea Dogs will host last year’s Eastern League champions, the Binghamton Mets, for a three-game series at Hadlock Field beginning at 6:00 PM on Monday night. The New England Patriots Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler, will be in attendance, throwing out the first pitch, as well as signing autographs and taking pictures.

Justin Haley Looking to Build on 2014 Campaign With Sea Dogs

Justin Haley

23-year old Justin Haley looked impressive in his six starts with the Portland Sea Dogs last season, going 3-2 with a 1.19 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings pitched. He earned a win in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs against the Binghamton Mets, firing six scoreless innings while allowing only five hits and a walk, striking out eight.

Although his time in Portland last season was brief, he was able to learn a few tJustin Haley hings from Red Sox top pitching prospects, Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez, that he’s looking to apply this season.

“Being able to watch guys go out and throw, go out and compete, keep their composure, I think that’s going to be the greatest thing I learned from some of the veteran guys.” he told Yawkey Way Report. “Just keeping your composure under pressure and being able to shrug off a bad outing, or maybe a bad inning, and go out there and dominate the next one.”

Although Portland was unable to advance out of the first round of the Eastern League playoffs last season, after winning a franchise-best 88 games and graduating 14 players to Triple-A Pawtucket, Haley attributed some of last year’s success to the Red Sox organization’s emphasis on player development and creating a winning atmosphere.

“Every guy in the clubhouse wants to win; win a championship every year and it boils down to winning every game, we go out there every night trying to win,” he said.

“It inspires me. We have a great organization. One that uses guys and really develops guys, I think is a big part of it. Being able to see yourself at that next level really helps, seeing guys be successful at that level, it helps you be able to focus and know that you can make it that far.”

Although inspired by the thought of pitching at the next level, Haley has not let that idea distract him from staying focused on the job at hand.

“Those thoughts don’t help me pitch. I am in the game of throwing strikes, that’s what I do, that’s what I stick to, and that’s what’s going to make me successful. Anything else is just noise.”

Currently ranked the 35th top prospect by SoxProspects.com, Haley has struggled in his first two starts for Portland this season. The Sacramento, CA native owns a 0-1 record with a 7.11 ERA while allowing a .333 opponent batting average. The Sea Dogs hope he can build on what he learned from Johnson and Rodriguez last season, shrugging off his less-than-stellar start and getting back to being the effective pitcher he has been in the past.

Predicting Mookie Betts’ Future Numbers

Mookie Betts

It’s often foolish to make predictions about young players with a paucity of big league experience, but anybody who has watched the opening salvo of Mookie Betts’ career knows just how much the kid makes you dream.

Barely sixty games into his enthralling Red Sox tenure, the 22-year old Betts has already left a significant footprint in Boston sports lore. For instance, last August, he became the youngest Red Sox player to hit a Grand Slam in 49 years. Similarly, just last week, he became the team’s youngest Opening Day lead off hitter since Rico Petrocelli in 1965, and its youngest Opening Day center fielder since Tony Conigliaro in 1964. Moreover, Betts’ bomb off of Cole Hamels made him the third-youngest player ever to homer for the Red Sox in a sMookie Bettseason opener. Quite simply, he’s doing things which very few people his age have ever done, setting the tone for the fabled Red Sox and garnering nationwide attention.

But, more than that, Mookie is chasing history, thanks to an awe-inspiring start that has the baseball universe wondering just how far this precociously talented starlet may go. Accordingly, it’s only appropriate that we have a little fun with the numbers, and try to project, moving forward, what records Betts may break, and where his career may wind up, in a historical context.

Right now, through the first 59 games of his Major League career, Mookie has a .281/.355/.446 slash line, with 63 hits, 14 doubles, 7 home runs, 26 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 24 walks and 38 runs scored. By extrapolating that performance to represent a typical 162-game season, we see that Betts will, on average, produce 173 hits, 38 doubles, 19 home runs, 71 RBI, 27 stolen bases, 66 walks and 104 runs scored per year, numbers which ought to garner him a smattering of MVP votes.

However, the real fun begins when we expand that baseline seasonal output to represent a 15-year career. For instance, if he played fifteen full seasons at the present rate, Mookie would wind up with 2,595 hits, 570 doubles, 285 home runs, 1,065 RBI, 405 stolen bases, 990 walks and 1,560 runs scored. Presuming he stayed with the Red Sox for life, those numbers would place him 3rd, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 1st, 5th and 3rd in franchise history in the aforementioned, respective categories.

Yet, due to his early arrival in the Major Leagues as a 21-year old, Betts figures to have a legitimate opportunity to play more than fifteen full seasons. Thus, for arguments sake, let’s extrapolate his average baseline numbers to encompass twenty full big league seasons. The results? A remarkable 3,460 hits, 760 doubles, 380 home runs, 1,470 RBI, 540 stolen bases, 1,320 walks and 2,080 runs scored. That’s more home runs than Joe DiMaggio, more RBI than Mark McGwire, more stolen bases than Ichiro Suzuki, and more hits than Honus Wagner, Willie Mays and Tony Gwynn.

Of course, I’m aware the math is more than a little flawed, and, yes, I know it’s highly unlikely that Betts’ career will follow such a linear track. But, just for a moment, as he blazes a trail through the American League, it’s tremendous fun to marvel at the numbers and daydream about the potential. According to the somewhat skewed, yet nonetheless entertaining, projected career stats, right now, in Mookie Betts, the Sox have a cornerstone player with Jeter’s stroke, Manny’s patience, Rice’s power, Bonds’ speed, and Vlad Guerrero’s clutch production, which begs one question: who on Earth would trade all that for Cole *Bleeping* Hamels?

Will We See Brian Johnson in the Majors This Season?

Brian Johnson

After one of the more impressive seasons for a Red Sox minor league pitcher in recent memory, Brian Johnson has continued to impress many with his Spring Training performance.

Johnson added another effective start to his Grapefruit League resume last Sunday afternoon (March 29) at JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers, FL, tossing four innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits and three strikeouts.

“I think this has been a very productive spring for him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell toldBrian Johnson Sean McAdam of Comcast Sportsnet. “He has certainly helped his cause here. He’s has a very good mound presence, good poise. He’s attacked the strike zone and he works as a very quick pace. Sometimes that gets the better of him, where he might rush into some pitches. But he’s shown very well.”

The only glaring number for Johnson is his eight walks in just 15 1/3 innings, which equates to 4.7 walks per nine innings.

“He’s a guy who’s typically has good command of the strike zone,” Farrell said. “A couple of times during the course of his outings, there’s been some base-on balls that have lead off an inning that result in a run.”

Despite a lack of command at times, it has not wavered the 24-year old first round draft pick’s confidence.

“I’m confident with any pitch in any count,” Johnson told Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com. “I threw a couple 2-2 changeups, 3-2 cutters and 3-2 curveballs today. Didn’t always work out, but I’m confident when I throw it.”

Johnson is coming off a season in which he was voted the Boston Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year, as well as earning a runner-up finish to fellow teammate, Henry Owens, in the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Voting. Johnson finished 2014 with a 13-3 record with a 2.13 ERA in 25 starts between AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket.

Baseball America Votes Red Sox Minor League Second Best

minor league

The Boston Red Sox have been voted as having the second best farm system in the major leagues with seven of the top-100 MLB prospects, according to Baseball America. The Chicago Cubs topped the list, with six top-ten prospects in the MLB’s top-100.

Leading the top prospects for the Red Sox is newly acquired Cuban shortstop, Yoan Moncada. Boston officially inked the international free-agent earlier in the month to a minor minor leagueleague contract and a $31.5 million signing bonus. Because the Red Sox had already gone over their allotment of international bonus money with the signing of fellow Cuban, Rusney Castillo, Boston was forced to pay a 100 percent tax, bringing the total cost closer to $63 million.

Second on the list is 22-year old Blake Swihart, who is considered the top catching prospect in all of baseball. Swihart spent 2014 between AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket, where he hit .293/.341/.469 with 13 home runs and 64 runs batted in, while throwing out 46% of attempted base stealers. Despite Boston’s starting catcher Christian Vazquez beginning the 2015 season on the 60-day disabled list, Swihart is still projected to start the year with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.

The Red Sox top pitching prospect, Henry Owens, ranks third on the list, just ahead of fellow southpaws Eduardo Rodriguez (5) and Brian Johnson (6). Owens was voted the 2014 Eastern League Pitcher of the year in 2014, after going 14–4 with a 2.60 ERA and striking out 126 batters, before being promoted to Pawtucket in early August.

Brian Johnson was voted runner-up to Owens in the 2014 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year voting, after being promoted to Portland in early May, and going 10-2 with a 1.75 ERA, 0.932 WHIP, allowing only six home runs over 20 starts for the Sea Dogs.

Other notable names on the list include outfielder Rusney Castillo (4), third baseman Rafael Devers (7), outfielder Manuel Margot (8), pitcher Matt Barnes (9) and shortstop Deven Marrero (10).

Mookie Betts Taking More Aggressive Approach at the Plate

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts has easily been the biggest story of Spring Training for the Boston Red Sox, in large part due to his more aggressive approach at the plate as of late.

In 14 Spring Training games thus far, Betts is hitting .452/.477/.857, good for an astounding 1.334 OPS. The 22-year old infielder-turned-outfielder has collected seven doubles, two triples, two home runs and five runs batted in.Mookie Betts

What number stands out the most, however, is only two base on balls.

“[Major league] pitchers are just around the zone more. I feel like you have to swing a little more. You can’t go up there taking,” Betts shared with Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. “I kind of learned last year that you can’t go up there taking. You’ve got to be ready to swing it. That’s how [Derek] Jeter got 3,000 hits. He wasn’t up there taking.”

“That’s kind of why my approach is a little more aggressive than it used to be, which is all right. I feel like it works both ways — it cuts down on strikeouts and it may cut down on walks, but that’s OK. I’ll take [walks] when they come, like today.”

The new offensive approach seems to be working brilliantly for Betts, who at one point this spring had more extra base hits than any player in the Grapefruit League.

“I think [the more aggressive approach] just kind of just developed over last year, especially against [major league] pitchers,” Betts said. “They’re kind of in the zone with everything. I feel like if you go up there taking, you’ll be 0-2 in the blink of an eye.”

“It’s not something that I think about. It’s just something that’s naturally been an adjustment, the same way I always say – I feel like I just make natural adjustments.”

The ability to make those adjustments on the fly should pay huge dividends for Betts, as he prepares for his first full season in the majors. In 52 games in 2014, Betts hit .291/.368/.444 with five home runs, 18 runs batted in, seven stolen bases and 21 walks.