Altoona Curve Grab the Series Finale Over the ‘Dogs

Altoona, PA – The Altoona Curve (35-29) scored four times in the fourth inning and Alex McRae (5-2) hurled seven innings, defeating the Portland Sea Dogs (29-32), 7-1 on Thursday afternoon at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Altoona Curve

McRae tossed seven innings on four hits, one run and fanned five, earning his first career win against Portland. LHP Trey Ball (1-6) suffered the loss, yielding eight hits and five runs over four innings pitched.

The Curve snapped a 1-1 tie with a four-run second against Ball. Zane Chavez snapped a 1-1 tie with a run-scoring single. Kevin Newman and Edwin Espinal added RBI hits in the frame. Altoona scored two in the eighth on a two-run homer by Jerrick Suiter.

The Altoona Curve took a 1-0 lead in the second inning against Ball. Kevin Newman delivered an RBI infield single, but Ball got out of the inning with a double play.

Rafael Devers tied the game in the fourth inning with a solo-homer to right field. Devers set a new career-high with his 12th homer, which leads the team.

LHP Jake Drehoff worked three scoreless in relief of Ball, allowing one hit and fanning two.

The Road Ahead

The Sea Dogs open up a three-game series on Friday night against the Akron RubberDucks (Indians affiliate) at Canal Park. RHP Jacob Dahlstrand (5-1, 5.79) makes his 13th appearance for the ‘Dogs in the series opener.  LHP Matt Whitehouse (2-3, 3.40) gets the starting nod for Akron. First pitch from Ohio is 7:00 PM.

Listen live on the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network beginning at 6:55 PM and watch on MiLB.TV starting at 6:55 PM.

Tickets for Portland’s next homestand on June 23-29 are available at seadogs.com or 207-879-9500.

Jalen Beeks Continues Eastern League Dominance

In a farm system notorious for developing young players, southpaw Jalen Beeks now finds himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. At age 23, the 5’11” hurler has done nothing but produce since joining the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.jalen beeks

Like Andrew Benintendi, Beeks attended Arkansas. While a Razorback, Beeks also excelled, boasting a 1.07 WHIP and a 1.98 ERA in 81.2 IP his senior year. This impressive performance followed an elbow injury his junior year.

He was drafted in the 12th round in 2014. He played two-and-a-half seasons of rookie ball and A-ball. Beeks was called up to Portland in July 2016 and finished the season 5-4 with a 4.68 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched. This was after going 4-4 in 13 starts with a 3.07 ERA for High-A Salem.

But this season, he has been nothing but dominant. In seven starts, Beeks is 5-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched. He’s averaging almost six innings per start and 1.2 strikeouts per inning. And if it wasn’t for one start against Trenton back in April, Beeks would be 5-0 with an ERA of 0.51.

Baseball Mechanics and Jalen Beeks

Scouts look to his mechanics as a way to marginalize hitters. SoxProspects.com’s scouting report says Beeks “throws from the first-base side of the rubber. High three-quarters arm slot and stiff delivery with a lot of moving parts. Utilizes a high leg kick, then trunk twist and pause as he rocks back before coming forward. He also has an arm hook behind and lands stiff on his front side.”

When combined with Trey Ball and Teddy Stankiewicz, Beeks solidifies Portland’s rotation as one of the best in the Eastern League. The three starters have combined for a 2.91 ERA this season, and have led Portland in an already tight division race.

As for Beeks, however, his performance thus far is nothing short of spectacular. And while the Red Sox may call on Triple-A journeyman for rotation help, the young lefty could soon be called up to Pawtucket.

The pride of Prairie Grove, AR will strive to continue his dominance of the Eastern League.

Teddy Stankiewicz Emerges As Sea Dogs Ace

In 2013, Teddy Stankiewicz was drafted in the 2nd round by the Boston Red Sox, one round after fellow Portland Sea Dogs teammate Trey Ball. He played college ball at Seminole State and finished his senior year with a 2.52 ERA upon being drafted. stankiewiczPreviously, he had been drafted by the Mets in 2012.

Stankiewicz began his career in the Red Sox organization in 2013 with Lowell, where he recorded a 2.29 ERA at the age of 19. Over the next three years, Stankiewicz progressed through the ranks, spending a year at Greenville, Salem, and Portland respectively.

However, the first season in Portland was not as planned. In 2016, the 6’4’ righty went 5-9 with a 4.71 ERA in 25 starts. It was his third consecutive season with 25+ starts. That kind of consistency has been key to his progression through the minor leagues.

At one point, Stankiewicz was among SoxProspect.com’s Top 20 but has since fallen out of that list due to the constant income and outcome of prospects in the system.

But sometimes it’s the unsung heroes that contribute significantly.

So far in 2017, Stankiewicz has two no-decisions but has 13 innings pitched in two starts, a 2.77 ERA, and a 1.38 walk per nine innings ratio. Although teams spray hits against Stankiewicz, he has a 1.08 WHIP.

Stankiewicz’s Makeup

His stuff isn’t unhittable, but it gets the job done. He has a slider at about 81-84 MPH and a change-up at 84-86. His curve ball has an 11-5 break and can be thrown anywhere in the count to steal strikes. The fastball tops out in the low-to-mid 90’s and prevents him from walking hitters. Overall, he is confident on the mound and definitely has room for growth.

SoxProspects.com summarizes that Stankiewicz has the “Potential to be an emergency spot starter or long relief type. Won’t be flashy, but will throw strikes and utilize four-pitch mix to get outs. If [his] command doesn’t improve and secondary pitches don’t develop, will have to move to the bullpen. Lacks an above-average offering, which limits upside. Fastball and slider combination shows [the] most potential. Understands how to pitch. Strong makeup.”

Even though the Red Sox will obviously resort to Henry Owens or Brian Johnson before him for spot starts, Stankiewicz has emerged as the ace of the Double-A club. If he continues to improve his stuff and keep the ERA down, he could find himself in Pawtucket.

Pat Light Spotless Early On For PawSox

Last week when Pat Light got the call-up the the PawSox from Portland, many expected, myself included him to take over the closer role for the PawSox. After all Light has been seen this season hitting 100 mph on his fast ball on the occasion and that is something that will miss bats in the late innings, especially in the minor leagues.

So far in two out of his three appearances with the PawSox he has collected saves, both Pat Lightcoming against Toledo during last weekends home stand at McCoy Stadium. His lone other appearance, coming Tuesday night in Charlotte wasn’t something to shy away from either as it only took him 8 pitches to get through the inning including a strike out.

Matt Barnes was recently optioned to the PawSox, after his free fall in last weekends series against the Blue Jays, and he can also bring the heat. Barnes, much like Light was a starter until this season and both could play huge dividends for future Red Sox teams out of the bullpen. Barnes and Light will likely split the closer duties for the PawSox with Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross now up with Boston.

There is no question about the talent of Light, as he was drafted in the first round, three years ago. It just took a little while for the Sox to find a good position for him. Trey Ball, 2013 first round pick is going through the same trouble. The goal for any pitcher starter or reliever is to miss bats and get outs. In his three appearances with the PawSox he has yet to allow a base runner in three innings of work while collecting 4 strikeouts.

Time will tell how long Pat Light can keep this streak going, but for a pitcher who had not appeared in a game above AA before this season, Light looks to be on the fast track to the big leagues.

Trey Ball Turning Things Around Despite Early Struggles

trey ballEssentially, if a player is drafted within the first ten picks in the MLB draft, then everyone expects that player to be a star. Last year, the Boston Red Sox scored a seventh overall pick—a pick which they used to snag Trey Ball. Ball was a talented two-way player in high school, dominating at the plate and at the mound, making him a viable option to be chosen that early in the draft. Many early picks have a cakewalk through the minor leagues; for Ball so far that has not been the case — until lately.
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Being from the north did not help his pro career start off on the right foot, especially when he was playing against teams filled with guys from all around warm climates who can practice more often. In seven innings of Gulf Coast League action, he surrendered seven runs, five of which were earned. Skipping short-season Lowell, Boston tested Ball by placing him in the low-A South Atlantic League. Ball got roughed up a bit, but the potential was there. By the end of June, he owned a 7.27 ERA.

Since July 1st, Ball has been pitching much better. In 42 2/3 innings of work, he owns a 2.53 ERA while walking 16 and punching out 29. This is a huge improvement over his outings earlier this season. Another positive note—in his last nine outings he has only let up one home run.
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Right now the 20-year-old is still getting a feel for pro ball, but is adjusting nicely. An athletic lefty, the sky is the limit for Ball,  who could potentially be the next ace of the Boston Red Sox. He is pitching much better than his record shows and next year will be the year everyone sees it. In Salem next year, expect Ball to have a breakout year much like Henry Owens did last year. The two have great stuff, but lack an overpowering fastball. Command is what really matters which is something the pair has down better than most prospects. All Ball needs to do now is keep up what he is doing, and end this season on a high note.

Boston Red Sox Draft High School Shortstop Michael Chavis

michael chavis MLB 2014 draft pick

After winning the World Series in 2013, the Boston Red Sox did not have nearly as high of a pick as they did the season before. In 2013, Boston had the 7th overall pick of the draft and they selected Trey Ball, a high school pitcher with tremendous potential from Indiana. This year, the Red Sox first pick was pick number 26, and Boston took the same approach taking Michael Chavis, a shortstop from Marietta, Georgia.
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Chavis, 18, is a very athletic guy and has the potential to be a true five tool player. He tore up his high school competition, as all draft picks do, hitting .557 in 31 games while boasting a .645 OBP. For a guy at shortstop, Chavis’ power is impressive as he clubbed 13 home runs. Though no stolen base numbers are available, his 6.68 second 60 yard dash implies he could steal some bases.

Unfortunately for Chavis, the future seems dim for him as the Boston Red Sox starting shortstop, but lucky for him he is athletic enough to play a wide variety of positions. Chavis could play anywhere on the field, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up. Perhaps Chavis could end up being a highly valuable, highly versatile player for the Red Sox.
Odds are, Michael Chavis will begin his pro career in the Gulf Coast League for the GCL Red Sox when he does sign his contract given that few high schoolers go straight to the short-season A team, the Lowell Spinners. Chavis will likely start his career as a shortstop and Boston will see how that goes and add some more as time goes on. As far as a signing bonus goes, do not expect Chavis to sign cheap. Committed to Clemson, Chavis could prove to be a tough sign for Boston, who will pool out all sorts of money for his services.
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The Red Sox made a good move with the first pick in their draft. Michael Chavis has a bright future ahead of him and is confident. He compared himself to Dustin Pedroia and showed up to the draft wearing a bow tie, which makes two bold moves on the night. Hopefully he signs with Boston soon to get his career up and going.