Monday, April 18, 2016

Portland Sea Dogs Trip: Cousin Jason's Recap

The Double-A affiliate of the Sox opened their home schedule on April 14th. Cousin Jason with his kids in tow took in the first Friday nigh of the season at Hadlock Field. Thanks to Slugger's Reading Challenge sponsored by the Sea Dogs, the free tickets earned by Cole and Cooper were the impetus for this early season trip to see the Dogs and their opponents, the Hartford Yard Goats. Which begs the question what exactly is a Yard Goat? Thanks to the future Colorado Rockies and the future Sox, the Cousin's were treated to nearly 2 full games worth of action, as the game lasted 17 innings tying the franchise record. Unfortunately the Goats pushed 3 across in the top of the 17th to take the 5-2 win. You can blame this one on the Cousin's if you want as we left after the 16th so we could get the boys home before midnight, Cole did have Little League practice on Saturday morning after all. After a quick pit stop at Dunkin' Donuts to get beverages for the trip north we managed to make it back to Pittsfield around 11:30. Interestingly in doing some research on the Yard Goats I found that they are going to play at Dunkin' Donuts Park once it is complete. The other thing to note from this is that we took in 16 innings of baseball and still got home before midnight. The 6:00 start helped but more importantly the first 5 innings were played in an hour. The highlight of the night came when Cole retrieved the foul ball that was rocketed off the bat of Yard Goat 2nd Baseman, Michael Benjamin, onto our backpack in the nearly empty section in front of the Tony C skybox. The Sea Dogs announced the nights attendance as 4,443 but there were not nearly that many people in attendance especially as the innings wore on. Which made for a very relaxed experience for the Cousin's which is perhaps why the boys (mine) were able to last through 16 innings. 

Now onto some thoughts and comments on the action on the field, especially those players in Deacon Art's RSM Top 40 Prospects list. There are several Sea Dog pitchers on Art's list that did not appear in the game but here are links to their stat pages anyways, (#19 Ysla, #21 Buttery, #22 Jerez, and #39 Wilkerson).

I'll begin with Art's #16 prospect, Teddy Stankiewicz, who was the evenings starter. I was quite impressed with Stankiewicz after seeing him in person. The 6'4" righty worked from ahead in the count the entire night, got roundball outs, and induced weak contact for the first 5 innings giving up only an infield single, with a low 90s fastball and a decent curve. In the 6th, Stankiewicz fatigued and gave up back to back hits to start the frame but battled through the inning giving up only a single run. The big righty reminds me a bit of Josh Beckett not only from his delivery but also from his arsenal although Stankiewicz stuff is not as sharp as Beckett's. However, at 22 it is easy to see Teddy as a solid mid to back end of the rotation starter in the big league's. 

Art's #18 prospect is 2nd Baseman Wendell Rijo. As Art mentions, Rijo is only 20 years old as he begins his AA career, which you can see in his discipline at the plate and his ability to work counts. However, as his 8th inning wall ball double proves that he indeed has some pop in his bat, he also came around to score the tying run that sent the game to extra innings. Rijo's work in the field left a mark on this former middle infielder, he was sure handed with an accurate arm. He was not flashy but very solid, especially for a 20 year old playing a couple of levels below the big leagues and at that age with his skill set it is easy to see him in the big leagues before we get to 2020. However, it is probable that Rijo makes it to the bigs with a different franchise given that Dustin Pedroia is signed through 2021 and Yoan Moncada is most certainly ahead of Rijo at 2nd Base. 

Art's #31 prospect is Centerfielder Henry Ramos. As the Deacon mentioned in his post, Ramos has been setback the last 2 seasons by injury, which struck again just 2 days after our visit to Hadlock when the Sea Dogs placed him on the 7-day DL. My impression of Ramos after seeing him was one of meh, he showed a nice arm in CF but nothing about him at the plate stood out to me. Here's hoping that he can get healthy and prove me wrong as he is still only 24.

Art's #32 prospect is reliever Chandler Shepherd. After seeing Shepherd hurl 3 sterling innings in relief (innings 9-11), it is easy to see why he was expected to be drafted higher than the 13th round in 2014. He showed excellent command, a low to mid 90's fastball and an very nice changeup in giving up one hit and striking out 5. Shepherd is a name to watch as he could quickly move up the Deacon's rankings and even in the organization itself. 

Three names not on the Deacon's rankings that I want to make mention of as Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin, Third Baseman Jantzen Witte, and Reliever Heri Quevedo. I'll start with Witte, which you can see from his profile has been called up to Pawtucket thanks to this hot start with the bat in the Eastern League, despite going hitless in our visit. He did draw a walk, showed good plate discipline, and was smooth in the field. I bet Manager Carlos Febles wishes he hadn't run for Witte in the bottom of the 9th as he replacement Jose Vincio came up empty in a couple of plate appearances later in the game.  At 26, Witte may be beyond prospect status but could be a MLB role player before it is all said and done. Quevedo is also probably not in the prospect range but he did throw 5 innings in relief after Shepherd and despite being in plenty of trouble in the 12th and 13th he managed to keep the Sea Dogs in the game thanks to a game-tying run in the bottom of the 13th from Lin. Quevedo also threw the aforementioned pitch that Cole got his foul ball on. Of all the non-pitchers for the Sea Dogs, I left most impressed with the Taiwanese shortstop. Lin put up 8 solid at-bats in this marathon and had 3 hits a run and RBI to show for it. More so I was impressed with the arm and glove of the shortstop, again he was sure-handed and showed a strong arm. He also made several fine plays charging in on grounders. In this Sox fan's opinion this is another name to watch as he could make it onto the Deacon's rankings, if not the organizational ladder as his progress is blocked by Xander Bogaerts with the Sox and Devin Marrero in Pawtucket. A name from the Goats that deserves a mention is Catcher Jackson Williams. Hitting out of the 8 hole, Williams went 4 for 7 with 2 doubles, 2 runs scored, and 3 RBI. At 29, Williams is certainly not a prospect and probably will not make it to the majors but he was the lynchpin for the Goats victory on Friday night with one big hit after another. In fact, Williams was called up to AAA Albuquerque the very next day.

Overall, this was a great trip to Portland on a cool April night and left the Cousin's ready for a return trip later this season.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the summary of your night at Hadlock field with the boys and I also enjoyed your live tweets from that night! Good information on some of the Red Sox fringe prospects like Teddy Stanks, Rijo, Ramos and Lin. Lin was signed out of Taiwan at age 18 as a pretty highly touted player. He's certainly worth continuing to keep an eye on.

    These prospects at Portland will soon be joined by some of the best prospects in all of baseball. Benintendi, Moncada and Mauricio Dubon (not in the same class as the first two) could all be called up to Portland by June. Hopefully they'll be there by June 25th when I take my kids to their first Sea Dogs game!