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Tuesday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 30, 2013 11:33 AM

Red Sox affliates
12:05 p.m.
Columbus Clippers - Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 16 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox - Rubby De La Rosa (0-0, 9.31 ERA, 8 Ks)

6:35 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs - Brandon Workman (3-0, 3.13 ERA, 28 Ks)
at Reading Fightin' Phils - Seth Rosin (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 17 Ks)

Salem Red Sox - Kyle Stroup (1-1, 3.72 ERA, 15 Ks)
at Wimington Blue Rocks - Kyle Zimmer (0-2, 4.76 ERA, 34 Ks)

New England teams
5:35 p.m.
GAME 1
New Hampshire Fisher Cats - Ryan Tepera (3-0, 2.42 ERA 13 Ks)
at Trenton Thunder - Matt Tracy (1-2, 13.17 ERA, 9 Ks)

GAME 2
New Hampshire Fisher Cats - Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2-3, 3.16 ERA, 26 Ks)
at Trenton Thunder - Caleb Cotham (1-1, 5.29 ERA, 15 Ks)

6:35 p.m.
Harrisburg Senators - Caleb Clay (2-0, 2.70 ERA, 18 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats - Alex Meyer (2-0, 1.64 ERA, 26 Ks)

Garin Cecchini earns Player of the Week nod

Posted by Craig Forde April 29, 2013 12:55 PM

CecchiniSalem.jpgSalem Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini was named the Carolina League Player of the Week on Monday for the period of April 22nd through 28th.

Boston’s top prospect at the hot corner, Cecchini has been on fire at the plate after going hitless in the first two games of the season.

Last week Garin hit safely in all six games that the team played, rattling off five straight two-hit games, including a two triple affair on Saturday. He also drove in 7 runs, scored 10 times and stole a base in his only attempt.

On the year he has a league high .373 batting average and 4 triples. Of Cecchini’s 28 hits, 12 have been for extra bases and he has stolen 8 bags.

More impressively, he has walked (13) more times than he has struck out (12) and he maintains a .466 on-base percentage to go with his 1.106 OPS, which is topped only by teammate Sean Coyle who has a league high 1.159 OPS.

Cecchini was the Red Sox's 2012 Minor League Base Runner of the Year after swiping 51 bases in 2012 and has been named a New York-Penn (2011) and South Atlantic League (2012) All-Stars in his first two professional seasons. This is his first Player of the Week honor.

Monday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 29, 2013 10:00 AM

Red Sox affiliates
4:50 p.m.
GAME 1
Delmarva Shorebirds – Parker Bridwell (1-2, 4.12 ERA, 20 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Austin Maddox (0-2, 6.75 ERA, 15 Ks)

GAME 2
Delmarva Shorebirds – Matt Taylor (1-1, 1.62 ERA, 19 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Frank Montas (0-3, 7.88 ERA, 18 Ks)

6:15 p.m.
Columbus Clippers – Trevor Bauer (1-0, 2.50 ERA, 24 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Steven Wright (1-0, 2.70 ERA, 11 Ks)

6:35 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Brandon Workman (3-0, 3.13 ERA, 28 Ks)
at Reading Fightin’ Phils – Seth Rosin (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 17 Ks)

Salem Red Sox – Henry Owens (0-2, 1.83 ERA, 22 Ks)
at Wilmington Blue Rocks – Kyle Zimmer (0-1, 3.38 ERA, 29 Ks)

NOTES: A washout in Greenville sets up a twin bill today before the Drive (9-14) head out on a 7 game road swing. Austin Maddox will go in game one, his first start since April 16th and first appearance since the 21st when he allowed 4 earned runs and 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings of relief. In game two Frank Montas makes his fourth start of the season having given up 4 earned runs in each of his last three, none of which lasted more than 4 innings. The duo possess two of three worst WHIPs on the team, Maddox is low man with a 2.05…It has been twenty days since Steven Wright last toed the rubber for the PawSox (14-10). He did make his major league debut during that time, although it wasn’t under the best conditions (he did however strike out 4 in 3 2/3 innings). He will surely get another shot in the neat future, hopefully under more apt skies, but tonight Wright squares off against one of the top pitching prospects at McCoy Stadium. Columbus starter Trevor Bauer, the number three selection in the 2011 draft, is ranked as the 17th best overall prospect in the game by MLB.com. In 18 innings pitched he has struck out 24 batters…The Sea Dogs (13-9) shift to Reading, Pennsylvania after taking 2 of 3 from Trenton over the weekend. Brandon Workman will get his fourth start of the season tonight. He has pitched 5 or more inning in each appearance he has made this season, including a 5-inning stint in relief. Workman brings a 0.78 WHIP (3rd best in the Eastern League) and 28 strikeouts (6th best in E.L.) into tonight’s start…Henry Owens got an extra day of rest after yesterday’s postponement and will now pitch a road start instead of at home. He is coming off of his best start of the season against the very Blue Rocks that he will face tonight. In last Tuesday’s outing the 6’6” lefty twirled 6 innings of shutout ball, allowing only 3 hits and a walk while striking out 6. The Salem Red Sox (11-10) took 3 of 4 from Wilmington last week at home.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
Harrisburg Senators – Paul Demny (1-2, 4.57 ERA, 23 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Trevor May (1-1, 2.11 ERA, 23 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Ryan Tepera (3-0, 2.42 ERA, 10 Ks)
at Trenton Thunder – Matt Tracy (1-2, 13.17 ERA, 9 Ks)

NOTES: The Rock Cats (12-11) welcome the Harrisburg Senators to New Britain for a four game series. Tonight’s starter Trevor May is coming off of a complete game (7 innings) shutout of New Hampshire where he allowed only 3 hits and struck out 4. May ran into some early troubles in that outing, but managed to get out of jams while getting stronger as the game wore on. His 2.11 ERA is 8th best in the Eastern League…Ryan Tepera has been a pleasant surprise for the Fisher Cats (11-13) thus far. Having logged 5+ innings in each of his four starts he has picked up 3 wins. In his last outing versus New Britain he tossed 6 innings of one-hit baseball and induced 11 ground ball outs.

Sunday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 28, 2013 03:37 AM

Red Sox affiliates
1:05 p.m.
Columbus Clippers – Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 4.58 ERA, 22 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Terry Doyle (2-0, 1.48 ERA, 19 Ks)

Portland Sea Dogs – Drake Britton (1-2, 3.93 ERA, 18 Ks)
at Trenton Thunder – Francisco Rondon (2-0, 5.21 ERA, 16 Ks)

4:05 p.m.
Lynchburg Hillcats – A.J. Holland (1-1, 4.12 ERA, 20 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Henry Owens (0-2, 1.83 ERA, 22 Ks)

Delmarva Shorebirds – Parker Bridwell (1-2, 4.12 ERA, 20 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Pat Light (1-1, 4.91 ERA, 16 Ks)

New England teams
1:35 p.m.
Richmond Flying Squirrels – Chris Gloor (0-1, 8.56 ERA, 11 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Pat Dean (0-2, 4.35 ERA, 7 Ks)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Tyson Brummett (0-2, 7.50 ERA, 10 Ks)
at Reading Fightin’ Phils – Jesse Biddle (2-1, 2.16 ERA, 30 Ks)

Saturday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 27, 2013 02:44 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:05 p.m.
Columbus Clippers – Joe Martinez (0-2, 3.43 ERA, 9 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Allen Webster (0-0, 0.90 ERA, 12 Ks)

Lynchburg Hillcats – Navery Moore (1-2, 7.27 ERA, 8 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Michael McCarthy (0-0, 3.77 ERA, 12 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Anthony Ranaudo (2-0, 1.15 ERA, 17 Ks)
at Trenton Thunder – Zach Nuding (0-2, 1.83 ERA, 18 Ks)

Delmarva Shorebirds – Brady Waner (2-1, 5.29 ERA, 10 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Brian Johnson (0-1, 2.70 ERA, 3 Ks)

NOTES: The PawSox (13-9) welcome Allen Webster back to the hill following his big league debut this past Sunday. There seem to be a million story lines when the Columbus Clippers pull up to McCoy Stadium for four games. The good is that Jackie Bradley Jr. will make his Pawtucket debut. The bad is Joel Hanrahan who is on a rehab stint and was tagged up for a two-out double and two-run homer in his first appearance last night. The ugly is the arrival of Alfredo Aceves (not scheduled to pitch in this series) who probably won’t hit the clubhouse in the best of moods. And the cherry on top of it all is the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will start for Columbus on Sunday…Michael McCarthy gets his second start for Salem (10-10) who had a three game win streak snapped on Friday night. Third baseman Garin Cecchini, who was the only Salem Sox player with a multi-hit game last night, has collected 2 hits in each of his last four games and has hit safely in five straight…The Sea Dogs (11-9) look to Anthony Ranaudo to continue his hot start. The 6’7” righty is churning out the production that many expected from him when he was a first-round pick in 2010. He has won back-to-back starts and is averaging only 76 pitches over his first three…In his last outing Brian Johnson had some control issues, yielding 5 walks in just 2 2/3 innings. You can chalk it up to a bit of rust after being shut down for two weeks, so expect a better performance now as he continues to gain a rhythm. Greenville (8-14) probably needs to worry more about their bats as the Drive come into the day with a team average of .215, worst in the Eastern League. Four of their everyday players – Mookie Betts (.167), Jose Vinicio (.197), Boss Moanaroa (.200) and Aneury Tavarez (.205) – are in the bottom 20 in the league in batting average.

New England teams
6:05 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Deck McGuire (1-2, 5.73 ERA, 17 Ks)
at Reading Fightin’ Phils – David Buchanan (1-3, 5.56 ERA, 11 Ks)

6:35 p.m.
Richmond Flying Squirrels – Craig Westcott (1-1, 3.63 ERA, 13 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – B.J. Hermsen (0-1, 9.64 ERA, 3 Ks)

NOTES: Prior to the start of the season Deck McGuire was adamant that he become a more consistent pitcher. It looked as if he may be following through on that when he put together back-to-back quality starts. Then he quickly dropped back to square one following a drubbing at the hands of Binghamton who tuned him up for 8 runs on 6 hits and 6 walks. He has one start against Reading this season, his first of the year, when he picked up a loss but struck out a season high 7 batters. The Fisher Cats (10-12) moved to .500 on the road (4-4) with Friday night’s win over the Fightin’ Phils…The Rock Cats (11-10) throw B.J. Hermsen for the second time this season. Outfield Jonathan Goncalvez, who started the season with High-A Ft. Myers where he collected 6 extra-base hits in 11 games, has already picked up 4 extra-base hits since joining the New Britain on April 18th, including 2 home runs.

Friday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 26, 2013 03:32 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Chris Hernandez (0-2, 3.86 ERA, 15 Ks)
at Buffalo Bisons – Claudio Vargas (2-0, 1.59 ERA, 13 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Matt Barnes (1-0, 7.71 ERA, 11 Ks)
at Trenton Thunder – Nik Turley (1-1, 5.89 ERA, 18 Ks)

Lynchburg Hillcats – David Peterson (0-2, 3.07 ERA, 12 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – William Cuevas (1-1, 6.39 ERA, 15 Ks)

Delmarva Shorebirds – Josh Hader (1-1, 2.25 ERA, 12 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Justin Haley (0-2, 2.93 ERA, 19 Ks)

NOTES: After a split of a doubleheader in Buffalo yesterday the PawSox (13-8) are looking to earn a split of both their four game series with the Bisons and their eight-game road trip. Chris Hernandez hits the hill for Pawtucket looking to halt a personal two-game losing streak. The PawSox return home for eight games starting tomorrow when Jackie Bradley Jr. makes his McCoy Stadium debut…After two tough outings to begin the season, top pitching prospect Matt Barnes steadied himself last time out, striking out 7 and allowing only 1 run in 6 innings versus New Britain. He will look to build on that momentum as he continues to get a feel for Double-A ball. The Sea Dogs (11-8) will look to get back on the winning track after having their season-high six game win streak snapped on Thursday night… Much like Barnes, William Cuevas got off on the wrong foot to start the season, allowing 8 runs in his debut. In his two starts since he has been a rock for Salem, going 5 innings in each, allowing only a run, 3 hits and 2 walks in that span. The Salem Sox (10-9) are in the midst of a three game winning streak and will face a Lynchburg team that they swept for three on the road just last weekend…Greenville’s Justin Haley seems to have finally found his form. After walking 16 batters in his first three appearances, he allowed only one free pass against Lexington last Saturday. In his prior start on April 15th against West Virginia, Haley was removed from the game after only 3 2/3 innings because he had surrendered 6 walks, despite not allowing a hit. In 15 1/3 innings of work this season he has allowed only 6 hits, while doing a decent job of not allowing those walks to cost him, having allowed only 5 earned runs. The Drive (8-13) are 2-12 since sweeping a double header against Lexington back on April 12th.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
Richmond Flying Squirrels – Ryan Bradley (0-2, 8.74 ERA, 4 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Logan Darnell (1-1, 2.21 ERA, 16 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Marcus Walden (0-3, 3.98 ERA, 8 Ks)
at Reading Fightin’ Phils – Tom Cochran (0-1, 6.23 ERA, 2 Ks)

NOTES: After finishing three games in a 20-hour span in New Hampshire, the Rock Cats (10-10) head home to New Britain to start a three game series with Richmond. Logan Darnell is tonight’s starter for the home team, fresh off a tough outing against Portland last Saturday. The Sea Dogs popped him for 7 hits and New Britain took a 7-1 loss that day. Otherwise, Darnell has been good, having allowing only 2 runs in his first 15 2/3 innings…The Fisher Cats (9-12) hit the road and first stop is Reading with Marcus Walden on the hill. The righty from Fresno has allowed a league high 35 hits over 20 1/3 innings, leading to a 1.97 WHIP despite allowing only 5 base-on-balls. Proof that sometimes having solid command is not as good as having solid location.

Thursday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 25, 2013 12:25 AM

Red Sox affiliates
12:30 p.m.
GAME 1
Pawtucket Red Sox – Charlie Haeger (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 Ks)
at Buffalo Bisons – Dave Bush (2-0, 0.82 ERA, 9 Ks)

GAME 2
Pawtucket Red Sox – Graham Godfrey (1-1, 3.97 ERA, 12 Ks)
at Buffalo Bisons – Bobby Korecky (2-0, 6.23 ERA, 6 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Wilmington Blue Rocks – John Lamb (1-2, 3.46 ERA, 8 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Mike Augliera (2-0, 4.96 ERA, 8 Ks)

Lakewood BlueClaws – Jordan Guth (1-3, 5.50 ERA, 11 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Cody Kukuk (1-2, 5.11 ERA, 12 Ks)

New England teams
10:35 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Alex Meyer (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 19 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1, 6.75 ERA, 5 Ks)

Fisher Cats, Rock Cats split doubleheader

Posted by Craig Forde April 24, 2013 07:45 PM

DSCF4097.JPG
MANCHESTER, N.H. - On what many around Northeast Delta Dental Stadium were calling the first “best day of the year,” New Hampshire and New Britain heeded the advice of Ernie Banks and “played two,” splitting their Wednesday night double header with shutout performances on both ends.

The nightcap saw the hosts take a 3-0 pitcher’s duel behind six shutout innings from starter Ryan Tepera who allowed only one hit and one walk to earn his third win of the season.

"I felt great," said Tepera. "I tried to stay aggressive in the strike zone, keep the ball down and I let my defense do most of the job. I mixed pitches very well and felt like I had pretty good command all night long and it worked out for me."

"He was the key to the game," said Fisher Cats manager Gary Allenson of his starter.

Rock Cats starter Pat Dean faced only one batter over the minimum through four innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth before getting bailed out by the arm of Jonathan Goncalves who threw out Brian Van Kirk at the plate on a single to right by Kevin Ahrens.

The next batter, catcher Jack Murphy, made sure the next runner headed home would not be tested as he roped a double to left field, scoring Ahrens easily for the only run the Fisher Cats would need.

"That's a big hit because it was like the first team to score, wins," said Allenson.

New Hampshire would plate two more in the sixth inning, including a solo home run to dead center from Ryan Schimpf, his fifth of the season.

Chad Beck came on to shut the door on the Rock Cats in the seventh inning, striking out two to earn his fifth save.

"It's nice to get back in the win column," said Allenson whose team had lost three straight heading into the second game. "It feels like it had been two weeks for us."

A complete game effort from Trevor May helped the New Britain capture a 5-0 victory in the game one.

"We didn't hit many hard off him," said Allenson about May. "He challenged with fastballs and we couldn't hit him."

The Fisher Cats were the first to pose a threat in the early evening affair, loading the bases in the first inning after Kevin Pillar’s lead-off double, but the threat was nixed when Trevor May forced Ricarco Nanita to ground out to first to end the inning.

The Rock Cats made them pay the following inning when number nine hitter Jonathan Goncalves launched a two-out, two-run homer into the picnic grounds in left field for his first Double-A long ball and a 2-0 lead that would not be relinquished.

May and the Rock Cats ran into trouble again in the third inning, allowing runners at second and third with one out, but were once again able to get out of the jam with two fly ball outs to second baseman James Beresford.

New Britain padded their lead with two more runs in the top of the fourth inning, highlighted by former Red Sox farmhand Reynaldo Rodriguez’s RBI triple, his first of the year.

Despite tossing 41 pitches in the first two innings, May settled down and retired 12 in a row over the final five frames, earning a seven-inning, complete game victory, his first win with New Britain.

All three Fisher Cats hits that May yielded were doubles via Pillar, Clint Robinson and Adam Loewen.
DSCF4106.JPG

Wednesday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 24, 2013 03:49 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:00 p.m.
Binghamton Mets – Eric Goeddel (1-2, 5.52 ERA, 16 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Kyle Kaminska (0-2, 7.53 ERA, 7 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Wilmington Blue Rocks – Kyle Zimmer (0-1, 3.86 ERA, 18 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Kyle Stroup (1-1, 3.77 ERA, 12 Ks)

Lakewood BlueClaws - Miguel Nunez (1-0, 3.38 ERA, 7 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Frank Montas (0-2, 7.50 ERA, 13 Ks)

POSTPONED
Pawtucket Red Sox
at Rochester Red Wings

New England teams
5:05 p.m.
GAME 1
New Britain Rock Cats – Trevor May (0-1, 3.14 ERA, 19 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Tyson Brummett (0-1, 6.75 ERA, 5 Ks)

GAME 2
New Britain Rock Cats – Pat Dean (0-1, 4.30 ERA, 4 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Ryan Tepera (2-0, 3.31 ERA, 11 Ks)

Tuesday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 23, 2013 11:26 AM

Red Sox affiliates
2:05 p.m.
Lakewood BlueClaws - Kevin Brady (0-2, 4.70 ERA, 14 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Pat Light (1-0, 5.59 ERA, 12 Ks)

6:00 p.m.
Binghamton Mets – Tyler Pill (1-1, 7.20 ERA, 14 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Craig Breslow, rehab start

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Rubby De La Rosa (0-0, 13.50 ERA, 7 Ks)
at Buffalo Bisons – Edgar Gonzalez (0-0, 11.25 ERA, 2 Ks)

Wilmington Blue Rocks – Aaron Brooks (0-1, 5.79 ERA, 7 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Henry Owens (0-1, 2.40 ERA, 16 Ks)

NOTES: Pat Light gets his first start for Greenville since April 12th. He appeared in relief, piggy-backing the rehab start of Franklin Morales on April 17th, but did not fare well at all, allowing 5 hits, 3 walks and 3 runs in 2 2/3 innings of work. In Light's two starts this season he has allowed only 1 walk to 9 Ks...It's another rehab starter in Portland tonight as lefty Craig Breslow takes to the hill at Hadlock. He is expected to throw one inning in his continued return from tendinitis in his left shoulder...Rubby De La Rosa gets his fourth start of the season for Pawtucket. He is still being limited in his work as he continues to work back from Tommy John surgery, but thus far the results have been sub-par. The good news was that in his last start, he did not allow a home run for the first time this season. The bad news was that he walked a season high 3 batters in 2 innings...Henry Owens also hits the hill for his fourth start of the season. He has gone 5 innings in each of his first three starts, striking out a season high 7 in his last outing against Potomac.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Trevor May (0-1, 3.14 ERA, 19 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Tyson Brummett (0-1, 6.75 ERA, 5 Ks)

NOTES: The Fisher and Rock Cats renew their rivalry at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium tonight, the start of a three game series. New Britain took two of three at home last week, but have since lost three in a row. Rock Cats starter Trevor May had a season high 8 strikeouts against New Hampshire last Tuesday. Fisher Cats starter Tyson Brummett threw 5 scoreless innings versus the Rock Cats last Wednesday. Despite both starters not factoring in the decisions in those games, their respective teams did win in their starts.

Monday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 22, 2013 03:19 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:00 p.m.
Binghamton Mets – Jacob DeGrom (1-1, 2.25 ERA, 21 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – John Lackey, rehab start

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Terry Doyle (2-0, 0.98 ERA, 16 Ks)
at Rochester Red Wings – Liam Hendriks (0-1, 6.00 ERA, 0 Ks)

Wilmington Blue Rocks – Angel Baez (0-0, 4.22 ERA, 8 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Mike McCarthy (0-0, 3.86 ERA, 7 Ks)

NOTES: In Portland John Lackey makes his first rehab start since straining his right bicep in his first start of the season with Boston on April 7th. He is scheduled to throw 4 innings or 65 pitches. The Sea Dogs, winners of four of their last five, will look to extend a three game winning streak…If it wasn’t for the 5 walks in his first start of the season, Terry Doyle’s WHIP would be near non-existent. At 0.65, it is still the fourth best WHIP in the International League, having yielded just 5 hits over 18 1/3 innings. He tossed 5 innings of 2-hit ball in a no decision against Rochester back on April 13th…Mike McCarthy is scheduled to get his first start of the season for Salem tonight. He has allowed at least a run in his 3 relief appearances with his last action coming back on April 16th when he allowed a run on four hits in 3 innings of work. Last season McCarthy started 4 games for Salem.

Sunday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 21, 2013 11:34 AM

Red Sox affiliates
12:05 p.m.
GAME 1
Pawtucket Red Sox – Graham Godfrey (1-1, 4.91 ERA, 10 Ks)
at Rochester Red Wings – Kyle Gibson (0-2, 4.11, 15 Ks)

GAME 2
Pawtucket Red Sox – Chris Hernandez (0-1, 3.95 ERA, 12 Ks)
at Rochester Red Wings – P.J. Walters (0-2, 6.46, 13 Ks)

1:00 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Trevor May (0-1, 3.14 ERA, 19 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Drake Britton (1-2, 4.50 ERA, 16 Ks)

1:05 p.m.
Greenville Drive – Brian Johnson (0-1, 2.25 ERA, 2 Ks)
at Lexington Legends – Aroni Nina (0-1, 5.63 ERA, 10 Ks)

2:05 p.m.
Salem Red Sox – William Cuevas (0-1, 10.57 ERA, 11 Ks)
at Lynchburg Hillcats – David Peterson (0-1, 3.60 ERA, 7 Ks)

New England teams
1:35 p.m.
Binghamton Mets – Logan Verrett (2-0, 2.75 ERA, 11 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Deck McGuire (1-1, 3.06 ERA, 17 Ks)

Saturday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 20, 2013 11:57 AM

Red Sox affiliates
1:00 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Logan Darnell (1-0, 1.17 ERA, 10 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Anthony Ranaudo (1-0, 0.90 ERA, 12 Ks)

1:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Allen Webster (0-0, 0.90 ERA, 12 Ks)
at Rochester Red Wings – Andrew Albers (0-0, 0.93, 10 Ks)

6:05 p.m.
Salem Red Sox – Mike Augliera (1-0, 5.73 ERA, 5 Ks)
at Lynchburg Hillcats – Ryan Weber (2-0, 4.35 ERA, 10 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Greenville Drive – Justin Haley (0-1, 3.48 ERA, 13 Ks)
at Lexington Legends –Daniel Stumpf (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 9 Ks)

New England teams
1:35 p.m.
Binghamton Mets – Rafael Montero (2-0, 2.16 ERA, 21 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Marcus Walden (0-2, 5.27 ERA, 7Ks)

Thursday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 18, 2013 12:28 AM

Red Sox affiliates
12:05 p.m.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs - Adam Morgan (1-0, 1.29 ERA, 9 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox - Rubby De La Rosa (0-0, 11.57 ERA, 6 Ks)

6:00 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats - Alex Meyer (0-0, 2.70 ERA, 14 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs - Kyle Kaminska (0-1, 8.10 ERA, 4 Ks)

6:05 p.m.
Salem Red Sox - Kyle Stroup (0-1, 5.00 ERA, 6Ks
at Lynchburg Hillcats - Mark Pope (0-0, 8.31 ERA, 3 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Greenville Drive - Frank Montas (0-1, 6.48 ERA, 11 Ks)
at Lexington Legends - N/A

NOTES: For the second time in three days the PawSox (10-3) host a noon matinee at McCoy Stadium. Many are wondering if this will be David Ortiz's last rehab start before linking up with Boston, but based purely on results at the plate, it may take a few more ABs to prove he is 100% ready to go. Meanwhile Rubby De La Rosa will look to keep the ball in the park in his start today. He has allowed 3 home runs over 4 2/3 innings, one of which was the only hit he allowed in his last start versus Rochester. Today's opponent, Lehigh Valley, took De La Rosa deep twice back on April 8th...Portland (6-6) returns to Hadlock Field tonight against New England rival New Britain (7-6). Sea Dogs starter Kyle Kaminska has lasted 5 innings in his first two outings, but at the cost of allowing 16 hits and 9 earned runs. He has shown decent command, allowing only a walk, but unfortunately has left some hitable balls in the zone. He will face off against Alex Meyer who has struck out 14 batters in his first 10 innings pitched this season. Unfortunately, like Kaminska, he has been hit around a bit, allowing 12 hits over his two starts...Kyle Stroup looks to regroup in his third start for the Salem Sox (4-8). After a solid debut where he three 5 scoreless innings, Stroup was less reliable in his follow-up, yeilding 4 walks, 4 hits and 5 runs over 4 innings. Salem will need him to be on today in order to halt a three game slide...Frank Montas is another pitcher looking for a rebound. In his last start for the Drive (7-7) he last only 2 2/3 innings, allowing 4 runs off of 4 walks and 2 hits. Greenville heads to Lexington for their second straight four-game weekend series against the Legends. The teams split last weekend's series.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
Binghamton Mets - Tyler Pill (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 8 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats - Ryan Tepera (2-0, 2.45 ERA, 8 Ks)

NOTES: The Fisher Cats (7-7) return home after going 3-4 on their first road trip of the season. They will host the BMets who they split a four-game set with in Binghamton a week ago. Tonight's start Ryan Tepera was solid last Saturday versus the Mets, throwing 6 innings of 3-hit ball for his second win of the year. New Hampshire outfielder John Tolisano has reached base in all 14 games this season, smacking 16 hits and drawing 9 base-on-balls. His 7 doubles are tied for most in the Eastern League.

Wednesday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 17, 2013 08:39 AM

Red Sox affiliates
11:00 a.m.
Potomac Nationals – Taylor Jordan (0-0, 1.50 ERA, 10 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Henry Owens (0-0, 1.80 ERA, 9 Ks)

6:15 p.m.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Cesar Jimenez (0-0, 0. ERA, 5 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Terry Doyle (1-0, 0.79 ERA, 10 Ks)

6:35 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Brandon Workman (2-0, 4.91 ERA, 16 Ks)
at Binghamton Mets – Jacob DeGrom (1-0, 3.00 ERA, 13 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
West Virginia Power – John Kuchno (0-1, 12.27 ERA, 8 Ks)
At Greenville Drive – Pat Light (1-0, 3.86 ERA, 9 Ks)

New England teams
10:35 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Tyson Brummett (0-2, 27.00 ERA, 3 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Pat Dean (0-0, 7.04 ERA, 4 Ks)

IronPigs hang on to take mid-bout slugfest over PawSox

Posted by Craig Forde April 16, 2013 03:52 PM

photo (18).JPGPAWTUCKET, R.I. – If Tuesday’s baseball game at McCoy Stadium was a boxing match, the first inning was the feeling out process.

The next five innings turned into the slugfest with Lehigh Valley holding on over the final three frames to beat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 8-6, in an afternoon matinee.

“The guys did a good job and battled,” said Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina. “We made some mistakes in the field, didn’t play a clean game and two big hits crushed us.”

Despite only one second inning hit, Pawtucket gained a 2-0 lead after collecting a couple of walks and a sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of Jeremy Hazelbaker.

In the third inning Lehigh Valley jumped on opportunity to gain a lead of their own following a Justin Henry error at third base kept the inning alive for Leandro Castro who jacked a three-run homer to left field over the Pawtucket bullpen, for a 3-2 lead.

“Chris [Martin] made a couple of mistakes and they hammered him,” said DiSarcina of his starting pitcher who allowed 7 runs (3 earned) over 5 innings. “We had more than just a physical error [today].”

The very next inning Tommy Joseph, Philadelphia’s top catching prospect, launched a three-run bomb of his own to left field, clearing the bullpen and putting the IronPigs up 6-2 in the fourth inning.

“I think those would have been home runs if the wind was blowing in,” said Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina in reference to the heavy winds blowing out during the game. “Two innings in a row, three run home runs, it’s tough to come back from that.

Pawtucket responded by adding two runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings, but the IronPigs followed up with a run of their own in the fifth and sixth innings to keep the PawSox at arms-length with an 8-6 lead.

In the seventh inning Pawtucket drew back-to-back, two-out walks, but Henry popped one up behind the third base bag that nullified the threat.

IronPigs relievers Jake Diekman (win) and Mike Stutes (save) handled the final two innings with relative ease, combining for three strikeouts while allowing no base runners.

NOTES: In his fourth rehab start David Ortiz went 0-for-4, batting third in the lineup. DiSarcina said of Ortiz, “He just needs to get out there and have at-bats. We have two more days here [on a homestand], if he gets eight at-bats we will reassess where he is after those at-bats.”…Jose Iglesias went 1-for-5 with 2 strikeouts. He is 3-for-19 since being sent down to Pawtucket. “He’s hit the ball hard over the last two games and has nothing to show for it,” said DiSarcina. “He doesn’t have a ton of good results right now, but he has put together some at-bats. He just looks like he’s in-and-out of his approach. He’s kind of all over the place right now.”…A bright spot in the PawSox lineup was Mitch Maier who went 3-for-3 with a walk, RBI and two runs scored. “He gets down in the count and is not afraid to hit with two strikes,” DiSarcina said of Maier. “We love having him here. He’s a baseball player and he throws up good at-bats every time he goes out there.” Maier is batting .455 since being activated three games ago.

Portland's Martin named EL Pitcher of the Week

Posted by Craig Forde April 16, 2013 02:26 PM

ChrisMartin.jpgPortland Sea Dogs reliever Chris Martin was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week on Monday for the period of April 4th through the 14th. During that time he made three appearances, logging 9 innings for a 1-0 record with 12 strikeouts and a league best 0.64 WHIP.

The 6’7” right-hander tossed three shutout innings each time he has hit the hill, flashing a 95 mile-per-hour fastball that has been nearly unhittable by the opposition. In his first appearance on April 5th versus Trenton, he whiffed 7 batters on a night that saw temps dip down into the 30s.

Martin, a free agent pickup in 2011, split duties a season ago, starting 12 of the 23 games he appeared in with Portland. He struck out 65 over 76 1/3 innings in 2012.

Tuesday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 16, 2013 12:57 PM

Red Sox affiliates
12:05 p.m.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs - Jonathan Pettibone (0-1, 10.13 ERA, 5 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox - Chris Hernandez (0-0. 3.12 ERA, 8 Ks)

6:35 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs - Drake Britton (1-1, 4.00 ERA, 9 Ks)
at Binghamton Mets - Logan Verrett (1-0, 2.77 ERA, 5 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Potomac Nationals - Robbie Ray (1-1, 2.45 ERA, 12 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox - Miguel Pena (1-1, 4.00 ERA, 5 Ks)

West Virginia Power - Orlando Castro (0-1, 1.74 ERA, 9 Ks)
at Greenville Drive - Austin Maddox (0-0, 7.20 ERA, 6 Ks)

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats - Deck McGuire (1-1, 3.09 ERA, 12 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats - Trevor May (0-1, 3.00 ERA, 11 Ks)

Ortiz, Paw Sox react to Monday's tragedy

Posted by Craig Forde April 16, 2013 11:08 AM

Less than 24 hours removed from Monday's tragic events in Boston, just 45 minutes south of where the bombings transpired, the Pawtucket Red Sox readied for a Tuesday matinee with heavy hearts.

The tone in the clubhouse prior to the noon start time was more solemn than usual as players scurried to their duties in an effort to put their minds elsewhere.

A ten year veteran of Boston, David Ortiz, who is in the midst of a rehab stint with the PawSox, addressed the situation after some pre-game running.

"For anyone related to Boston, or even not related to Boston, it was a hard day," said the Red Sox slugger, looking around the room in an effort to put together the proper words. "At the time I got pretty angry. I couldn’t process anything through my stomach last night, especially watching the news."

Ortiz, who was back in the Pawtucket lineup on Tuesday after back-to-back scratches, struggled to grasp the events that occurred in the city he calls home.

"Why would people do things like that," Ortiz questioned. "I was watching the news last night, saw this 8-year-old kid that was right there with his mom and sister, waiting for his dad to cross the finish line and all I think about is, "How can this happen?" I’m very sad and got very emotional last night.

"You have a lot of people sacrificing themselves to raise money [through racing] and some [expletive] just come out with things like that. It’s not fair, man. It’s not fair. It was a tough day yesterday."

Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina, a native of Billerica, dealt with the added emotion of having to locate his daughter who was en route to Boston's South Station from New York by bus.

"We were frantically texting between her, myself, her mom and her aunt who was supposed to pick her up," DiSarcina said about the situation. "So we had a lot of things going on. She was crying and didn’t know what to do. For me personally it was frustrating and a little distracting at the beginning of the game. My son came in here and found out that she was okay."

DiSarcina was then tasked with having to manage his team amidst the emotional events that were unfolding while his team was on the field last night.

"It can be distracting, but the bottom line, when the game starts, the other team doesn’t give a rats [expletive]. They're going to try and go out and beat you. You’ve got to try and put that stuff aside for 2-3 hours and when the game is over then reality sets back in."

For another local in the clubhouse, Alex Hassan, the tragedy hit especially close to home.

"I know someone who was personally affected by it and it’s a really sad thing," said Hassan. "It’s really tragic, and really sad. We’re praying for all of the people who are affected by this and their families at this time."

A native of Milton and a B.C. High graduate, Hassan possess an admiration for the region he called home for 18 years.

"I'm familiar with the area, the sports teams, the schools, the hospitals and it’s where I grew up," said Hassan. "It’s a special place to me, it always will be."

Unfortunately, that which made the Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts so special is now forever scarred.

"It’s a really big event with the marathon and people coming from all over the world to celebrate this day that is pretty special to Boston," Hassan said. "It’s a cool day and I certainly have some really good memories, but it’s really tragic with how yesterday unfolded."

"It’s a special day for everyone, especially here in Boston," concluded Ortiz. "People from all over the planet come for [the marathon] and try to do their best to have that beautiful event that’s been going on for years. It’s something that is very special. Things turning out like yesterday, it’s horrible. It’s horrible."

Monday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 15, 2013 01:31 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:15 p.m.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Tyler Cloyd (0-2, 10.13 ERA, 10 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Allen Webster (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 Ks)

6:35 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Anthony Ranaudo (0-0, 1.80 ERA, 6 Ks)
at Binghamton Mets – Cory Mazzoni (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Potomac Nationals – Taylor Hill (1-0, 3.00 ERA, 5 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – William Cuevas (0-1, 27.00 ERA, 4 Ks)

West Virginia Power – Clay Holmes (0-0, 4.15 ERA, 9 Ks)
At Greenville Drive – Justin Haley (0-0, 2.70 ERA, 11 Ks)

NOTES: Allen Webster finally gets his “official” second start of the season after his April 10th start versus Lehigh Valley was postponed just two innings in. Webster will look to start the way he did in that outing, striking out four before the rains wiped it all away…By all accounts Anthony Ranaudo looked very strong in his first game action since last July. In his April 9th start versus Reading he struck out 6 and allowed only a run in 5 innings. Two solid starts to kick off his return to action will help ease the tensions of skeptics…The Salem Sox (4-5) picked up a nice walk-off win at home last night on a Keury De La Cruz two-out double that plated Sean Coyle and Deven Marrero. They will look to carry that momentum into their three –game set against Potomac starting tonight. The Sox took 2 of 3 from the Nationals on the road last week. In their one loss of that series starter William Cuevas allowed 8 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings…The Drive (6-5) return to Fluor Field for a quick three game home stand on the heels of a 4-3 road trip. Tonight’s starter Justin Haley has allowed 10 walks in his first 6 2/3 innings of work. With Lowell last season he allowed 16 walks in 33 1/3 innings.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Marcus Walden (0-1, 4.15 ERA, 6 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Logan Darnell (0-0, 1.04 ERA, 2 Ks)

NOTES: The season’s first ‘Battle of the Cats’ commences in New Britain tonight, the start of a three game series. Marcus Walden gets his third start of the season, having going 4 1/3, allowing 3 runs in each of his first two starts. Kevin Pillar will look to extend his nine game hitting streak. The Fisher Cats outfielder is batting .421 versus left handed pitchers, which is what he will get tonight in the form of Rock Cats starter Logan Darnell. In two starts Darnell has allowed 9 hits and 5 walks for a 1.62 WHIP that is ninth highest in the Eastern League. On the bright side, he’s only allowed one of those base runners to score, giving him a 1.04 ERA, fourth best in the league.

Sunday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 14, 2013 12:12 PM

Red Sox affiliates
1:05 p.m.
Rochester Red Wings – Andrew Albers (2012: 5-3, 3.67 ERA, 76 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Jeremy Kehrt (2012: 8-4, 4.31 ERA, 74 Ks)

1:35 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Matt Barnes (2012: 7-5, 2.86 ERA, 133 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Blake Martin (2012: 4-5, 4.68 ERA, 73 Ks)

Greenville Drive – Brian Johnson (2012: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 Ks
at Lexington Legends – Daniel Stumpf (2012: 2-1, 1.55 ERA, 34 Ks)

4:05 p.m.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans – Alec Asher (2012: 2-3, 3.09 ERA, 50 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Mike Augliera (2012: 1-3, 4.42 ERA, 43 Ks)

NOTES: The PawSox (8-1) are off to the best start in club history and will look to Jeremy Kehrt to help in locking down a four-game sweep of Rochester. This will be Kehrt's first outing of the season after being activated from the disabled list with a right calf strain. Yesterday Pawtucket pulled out a little deja vu, sweeping their doubleheader over the Red Wings, both with scores of 7-1 and with game times of 2 hours and 18 minutes...Matt Barnes gets his second start of the season for Portland (4-4). Because of a 33-pitch first inning last time out, he didn't get to see much action. However, his fastball was steady, topping out around 94-95 mph and he tossed a 77-mph breaking ball that was nipping at the corners of the plate while buckling some legs. Look for a much longer outing today...The Drive (6-4) had their four-game winning streak halted by the Legends on Saturday. They cap their four-game set in Lexington today, head home to Greenville for three games against West Virginia, then turn right back around and head back to Lexington for another four-game series starting on Thursday...Salem's (3-5) brief two-game win streak was snapped last night. Today Mike Augliera looks to get things back on track with his own personal two-game win streak. He went 6 innings in his debut to earn the victory of Potomac on Monday. Garin Cecchini will look to pitch in and extend his six-game hitting streak.

New England teams
1:05 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2012: 2-4, 6.40 ERA, 63 Ks)
at Binghamton Mets – Rafael Montero (2012: 11-5, 2.36 ERA, 110 Ks)

NOTES: The only man in the Eastern League (and possibly all of baseball, I just don’t have the will to check) whose last name ends in ‘X’, hits the hill for his third Fisher Cats (6-4) start this season. Despite being hooked with the loss in his last outing, Austin Bibens-Dirkx has been great thus far. His 0.69 ERA is second best in the EL and he is currently holding down a 1.00 WHIP. He will be opposed by Rafael Montero who MLB.com ranks as the fourth best pitching prospect for the New York Mets. Last season between Savannah and St. Lucie he averaged 8.1 K/9 and had a 5.79:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Montero has struck out 15 batters in his first 11 2/3 innings pitched this season.

Saturday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 13, 2013 10:39 AM

Red Sox affiliates
12:05 p.m.
GAME 1
Rochester Red Wings – Shairon Martis (2012: 11-6, 5.17 ERA, 87 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Terry Doyle (2012: 6-3, 2.83 ERA, 90 Ks)

GAME 2
Rochester Red Wings – Virgil Vasquez (2012: 7-2, 4.54 ERA, 46 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Rubby De La Rosa (2012: 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 12 Ks)

6:05 p.m.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans – Jerad Eickhoff (2012: 13-7, 4.69 ERA, 90 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox – Kyle Stroup (2012: DNP)

6:35 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Kyle Kaminska (2012: 9-4, 4.19 ERA, 66 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Alex Meyer (2012: 10-6, 2.86 ERA, 139 Ks)

7:05 a.m.
Greenville Drive – Brian Johnson (2012: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 Ks)
at Lexington Legends – Colin Rodgers (2012: 3-1, 2.05 ERA, 25 Ks)

New England teams
1:05 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Ryan Tepera (2012: 8-6, 5.48 ERA, 71 Ks)
at Binghamton Mets – Erik Goeddel (2012: 5-6, 3.41 ERA, 98 Ks

Friday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 12, 2013 09:14 AM

Red Sox affiliates
11:05 a.m.
POSTPONED
Portland Sea Dogs
at New Britain Rock Cats

5:00 p.m.
GAME 1
Greenville Drive - Pat Light (2012: 0-2, 2.37 ERA, 30 Ks)
at Lexington Legends - Miguel Almonte (2012: 8-2, 1.75 ERA, 74 Ks)

GAME 2
Greenville Drive - Austin Maddox (2012: 0-1, 1.13 ERA, 8 Ks)
at Lexington Legends - Christian Binford (2012: 2-3, 2.03 ERA, 31 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
POSTPONED
Rochester Red Wings
at Pawtucket Red Sox

Myrtle Beach Pelicans - Victor Payano (2012: 6-8, 4.63 ERA, 97 Ks)
at Salem Red Sox - Henry Owens (2012: 12-5, 4.87 ERA, 130 Ks)

NOTES: Yesterday's rainout in Lexington forced the second doubleheader of the season for the Greenville Drive. Pat Light will get his second start tonight in game one with Austin Maddox scheduled to be the game two starter...Henry Owens will get his second start of this season, this time in the home opener for Salem. Owens threw five scoreless innings in his debut against the Frederick Keys. He used 70 pitches and allowed 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. All the hits and walks that Owens allowed in that game were to left handed batters...Portland and New Britain's early brunch battle was postponed early in the morning. A makeup date will be determined at a later time...The PawSox also got postponed tonight. David Ortiz will continue his rehab at McCoy Stadium tomorrow when Pawtucket hosts Rochester in a double header starting at noon.

New England teams
7:05 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats - Tyson Brummett (2012: 5-6, 3.20 ERA, 83 Ks)
at Binghamton Mets - Tyler Pill (2012: 9-5, 2.31 ERA, 105 Ks)

NOTES: After one Triple-A start with Buffalo, Tyson Brummett makes his Fisher Cats debut in Binghamton tonight. Against Rochester on Sunday, in just 1/3 of an inning, he allowed 3 runs, 3 hits and 4 earned runs. Brummett is used to life in the Eastern League having pitched for Reading in parts of the last five seasons. New Hampshire has one four of their last five on the heels of a solid outing Thursday night from Deck McGuire who allowed only 1 run over seven innings. After going hitlesss in his first two games, outfielder Kevin Pillar is 12-for-26 while hitting safely in the last five.

Thursday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 11, 2013 03:15 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:05 p.m.
Portland Sea Dogs – Brandon Workman (2012: 10-8, 3.50 ERA, 130 Ks)
at New Britain Rock Cats – Pat Dean (2012: 10-8, 3.99 ERA, 81 Ks

7:00 p.m.
Greenville Drive – Pat Light (2012: 0-2, 2.37 ERA, 30 Ks)
at Lexington Legends – Miguel Almonte (2012: 8-2, 1.75 ERA, 74 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Rochester Red Wings – Kyle Gibson (2012: 0-2, 4.13 ERA, 33 Ks)
at Pawtucket Red Sox – Chris Hernandez (2012: 5-12, 3.26 ERA, 90 Ks)

NOTES: The Sea Dogs set sail on their first road trip of the season, but won’t have to leave New England until Monday as they play their next four games in New Britain. Brandon Workman looks to build off of his solid start in the second game of the season. Minus a 4-run second inning, the 6’4” righty was dealing, topping his fastball off at 97-miles-per-hour. He will be opposed by former Boston College lefty Pat Dean who looks to keep the Rock Cats, fresh off a three game sweep of Harrisburg, rolling. After scoring just eight times in their first four games, which in included a seven inning no-hitter, the New Britain bats have exploded for 35 runs over their last three games…Pat Light’s first outing for Greenville was short lived after a 34-pitch second inning, eclipsing the organizational limit for one inning (normally 30 pitches). He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk, and struck out 3 batters…Chris Hernandez has the honors of opening up the McCoy Stadium season. Once the pomp and circumstance of opening day is done and championship rings and banners have been displayed, the PawSox will look to remain atop the I.L. North standings where they currently sit at 5-1. The added bonus of having a rehabbing David Ortiz in the lineup can only help add to festivities of what should be a great opening night in Pawtucket....The Salem Red Sox have an off day. Henry Owens will get the ball for their home opener tomorrow night against Myrtle Beach.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Deck McGuire (2012: 5-15, 5.88 ERA, 97 Ks)
at Binghamton Mets – Logan Verrett (2012:

NOTES: Deck McGuire hits the hill for his second start of the season, searching for his first win since July 28th of last season. In six starts against the BMets in 2012, McGuire was 1-5. Logan Verrett, a 2011 third round draft pick of the Mets, picked up the victory in Double-A debut last week. He held Akron to 3 runs in 6 innings to earn the win thanks to 7-runs of support in his favor.

Wednesday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 10, 2013 12:46 AM

Red Sox affiliates
10:35 a.m.
Salem Red Sox – Miguel Pena (2012: 8-8, 3.01 ERA, 95 Ks)
at Potomac Nationals – Robbie Ray (2012: 4-12, 6.56 ERA, 86 Ks)

11:00 a.m.
Greenville Drive – Justin Haley (2012: 0-1, 1.89 ERA, 33 Ks)
at Hickory Crawdads – C.J. Edwards (2012: 5-3, 1.48 ERA, 85 Ks)

6:00 p.m.
Reading Phillies – Jesse Biddle (2012: 10-6, 3.22 ERA, 151 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Drake Britton (2012: 7-12, 4.44 ERA, 118 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Allen Webster (2012: 6-9, 3.86 ERA, 129 Ks)
at Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs – Jonathan Pettibone (2012: 13-8, 3.10 ERA, 113 Ks)

NOTES: Salem will be looking their first series win of the season over Potomac in the morning with Miguel Pena taking the mound. He will be looking to regroup after a 7-hit, 4-inning season opening debut loss last Thursday. After going 0-for-7 in his first two games, third baseman Garin Cecchini is 8-for-12 over his last three games with three stolen bases…Another A.M. start has the Drive looking to make it two-in-a-row over the Hickory Crawdads. Justin Haley struck out six in the season opener, but only lasted 3 2/3 innings after walking 4 and allowing 2 hits…Drake Britton had a rough go of things in his season opening start. Granted it was not all his fault as fielding woes led to 4 unearned runs. Unfortunately one of those woes was of his own doing, plus 2 walks and 5 hits, 3 of which were home runs, did nothing to help his cause either…PawSox starter Allen Webster was efficient in his first outing, a scoreless no decision versus Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Webster needed 85 pitches to get through five innings, allowing 3 walks and 2 hits. The PawSox 5-1 record is tied for best in the International League with Syracuse and Durham.

New England teams
10:35 a.m.
Trenton Thunder – Nik Turley (2012: 10-5, 3.00 ERA, 117 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Marcus Walden (2012: 14-4, 2.97 ERA, 82 Ks)

7:00 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Trevor May (2012: 10-13, 4.87 ERA, 151 Ks)
at Harrisburg Senators – Blake Treinen (2012: 7-7, 4.37 ERA, 92 Ks)

NOTES: Its rise, shine and ball time in Manchester as the Fisher Cats have an early wake-up call with a pre-noon getaway day game. Marcus Walden gets the ball for New Hampshire in the rubber match having notched a loss in his first start of the season. The Fisher Cats then depart on their first road trip with stops in Binghamton and New Britain…The Rock Cats finally got the bats going on Tuesday, plating a season high 9 runs on 12 hits. Trevor May gets his second start of the year. The Twins top ten prospect went five innings in his season debut, allowing only 1 run while walking 3 and allowing 3 hits. Reliever Bobby Lanigan (2-1) picked up the win out of the pen on Tuesday night and has received a decision in each of his three appearances.

Tuesday's pitching matchups, notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 9, 2013 03:36 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:00 p.m.
Reading Phillies – David Buchanan (2012: 6-10, 5.87 ERA, 109 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Anthony Ranaudo (2012: 1-3, 6.69 ERA, 27 Ks)

Greenville Drive – Cody Kukuk (2012: 2-0, 0.90 ERA, 16 Ks)
at Hickory Crawdads – Kelvin Vazquez (2012: 2-3, 3.42 ERA, 51 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Steven Wright (2012: 10-7, 2,54 ERA, 119 Ks)
at Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs – Tyler Cloyd (2012: 15-1, 2.26 ERA, 113 Ks)

Salem Red Sox – William Cuevas (2012: 8-2, 1.40 ERA, 72 Ks)
at Potomac Nationals – Taylor Hill (2012: 11-7, 4.91 ERA, 71 Ks)

NOTES: Anthony Ranaudo makes his first regular season start since being shut down for the season with shoulder fatigue after his July 3rd start a year ago. He has since made appearances in Puerto Rico and spring training, leaving Ranaudo to declare that this is, “The light at the end of the tunnel if you will. I’ve had a great spring I’m having a good time and not really worrying about things that I can’t control. Just trying to stay healthy and keep making every start they ask me to make.”…Cody Kukuk makes his Greenville debut. The 6’4” left-hander is ranked as the 23rd best Red Sox prospects by SoxProspects.com…Steven Wright allowed four hits and four walks over four innings in his season opening debut. He did not received a decision in that game, but will look to put the PawSox back on track after they allowed 14 runs in their first loss of the season last night…Williams Cuevas is the last of three Sox pitchers to make their season debut tonight. The righty from Venezuela was spectacular with Lowell last season, striking out 72 and allowing only 15 walks over 77 1/3 innings. The Salem Sox are looking to string together a few wins after grabbing their first victory of the season last night.

New England teams
5:05 p.m.
Trenton Thunder – Caleb Cotham (2012: 5-7, 3.64 ERA, 76 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2012: 2-4, 6.40 ERA, 63 Ks)

7:00 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats - Logan Darnell (2012: 11-12, 5.08 ERA, 98 Ks)
at Harrisburg Senators – Brian Broderick (2012: 5-8, 6.42 ERA, 68 Ks)

NOTES: Austin Bibens-Dirkx gets his second start of the season for New Hampshire. He had a solid outing on a cold opening night, tossing 6 scoreless innings with 6 strikeouts. Bibens-Dirkx made 39 appearances last season, but only four of which were starts…Logan Darnell’s first start of the season was cut short on opening day due to the game be suspended because of rain. He has thrown 3 2/3 scoreless innings to that point with 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. The Rock Cats own a league worst .179 team batting average.

Long first inning dooms Barnes debut, Sea Dogs fall in ninth

Posted by Craig Forde April 8, 2013 09:40 PM

photo (15).JPGPORTLAND, MAINE – It was a magic number that Matt Barnes was probably hoping he wouldn’t hit in his first game with the Portland Sea Dogs, let along the first inning.

Yet despite three strikeouts in his first frame of work in Double-A, the 22-year-old right-hander needed 33 pitches to get out the inning, reaching an organizational pitch count (normally 30 pitches in an inning) that saw him removed from the game with a 2-0 deficit after just one inning of work.

“He was throwing the ball extremely well,” said Sea Dogs pitching coach Bob Kipper of Barnes’ efforts. “You don’t punch out the side without throwing the ball extremely well. There were some unfortunate circumstances that led to a pitch count.”

Following a spirited comeback, the Sea Dogs could not gain a lead and ultimately fell to the Reading Fightin’ Phils, 7-4, at Hadlock Field on Monday night.

With his Double-A debut pushed up a day due to a postponement of Saturday’s game because of cold, Barnes, the Red Sox top pitching prospect, came out throwing a steady diet of fastballs
that were consistently in the mid-90s.

After a strikeout of Albert Cartwright to start the game, Barnes walked Edgar Duran with seven pitches, then two batters later gave up a single to Jim Murphy after missing the corner of the plate with two straight knee-bending breaking balls.

Tyler Henson followed up with a triple and the Fightin’ Phils had a two run lead having chased Barnes from the game.

“We had to remove him,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “Obviously we are very pleased with how our middle relief did. They really bridged the gap with Couch and [Will] Latimer.”

Coming on for Barnes was Keith Couch who, in his second appearance of the season, gave Portland four solid innings of work with his only real blemish coming on a 1-0 pitch that hung up for Henson who took it to left field for a solo home run.

“Couch has done a great job for us,” said Boles. “I thought his second time out, he gave us some length. He commands the zone and he is efficient . He’s really done a nice job in his first two appearances.”

Down 4-1, the Sea Dogs mounted a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, set off by a solo home run from the rehabbing Stephen Drew.

Michael Almanzar (2-for-3, RBI, run) followed up Travis Shaw’s double with one of his own to bring Portland within one, 4-3, then Xander Bogaerts tied the game with a single in the seventh inning scoring Shannon Wilkerson.

“You see adjustments from pitch to pitch,” said Boles of a red-hot Almanzar. “He takes his chances early on in the count and then when he gets to two strikes he kind of shortens himself up a little bit, stays under control. He’s managing his [at-bats], really working counts and I think that he’s using all the fields too. It’s been very impressive watching him swing.”

After a scoreless eighth, Reading took to Portland reliever Brock Huntzinger like glue, scoring three in the top of the ninth, highlighted by a Duran two-out, two-run homer that put the Fightins' in the drivers seat.

Portland went down without a fight in the bottom of the ninth as the top three batters were retired in order.

NOTES: Xander Bogaerts looked more patient at the plate tonight, despite a few cuts at first pitches. He worked his first walk of the season in his first at-bat and generally took more pitches than in his previous three games. “He’s a guy we want to be aggressive,” said Boles of Bogaerts. “He had three well hit balls and a walk tonight, so it looked like he’s got better balance at the plate, is taking pitches with a little more balance. He’s got really good hand speed.”…The Sea Dogs 6-7-8-9 hitters accounted for only one hit in the game, a second inning single from Peter Hissey…Will Latimer worked 3 1/3 inning of relief allowing one run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 3…Stephen Drew finished his rehab stint going 2-for-13 with a double and a home run. He is schedule to return to the Red Sox in time for Wednesday’s game versus Baltimore...Anthony Ranaudo makes his first start of the season tomorrow against Reading’s David Buchanan.

Leftovers from Opening Week

Posted by Craig Forde April 8, 2013 04:38 PM

With Media Days and season opening series already in the past, there was some stuff that fell through the cracks along the way. After combing through the debris of endless quotes and thoughts on the upcoming season, I decided to not let them go to waste. Instead I've recycled some of the best quotes from the past week that didn't make it anywhere else on the blog.

On the early April weather in New England

“The cold is the cold, it’s not going to change no matter where you go. I’m just excited to start a new season.” – Deck McGuire, Fisher Cats pitcher.

“We’ll get used to it and it’ll warm up real quick.” – Ryan Lavarnway, PawSox catcher.

“I don’t know if these guys can complain. I’ve had three opening days in Portland, Maine and another in Pawtucket. There have been some cold ones. In 2007 we got snowed out 8 of the first 11 games. I’ve been familiar with this. The sooner the guys accept it, the better you’re going to be. When you just bitch about it and just complain about it all the time, that’s just going to make it that much worse.” - Tommy Hottovy, Fisher Cats pitcher.

“I’m from Oregon, so we’re pretty used to the colder weather. The last couple of days, however, with the wind being the way it was, it was a little different. I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to today, but actually it was pretty decent out there.” – Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Fisher Cats opening day starter.

“DHing, especially in this weather, it’s tough. You’re sitting around and you see him on the side, keeping his legs loose and making sure that he’s staying warm. It’s not easy in conditions like this. A lot of guys would rather be out on the field and moving around.” - Kevin Boles, Sea Dogs manager on Xander Bogaerts in the designated hitters role.

On Jackie Bradley Jr.

“I know Jackie really well. When you see one of your buddies do something that special, and make it that fast, not only does it show us that hard work really pays, it gives us a little inspiration. It kind of pushes us a little bit to be like, “Alright, he’s there. Let’s go, I want to get there too.”” – Matt Barnes, Sea Dogs pitcher.

“I played with him last year…and in Spring Training. I tell you what, that kid knows how to play. He has all the tools. He’s a well-rounded baseball player and he knows how to play the game. Seeing how he goes about his business and his job, inspires me and makes me want to do what he did.” – Jeremy Hazelbaker, PawSox outfielder.

On the season ahead

"It’s going to be pretty unbelievable. I think we have a pretty good rotation and staff as a whole. It’s not really a secret. We have a lot of guys that are pretty good, pretty talented and we’re a pretty close group. We’re going to have a lot of competition between ourselves at the same time. Hopefully we’re going to have a good time this year and have a lot of fun.” – Anthony Ranaudo, Sea Dogs pitcher.

“We’re looking to just be ourselves and have our own good year and hopefully duplicate, but not be the same type of team [as last year’s Governors’ Cup Champion PawSox].” – Gary DiSarcina, PawSox manager.

“I’m happy with where I’m at right now. I’m trying to get to Boston but at the same time you don’t focus on that. If you focus on that then you take the focus away from what you can control.” – Matt Barnes, Sea Dogs pitcher.

“The main thing is that I have a jersey on and I’m out there getting to throw the baseball and that’s really all you can ask for…My goal this year is not to be in Buffalo, my goal is to be in the big leagues. Whether I’m here, whether I’m in Buffalo or Dunedin, I’m still not where I want to be. That’s the mindset you kind of have to take and keep plugging away. That’s the goal of all of us.” – Tommy Hottovy, Fisher Cats pitcher.

“We’ve got a great group of guys. I know that’s kind of an over-said phrase when camp breaks and during media day, but really we have a great group of guys. A lot of people that are very talented and very skillful and we have very high hopes for this team.” – Jeremy Hazelbaker, PawSox outfielder.

Live updates from Portland: Sea Dogs vs. Reading Fightin' Phils

Posted by Craig Forde April 8, 2013 03:57 PM

Final,Fightin' Phils 7, Sea Dogs 4: The top of the order looks to give the Sea Dogs a bit of hope. Wilkerson grounds to first to lead off the inning. Bogaerts goes down swinging. Gibson with a routine grounder to short to end this one.

Top of the ninth,Fightin' Phils 7, Sea Dogs 4: Miguel Abreu on to pinch hit for Sumoi laces a single past the dive of Meneses. Vazquez handles a tricky foul pop off the bat Mitchell for the first out. Brock Huntzinger comes on for the Sea Dogs. A Hewitt single gives the Fightins' first and second with one out and the top of the order upcoming. Cartwright punches one past Meneses, scoring Abreu to give the Fightins' the lead once more. Cartwright is gunned down trying to get to second on the throw home. Duran takes the very next offering over the left field wall for some insurance. Collier grounds to second to end the inning, but the damage is done as the Sea Dogs come to bat with one last shot.

Bottom of the eighth,Sea Dogs 4, Fightin' Phils 4: J.C. Ramirez on in relief for the Fightins'. Vazquez is a quick out, grounding off the pitchers glove to second base for out number one. Meneses strikes out for the second straight at-bat. Hissey reaches on an error as SS Duran cannot handle the grounder cleanly. Hissey steals second base, his first swipe of the season. Dent then goes down looking to end the inning.

Top of the eighth,Sea Dogs 4, Fightin' Phils 4: Duran singles to lead off the inning, then takes second on a stolen base following a strikeout of Collier (his third K of the game). Murphy becomes second strikeout victim of the inning. Lattimer then intentionally walks Henson, who already has a triple and home run in the game. Rupp bounces one up the middle, but Meneses gets to it behind the bag and flips to Drew at second base to end the inning.

Bottom of the seventh,Sea Dogs 4, Fightin' Phils 4: Hissey leads off with a strikeout. Dent flied out to center. Wilkerson lines a single into left field for his first hit of the game. Wilkerson causes Hector Neris to balk him over to second after a few failed pickoff attempts. Meanwhile Bogaerts works his count to 2-2, then singles up the middle, scoring Wilkerson to tie the game at four. With a 3-1 count, Drew puts his hand up for timeout, but ump doesn't grant it...Neris throws ball four. Shaw walks to load the bases for the red-hot Almanzar, but he Ks to end the threat.

Top of the seventh, Fightin' Phils 4, Sea Dogs 3: Mitchell flies out to Hissey in right who made the catch right up against the wall. Out number two off the bat of Hewitt heads to Hissey as well, who back tracks and reaches up for the ball right before the warning track...and one more time Cartwright to Hissey in right who handles all three outs in a four-pitch inning for Lattimer.

Bottom of the sixth, Fightin' Phils 4, Sea Dogs 3: Bogaerts leads things by continuing to show he has little patience at the plate. Swinging on the first pitch he grounds out to third base. Drew launches a solo shot into the Sea Dogs bullpen for the second hit of rehab stint. His prior hit, a double on Friday night, went to about the same spot in right-center. Shaw finally shows some pop in following with a double to the wall in right-center. It's Shaw's second hit of the season and first extra-base hit. A wild pitch moves Shaw to third with one out. Almanzar then puts a double in a near identical spot as Shaw to score him. It's the second double for Almanzar and his fourth extra-base hit of the season. Vazquez slices a pop up that the first baseman handles in the grass behind the bag. Meneses ends the rally with a swinging strikeout.

Top of the sixth, Fightin' Phils 4, Sea Dogs 1: The Sea Dogs pull Will Latimer, their only left-handed reliever, into the game to start the sixth. Couch leaves after four solid innings in which he allowed a run on five hits with three Ks. Murphy sends a shot down the line past the dive of Almanzar, rounding first and Dent boots the carom allowing Murphy to take second base. Henson advances Murphy with a fielder's choice ground out to second base. A Lattimer wild pitch allowed Murphy to score from third to five the Fightins' a three-run lead. Rupp Ks on the very next pitch. Suomi ends the inning with a groundout to Drew at short.

Bottom of the fifth, Fightin' Phils 3, Sea Dogs 1: Hissey grounds out to first to lead things off. Dent puts a charge in one, but his fly ball holds up in left field for out number two. First pitching swinging by Wilkerson creates a nubber that is fielded by the pitcher to end the inning.

Top of the fifth, Fightin' Phils 3, Sea Dogs 1: Couch gets Hewitt swinging for his second strikeout. Cartwright follows with the second Fightin's bunt single this game. They have been fairly aggressive with the small ball (bunting, attempt steals, etc.) so far tonight, and for the most part it has caught the Sea Dogs off guard. They continue their aggression as Cartwright attempts to steal, but he picked the wrong catcher to go on as Vazquez guns down his second of the night. Duran doubles off the wall in right to keep the inning alive for Reading. Collier ends the inning with a strikeout.

Bottom of the fourth, Fightin' Phils 3, Sea Dogs 1: Shaw grounds out to short on the first pitch he sees. Almanzar reaches base once again, this time by way of the walk. Vazquez proceeds to fly out in foul territory, handled by the third baseman. Meneses ends the inning with a ground ball to third that went to force out Almanzar at second base.

Top of the fourth, Fightin' Phils 3, Sea Dogs 1: Henson takes a 1-0 fastball to the opposite field, depositing the ball above the Sea Dogs bull pen. Rupp grounds to short, Suomi grounds back to Couch and Mitchell flies out to left field in an inning that lasted approximately five minutes.

Bottom of the third, Fightin' Phils 2, Sea Dogs 1: Dent gets another crack at Colvin after being stranded at the plate to end the second, but he can't make the best of it, striking out to lead off the third. Carthwright makes a spectacular diving catch on a liner from Wilkerson. The Fightin's second baseman was fully extended and parallel to the infield in getting to that quick shot. Bogaerts pokes a single between third and short, his fourth of the season. Drew ends the inning with a harmless grounder to second.

Top of the third, Fightin' Phils 2, Sea Dogs 1: Couch gets Duran swinging to the start the inning. Collier's bunt attempt works as Vazquez is unable to handle the slow roller in front of the plate. Then Vazquez makes up for it by gunning down the speedy Collier trying to steal second base. A pinpoint throw got the runner right on the top of the helmet as he was making a head first dive into the bag. Murphy flies out to Hissey in right to end the inning.

Bottom of the second, Fightin' Phils 2, Sea Dogs 1: Michael Almanzar leads off with a wall-ball double that would have been gone had it been positioned about 5-10 right to the right. Christian Vazquez is the first out of the inning, grounding to short. Heiker Meneses drills a liner back up the box that catches Colvin on his ass. Colvin recovers to get the out at first as Meneses awkwardly slides over the bag. Peter Hissey's grounder up the middle could not be handled by Duran, squeaking through to score Almanzar. Hissey, following four pickoff attempts at first, finally makes a jump on the third pitch to Ryan Dent, but is gunned down at second base to end the inning.

Top of the second, Fightin' Phils 2, Sea Dogs 0: Keith Couch emerges from the Sea Dogs pen to take over for Barnes who only threw one inning in his Portland debut...more to come on that once we get word. Couch immediately gets John Suomi to ground out to second and Derrick Mitchell to ground out to third before yielding a single to Anthony Hewitt who became the first base runner to attempt a steal, and succeed, against Christian Vazquez. Cartwright grounded out to third before Hewitt could get any further.

Bottom of the first, Fightin' Phils 2, Sea Dogs 0: After trying to initially bunt his way on, Shannon Wilkerson weakly grounds out to second base. Xander Bogaerts finds a little patience at the plate, running the count full and drawing his first walk of the season. Stephen Drew skies a can of corn to second base for the second out. Travis Shaw whiffs on a big hook from Brody Colvin, ending the first.

Top of the first, Fightin' Phils 2, Sea Dogs 0: A strikeout of Albert Cartwright was a nice start for Matt Barnes. Then he walked Edgar Duran who stole second and would come around on a Jim Murphy single. Ryan Dent's full extension on Tyler Henson's liner to left-center was not enough and it rolled to the wall while Henson rolled into third with an RBI triple. Barnes needed 33 pitches to get out of the first. He mixed a steady diet of 93, 94, 95 mph fastballs with some wicked 77 mph breaking balls that just missed the corners of the plate.

Pregame: It's easily the warmest day since the start of the season here in Portland. But of course day gives way to night and then we're back to the 40s. Either way the grounds crew at Hadlock Field will not have to worry about any pregame icing of the infield as the sun shines brightly on the diamond, a little over a half an hour until game time.

Tonight is scheduled to be the last of four rehab starts for shortstop Stephen Drew before he rejoins the Red Sox in Boston on Wednesday. In his first three games with Portland he has gone 1-for-10 with a double, 2 RBIs and a walk.

FIGHTIN' PHILS (2-2)
Albert Cartwright 2B
Edgar Duran SS
Zach Collier CF
Jim Murphy 1B
Tyler Henson 3B
Cameron Rupp C
John Suomi DH
Derrick Mitchell LF
Anthony Hewitt RF
Pitching: RHP Brody Colvin

SEA DOGS (1-2)
Shannon Wilkerson CF
Xander Bogaerts DH
Stephen Drew SS
Travis Shaw 1B
Michael Almanzar 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Heiker Meneses 2B
Peter Hissey RF
Ryan Dent LF
Pitching: RHP Matt Barnes

Game time: 6:00 p.m.

Radio: 95.5/95.9 FM WPEI Portland (available online HERE or via the 'Tune In Radio' app for smartphones and tablets)

Notes: Matt Barnes makes his Double-A debut after climbing up two levels in his first full pro season last year. The 22-year-old is ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization by Baseball America, MLB.com and SoxProspects.com. He struck out 133 batters in 119 2/3 innings pitched between Greenville and Salem a year ago...The Sea Dogs went 7-10 against Reading last year, allowing 4.5 runs per game...Boston's top rated prospect, Xander Bogaerts, is 3-for-14 to start the season with three singles, an RBI and three runs scored. Bogaerts has been the designated hitter in the first three games of the season, and will be once again tonight, while Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew rehabs his way back from a concussion suffered in Spring Training...Last night Michael Almanzar connected for his first two Double-A home runs. The Sea Dogs third baseman had a career high 12 home runs while with Salem last season.

Monday's pitching matchups and notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 8, 2013 11:11 AM

Red Sox affiliates
6:00 p.m.
Reading Phillies – Brody Colvin (2012: 6-10, 5.87 ERA, 109 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Matt Barnes (2012: 7-5, 2.86 ERA, 133 Ks)

Greenville Drive – Frank Montas (2012: 1-5, 3.65 ERA, 45 Ks)
at Hickory Crawdads – Erik Brooks (2012: 2-3, 3.68 ERA, 48 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Rubby De La Rosa (2012: 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 12 Ks)
at Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs – B.J. Rosenberg (2012: 5-2, 1.89 ERA, 73 Ks)

Salem Red Sox – Mike Augliera (2012: 1-3, 4.42 ERA, 43 Ks)
at Potomac Nationals – Kylin Turnbull (2012: 4-6, 4.94 ERA, 60 Ks)

NOTES: There are a slew of anticipated starts in Red Sox nation today/tonight, but maybe none more than in Portland where Matt Barnes, the organizations top ranked pitching prospect, makes his Double-A debut. Barnes came out of the gate blazing last season, going 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA in five starts with Low-A Greenville, forcing a promotion to Salem. The Connecticut native is ranked as the third best prospect in the Boston system from both Baseball America and MLB.com…Frank Montas brings his 100mph heat to the hill for Greenville tonight. First baseman David Chester has hit safely in the first four Drive games this season…Rubby De La Rosa provides another high profile debut tonight as he makes his first organizational start for the PawSox tonight. One of the keys to last season’s trade with the Dodgers, De La Rosa is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2011 and will be limited early in the season…Mike Augliera impressed enough in spring to leap right over Greenville to Salem. The 22-year-old righty was the epitome of control while with Lowell last season. In 38 2/3 innings he struck out 43 batters and walked only 3.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
Trenton Thunder – Matt Tracy (2012: 6-7, 3.20 ERA, 68 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Ryan Tepera (2012: 8-6, 5.48 ERA, 71 Ks)

7:00 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats - Blake Martin (2012: 4-5, 4.68 ERA, 73 Ks)
at Harrisburg Senators – Nathan Karns (2012: 11-4, 2.17 ERA, 148 Ks)

NOTES: Ryan Tepera’s scheduled start was pushed up a day for the Fisher Cats. He went 1-2 in the Arizona Fall League and posted and ERA of 6.75 (fifth worst) and WHIP of 2.13 (second worst)…Blake Martin is scheduled to make his first start of the season for New Britain. He three 2 1/3 inning of scoreless relief in the season opener, striking out three batters and walking one. Harrisburg starter Nathan Karns was ranked as Nationals second best pitching prospects by Baseball America.

Sunday's pitching matchups and notes

Posted by Craig Forde April 7, 2013 09:48 AM

Red Sox affiliates
1:00 p.m.
Trenton Thunder – Francisco Rondon (2012: 5-0, 3.93, 80 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Kyle Kaminska (2012: 9-4, 4.19 ERA, 66 Ks)

1:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Terry Doyle (2012: 6-3, 2.83 ERA, 71 Ks)
at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders – Brett Marshall (2012: 13-7, 3.52, 120 Ks)

2:00 p.m.
Salem Red Sox – Kyle Stroup (2012: 6-6, 3.67 ERA, 75 Ks)
at Frederick Keys – Tim Berry (2012: 7-13, 5.04 ERA, 109 Ks)

4:30 p.m.
Charleston RiverDogs – Gabriel Encinas (3-7, 4.97 ERA, 48 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Brian Johnson (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 Ks)

NOTES: Kyle Kaminska and the Portland Sea Dogs will try again for another matinee start, should the field watering go a little better today. Yesterday was the first time since 2010 that a home opening series at Hadlock suffered a postponement. That year two games against Trenton were called due to rain. In 2007 all four opening games (scheduled versus Connecticut) were scrapped due to snow…Former Boston College and Salem (N.H.) High School hurler Terry Doyle makes his organizational debut for the PawSox today. Doyle finished his 2012 season with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League…Kyle Stroup will be making his first start since September 3, 2011 while with Greenville. Stroup missed the entire 2010 and 2012 seasons due to ACL injuries…Today marks Brian Johnson’s first start since August 18th of last season when he was struck by a line drive from the leadoff batter in a start at Fenway Park as part of the Futures at Fenway event. Johnson did make four appearances for Lowell last year after being drafted 31st overall, and did not allow a run over 5 2/3 innings.

New England teams
1:35 p.m.
Reading Fightins’ - Austin Wright (2012: 11-5, 3.47 ERA, 133 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Ryan Tepera (2012: 8-6, 5.48 ERA, 71 Ks)

2:05 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Alex Meyer (2012: 10-6, 2.86 ERA, 139 Ks)
at Richmond Flying Squirrels – Justin Fitzgerald (2012: 7-8, 3.22 ERA, 130 Ks)

NOTES: Fisher Cats starts Ryan Tepera was 7-3 in his first Double-A stint a season ago. A win would give New Hampshire a split of the four game series. The Fisher Cats have not lost a season opening series since 2008 when they were swept by Connecticut…Twins top pitching prospect Alex Meyer makes his organizational debut after coming over from Washington in an offseason trade for Denard Span. In his first pro season the #23 overall selection of the 2011 draft had a 1.10 WHIP and averaged 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings while climbing from Low-A Hagerstown to High-A Potomac.

Kaminska looks to make first impression, Vazquez bolsters staff with aim, arm

Posted by Craig Forde April 6, 2013 11:26 AM

When the Portland Sea Dogs five-man pitching rotation was announced, four names immediately popped off the page; Drake Britton, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo.

Stuck in the middle of that bunch is Kyle Kaminska, an unfamiliar face to those who keep close watch over the tilled soil on the Red Sox farm.

Acquired in the offseason via a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Zach Stewart, Kaminska is now trying to adjust to life with his second new team in less than a year.

“Being traded for a second time, it’s a second set of unfamiliar faces,” said Kaminska. “I’ve played against many of them, but you don’t know them. As I’ve gotten to know them, they are a great bunch of guys, so it’s going to be a lot of fun this season.”

A 25th-round selection by the Marlins in 2007 out of Naperville (Illinois) High School, the 6’4” righty spent his first four seasons working on his raw abilities in rookie and A-ball.

In his sixth season he finally worked his way up to Triple-A New Orleans, made two appearances, but at the end of July he was headed to Pittsburgh as part of the Gaby Sanchez trade.

Again Kaminska found himself in A-ball, but by season’s end he was back in Double-A, this time getting a taste of the Eastern League with the Altoona Curve.

Considering he played for four different teams during his 2012 season, he survived the challenge and to his credit posted a 9-4 record over 40 appearances, only four of which were starts.

Following the 2012 season the Pirates decided to send Kaminska to Scottsdale of the Arizona Fall Kaminska.jpgLeague and the 24-year-old opened eyes in going 3-1 in six starts with a 1.61 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, with 21 Ks and only 4 walks.

He’ll be the first person to tell you that his stuff isn’t overpowering, but what he lacks in power he makes up for in command, posting a 1.89 walks-per-nine-innings average over his 488+ career innings of work.

“I’m going come in here and throw a lot of strikes,” said Kaminska. “I try to pound the bottom of the zone and get a lot of ground balls. I like to work quick.

“If there is anything I need to be working on [this season], it’s the finer points of the game. Working on my off speed stuff. I can throw it all for strikes, but it’s just a matter of tighten them up and making everything look like my fastball when I throw it.”

He came into the league as a starter, but was converted to a reliever by Miami before Pittsburgh decided to work him back as a starter in Arizona.

Now the Red Sox will keep him in that role, hopeful that he can be a solid compliment to a stable of stud arms in Portland this season.

Kaminska makes his organizational debut on Saturday afternoon when the Sea Dogs host the Trenton Thunder in game three of the 2013 season.

The Vazquez Factor

One added bonus that Kaminska, and the rest of his staff will benefit from this season is having Christian Vazquez behind the plate to guide them.

Thumbnail image for vazquez.jpg“We’re going to talk about where he wants to be,” said Vazquez on working with the newcomer Kaminska. “We’re going to talk before the game and be on the same page.”

It’s the same approach that he takes for every pitcher he catches for.

Vazquez’s stock has been sky-rocketing over the last year or so, and his reputation as the best catching prospect in the Red Sox organization, is cemented in his defensive prowess.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things,” said Kaminska of Vazquez.” I heard he can really throw it. That’s going to take a lot of pressure off of our shoulders in the running game. We got to make sure we are quick to the plate to give him a chance to throw out the guy at second or third base.”

Vazquez ability to throw out would-be base stealers is suddenly keeping teams closer to the bag.

Last season between Salem and Portland, the 22-year-old backstop threw out 49 of the 122 runners who tried to advance on him and in the first two games of 2013, the Trenton Thunder haven't dared make a move towards advancing a base.

In his first five professional seasons he has thrown out 35% of base stealers and coupled those numbers with a .988 fielding percentage.

Throwing runners out is something Vazquez takes great pride in, along with his overall defense and his ability to call the proper game to fit his pitchers abilities.

“Defense first and offense second,” said Vazquez. “I block [the hype] out and just play the game and get better every day. I want 1.000% in [fielding percentage] and to get the win.”

In the offseason he honed these skills even further when he played in both the Arizona Fall League and the Puerto Rican Winter League and by Spring Training he was the name on everybody's lips when it came to the catching position, especially those who have had the opportunity to work directly with him.

“He obviously keeps getting better every year so that’s definitely a confidence booster throwing every game,” said Anthony Ranaudo, who gets his first start on Monday. “I pitched to him in Greenville and Salem a little bit.

“He’s probably the best catcher that I have thrown to. I’ve heard a lot of people say that he could catch in the big leagues right now, so to have him on our team to kind of corral this staff should be fun.”

Saturday's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 6, 2013 01:22 AM

Red Sox affiliates
1:00 p.m.
Trenton Thunder – Francisco Rondon (2012: 5-0, 3.93, 80 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Kyle Kaminska (2012: 9-4, 4.19 ERA, 66 Ks)

2:00 p.m.
Salem Red Sox – Henry Owens (2012: 8-8, 3.01 ERA, 95 Ks)
at Frederick Keys – Tyler Wilson (2012: 8-7, 2.72 ERA, 80 Ks)

4:30 p.m. - GAME 1
Charleston RiverDogs – Rafael De Paula (8-2, 1.46 ERA, 85 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Pat Light (0-2, 2.37 ERA, 30 Ks)

GAME 2
Charleston RiverDogs – Gabriel Encinas (5-12, 3.26 ERA, 90 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Austin Maddox (0-1, 1.13 ERA, 4 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Chris Hernandez (2012: 6-9, 3.86 ERA, 129 Ks)
at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders – TBD (2012: N/A)

NOTES: Portland starter Kyle Kaminska made 35 appearances in Double-A ball last, all but one was in relief. His one start came while with Altoona (Pittsburgh) when he went 6 innings, allowing a run on six hits while earning the win...Salem puts Henry Owens on the hill in search of their first win of the season. Last year Owens tied for most wins of any pitcher in the farm system with 12...Greenville will use a pair of early 2012 draft picks in their seven-inning doubleheader games. Pat Light, the 37th overall pick a year ago, and Austin Maddox, the 118th selection, will be making their Low Class-A debuts...The PawSox look to go 3-0 for the first time since 2009. They were initially scheduled to face a rehabbing Phil Hughes, but the Yankee righty was activated late on Friday night and will now pitch for New York against Detroit on Saturday.

New England teams
1:35 p.m.
Reading Fightins’ – Seth Rosin (2012: 2-2, 4.08 ERA, 75 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Deck McGuire (2012: 5-15, 5.88 ERA, 97 Ks)

6:05 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Pat Dean (2012: 10-8, 3.99 ERA, 81 Ks)
at Richmond Flying Squirrels – Chris Gloor (2012: 4-5, 2.81 ERA, 74 Ks)

NOTES: Toronto is hoping for a big turnaround from Fisher Cats starter Deck McGuire, the 11th overall selection in 2010. After a 5-15 season the 6'6" righty was preaching consistency in his game on Media Day saying, "I’d have two good starts and three bad ones, then a good one and five bad ones. I just wasn’t very consistent. It’s a game of failure. Last season was tough, but I got through it, I survived it and now I’m ready to go in 2013.”...In the twelve innings of action between New Britain and Richmond on Friday (completion of Thursdays suspended game, plus seven inning evening game) the teams combined for 2 runs and 13 hits. The Rock Cats were no-hit in the nightcap in the face of a solid effort from starter Trevor May (5 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 Ks).

Arms carry Sea Dogs to first win of season

Posted by Craig Forde April 5, 2013 09:17 PM

photo (14).JPGPORTLAND, MAINE - One four-run blip in the second inning at Hadlock Field on Friday night was the only blemish of the Sea Dogs pitching staff who combined for 17 strikeouts in winning their first game of the season, 7-4, over the Trenton Thunder.

Starter Brandon Workman, minus that second inning, was incredible in his 2013 debut, flashing a 97 mph fastball while tossing 82 pitches over five innings, including nine strikeouts.

“I felt pretty good today,” said Workman of his first outing of the season. “My fastball was pretty good. My offspeed struggled a little bit today, but overall I thought I had a pretty good outing.”

The only three hits Workman allowed came in the second inning, which was capped by a long, two-run homer to center by Thunder designated hitter Neil Medchill, his second in as many games.

“The second inning obviously hurt,” said Workman who needed 30 pitches to get out of his only jam. “I just threw some pitches I shouldn’t have thrown and put them in places they shouldn’t have been put. That home run got hit real hard.”

“Workman was outstanding and settled in after he had that one tough inning,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “To be able to come back and finish with five innings and get that last out in the fifth was terrific.

After striking out the side in the fifth inning, Workman gave way to Chris Martin who picked up the baton and sprinted full speed ahead, striking out five of the first eight batters he faced.

“Martin was outstanding and really bridged the gap to Huntzinger,” said Boles. “[Martin’s] fastball-slide mix was pretty impressive.”

Martin finished with seven strikeouts in his three relief innings and Brock Huntzinger added one more as he came on to close the door in the ninth inning.

“Fastball command, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Martin who kept his heat around 95 mph for much of his three innings. “The first inning was good [weather-wise], but it was kind of hard to get the motor going again in the second and third [innings]. Adrenaline kicked in and helped me out.”

The Portland bats had jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning, thanks in large part to the fielding of the Thunder who suffered through a six-error game.

Xander Bogaerts benefited from three of those errors, scoring on each occasion, including a first inning error by the shortstop on a sure ground ball out and a botched pickoff attempt by Thunder catcher J.R. Murphy at first base in the third.

“The approach he took with two strikes was really impressive,” said Boles of Bogaerts. “That’s something to build on for him. With these [cold weather] conditions, this is something that a lot of these guys aren’t used to and Xander’s one of them.”

Michael Almanzar (2-for-4) was the only Sea Dogs player with a multi-hit game and Tony Thomas chipped in 2 RBI.

NOTES: After playing seven innings Stephen Drew made his way out to the clubhouse in right field with the presumption that he might be called up to Boston in the wake of the right arm injury suffered by Jose Iglesias. Drew looked solid at the plate, going 1-for-3 with a wall ball double and some solid swings across the board. He made a nice play on a slow grounder up the middle, but was otherwise unchallenged in the field. Following the game both Boles and Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett denied Drew's departure for the time being…Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-5 and scored three runs. In those five at-bats, Bogaerts allowed only one pitch by for a ball and took slide most balls that hit top the opposite field…Heiker Meneses stole second base in the fifth inning, the first for the Sea Dogs of the season. He was then thrown out attempting to steal third…Tomorrow’s 1:00 p.m. matinee will feature Kyle Kaminska’s organizational debut. The right-hander has 42 appearances in Double-A, but only one prior start.

Live updates from Portland: Sea Dogs vs. Trenton Thunder

Posted by Craig Forde April 5, 2013 04:46 PM

Final, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: Brock Huntzinger on in relief for Portland, looking to close the door on the Sea Dogs first win of 2013. First pitch Roller sends to right-center, but Hissey tracks it down for out number one. Segedin goes down looking on a pitch he thought was ball four. Pirela pops to short to end this game and get the fireworks popping in center with the lighthouse.

Bottom 8th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: Wilkerson strikes out to lead off. Bogaerts grounds out to second, yet almost benefits from another booted ball. Some guys have all the luck...but not all the time! Ryan Dent, in his first at-bat of the season, grounds to short, but reaches on an error when Roller can't squeeze the throw at first. It's the sixth Thunder E of the night. Thomas Ks to end the inning on a nice 74mph hook by Aaron Dott.

Top 8th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: Ryan Dent replaces Drew at shortstop. Another 95mph K from Martin, this time Ibarra suffers the wrath. Heathcott finally reaches base on a broken bat single that Dent couldn't handle at short. Dent is then challenged on a shallow fly behind second, just missing on an all-out dive. Martin handles the rest with two more Ks, giving Sea Dogs pitching 16 on the night. Per the Sea Dogs, that's the most since 7/11/11 when they had 17 against New Hampshire.

Bottom 7th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: After finishing the inning in the field, the rehabbing Stephen Drew ran out to the clubhouse in right field, signaling a possible return to the Red Sox in the wake of Jose Iglesias' bruised right arm. At least for his sake the dome in Toronto is heated, as opposed to the early April night's of Portland.

Back to the action, Almanzar with a leadoff single and Vazquez with a flyout to right. Meneses grounded to third with only a play at second possible and Hissey, first-pitch swinging, grounds to the pitcher.

Top 7th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: Martin forced Segedin into a first-pitch swinging fly out to center. It was the first non-strikeout out of a Thunder batter since the fourth inning (6 straight K outs). Pirela gets the K-train back on track, Martin's fourth. Martin then dumps Medchill with a 95mph inside heat...speaking of inside heat, sure could use some in the box! Trenton has not recorded a hit since Medchill's second inning home run.

Bottom 6th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: Bogaerts leads off with a fly out to left field. Drew laces a double off the right-centerfield wall but then Thomas and Shaw strikeout to strand him.

Top 6th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: Chris Martin, all 6'7" of him, now on for the Sea Dogs. Workman solid in four of his five innings of work, throwing 85 pitches allowing 3 hits and a walk while striking out 9. All four runs allowed in the second inning were earned. Martin notches the tenth Thunder K of the night, putting down Flores for the third time on strikes. Austin becomes Martin's second strikeout victim. A walk to Murphy the only flaw of Martin's inning as he Ks Roller to end the inning. 12 Ks on the night for Sea Dogs pitchers.

Bottom 5th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: For the second straight inning Vazquez draws the leadoff walk after running the count full. Meneses grounds one up the middle, shortstop Walter Ibarra makes a nice diving stop before the ball goes into center, backhanding it to Pirela for the force at second. Meneses snatches second base on the first pitch to Hissey who eventually draws a walk. Meneses is then caught stealing third base before Wilkerson grounds to first to end the inning.

Top 5th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4: Workman starts the fifth off with a strikeout of Neil Medchill, his seventh of the game. And number eight comes next in the form of Walter Ibarra. Then dials up a third K of leadoff man Slade Heathcott.

Bottom 4th inning, Sea Dogs 7, Thunder 4 : Christian Vazquez worked the count full before drawing a leadoff walk. Meneses singled and Vazquez advanced to third on a botched pickoff attempt at second base by catcher J.R. Murphy. Peter Hissey's first hit of the year scored Vazquez to tie the game. Wilkerson skied one behind the plate that Murphy handled. Bogaerts grounded back to the pitcher, but first baseman Kyle Roller mishandled the throw and for the second time tonight Xander reached on a sure-out error. Drew followed with a sac-fly to center, scoring Meneses to make it 5-4 Portland, knocking starter Zach Nuding from the game. Jeremy Bleich on to pitch for the Thunder...And this game is officially taking too long, per my numb fingers attempt to type...Tony Thomas singles to left scoring Hissey. Shaw follows with a slow single up through center, scoring Bogaerts. Michael Almanzar, the ninth batter of the inning, ends things with a 6-4 groundout.

Top 4th inning, Thunder 4, Sea Dogs 3: Workman gets another 1-2-3 inning, although this time without a strikeout. He only needed 11 pitches and has worked 68 tosses through four innings. As the weather continues to dip in Portland, it will be interesting to see how long he gets out there tonight, but with eight straight outs, he could have bought himself a bit more time.

Bottom 3rd inning, Thunder 4, Sea Dogs 3: Xander Bogaerts flares a single to right field on an 0-2 count, then moves up to second on a failed pickoff attempt from catcher J.R. Murphy. Drew's grounder to second moves Bogaerts over and a wild pitch in Tony Thomas' at-bat gets Xander home. Thomas worked a walk. Travis Shaw flied out to Ramon Flores in left, as did Michael Almazar. The wind has been wreaking havoc on high fly balls, but Flores has done a solid job at getting to those his way, although it hasn't been pretty.

strong>Top 3rd inning, Thunder 4, Sea Dogs 2: Workman started the inning with a 9 pitch strikeout of Ramon Flores, working his pitch count up to 50 while notching his 6th K. A quick three-pitch at-bat to Tyler Austin ends in a fly-out to left. Stephen Drew comes up with a nice play to end the inning, charging in on a grounder up the middle. Workman up to 57 pitches, 35 for strikes.

Bottom 2nd inning, Thunder 4, Sea Dogs 2: Heiker Meneses goes down swinging. Peter Hissey takes a 3-1 pitch to left, but the wind knocks the ball down before it could threaten the Maine Monster. Wilkerson pops one into orbit, creating another adventure for the fielders, but unlike the first inning, the Thunder were able to get to them in the second for a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 2nd inning, Thunder 4, Sea Dogs 2: After an 0-2 count, Workman loses J.R. Murphy to a walk and Kyle Roller followed with a flared-single to left that moved Murphy up to third with no outs. After an eight pitch strikeout of Rob Segedin, Jose Pirela flared an opposite field shot down into the right field corner, scoring two on a triple. Following up Pirela was Neil Medchill who put a charge into a Workman fastball, sending it over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer...and as quickly as the Sea Dogs got the lead, it was gone. Workman K'd the next two batters, including Heathcott once more, but has already tossed 41 pitches through two.

1st inning, Sea Dogs 2, Thunder 0: Brandon Workman came out firing for the Sea Dogs. A 94-mph heater opening pitch went for a swing and a miss and from there he ratcheted things up to around 97-mph, striking out the first two batters and ending the inning on a 4-3 putout.

Workman got instant backing on the offensive side of things, with thanks to some unsure fielding by the Thunder. Both Xander Bogaerts and Stephen Drew reached on infield errors that seemed to be routine outs, loading the bases with no outs. Tony Thomas' sac-fly to center, which Slade Heathcott made a nice diving catch on, scored Shannon Wilkerson from third for the game's first run. A Michael Almanzar high fly to shallow center turned into a different adventure for Heathcott, who couldn't play it properly with the wind, allowing it to drop in front of him while Bogaerts came around from second base.

photo (9).JPGPregame: The Sea Dogs are hoping that last night's 13-5 drubbing was just a case of Opening Night jitters. The Thunder launched three home runs and also benefited from five Portland errors. Prior to tonight's game the coaches had the infielders working incessantly on ground balls...the results were mixed, but hopefully the point was made.

Brandon Workman, last season's Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year, gets his sixth Double-A start, opposed by Zach Nuding, a 30th round selection of the Yankees in 2010. Last season Workman was 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA while with the Sea Dogs. In 25 innings of work he struck out 23 and walked 5.

Starting lineups

TRENTON (1-0)
Slade Heathcott CF
Ramon Flores LF
Tyler Austin RF
J.R. Murphy C
Kyle Roller 1B
Rob Segedin 3B
Jose Pirela 2B
Neil Medchill DH
Walter Ibarra SS

Zach Nuding RHP

PORTLAND (0-1)
Shannon Wilkerson CF
Xander Bogaerts DH
Stephen Drew SS
Tony Thomas LF
Travis Shaw 1B
Michael Almanzar 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Heiker Meneses 2B
Peter Hissey RF

Brandon Workman RHP

Game time: 6:00 p.m.

Radio: 95.5/95.9 FM WPEI Portland (available online HERE or via the 'Tune In Radio' app for smartphones and tablets)

Notes: Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his season debut last night. It was the first time in his career that he batted in the designated hitters slot, which is where he will again be tonight because of Stephen Drew's rehab stint which is expected to run through the weekend. During batting practice Bogaerts mostly grounded balls right back up the box, or flared field liners to right field...Slade Heathcott, the New York Yankees #2 prospect per Baseball America, went 0-for-6 in the leadoff slot. Number 4 prospect, Tyler Austin, put in a 1-for-4 effort with a double, RBI and two runs scored...Newcomer Kyle Kaminska (acquired in a trade for Zach Stewart in the offseason) starts for Portland tomorrow against Trenton's Francisco Rondon at 1:00 p.m.

Friday night's pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 5, 2013 03:47 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:00 p.m.
Trenton Thunder – Zach Nuding (2012: 9-3, 3.51 ERA, 77 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs – Brandon Workman (2012: 10-8, 3.50 ERA, 130 Ks)

7:00 p.m.
Salem Red Sox – Miguel Pena (2012: 8-8, 3.01 ERA, 95 Ks)
at Frederick Keys – Devin Jones (2012: 8-7, 2.72 ERA, 80 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox – Allen Webster (2012: 6-9, 3.86 ERA, 129 Ks)
at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders – Dellin Betances (2012: 6-9, 6.44 ERA, 124 Ks)

Charleston RiverDogs – Cesar Vargas (3-2, 3.13 ERA, 38 Ks)
at Greenville Drive – Justin Haley (0-1, 1.89 ERA, 33 Ks)

NOTES: Portland’s Workman, the Red Sox 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, will look to keep the ball from leaving Hadlock Field following last night’s three home run affair by Trenton. Temps are expected to dip into the 30s in Portland tonight…The Salem Red Sox kick off their season with Mickey Pena, a 2011 sixth-round pick, getting the ball in his first High-A start…The Sox system seems to be pitching rich of late, and moving to the top of the heap this spring was Allen Webster who gets his first action from the hill in Scranton tonight…The Greenville Drive will have take-two on their opening night, which was rained out on Thursday. That forced a doubleheader on Saturday, with both games scheduled for seven innings.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
Reading Fightins’ – Jesse Biddle (2012: 10-6, 3.22 ERA, 151 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Marcus Walden (2012: 14-4, 2.97 ERA, 82 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
New Britain Rock Cats – Trevor May (2012: 10-13, 4.87 ERA, 151 Ks)
at Richmond Flying Squirrels – Jack Snodgrass (2012: 10-8, 4.62 ERA, 92 Ks)

NOTES: The Fisher Cats will face off against Jesse Biddle who is rated as the top rated prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization by Baseball America and MLB.com…The Rock Cats will start Trevor May, who was ranked as the Phillies top prospect just a year ago, prior to being traded for Ben Revere. Prior to that, the Rock Cats and Flying Squirrels must complete their suspended game from last night which was called after 3 ½ innings due to rain.

Fisher Cats impress in opener

Posted by Craig Forde April 4, 2013 09:59 PM

DSCF4084.JPGMANCHESTER, N.H. - They dusted off the original forest green jerseys from their first season ten years ago, then wasted little time in getting back to the business of baseball as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats got six scoreless innings out of starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx to capture a 9-0 victory over the Reading Fightin' Phils at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium on Thursday.

"I was excited," said Bibens-Dirkx. "Having the opening day start is a priveldge. I just wanted to out there and pitch as well as I could to give the team a chance to win."

"He did a great job," said Fisher Cats manager Gary Allenson. "He was up in the zone a little bit early and probably had some first inning jitters. He settled down and did a good job."

Aiding the effort was a four-run second inning, highlighted by a mammoth two-run shot off the bat of the Fisher Cats ninth hitter. Second baseman John Tolisano unleashed on a 1-1 pitch, sending the offering deep over the right field wall, the road running behind it and on to the train tracks to give New Hampshire a 4-0 lead.

"We have some pretty good hitters in our lineup," said Allenson. "That [home run] obviously gave Bibens-Dirkx some breathing room.

Bibens-Dirkx settled in from there, allowing only 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6 in his Double-A debut, and first ever opening day start.

"The first couple of innings I was kind of all over the place," said Bibens-Dirkx. "I had my off speed working and was throwing it for strikes. I feel like that kept me grounded a little bit, not trying to overthrow knowing that I could trust my off speed pitches."

Out of the pen Clint Everts (2 innings) and Trystan Magnuson (1 inning) kept the Fightins' off the board, with both pitchers striking out two batters a piece while not allowing a hit.

All but one of the Fisher Cats batters collected a hit on the night, as Kenny Wilson set the table nicely at the top of the order, flashing speed and pop in a 3-for-5 night in which he collected and RBI, run and stolen base.

"He can run, throw, field, and it looks like he can hit and he's got some pop in his bat," said Allenson of his leadoff hitter. "That's five tools right there. If he's not one of the top guys [in the Blue Jays organization] then I don't know what I'm looking at."

Ryan Schimpf added a two run homer in the bottom of the sixth and Sean Ochinko collected two RBIs on the night to back the Fisher Cats cause.

NOTES: Clint Robinson went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and 3 walks in the cleanup slot...Magnuson threw 12 pitches in the ninth inning, 8 for strikes...Despite being the only hitless Fisher Cat, left fielder Kevin Pillar still drew high praise from his manager. "He's a really good player," said Allenson. "He'll be one of the league leaders in hitting. Somebody's got to make the outs, it's just the way baseball is."...Nashua, New Hampshire native Kevin Nolan collected an RBI single in his first Double-A at-bat in the second inning...Allenson announced that Chad Beck would serve as closer for the Fisher Cats to start the season.

Live Opening Night updates from Manchester

Posted by Craig Forde April 4, 2013 04:47 PM

Final: Fisher Cats 9, Fightin' Phils 0: Behind a solid effort from starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx, the Fisher Cats kick off their tenth season with a big shutout victory. John Tolisano and Ryan Schimpf supplied two-run long balls that both sailed far over the right field wall. Center fielder Kenny Wilson set the table nicely from the top of the order, going 3-for-5 with an RBI, run scored and stolen base. Bibens-Dirkx pitched six scoreless innings, striking out six to earn a win in his first start as a Fisher Cat.

After seven innings: The crowd has thinned quite a bit following Ryan Schimpf's two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Fisher Cats an 8-0 lead. In the bottom of the seventh Ochinko hit a bomb into the power-gap in right center, scoring Glenn from first base with a double. New Hampshire has plated runners in five of the last six innings. Fisher Cats 9, Fightin' Phils 0

Bottom of the fourth inning: Kenny Wilson drove in Brad Glenn with a single to right. Glenn slid past the tag of Reading catcher Cameron Rupp and as Rupp was arguing the call with the umpire, the speed Wilson quietly advanced to second base. Wilson is 3-3 with an RBI and stolen base in his Fisher Cats debut. Fisher Cats 5, Fightin' Phils 0

Bottom of the second inning: The Fisher Cats strike first in the bottom half of the frame. Clint Robinson hit a long, wall-ball single to right and Ricardo Nanita reached after he was plunked in the arm with a pitch, setting a nice stage for the return of Nashua native Kevin Nolan, making his Double-A debut. After taking a strike, the first New Hampshire player to suit up for the Fisher Cats went opposite field off the right field wall for an RBI double. Sean Ochinko pushed Nanita home with a sac-fly to center, then one batter later John Tolisano, batting in the ninth spot, unloaded on a fastball, sending it over everything in right field for a two-run homer. Fisher Cats 4, Fightin' Phils 0.

Pregame: We open the On Deck season at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester as the host New Hampshire Fisher Cats welcome the newly renamed and re-branded Reading Fightin' Phils. What has now become a tradition since starting this journey a few years back, we flock north to see what the Double-A Blue Jays have in store for the upcoming season.

The Fightins', who will wear jerseys emblazoned with 'Baseballtown' across the front, are taking batting practice on a sun-drenched field, but a stiff wind blowing out to left and a quick glance at the calendar tells you all you need to know about where the weather will be by the time this one concludes.

Starting lineups

Thumbnail image for reading-fightin-phils-2.pngREADING
Albert Cartwright 2B
Edgar Duran SS
Zach Collier CF
Jim Murphy 1B
Tyler Henson 3B
Cameron Rupp C
Sebastian Valle DH
Derrick Mitchell LF
Anthony Hewitt RF

David Buchanan SP

NHlogo.jpgNEW HAMPSHIRE
Kenny Wilson CF
Kevin Pillar LF
Ryan Schimpf 3B
Clint Robinson 1B
Ricardo Nanita DH
Kevin Nolan SS
Brad Glenn RF
Sean Ochinko C
John Tolisano 2B

Austin Bibens-Dirkx SP

MiLB Notes: Biben-Dirkx will be making his first opening day start in his eighth season of professional baseball. He did make three appearances in the Eastern League last year while with the Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals). He posted a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings with the Senators...Reading starter David Buchanan is making his first apperance since rupturing a tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand last June... Tomorrow night the Fightins' send top prospect Jesse Biddle to the mound against New Hampshire's Marcus Walden...Tonight's Greenville Drive season opener against the Charleston RiverDogs has been postponed due to inclement weather. Full Opening Day festivities have been bumped up to Friday...We will take the trip to Portland tomorrow to catch Brandon Workman against Trenton Thunder's Zach Nuding.

Opening Day pitching matchups

Posted by Craig Forde April 4, 2013 12:23 PM

Red Sox affiliates
6:00 p.m.
Trenton Thunder: Nik Turley (2012: 10-5, 3.00, 117 Ks)
at Portland Sea Dogs: Drake Britton (2012: 7-12, 4.44, 118 Ks)

7:05 p.m.
Pawtucket Red Sox: Steven Wright (2012: 10-7, 2.54 ERA, 119 Ks)
at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: Vidal Nuno (2012: 10-6, 2.54, 126 Ks)

Greenville Drive: Justin Haley (2012: 0-1, 1.89, 33 Ks)
at Charleston RiverDogs: Cesar Vargas (2012: 3-2, 3.13, 38 Ks)

Notes: All three Sox farm teams in action today kick off their season against affiliates of the New York Yankees...The High-A Salem Red Sox kick off their season on Friday against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles)...The PawSox will be looking to win their eighth straight season opener and the Drive will be looking for their fourth straight, while the Sea Dogs look to clear the gate faster than their 0-5 start a year ago.

New England teams
6:35 p.m.
Reading Fightin’ Phils: David Buchanan (2012: 3-5, 3.86, 40 Ks)
at New Hampshire Fisher Cats: Andy Bibens-Dirkx (2012: 2-4, 6.40, 63 Ks)

New Britain Rock Cats: Logan Darnell (2012: 11-12, 5.08, 98 Ks)
at Richmond Flying Squirrels: Craig Westcott (2012: 11-10, 4.09, 68 Ks)

Notes: New Hampshire kicks off their tenth season by hosting the Reading Phillies who have recently added "Fightin'" their moniker. Fisher Cats starter Bibens-Dirkx enters his eighth pro season with his fifth organization...The Rock Cats opened last season by taking three-of-four from the Flying Squirrels, including a two-hit, five-inning victory from tonight's starter Logan Darnell in the third game of the season. Darnell will once again face off against Craig Westcott, his opposition in that game last year.

MiLB Opening Day: Team Previews, Ballpark Slide Show

Posted by Craig Forde April 4, 2013 01:46 AM

openingday.jpgIt's Opening Day for Minor League Baseball, so before the action begin this evening, take a moment to see who is poised to have big seasons by checking out the team previews for all of the Red Sox farm teams kicking off play, as well as the other affiliated teams based in New England.

Red Sox affiliates
PawSox preview (Triple-A)
Sea Dogs preview (Double-A)
Salem Sox preview (High Class-A)
Drive preview (Low Class-A)

Other New England teams
Fisher Cats preview (Double-A, Toronto Blue Jays)
Rock Cats preview (Double-A, Minnesota Twins)

Also, please check out this slide show featuring the Minor League Baseball parks of New England and continue to check back in for more on Opening Day, including pitching matchups and live updates from tonight's New Hampshire Fisher Cats home opener versus the Reading Fightin' Phils from Manchester.

Drive preview

Posted by Craig Forde April 4, 2013 01:37 AM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Drivelogo.gifGreenville Drive (2012: First half 34-36, fifth place South Atlantic League Southern Division; Second half 32-37, fifth place SAL Southern)

Outlook: This is a key stopping point for the crew of players that have reached Greenville.

Now is the time for these guys to learn not only about what they need to do physically to improve their skills to make it to the next level, but also how to handle the mental grind of the game under the rigors of a full season schedule.

Two of the Sox first round picks from last year, Brian Johnson and Pat Light, will highlight the pitching staff for the Drive with third-rounder Austin Maddox looking to build off of the successes in the little work he was able to get in last season (8IP, 8Ks, 1ER).

Mookie Betts and Jose Vinicio could prove an exciting tandem up the middle of the infield. Both are extremely athletic players who go hard after any ball hit in their direction. Vinicio is ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Sox system according to Baseball America, but he is only the fifth best at his shortstop position due to a logjam of talent.

Pitching coach Paul Abbott jumps from Lowell to Greenville, which should provide some comfort for those pitchers who learned under his tutelage in their first go at pro ball with the Spinners.

Thoughts: Most of this group should be very familiar with each other, having played on the Gulf Coast or in Lowell together other over the last couple of seasons.

For those from the draft class of 2012, this will be their first full pro season, so they will need to find the proper way to pace themselves, which is damn near impossible for even the best of the best…just ask Jackie Bradley and Matt Barnes. In that regard, it will be interesting to see how Light, Johnson and Maddox hold up over the course of 140 games.

A couple of guys that I just like in general are Mike Miller and David Chester. Miller was smooth in playing all over the infield with Lowell last year and Chester’s power potential earned him a call up from the Spinners to Greenville late in the season. Chester hits them as far as most anyone I’ve seen when he gets a hold of it.

Player to watch: Johnson – The 31st overall selection in the draft had a rough go of things when he made the transition from the University of Florida to Lowell last season. Not so much in how he pitched, but what came back at him. In his first start he got a ball off his knee, and in his last, at Fenway Park, he got a ball lined off of his cheek, ending his season. In speaking with Johnson before the season started, he said he was 100% ready to go.

Strengths: Pitching – Once again the arms have it! The Drive roster lays claim to four (Light, Johnson, Cody Kukuk, Frank Montas) of the top fifteen pitchers in the Boston Red Sox system. Montas may be the most under-the-radar of the group, until the radar is actually on him. With the potential to reach triple-digits with his fastball, his name will soon be known.

Weaknesses: Outfield - As the pitching as dominated the 'Strengths' section of these previews, the outfield has done the same for weaknesses. Unfortunately, after folk-hero Jackie Bradley Jr., there isn't a plethora of outfield talent waiting in the wings. Greenville doesn't offer much hope in that department either.

Salem Sox preview

Posted by Craig Forde April 4, 2013 12:57 AM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SalemSoxlogo.gifSalem Red Sox (2012: First half 41-28, second place Southern League Southern Division; Second half 27-41, last place SL Southern)

Outlook: The Red Sox High Single-A affiliate in Salem has served as a weigh-station for many talented players headed north since 2009 and this season they once again have some high-end talent that seems destined to be headed this way soon.

The trio of third baseman Garin Cecchini and battery mates LHP Henry Owens and catcher Blake Swihart may end up becoming very familiar with each other in the coming years as their careers run parallel to each other on their way towards Boston. The triumvirate are all considered top 10 prospects in Boston’s system and they have each proved it since becoming pros.

Shortstop Deven Marrero leapfrogged Low-A Greenville and looks to be on a fast track after being invited to the big league camp in Spring Training. The first rounder was well seasoned coming out of Arizona State on his way to Lowell last year, showing off a solid bat to all fields and some improved range in the infield that at times seems effortless.

Up-the-middle alongside Marrero will be Sean Coyle, the organization’s best prospect at second base.

Brandon Jacobs returns to the Salem outfield after a 13 home run season a year ago. His 128 strikeouts last season are a point of contention with his advancement at this stage, so look for him to work more on patience at the plate. If he can harness that, then his power numbers.

Thoughts: Of the top talent on this team, there is a good mix at different positions that will provide a great balance to this roster out of the gate.

Cecchini continues to blossom and I feel he has as much potential as anyone in this system. He just gets it on and off the field, he carries himself the right way and he is a beast between the lines. He proved last year that he could stay healthy which was key and his 51 stolen bases really opened the eyes of many to his overall potential.

Watching how Marrero and Coyle work together up the middle is something of note as they could be on a similar trajectory to success, especially is Coyle improves at the plate.

Some sleepers on the pitching side of things include Noe Ramirez, Mike Augliera (who made the leap from Lowell to Salem ala Marrero), William Cuevas and Miguel Pena, who Swihart once noted as one of the best pitchers he has caught.

Player to watch: Owens - As the Sox top left-handed pitching prospect many are hungry for him to be ready sooner-rather-than later. However, he won't turn 21 until July and he is still a raw, young talent. That being said, this kid has the tools to get the job done and more importantly he has baseball smarts, which is something that many at his age just simply do not possess. With another season dealing to former Team USA teammate Swihart, he will be able to work in a comfort zone that notched him 12 wins in Greenville last year.

Strengths: Infield – Three of the starting infielders – Cecchini, Marrero and Coyle - are potential big league starters because they are excel at many different aspects of the game. All are fast and cover lots of ground in the field and on the base paths. The three players combined for 107 extra base hits and 91 stolen bases in 2012.

Weaknesses: Outfield experience –The five outfielders listed on the opening day roster have a combined 214 games played at the High-A level and no experience above it.

Sea Dogs preview

Posted by Craig Forde April 4, 2013 12:17 AM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SeaDogslogo.gifPortland Sea Dogs (2012: 68-74, fourth place in EL Eastern Division)

Outlook: Skipper Kevin Boles, now in his third season with the Sea Dogs, should be very pleased with the cards he has been dealt to start the 2013 season.

It begins with the Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts at shortstop who will share the infield with 2010 first-rounder Kolbrin Vitek at third and Travis Shaw (who belted 19 home runs last season) at first. Michael Almanzar, who batted .300 with 12 home runs in Salem last year, has only played at first and third base during his career, but his bat may require him to adjust to other positions in order to crack the lineup.

Christian Vazquez’s stock has soared over the last year or so and following an eye-opening stint in the Arizona Fall League, following the 2012 season, his momentum is as high as anyone’s in the organization heading into 2013. Now when people speak of the catcher the words “big league ready” tend to accompany his name.

Vazquez will have a great opportunity to show what he can do with a talented staff of arms as well, working with a starting rotation of Drake Britton, Brandon Workman, Kyle Kaminska, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo.

With a starting five that is potential-packed, the bullpen may be overlooked. If Daniel Bard can use this opportunity to find himself and simply enjoy the game once more, than he will be as reliable as they come for the time they can keep him in Portland. But up-and-down the staff is a slew of reliable arms from Keith Couch to Will Latimer to Miguel Celestino.

Thoughts: There are plenty of reasons to be excited in Portland this season with a roster that is packed with talent prospects, many of whom are just reaching their potential.

The pitching rotation looks amazing on paper at first glace. In Britton and Ranaudo we have two guys looking to live up to hype that many feel they have fallen short of since arriving in the farm system.

Workman and Barnes are both riding high off of very successful 2012 campaigns and will want to prove they can do it once again. Kaminska, acquired in an offseason trade for Zach Stewart, is the unknown in this formula, which could help him just slip through and just pitch his game when he hits the hill.

Vitek still ceases to impress at this point in his career, but a back injury slowed him a season ago, leaving the door open for this year to be his chance to finally prove himself on this level.

Player to watch: Bogaerts – With Jackie Bradley doing his thing in Boston, some of the pressure on Bogaerts as the org’s top prospect should have waned, allowing him to simply go out and do his job. With some added game experience versus some top opponents while with the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, expect Bogaerts to be ready from the jump. If he picks up where he left a year ago, then he will light things up in Portland and at a rate not seen around these parts in a VERY long time. It’s doubtful he will last the full season with the Sea Dogs so his at-bats will be must-see events while he is there.

Strengths: Pitching – As has been the case for most of these previews, the pitching is once again a standout of a roster. Four of the Red Sox top 15 pitching prospects (per BA) sit in the starting rotation. If Ranaudo stays healthy and the others do what they have done of late, then it will be a special staff to watch. The nature of this group will lead to some friendly, in-house competition that could help ratchet up the intensity of these guys when they are pitching.

Weaknesses: Outfield depth – Tony Thomas is a second baseman by trade and has played in only 24 of 499 games in the outfield. Yet he is listed on the roster as one of four outfielders for Portland this season. The other three – Peter Hissey, Ronald Bermudez and Shannon Wilkerson – combined for only 141 games at this level last season.

Rock Cats preview

Posted by Craig Forde April 3, 2013 11:27 PM

new-brit-rock-catgs.jpgNew Britain Rock Cats (2012: 75-67, third place in EL Eastern Division)

Outlook: Following a franchise record worst 44-98 season in 2010, Jeff Smith has seen improvement in his Rock Cats over the last two seasons. Now, in his fourth season at the helm, the team looks for their first playoff berth in over a decade.

On paper, the names that draw immediate attention fall under the pitching category and start with the two major off-season acquisitions of Trevor May and Alex Meyer. The big strong right handed pitchers rank as top 10 prospects in the Minnesota organization, with Meyer ranked as the top pitching prospect for the Twins by Baseball America.

The staff also returns Brett Hermsen and Logan Darnell. Last season Hermsen, who was added to the Twins 40-man roster, went 11-6 during his time in New Britain and his 2.88 season ERA (between Fort Myers and New Britain) was the best in the organization.

Josmil Pinto will get the bulk of the catching duties after logging 105 games behind the plate a season ago. After hitting .295 in 93 games with High Single-A Fort Myers, he continued to hit on his arrival to New Britain where he batted .298 in 12 games. Pinto is 24 years old, but is more experienced than most his age as he enters his eighth season in professional baseball.

A thin outfield includes the return of Evan Bigley who will be making his fourth tour of duty with the Rock Cats. In 248 games with New Britain he has a .268 batting average with 23 home runs and 137 RBIs.

Thoughts: There seems to be a trend of strong pitching staffs going around the New England area and the Rock Cats fit the bill just the same, although there are some question marks with regards to some of their more highly regarded players.

Infielder Danny Santana is ranked by BA as the 11th best Twins prospect and their best at the shortstop position. However, he is capable of playing other positions, most second base. He had his best season at the plate a year ago, batting .286, but his patience is still lacking as he drew only 29 walks in 547 plate apperances. If he can improve on that aspect of his game, then he could reach his potential.

Pinto is an intruiging player having already put in seven seasons in pro ball. Will his experience pay off for him? With Danny Lehmann and Dan Rohlfing considered more of backup catchers, Pinto will have every chance to prove his worth this year.

Lastly, it will be worth keeping an eye on May and the long ball. In his first season in Double-A last year, he allowed a career high 22 home runs over 149 2/3 innings. In his prior four seasons he allowed only 21 in 375 2/3 innings.

Player to watch: Meyer – The top pitching prospect in any organization is always worth keeping an eye on and Meyer is no exception. Add to that the fact that the last best pitcher to emerge from the Twins farm system was Johan Santana and you can expect that fans already have Meyer in their crosshairs. Acquired in a trade that sent Denard Span to the Washington Nationals, the 6’9” hurler throws heat, hitting and maintaining his fastball in the high-90s. He can work with at least another four pitches, which includes a standout slider. In his debut pro season last year he struck out 139 batters over 129 innings and posted a 10-6 record with a 2.89 ERA.

Strengths: Pitching – See above. With four of the organizations Top 15 pitching prospects (per BA), the Rock Cats will need to keep the opposition bats at bat in order to win ballgames this season.

Weaknesses: Power – Hitting in general is not the strongest suit of the players on this roster, but the lack of power is glaring. Of the 14 positional players, only two had over ten home runs. Second baseman James Beresford has only one in 2113 career at-bats.

Fisher Cats preview

Posted by Craig Forde April 3, 2013 01:26 AM

new-hampshire-fishercats-new-logo-colors.jpgNew Hampshire Fisher Cats (2012: 61-81, last place EL Eastern Division)

Outlook: After two seasons at the helm, manager Sal Fasano has moved on, but in his place comes another former big league catcher and familiar face in former Red Sox backstop Gary Allenson.

Allenson brings a bit more fire and big league spit to his approach, but like most skeptical skippers in a new post he will let things play out on the field before deciding the fate of his squad.

With that being said, the Fisher Cats return some familiar faces that most thought would have come and gone by now, most notably pitchers Deck McGuire, Chad Beck, Chad Jenkins and Joel Carreno.

The feel good story at the start of the season is the arrival of Nashua native Kevin Nolan who, at age 25, makes his Double-A debut in his own backyard, becoming the first player from the state of New Hampshire to play for the Fisher Cats.

John Tolisano, a 2007 second round selection, returns to anchor a solid core of infielders, while Brad Glenn will be the vet of a young outfield core.

Thoughts: This year’s Fisher Cats roster seems to contain about as big a mix as you will see on this level. From the veteran presences of reliever Tommy Hottovy and INF/OF Ricardo Nanita to the fresh faces of outfielders and table-setters Kenny Wilson and Kevin Pillar, it will be interesting to see how it all meshes.

That in mind, the balance seems to lie in those players that have been here before, the McGuire’s and Tolisano’s of the world, who are in that in-between ground of knowing what to expect in New Hampshire while working harder than ever to advance.

I would expect that a good majority of the pitching staff will turnover throughout the season, but much of the bats will need to stick around for some more seasoning on this level as there aren't any sticks that standout as big-league or next-level ready.

Player to watch: Marcus Stroman – Currently serving a suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy by testing positive for an over the counter energy stimulant that he says he unknowingly ingested, he will not hit the mound until May. Then it is game on for the 2012 first round pick (22nd overall) out of Duke who is ranked by Baseball America as the Blue Jays third best pitching prospect. His fastball is a plus-pitch that can reach the high-90s and consistently maintain in the mid-90s throughout an outing. After being promoted to New Hampshire last year, he proved he could handle the big jump by striking out 8 batters in 8 innings of relief work, while posting a 2-0 mark. When he returns you can bet that he will once again feel that he has something to prove.

Strengths: Power from the right side – New Hampshire boasts five right-handed bats who had double digit home run tallies a year ago, one switch-hitter (John Tolisano) who did the same and a couple of other righty sticks who have done so in years past.

Weaknesses: Depth - If the Fisher Cats can get back guys that they currently have listed on their disabled list, as well as Stroman, then things will start to even out nicely. But until that time, things may get a little thin on the bench. Pitchers Evan Crawford, Chorye Spoone and Jenkins will eventually provide a boost to a decent staff of arms. The bigger concern may be, ‘When can catcher A.J. Jimenez return to action after missing much of last season following Tommy John surgery?’ Now considered by most as the top catcher in the system, the Blue Jays will be anxious to see what he can do upon his return.

Upon return, Hottovy reflects fondly on New England

Posted by Craig Forde April 3, 2013 12:32 AM

Hottovy.jpgFor better or worse Tommy Hottovy has returned to New England, but as has been the case throughout his career in professional baseball the left-handed reliever is putting on his best face and tackling the challenge head on.

Having signed with Kansas City as a free agent following the 2011 season, Hottovy started the 2012 campaign with the Triple-A Omaha Storm where he was a Pacific Coast League All-Star, eventually earning his second tour of duty in the big leagues where he posted a 2.89 ERA over 9 1/3 innings of relief work.

He soon found himself a wanted man when the Texas Rangers traded for him in November of last year, but the signing of Lance Berkman forced the team to designate Hottovy for assignment where he was snatched off the waiver wire by Toronto.

With a full-house of a pitching staff the Blue Jays were also forced to designate Hottovy, but this time he cleared waivers and ultimately landed with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

It’s the first time since early in the 2011 season, while with the Portland Sea Dogs, that Hottovy has been back in Double-A.

“It’s just one of those things where [the Blue Jays organization] has a lot of guys here this year,” said Hottovy of his current situation. “There are 26 guys in Triple-A (Buffalo) and one guy on the DL. There is only one guy there who hasn’t been in the big leagues and twenty-four guys have more big league time than I do.”

Included in that group are both left-handed relievers on the Bisons roster, Alex Hinshaw (74 innings) and another former Red Sox farmhand Juan Perez (27 2/3 innings).

Yet Hottovy, who has 13 1/3 big league innings under his belt, knows that he has the stuff to be a big league pitcher and he won’t allow any traffic to deter him.

“My goal this year is not to be in Buffalo, my goal is to be in the big leagues,” said Hottovy. “With the Blue Jays organization, they want to win now, and if somebody up there is struggling they’re not going to hesitate to take anybody out.

“They’ve basically said; Double-A, Triple-A, it’s not going to matter. It’s who is going to be pitching well at the time that [they] need somebody.”

Not far south from where Hottovy will start his 2013 season is an old friend in a similar situation, as former battery mate Ryan Lavarnway gears up to start the year in Triple-A Pawtucket after finishing the season in Boston.

“Once you’ve had a taste of it, I think it brings a new perspective in coming back to the Minor Leagues,” said Lavarnway. 'You kind of see what’s important and what’s not and you worry less about the little things and more about just taking care of business.”

Hottovy echoed the sentiment of his former catcher.

“[I want to] come here and not lose sight of what’s important and that’s going out and working hard every day,” he said. “I’m still not where I want to be. That’s the mindset you kind of have to take and keep plugging away. That’s the goal of all of us.”

“He is a very good player and I think he has the stuff to pitch at the Major League level,” added Lavarnway of Hottovy. “He’s got great stuff. He kind of took the long route to the big leagues, longer than anyone really wants to, but he preserved.”

It took Hottovy eight long seasons in the Red Sox system before he would get his big break, which came on June 3rd, 2011, a month before his 30th birthday.

“When you grow up and come through an organization for eight years and you get to make your debut at Fenway Park in front of 30,000 fans, it’s pretty special,” said Hottovy reflecting on his time in the Red Sox organization.

“The love for the Red Sox from the fans in this area is just unbelievable and to be a part of that…is special. I definitely have a lot of love for the people up here and a lot of great memories and relationships.”

The Fisher Cats don’t visit Portland - a place where he called home for parts of six seasons – until May 20th, but if Hottovy still happens to be on the New Hampshire roster at the time you can expect that the fans at Hadlock Field will be quick to return the love.

“I spent my whole career up here [in New England],” said Hottovy who played parts of his first eight pro seasons in Lowell, Portland, Pawtucket and Boston. “Last year was pretty neat because I’m from Kansas City and I was playing in Omaha two hours away.

“Now I’m back to where I’ve been quite a bit. I’m definitely familiar [with the region] and have a lot of family and friends and people I’ve met over the years. That definitely makes things easier with the transition.”

About the author

Craig Forde covers baseball talent as it develops into the next big thing. He has covered high school and college sports for the Boston Globe, and the minor league teams More »

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