After starting out 5-0, the Portland Sea Dogs have been forced to only play six games. Likewise, they have not played a game since last Tuesday, in which they defeated Binghamton 2-0. Weather has not been a friend to the Sea Dogs, causing many changes to the game schedule.
Games previously set for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were postponed. The first two were away match-ups versus the Rumble Ponies while Friday’s match-up was the first of three against the Trenton Thunder. It was also set to be the start of a six-game homestand. The postponement was Portland’s second moved home game of the year. They were previously forced to move the Opening Day game against Reading.
They got the chance to resume their schedule Saturday when they played a doubleheader beginning at 1 pm. Both games were against Trenton.
Portland Sea Dogs Modified Game Schedule
According to the Sea Dogs website, “tickets for Friday’s postponed game may be exchanged for tickets of equal or lesser value to any remaining 2017 Sea Dogs home game, subject to availability. Any questions regarding rained out tickets can be directed towards the Sea Dogs Ticket Office at 207-879-9500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Sea Dogs played a single-admission doubleheader on Saturday, April 22nd, which consisted of two seven-inning games. Tickets for April 22nd were good for both games of the doubleheader.
The Binghamton road games have been rescheduled to June and August.
Obviously, the Sea Dogs have been hard-pressed to continue what started as a historic season. Thus far, they have relied heavily on superb pitching performances—mainly from Teddy Stankiewicz and Jalen Beeks. Additionally, the Sea Dogs have benefited from the rising stardom of Rafael Devers and Danny Mars.
The grand thing about baseball is that there is usually a tomorrow.
The Sea Dogs split the doubleheader with Trenton on Saturday, 3-0 and 0-5 respectively. On Sunday, they walked off in a 6-5 thriller. Monday, Portland lost to Hartford 5-0. As for Tuesday’s game, it was moved to May 16th at 5:00 due to rain.
After splitting a twin bill on Saturday afternoon, the Portland Sea Dogs entered Sunday’s rubber match with an opportunity to earn the series victory against the Trenton Thunder and take over the #1 slot in the Eastern League.
However, it did not start out looking that way. Early in the game, Trenton got to Portland starter Trey Ball. They scored two runs apiece in the second and fourth inning. In the fifth, Mike Ford doubled for Trenton to bring home Thairo Estrada, extending the lead to 5-0. That would be all for the Sea Dogs tall lefty. He was replaced by Luis Ysla.
As the innings waned, Portland’s bats emerged. In the bottom of the sixth, former Chicago Cub Mike Olt led off the inning with a solo home run. It would be a sign of things to come from the journeyman infielder. Later on, shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin also hit a towering home run; this one down the right field line.
After Heiker Meneses hit into a line drive double-play to end the seventh, Austin Maddox threw a scoreless eighth to keep the game at 5-2. However, the heart of the Sea Dogs order—Olt, Rafael Devers, and Nick Longhi—went down in order in the eighth.
Following another scoreless inning by Sea Dogs reliever, Jamie Callahan, the home team had one final chance to come back and earn the victory. To begin the inning, Lin reached first on an errant throw. Catcher, Jake DePew, then popped out. However, #9 hitter, Joseph Monge, smacked a long 2-run home run down the left field line that barely stayed fair, prompting a visit from Trenton manager. Finally, the top of the order was up with only one out and only a one-run deficit. The speedy Aneury Tavarez doubled on a softly hit ball through the left infield gap. Meneses followed with a single and advanced on a stolen base after a Cole Sturgeon strikeout. This put both the tying and winning run in scoring position with two outs for Mike Olt.
And wasting no time, Olt smashed the ball into right-center field, but it was almost caught by Trenton’s Rashad Crawford. However, the ball fell to the warning track and plated both Meneses and Tavarez, giving Portland the victory.
The fog horn blew and Portland improved to 9-5, giving them sole position of first place in the division. They opened up a series against last-place Hartford on Monday with Jacob Dahlstrand taking the mound.
Since Dave Dombrowski took over the reigns in August of 2015, the Boston Red Sox have traded over a dozen minor league players. While adding “power pitchers” will contribute to team success, one can only look back if a prospect becomes a major league superstar. But there is one prospect who has remained in the farm system throughout the entire tenure. His name is Rafael Devers.
In 2013, the Dominican infielder was signed to his first pro contract and began playing in the Red Sox farm system in early 2014. At the time, Boston already had Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesias, Deven Marrero, Xander Bogaerts, and Garin Cecchini ahead of him on both the organizational depth chart and top prospect lists. (As of today only Bogaerts and Marrero remains on the big-league roster.)
Ascending the Ranks
As his bat developed and some of those players left the system, Devers began to ascend the ranks. By 2014’s end, Devers was already in the conversation for the top five Red Sox prospects. This was during a time when Blake Swihart and Henry Owens were still highly regarded in the minor leagues. Theoretically, the only thing keeping Devers from being major-league ready was his age, physical maturity, and defense.
However, as 2017 begins, Devers finds himself as the #2 prospect in the Red Sox farm system. He started the season with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs and belted a home run in his first at-bat. As of Thursday night, he’s 10-25 with three doubles in addition to the homer. This already surpasses his April hit total from 2016 with Salem.
SoxProspects.com projects Devers as having “All-Star potential regardless of position due to his value at the plate.”
Their report continues to say: “Potential to be a plus hitter for average with plus-to-better power. Fluid, easy swing. Natural hitter. Strong, quick wrists. Future plus hit tool. Easy plus bat speed and an advanced approach for his age. Solid swing mechanics and separation in stride. One of the most exciting young players in the system in years. Mature approach for his age and has shown the ability to handle aggressive assignments. Will stick at third base for the foreseeable future, but if his bat develops as projected, it would profile at first base.”
Considering third base has been a revolving door for the Red Sox, Devers could be the answer at the hot corner. This is especially true when taking into account fellow Red Sox prospect and first baseman Sam Travis. In the meantime, the 20-year-old slugger will continue to dominate with the Eastern League’s best team.
Jantzen Witte had a big day Sunday for the Portland Sea Dogs, going 4 for 5 with a home run, two doubles, three runs batted in and two runs scored, but they were unable to complete the three-game sweep of the Reading Fightin Phils, losing by a final score of 6-5.
Luis Diaz got the start for Portland, lasting 5 2/3 innings while allowing four earned runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out five. The loss is Diaz’s second of the season, bringing his record to 0-2.
The Sea Dogs made things interesting heading into the ninth down 6-3, when Jantzen Witte hit a two-out, two-run double to make the score 6-5. Oscar Tejeda was unable to keep the rally going, however, striking out on three pitches to end the game.
Portland opened the series on Friday with a 3-0 victory, with William Cuevas earning his third win of the season by tossing five shutout innings, allowing only three hits and a walk. Relievers Pat Light and Dyan Diaz combined for four shutout innings in support of Cuevas.
First baseman David Chester got the scoring started for the Sea Dogs in the top of the second inning, drilling a two-run home run to left-center field. They added another run in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly from catcher Luis Martinez.
Justin Haley took the mound for Portland in the middle-game of the series, but left after just 1/3 of an inning with what appeared to be a right groin injury. Simon Mercedes provided strong relief after coming in to replace Haley, allowing just one earned run on three hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings.
After leaving the bases loaded in the first two innings, Keury De La Cruz was able to drive in the first run of the ball game on a single to right field which scored Oscar Tejeda. Portland added three more runs in the eighth, on RBI hits by De La Cruz and Luis Martinez to make the final score 4-1.
The Sea Dogs will head to Binghamton, NY on Monday night for the first time this season to take on the 2014 Eastern League Champion Mets, with the game one of the series scheduled for 6:35 PM.
Photo Credit: Forrest Mulheron Photography