One of the most anticipated Portland Sea Dogs seasons begins tonight when the team plays the Reading Phillies at 7 o’clock at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, Pa.

The Sea Dogs are beneficiaries of their affiliate, the Boston Red Sox, and their ability to draft and keep quality players.

Ten of the top 30 Red Sox prospects, according to Baseball America, will suit up for the Sea Dogs tonight. And it’s not a huge stretch to say that several of those 10 someday will find their way to Boston.

But how does potential correlate with a minor-league team’s record?

“We have a lot of talent that’s going to be fun to watch,” Sea Dogs Manager Arnie Beyeler said. “But we are very young and have a young pitching staff. We’re probably going to take our lumps somewhere along the way. But somewhere along the way, these guys are going to put it together and it could get pretty fun.”

In other words, these kids will wow you while they make mistakes.

While prospects make for a talented team, sometimes the best Double-A teams feature veterans who are making a career of playing in the minor leagues.

When the Sea Dogs won the Eastern League championship in 2006, they had prospects like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brandon Moss, but also featured a lot of minor-league veterans (remember David Bacani, Keoni DeRenne, Luis Jimenez, Brian Myrow and Frank Brooks?).

Beyeler said his whole roster has the potential to move up in the minors, this year or next.

“Hopefully we’ll have a few of the guys out of here (to Triple-A),” Beyeler said. “It’s a great problem to have. I’d much rather be sitting here with a lot of talent instead of ‘what you see is what you get’ (kind of players).

“All the guys in this room are going to get better. That’s a tribute to our scouting staff that brought all this talent in here, and keeps bringing it in.”

Among the talent is Felix Doubront, 22, who gets the start tonight. Doubront, 8-6 with a 3.35 ERA last year, will be facing a Reading team that’s a mix of prospects and minor-league veterans.

The Phillies’ infield features a 20-year-old prospect, Freddy Galvis, and others ages 26, 27 and 28.

The outfield is led by Domonic Brown, 22, considered the 15th-best prospect in the minors, according to Baseball America.

The rotation is full of prospects, including tonight’s starter, Vance Worley, 22, a third-round draft pick in 2008 who spent his first full season last year in Reading (7-12, 5.34 ERA).

After Doubront, the Sea Dogs’ rotation will feature Ryne Miller, Kyle Weiland, Stephen Fife and Casey Kelly.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@presherald.com