This week I will be previewing the Double A Portland Sea Dogs, a team filled with the Red Sox system’s top prospects.
2012 Season: Under manager Kevin Boles, the Sea Dogs finished the 2012 season at 68-73, missing out on the playoffs. Outfielder Bryce Brentz was the team MVP for the season.
Rotation: Drake Britton- LHP, Brandon Workman- RHP, Kyle Kaminska- RHP, Matt Barnes- RHP, Anthony Ranaudo- RHP
I have a personal rooting interest in Matt Barnes, because his last name is the same as my wife’s maiden name. She hasn’t owned a Red Sox jersey since Jason Varitek retired, so we are both hoping Barnes will make it all the way to the majors. He had a strong debut in the Red Sox system, blitzing through the low minors before tiring at the end of the season. A strong performance at Portland would thrust him to the front of the suddenly crowded group of top pitching prospects.
Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman faced each other in the final game of the College World Series in 2010. Now they’re teammates and friends, but coming into this season with wildly different results in 2012. Ranaudo had a nightmare season, with injuries and ineffectiveness limiting him to only 38 innings. Workman dominated in High A Salem and was named the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
According to reports from Spring Training, Ranaudo is finally healthy, with his fastball velocity back up into the 90’s. He looks to get back to the form that had him ranked as the top pitching prospect in the system entering 2012. Workman needs to show he has the stamina to pitch deep into games and remain as a starting pitcher.
C: Christian Vazquez
1B: Travis Shaw
2B: Heiker Meneses
SS: Xander Bogaerts
3B: Kolbrin Vitek
LF: Tony Thomas
CF: Shannon Wilkerson
RF: Peter Hissey
DH: Michael Almanzar
Xander Bogaerts begins his season at Portland universally regarded as the top prospect in the Red Sox system. He has the upside to reach the offensive levels of a Troy Tulowitzki, at a position where the normal offensive level is more like Yuniesky Betancourt. He’s hit at every level of the minors so far, although his patience and pitch recognition could still use some sharpening.
Catcher Christian Vazquez calling card is his defense. His pop times (the total amount of time from when the pitch reaches his glove until he releases the ball to second) in Spring Training were in the 1.9 second range, with anything under 2 seconds considered elite. He needs to prove he can hit at an acceptable level to move his ceiling above backup catcher.
Both Kolbrin Vitek and Michael Almanzar came into the Sox system with high expectations. Vitek was the Sox first pick in the 2010 draft, while Almanzar was signed to a 1.5$ million bonus out of the Domican Republic.
Vitek struggled in 2012, while Almanzar finally showed some signs of offensive prowess. Portland will test both players, and this season should give a good gauge of whether they will move up the ladder or stall in the minors.
Daniel Bard- RHP
Keith Couch- RHP
Miguel Celestino- RHP
Brock Huntzinger- RHP
Chris Martin- RHP
Pete Ruiz- RHP
Will Latimer- LHP
Daniel Bard is the big name here, as he attempts to rebound from his season long struggles in 2012. There were glimpses of his former self in Spring Training, but the Sox are looking for him to show consistent mechanics and dominance before he can return to the majors.
Twitter: @PortlandSeaDogs, @SeaDogsRadio