Portland’s roster is set for Opening Day and is this club ever loaded! The Sea Dogs today announced the names of 27 players (including three starting the year on the DL) who will defend the Eastern League crown.
How stacked are these Sea Dogs? Three of the top ten prospects we have will play here, and 19 players boast Double-A experience; 16 spent time in Portland last season. Right hander Clay Buchholz, [left] the number three prospect in ‘Sox Nation, gets the Opening night start. He was 11-4 with a 2.42 ERA between Low-A Greenville (SALLY) and High-A Wilmington, and his 140 strikeouts was the class of our farm system.
And yes, the organizational cornerstone for the next decade, Jacoby Ellsbury, will be patrolling center here at Hadlock Field when the ‘Dogs kick off the 2007 season next Thursday night, same as he did for 50 games down the stretch in ’06. Named the second-best prospect in the entire Red Sox farm system (behind Dice-K) by Baseball America, Ellsbury has all the tools. Last year he hit a combined .303 with Single-A Wilmington (Carolina League) and Double-A Portland. And his 41 steals were tops in the Red Sox organization! Flanking Ellsbury will be a couple of studs in Jeff Corsaletti, who worked a Carolina League best 97 walks; his .400 OBP led the Blue Rocks last season), and newly acquired Cory Keylor, the Orioles’ Minor League Player-of-the-Year with Bowie in 2006 where he batted .294 with ten homers and 68 ribbies.
Hope you weren’t planning on waiting until the very last minute to purchase tickets to the Sea Dogs annual Welcome Home Dinner. There plum ain’t any left! Next Wednesday’s event to meet-and-greet the 2007 club comes on the eve of the season opener. Extra special this year, what with handing out rings and hoisting that EL Championship banner over Portland’s Hadlock Field! Gates open at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 5th. Game time 6:20 as our ‘Dogs get set to defend their crown against the Connecticut Defenders.
The Sea Dogs opening day roster is beginning to crystalize. And it promises to be a strong one- maybe even stronger than the club that captured Portland’s first-ever Eastern League crown last season. A trade the Red Sox pulled off yesterday with the Orioles could reap instant dividends here at Hadlock Field. In dire need of a seasoned backup catcher, Baltimore acquired Alberto Castillo, a non-roster player from Boston. In exchange, the Birds parted with their 2006 Minor League Player-of-the-Year, outfielder Cory Keylor, who hit .294 with ten homers and 68 RBI with the Double-A Bowie Baysox. ‘Dogs broadcaster, Mike Antonellis says Keylor just might open the season here in Portland!
In other moves Tuesday, Boston optioned relievers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen to Triple-A Pawtucket. Hansen, who shined in brief stints as a Sea Dog, has been inconsistent in two, partial seasons with the big club. This spring he’s been downright dreadful. Hansen said yesterday he “is letting the team down” and welcomes the chance to work his way back to the majors with the Paw Sox.
In other news, Jon Lester will start the season in Greenville, South Carolina. Terry Francona says the plan is for Lester to make four starts for the Class-A Drive and build up his pitch count, before the club evaluates the young lefthander’s next step on the road back from chemotherapy treatments.
On the Sea Dogs calendar, with Opening Night and the gala championship ring ceremony just eight days away, a couple of items of note. On Monday, April 2nd the team is due to arrive in Portland. We’ll post the complete roster here in the next couple of days. Wednesday night, April 4th is the annual ‘Welcome Back Dinner‘ to benefit Youth Alternatives. Tickets are still available.
A trimmer ‘Big Papi’, a bigger Hanley Ramirez, and a sleeper pick for this year’s Cy Young hardware in the Junior Circuit. Just some of what Mike Antonellis is serving up, direct from Fort Myers, in this episode of Dog Cast. Enjoy Show #5 Red Sox Nation!
The radio voice of the Sea Dogs joins us from balmy Fort Myers (sure, rub it in, Mike!). Mike Antonellis plays pepper with us about Hanley Ramirez, the log jam in the ‘Sox outfield, and the sudden retirement of Chris Durbin. Here’s show #4.
And you can stay up-to-the-minute on all the Red Sox news from Spring Training with Mike’s daily blog, “Turning Two.”
Exactly two weeks to go until Opening Night at Hadlock Field. It’s the second (official) day of Spring here in still snowy Portland, Maine. Warm up with this feature on how the ‘Dogs have been striking out cancer in kids – to the tune of $3 million dollars! Show #3 comin’ at ya…
So much for our so-called clout. The announcement out of Theo’s (can we still call him, wunderkind?) office late Tuesday was a terse one. Gabbard’s departure leaves 40 in the big league camp. Not one of them a pitcher more worthy of being in Boston’s starting rotation than … awe, as Joe Schultz might put it, tell your stats to shut up! Oh well, at least the countdown here in still-snowy Portland says only 15 days, 8 hours and change ’till our Sea Dogs take the field to receive their 2006 EL championship rings and crank up another season.